It’s hard to believe that soon school will be out for the summer, and families all over will be packing their suitcases and heading out on vacation. For me, nothing says “vacation” like THE BEACH. I am a beach girl at heart and the idea of grabbing a good novel, laying out on a soft towel under an umbrella, and listening to the waves is my idea of heaven on earth.
So with that in mind I have put together a few tips as a guide for your perfect beach vacation this year, or possibly as inspiration for planning one!
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Pick the Right Beach
The problem with beach vacations is that there are SO many to choose from, and they’re all so different. For example, if you’re looking for a family-friendly beach you might be upset to find you chose a resort that is mostly singles or couples. Make sure you do your research about the type of beach it is and the amenities offered before you book your trip.
Last week while I was in Miami for the BlogHer Food conference I had the pleasure of visiting with the nice folks of Visit South Walton. If you are from the Florida area I’m sure you’re familiar with the South Walton area… but if you’re like me and had no idea, well let me fill you in on what we’ve been missing!
In a nutshell, the South Walton area stretches along 26 miles of beautiful white sand beaches along the Florida Gulf coast and is made up of 16 unique neighborhoods with every range of accommodations you can think of! Basically it’s a beach vacationer’s paradise.
Pick the Right Accommodations
If you’re planning to spend your days on the beach you’ll need somewhere to spend the nights too. Ideally, you don’t want the two to be too far away from each other; that being said, hotels on the beachfront can book up quickly. You can also look into hotels within walking distance of your beach destination.
South Walton has a wide variety of beach accommodations ideal for any beach experience you are looking for. There are grand beach houses overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, cozy romantic cottages, full-service resorts to pamper you, family-friendly hotels to keep you comfortable, and even campsites and RV resorts to get you close to nature.
Research Activities Before You Go
If you’re planning on passing the day with activities like surf lessons or horseback riding, it pays to organize everything before you get there. This will give you the chance to ask any questions you might have, plan the rest of your day around the times available and even pay in advance so you don’t have to worry about bringing your wallet to the beach.
To get your family excited about the trip in advance, check the area’s tourist office website for the week’s scheduled activities, including things like farmers’ markets and parades. When rain dictates an afternoon at the movies, go online before you leave home to find a local theater’s show times. And if you’re counting on using the hotel’s children’s programs or pool, ask before booking to be sure those services are available during your stay.
Whether it’s golfing, hiking, kayaking, shopping, dining, and more… the 16 unique beach neighborhoods of South Walton have an amazing array of activities for you to explore during your beach vacation.
Choose the Right Time to Go
A little bit of research into the best time of year to travel can go a long way. Looking at peak tourist times, public holidays, and the school calendar will let you know what kind of crowds you can expect when you arrive, and how busy the area will be especially in terms of traffic and airports.
Looking into the weather for the area at different times of the year can help you pick the time that best suits you. You can avoid the rainy seasons or miss out on the higher temperatures if you don’t like the heat too high.
In the South Walton area of Florida…..
- January & February are the coldest months. Usually in the 50s or 60s for the high with few clouds.
- March brings warmer temps, usually in the 60s & 70s.
- April & May days are some of the best in South Walton. Humidity is low with few thunderstorms or pesky insects.
- June brings the full onslaught of visitors. Temps are usually in the upper 80s and the water is warm enough for anyone. Humidity is quite high, and thunderstorms become frequent, particularly in the afternoons.
- July and August are the busiest months (school’s out!) and the hottest. Temps are usually in the 90s and humidity is maxed out.
- September is much the same as August, but an occasionally cooler day (80s) is a welcome relief.
- October is the best month of the year! It edges out May, because the water is warmer, and there are fewer tourists. The humidity is low, air temps are in the 70s & 80s.
- November and December are becoming more and more popular for vacationers in South Walton with less activity right around Christmas. The snowbirds have arrived and things are moving slower.
Pack Right & Light
Planning your packing in advance helps guarantee you arrive with everything you need and promotes a stress-free beach holiday.
One thing to keep in mind when you’re packing for a beach vacation is that some places will charge you a significant price for picking up things you need. For example, if you forget to pack your sunscreen or your hat or your sunglasses, you might pay a lot more than you really want to if you have to rely on your hotel’s gift shop. Don’t blow your travel budget on things you should have remembered to pack at home. Make a list and stick to it.
Although you may be tempted to bring all your beach gear with you, keep in mind the more you bring, the more you have to cart back, and the more potential you have to lose your stuff. Work beach rentals into your budget.
And finally, be as beach-ready as possible with these packing tips from South Walton regulars who never leave home without the following items in their beach bags:
- Cash. In case you need to make a run for snacks or a quick trip to the store, it’s always good to have cash on hand (not all stores accept cards).
- Hat and sunscreen. Even if you apply sunscreen before you leave for the beach, you’ll need to apply more as the day goes on. A wide-brimmed hat will help keep the sun out of your eyes, too.
- Phone charger and battery case. Instead of having to go back to your room to recharge your electronics, pack your charger with you. You’ll be able to find a shop or store with an outlet to recharge if needed.
- Reading material. Nothing’s better than getting swept up in a good story by the seaside – so bring along a book or magazine to read. If you’re using an e-Book reader, make sure it has a cover to help protect it from sand and water.
- An extra outfit. If you decide to drop by a local bar or restaurant, it’s handy to have a spare outfit on hand to change into. Pack a spare bag to throw your wet clothes into, too.
Have I managed to convince you yet that a beach vacation is a good idea!?!? :-)
If you’re still dragging your feet on making summer vacation plans (like I always do!) read my previous post about 11 Reasons Why You Should Travel and you may be inspired to finally plan that sublime seaside getaway!
For MORE tips on planning the perfection beach vacation… Visit South Walton.
What does your perfect vacation look like?