Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Why We Love Tops'L Resort in Destin

Today is the day for one last Summer post!  I'm excited to tell you about Tops'L Resort in Destin.  We have stayed at Tops'L resort several times over the years and would definitely recommend it.  We stayed in the Beach Manor area this year.  It was very nice with amazing views from every room.  It was very quiet and not overly crowded at the end of Summer.  Kevin always finds our condo online and they show tons of pictures of the rooms/amenities. 

Tops'L has basketball courts, tennis, mini golf, a pool with each building, an on site restaurant and it's very close to tons of restaurants and activities on the east side of Destin.  The ocean access is great, too.

The kids loved the ocean - it's hard to beat the gorgeous water of the Emerald Coast.  There were very few seashells, but that seems to be the norm for this area.  If you are going to the ocean to find awesome shells, definitely head farther south.  The Gulf Coast water seems to be a bit of a wild card.  It was very clear and gorgeous for us, but the waves were very strong.  We had yellow flags all week and a couple of red flags.  It was difficult for Leo to enjoy the ocean for very long with those rough waves.  The big kids mostly loved it except for when the ocean ate a couple pairs of their goggles.  Whoops!

As with any family trip, there were high and lows.  I'll mostly document the highs for you, but know there were dead van batteries to kick off our trip, throw up, traffic jams, surprise fireworks well past bedtime and chaos in the midst of these fun times.  But it's always worth it to travel with your family!

Nothing beats your first time getting in the ocean at the beginning of a trip!  Except if you're a toddler.

Much happier playing with his cars doing whatever he wants.

Tops'L views when you're walking out the condo door.  It's a really pretty property!

These giant windows were a hot spot all week long.  The kids played and camped out here to enjoy the views.

Inside the condo!  Master bedroom to one side, 2nd master where we stayed and a kid's room.  The family room, dining area, kitchen and laundry were all in the middle.  The family room and the 1st master had balconies.

It was so fun to watch the boats, helicopters, military planes and people coming and going.  We saw birds, dolphins, rainbows and storms roll in from time to time.  Leo loved it!

This was the pool connected to our building.  It was small, but perfect to cool after after walking in from the ocean.  Do you spot Kevin with the big kids?  This was one of the more crowded pool times.

It's such a pretty spot!

I mentioned that the waves were rough this week so Leo mostly played in the sand.  He loved driving all of his construction vehicles, making sand snow cones and digging.  He also did a fair amount of rolling in the sand and snacking in the shade.

Look at those waves!!

We opted to bring our own chairs and umbrellas this time since we were driving down.  Kevin hauled the heavy stuff and set up our camp each day.  Leo stumbled on a snowman!

This was a new experience for us - Blue Button Jellyfish!  They can sting, but we never saw anyone get stung by them.  The kids loved saving them and sending them back to the ocean in the evenings with their nets.

After dinner trips down to the ocean were so much fun!  It was cooler and the waves were calmer.  We could just run down with a few things and have tons of fun!  Versus when you go in the heat of the day and need all the things.


We had the best time playing carefully out on the balcony.  We were on the 10th floor so that made me a little nervous.  We loved the views from up there though!  These 3 love the ocean and I hope they always want to head to the ocean with us in the Summer!

I tried to capture one picture of each of the kids doing something that they LOVED this week.

Leo LOVED playing in the sand with his trucks.

Fletcher LOVED doing belly flops and swimming the ocean.

Olive loved jumping and swimming!

There is a larger pool by the ocean side restaurant that was fun!  We swam here several times and then grabbed lunch.  The food was good.  The views were wonderful!

One fun fact about going to The Gulf Coast - people are really friendly!  You'll hear the best Southen accents, TONS of SEC team apparel and monograms and everyone will be chatty.  It's so nice.  We admired this cool coconut that this woman found.  She said - Come here and take a picture with me! :)

Lifeguard Kev :)  We kept a close eye on everyone with those crazy waves.

These two had a great time boogy boarding.  Our condo provided them.

 If you have older kids, you've got to get flashlights, buckets and nets so that you can head to the ocean at sunset to find crabs and critters!  The local grocery stores like Winn Dixie or Publix will have all of these supplies.  Olive and Fletcher would have stayed out here for HOURS.  We headed down most nights after dinner with just the big kids.  It was too hard and a little scary to bring a busy toddler down to the ocean at sunset (we tried it and would not recommend it - ha!).  Plus, it was a fun thing that I could do solo with the big kids.


Destin, we love you!  Thanks for the happy memories!

 Do you have any Destin questions for me??  I'd love to help you plan a trip here!

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Must Dos in Destin

We wrapped up Summer 2022 with a quick trip to Destin, Florida.  We vacationed here with my husband's family for many years before we had kids, but we had never taken our kids there.  The water is gorgeous and there are lots of family friendly things to do in Destin.  It's about 9.5 hours from where we live which is a huge perk for us.  We love heading further south - Naples and Ft Meyers - but those are double the distance at least 18 hour drives.

Destin is gorgeous and also more crowded since it's a much more driveable location for many.  We avoided the crowds by running errands in the mornings, eating early dinners and eating in the condo.  It also felt less crowded than years past because we went July July 27-Aug 2 when many kids were already heading back to school.  We picked restaurants that were very close to us so that we didn't really have to deal with any traffic.  

We love the east side of Destin and really enjoyed staying at Tops'L.  I'll post more about that tomorrow!

I'm excited to share some really family friendly to dos in the Destin area.  I hope they'll be helpful if you ever find yourself planning a trip to Destin.  The Silversands outlet mall is a great place to shop for your whole family.

We LOVE the Grande Boulevard at Sandestin.  There are so many free things (fountains to play in and murals to spot) to do here along with some really nice shopping.  Many were closed when we were there, but we still enjoyed walking around and window shopping.

Tommy Bahama // It's our favorite restaurant ever.  We love the location in Naples and the location in Destin is amazing as well.  Their drinks, apps, food and desserts are all worth the splurge.  It's a kid friendly place that we'd recommend making reservations for.  I think it would be your best meal of the trip!  Vacation Kev is my favorite.

Stay tuned for me to create this mango chicken salad.  I almost licked my plate.  We love everything we've ever ordered - seafood, crab cakes, coconut shrimp, steak, salads, grilled chicken and all the kids meals are so good.  You get free star fish shaped bread with dinner.

The world's best Key Lime Pie.  Every person in our family tried it this year and loved it.

Best meal of the trip!

These pretty murals are all over the place!  We had a great time finding them and snapping pics.  We didn't realize there were fountains to play in otherwise we would have brought towels/dry clothes for the kids.  We saw that they also have free movie nights and free games on the lawn throughout the Summer.

Donut Hole Donuts // Amazing donuts!  My FIL would wake up early and go get in line for donuts for us.  They were all really good.  We usually get donuts a couple times and then I cook breakfast in the condo the other days.

Barnes & Noble // It was HOT when we were in Destin.  Not terrible and not really any hotter than it would have been at home, but we wanted to find a few things to do in the condo during the hottest part of the day.  A trip to the bookstore was fun for all of us.  Each kid picked out a couple new books for the week.  We'd all spend time reading during the day.

Romeo's Pizza // The guys picked up pizza and bread sticks on their way home from golfing one day.  It was delicious!

Louis Louis //

We tried a new restaurant that was really cool.  The walls are plastered with fun things to look at - like a giant I Spy for kids.  We all enjoyed our food, but likely wouldn't return.  They have a pretty small menu and all of the kids meal options were pretty messy.  So be sure and look at the menu ahead of time!  There is an axe throwing place nearby if that's something you're interested in doing.

Well now I'm hungry!  Destin is a fun place :)