I was given the opportunity to attend a trip to explore Santa Rosa County for Housewives in the City, and I honestly had no idea what to really expect. I grew up in Florida and my family took yearly vacations around the state. We visited Daytona, Cocoa Beach, Ormond Beach, Palm Beach, the Keys, Sanibel Island, Cayo Costa (see a pattern here… we love the beach!), and many other destinations in Florida. However, I had never heard of Navarre Beach or Santa Rosa County. I’d heard of the amazing beaches along our Emerald Coast in the Panhandle, but the closest I ever came was a quick stop in Destin during college.
After the stress of the spring, I was secretly dreading the trip. I didn’t know anyone else who would be there, and I’d be leaving my family but bringing plenty of mom-guilt along with me. What I didn’t know was that Navarre Beach claims a status as the “Florida’s Most Relaxing Place,” and I’m here to tell you, it’s true. I spent two days reconnecting with nature and found myself completely relaxed and at peace.
THINGS TO DO
Visitor Center and Butterfly House
Navarre’s Panhandle Butterfly House is exactly the type of quaint attraction that forces you to slow down and look around. I’ve visited a number of butterfly gardens at museums or other attractions, but I’ve never seen as many butterflies as I did in Navarre’s Butterfly House. Admission is by donation, and in addition to the butterfly garden, the building has an amazing collection of gorgeous butterflies that are preserved and labeled.
Adjacent to the Butterfly House is the visitor’s center, complete with a playground and splash pad for the little ones. This would be a great place to take the kiddos in Navarre!
Address: 8581 Navarre Pkwy; Navarre, FL
ANTIGUA YACHT CLUB, PIGEON POINT BEACH & FALMOUTH HARBOUR
We spent the afternoon wandering around the east side of Falmouth Harbour, discovering Flatties Flame Grill (the burger here was amazing! Sorry we ate too fast for pictures!), Grabbed a cold one and some chief supplies a.k.a. Citronella candles and matches at English Harbour Gas Station and made sure to wander around the pier at Antigua Yacht Club Marina.
After time well spent exploring we headed a few minutes walk to Pigeon Point Beach. This beach is lined with trees, some of them poisonous but don’t worry they have signs pointing them out. As you walk through the trees you will come to a small beach with beautiful sand and stunningly clear waters that is surrounded by hills that beg for an Instagram shot. We very much enjoyed our time in the water here, the beach is peaceful and tucked away, perfect for a romantic afternoon.
Meeting new friends as an adult can be a struggle. Other times, it’s like you’re meant to be! Mandy and I met on a media trip last year to Sawgrass, and we are bonding this year as she launches the new Ft. Lauderdale Housewives in the City! When she decided to join the HITC family, she decided it was a great time for her and I to get away together for a few days. It was like an HITC training intensive while also learning about some amazing places in Orlando.
We had a fabulous little work-cation (working while on vacation!) and I’m excited to share some of the fun we had.
The newly updated DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando provided everything we needed for our stay. We were able to tour their amazing new event space, spend time on their redesigned lawn and event area, dine in their restaurant, and relax by the pool. Since Mandy and I have kids, we made sure to tour the kids' areas to plan our return trip. From the arcade, play room, ping pong, bean bag toss, pools, and daily activities, this hotel is great for families!
Given our close proximity to SeaWorld, we made sure to enjoy an afternoon there. We were treated to the Dine with Shamu buffet lunch that included a wealth of information from their trainers to explain the impressive efforts that SeaWorld offers its animals. Their orca show will be discontinued this year, but they shared information about their care of these animals. Animal experts at SeaWorld have helped more than 31,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and/or abandoned – for more than 50 years. More information can be found at SeaWorldCares.com.
Yesterday John and I made the short trip from Orlando to Tampa to explore another theme park this area has to offer – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Most of you know already that John and I are originally from Virginia, so Busch Gardens Williamsburg was always our “go-to” place for fun growing up; I was an annual passholder for most of my life. I had visited the Tampa location a few times when I was vacationing in Florida as a child, but that was a long time ago. John had never been to the Tampa location, so I was very excited to bring him with me and experience the fun together!
For those of you that don’t know the difference between the two parks, the Williamsburg, VA location is themed as European countries (imagine a European Epcot, if you will). The Tampa, FL location is themed as Africa, and has tons animals!
I recently had the opportunity to stay the newest hotel on Hutchinson Island, located in the part of Florida known as the Treasure Coast in Martin County. This resort and spa is great for a weekend getaway with your girlfriends or your spouse or even as a family vacation...which makes it a well rounded hotel meeting the needs of everyone.
The Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa is part of the Opal Collection, one of my favorite hotel chains in Florida. The first new beach resort to be built on Hutchinson Island in 20 years, Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa opened in 2017. This relaxing beachfront hotel features two oceanfront dining spots, two swimming pools, a spa and beautiful coastal inspired guest rooms.
Last month we had the pleasure of vacationing in Montego Bay, Jamaica for our good friend’s wedding. My husband has been to the island six times before this trip and I always heckled him for going to the same place over and over…. Until I went myself. I can see why he keeps coming back! We LOVED Jamaica!
THE DIGS: HYATT ZILARA ROSE HALL, MOBAY
On May 5th, John and I got to attend the media day at LEGOLAND Florida for the unveiling of LEGO® Star Wars™: The Force Awakens MINILAND Model Display and LEGO® Star Wars™ Days. This display and event will be taking place on May 5-6, 12-13, 19-20 ONLY – so be sure to visit while you can!
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