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Traveling to Florida's Emerald Coast and need a vacation rental or home away from home? I partnered with ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals to share this post.
We recently took a trip to Florida's amazing Emerald Coast. We spent 3 nights in a vacation rental just relaxing, exploring, and being together on Pensacola Beach. We've always loved the Gulf Coast, from Texas beaches like Port Aransas Beach and San Jose Island to Florida beaches like Sanibel Island and Captiva Island.
However, we haven't spent a lot of time in the Pensacola area. The water was so clear and beautiful and the sand so white. I actually had a friend message me asking if we were in Jamaica because of the pictures and videos we were posting. Gorgeous white sandy beaches with crystal blue-green water… It was amazing.
We've always preferred staying in vacation rentals over hotel rooms when we're traveling as a family and not camping. This time we stayed at the Beach Club Resort with ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals, a resort with spectacular ocean views from every single condo. It was hands down one of the most relaxing stays we've had in a very long time.
Why Book a Vacation Rental for Your Family?
There are so many reasons, but here are our top reasons for booking a home away from home when traveling, especially to Florida's beautiful Emerald Coast.
1. A vacation rental allows you to live less like a tourist.
It allows you to live more like a resident and really get to know the area you're visiting, spending time immersed in that area's culture and community. It's a great way to really introduce your family to a new area of the country or the world. It's a great way to meet new people too! When your home or condo is smack dab in the middle of everything, it makes it that much easier to explore. And when you stay in a condo on the beach, it's much easier to get out and enjoy a gorgeous sunrise walk.
2. It can give you a breathtaking view (and sound).
We'd arrived to our Florida condo really late, so we didn't fully grasp the view we were about to wake up to the next morning. I'll never forget opening my eyes as the sun rose and its rays began to shine their way into our room. We had ginormous sliding doors in both our living area and master bedroom. I opened my eyes, and at first, I couldn't fully comprehend what I was seeing. When I realized I was looking at the ocean, it almost brought tears to my eyes, it was that beautiful. In a word, it was breathtaking. From our vantage point, we were able to watch dolphins playing just off the shore every morning. At night we'd leave the doors open and sleep to the sound of the waves coming up on shore. I think Zeke had his most amazing sleeps in that beach front condo.
3. It can save you money.
We've been fortunate to find many vacation rentals that are more affordable for our family than a hotel room. We also love having some of the comforts of home when traveling, and having a kitchen absolutely helps us save money. We're still able to eat out and enjoy authentic foods from the area we're visiting, but we're also able to cook a few of our own meals. That ensures we have money for other activities and things, like paddle boarding or kayaking, for instance! We're able to do our laundry, as well, when we book a home or condo that has a washer/dryer, meaning we can pack less.
4. It feels more like home.
A vacation rental gives our family of 5 more room to roam, depending on the home we rent. This time we had 3 bedrooms,3 bathrooms, a kitchen/dining area, a living area, and a balcony… It gave us plenty of room to stretch out and relax together. Traveling with a baby, it gave him room to make all the noise he needed to make. While we also had televisions in almost every room, we hardly had them on. We kept the huge sliding doors open so we had the sounds of the ocean, and Jacob even brought his guitar to serenade our stay.
5. There are definite perks.
Most of the time there are definite perks that go along with staying in a vacation rental. At Beach Club Resort, we enjoyed free beachside service, including beach chairs and an umbrella. Through Lazy Days Beach Rentals, we also had other opportunities like paddle boarding, parasailing, and more. We had access to free DVD movie rentals, as well. Of course, there were other perks like a beautiful outdoor pool (and indoor pool), a fitness center, a spa, and more. I loved that as we were coming back from the beach, the resort provided showers to wash all the sand off.
6. It gives you more opportunity to explore.
The beach was an elevator ride and steps away from our condo. We got up one morning to walk on the beach while the sun woke up the world; sunrise at Pensacola Beach is amazing. We spent an evening on the beach, the boys digging and playing in the sand and me combing the beach for shells, enjoying the sunset. Speaking of shells, we found conch shells, pieces of sand dollars, smooth-as-glass shells, and more. There were shells everywhere, especially if you waded out about knee deep into the water, where you'd find plenty of shells.
We tried paddle boarding for the first time ever, and Jacob discovered a new sport that he loves (I think I could love it too if given the chance to try it again). Finding a restaurant with a very coastal vibe, live music, and delicious food was a highlight for all of us. One morning we took a little road trip traveling the island, visiting Gulf Islands National Seashore, and giving Baby Zeke the opportunity to dip his toe in the ocean. It gave us the opportunity to slow down and enjoy what we like to call slow travel.
Our stay in the Emerald Coast will not soon be forgotten. Hunting shells, enjoying the crystal clear water, opening tall doors so we could constantly hear the sounds of the waves… It all made for the most memorable stay. October has got to be the BEST time to visit Pensacola Beach. While there were others enjoying the beach in all its glory, there were times we were almost completely alone; crowds were a thing of the past. The water was beautiful, a little cooler, but quite warm once you got used to it. And the weather was perfectly stunning.
Know Before You Go
Some of our favorite spots in and around our condo included Pensacola Beach and Gulf Islands National Seashore. We also enjoyed eating at Red Fish Blue Fish, which had a very coastal feel with outdoor seating, live music, life-sized games, and delicious food. If you're looking to take a day trip, you may want to drive up the road to other towns along the Emerald Coast, like Destin. Or explore the National Naval Aviation Museum. Whatever you choose to do, make every day an adventure!