Monday, June 1, 2015

beachy recap + tips


Home again, home again, lickety split. {Where "lickety split" means a full day of traveling with children who didn't nap sans co-parent.  Thank Baby Cheesus for the iPad and a plane full of other screaming babies who make you feel less mortified by your own screaming baby.} FWTravelPs aside, we had a really lovely week on the Emerald Coast.  

Apologies upfront for the photo / info dump that shall be this post.  My packing supplies beckon and time is scarce with both kidlets underfoot.  If you follow me on IG, most of these scenes are old news... Scroll on through to the bottom for a few 30-A recs and some child-friendly beach tips, if you're so inclined! 

The quick-and-dirty on our trip...

Man, I can see why so many folks are militantly loyal to this area of the Florida coast!  The sand really is sugar-fine, and the water is prettier and clearer than any I've experienced in the United States.  We technically stayed in/on Blue Mountain Beach, with Grayton Beach right next door.  We rented a 3 bedroom / 3 bathroom condo at the Blue Lupine complex off VRBO.  My mom did her research and made a very good choice indeed!  The unit was very nicely decorated and fully stocked with beach chairs, umbrellas, beach / pool toys, etc. There was a fabulous balcony with dining and lounge sets -- the kids loved playing out there in the mornings.  We did not have an ocean view, but that ended up being a good thing as all the units facing the sea also faced the pool; I think most of those would have been noisy during naptime. The beach was private, pristine, and not at all packed, even on Memorial Day.  Both the pool {not the greatest pool in the world but the kids loved it} and beach were easily accessible -- this was great as we could just pop down with minimal gear for an hour or so if we wanted. Grayton was about a 5 minute drive, and Seaside about 15 minutes.  We really did not do much exploring {other than a shopping trip to The Shops at Grayton} away from our condo and little stretch of beach.  We only had one car {with 5-6 people packed in} and any downtime was pretty much spent reading or snoozing... It would have been nice to poke around Seaside, Rosemary Beach, and Alys Beach some more, but I can't complain about being lazy! 

We ate the majority of our meals in the condo {Publix is a 10 min drive}, but we enjoyed amazing dinners at Red Bar and Hurricane Oyster Bar {both are cash or check only}, a scrumptious lunch at Chanticleer Eatery {thank you, Samma!}, and a solid breakfast at the Perfect Pig {good food; the service was spotty}.  Everyone and their mom raved about Red Bar, and I can see why -- super funky and fun with live music and delicious food!  We arrived right at 5 pm and were seated with this first wave of customers.  When we left, there were probably 50 people waiting outside for a table. We also did Hurricane Oyster Bar right around 5 during their happy hour and were able to sit inside immediately {outside had a big wait and I'm pretty sure B would have jail-broke for the lily pad pond at every opportunity}.  We also enjoyed a midday treat at Blue Mountain Creamery {banana pudding ice cream OMG}, and we did make a visit to the food trailers in Seaside {they were packed and the lines were long... we ended up going with hot dogs because the kids were melting down, and they were good but nothing to write home about}.  There were so many other recommended places I would have loved to checked out... next time! 

A few people asked me for kiddie-friendly beach tips... This is not an arena where I feel qualified to dole out advice as this is the first real beach vacation we've taken with children, but we definitely learned a few things worth sharing...

Here's the no-brainer: just as in every other scenario, kids require a lot of shit for the beach. "Require" might not be the right word, but packing many things will make your life easier.  My parents - bless them - drove up from Austin, which was SO nice as they were able to bring the PNP, car seats, beach towels, snacks, diapers, toys, etc.  That last one was huge -- as much time as we spent next to various bodies of water, there was also downtime in the condo that would have been less pleasant without the basket of legos and figurines and cars and books my mom packed. If you're flying or don't have room for toys, shove some sticker books, crayons, paint with water books, lacing cards, etc in your suitcase to keep the little ones entertained during the heat of the day. 

As I mentioned, the owner of our condo had a bunch of umbrellas and beach chairs for us to use, so I did not end up buying a beach tent. The umbrellas ended up being a pain in the rear to set up, so we made do without or scammed shade from people who'd abandoned their rental umbrellas.  This was an acceptable set up for all of us except B... B did not care for the beach.  Not a lick.  This was a little surprising as he loves playing in water and sand, but my guess is the whole shebang was just too much for him at this age {LOUD WAVES! BRIGHT SUN! SAND!}.  He tolerated being on the beach when sitting on a chair or in someone's lap in the shade.  I think he *might* have been happier had we pulled the trigger on something like this. Shade + a non-sandy floor probably would have allowed him to be more comfortable. Because the beach was a 1 minute walk from the condo complex and pool, it wasn't a huge deal to pacify him for a while and then take him elsewhere for a bit, but had it been any hike at all to the beach, I would've been kicking myself for leaving this off our packing list.  It would be cake to set up for the entire day so you could come and go as you please. We are headed to Orange Beach for the 4th of July {perks of both grandparents wanting beach time with the littles!}, and I think I'll be investing. 

Speaking of purchases made after the fact, these hats are now part of our beach / pool / general summer arsenal.  Both our tiny meatloaves have the most sensitive skin on the planet, and I've discovered through trial and error that the best way to keep them from burning and prevent rash {they both are prone to eczema and heat rash} is to cover their skin with clothing.  L got a horrible heat rash on all the areas above her waist that were slathered in sun screen.  I use the fancy, expensive barrier sunblock that is recommended for kids and toxin-free, but that crap is an absolute bitch to wipe off completely, and it just clogged her little sweat glands right up.  From now on, it's rash guard swimsuits {all of B's have rash guards and L has two, but she was wearing her favorite suit sans guard the day of the heat rash} and hats {we brought hats, but L's old ball cap kept falling off and B would not keep his bucket hat on} instead of barrier sunblock as much as possible.  B's hat is The North Face Baby Sun Buster Hat and L's is the SunDay Afternoon Kids' Impulse Cap.  Both stay on and offer ample face {and neck/ears for B} shade.  

This is not a kid-specific tip, but this Eagle Creek Waterproof Pouch is one of my favorite pieces of travel gear and was an excellent beach companion {we usually use it when hiking}.  It easily holds a phone, cash, lipgloss, sunscreen stick, ID, credit cards, etc and safely keeps your stuff away from sand and water in your beach bag. It also doubles as a wet bag for sandy, soaked suits.  Because I am super cool and stylish, I fasten the zipper to a bangle bracelet for an instant travel "clutch" {hey, it's more chic than a fanny pack}. 

I think that's all I've got... the TL;DR version is: (1) don't forget non-outdoorsy entertainment, (2) sun tents are probably awesome, (3) nerdy baby hats and rash guards are clutch, and (4) waterproof pouches rock my socks off.

*Per usual, Amazon links are affiliate; the rest are not. 


  1. Totally going to invest in that little waterproof pouch! Thanks for sharing!
    Also....looks like your trip was wonderful!! Hats off to you for traveling home with two all on your own!

  2. Those hats are fab. Glad you guys had fun!

  3. I'm obsessed with the insta-monet filter you applied to L in the first pic. What app did that?

    1. I believe it is called Waterlogue? A friend did it for me because my phone is jacked up and has no more space to download apps!

  4. the iPlay hat is also amazing for toddlers. Both my boys have one and it really protects their faces, ears and necks. Love it!

  5. Delurking to say you can probably also rent a tent like the one you linked to. When we went to Florida when my oldest was a baby the condo we were staying in hooked me up with a company that does that. We rented a tent, pack and play and booster seat. They had it in the condo when we got there and it was all pretty inexpensive and in good condition.

  6. I know you are probably super busy with packing and moving prep, so happy for y'all! We renovated & moved last year with our toddler & newborn.....they will be wheeling me out of this house in 75yrs because I'm not doing it again. Good luck, it will all be worth it! My husband is a college friend of Samma's & I've been reading both of y'all's blogs for several years and feel like we are buds. I trust your opinion on a lot of things (you recommended the Chicco convertible car seat to me via Instagram a few weeks ago, we love it). Anyway, we are headed to Dallas soon & would love your rec on some good mexican food for lunch. We are staying near the design district and unfortunately only have one meal to ourselves because it is a family wedding weekend full of formal festivities. So for strong frozen margaritas and spicy salsa & chips whats your bet?

    1. Hi! I feel you on never moving again. This is my forever home unless j decide to sell all my possessions and build a tiny home (an option that is looking better and better in the face of 300 boxes to unpack)...

      For good Mexican, Mi Cocina and Gloria's are both reliable Dallas standards (cliche, but you must order a Mambo Taxi at MiCo if you go!). If you can eeek in a breakfast, Torchy's is the best for breakfast tacos and their queso is INSANE in the very best way! Enjoy Dallas!


happy little comments!