Best Beachside Cities in Florida

By: Ben Holdt

Spending a few days at the beach is a great way to get away from the daily stresses of life and relax. With over 8,000 miles of coastline, Florida is second to just Alaska for the amount of land they have touching, sparkling ocean waters. However, the Sunshine State has the upper hand on being near the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. While there may be a lot of towns and cities dotting the Florida coast, there are only a few that indeed offer the best quality of life. Check out the best beachside cities in Florida for your next beach getaway.

Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach Rentals

Panama City Beach Skyline

With 27 miles of white sandy beaches, Panama City Beach is widely known for its ability to ease away any stress that you brought with you on your vacation. This famous town offers waterfront restaurants as well as plenty of scuba activities thanks to its nearby artificial reefs. Families will enjoy the many water parks in town as well as two state parks that offer an up close and personal look at nature. There are plenty of nearby amusements to fill a vacation at the beach when the sand castle building is all done.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach House Rentals

Cocoa Beach House Rentals

This popular surfing destination is just south of Cape Canaveral along the Atlantic Ocean. Cocoa Beach is known for the waves that descend upon its shores at the end of the hurricane season that offers a great opportunity for avid surfers. Check out local events to book a vacation with plenty of action out on the water as you soak up the sun from the beach. You’ll also find many things to explore in the area including tours of the Kennedy Space Center, the Dinosaur Store, and many fishing charters.

Destin

Destin Florida Vacation Rental homes

Destin Sandy Beaches

Located in Northwest Florida, Destin features plenty of sugar white beaches and sunshine. As a popular destination point for many Midwesterners, the area is well known for its wide range of fishing activities as well as shopping opportunities. You’ll find excellent fishing charters as well as plenty of events year-round to make your vacation unique. Local restaurants feature fresh seafood from the gulf, and you’ll also find plenty of golf courses in the area as well.

Palm Beach

This widely known beach is as far East as you can get on the Florida coastline. Palm Beach features beautiful palm trees along white sandy beaches and plenty of luxury. The beach sits on a 16-mile-long island that is just 0.5 miles wide with plenty of beach area all around. Many wealthy families choose this area for winter homes which have created a luxury experience in town. You’ll find the most excellent restaurants and upscale shops when you’re not enjoying the beautiful beach.

Fort Walton Beach

Fort Walton Beach House Rentals on the beach

Fort Walton Beach

The beautiful emerald waters along Fort Walton Beach are enough to attract plenty of visitors each year. Located between Pensacola and Panama City, the beach is in an excellent location for visitors to get to from other parts of the country. Fort Walton Beach has powdery white beaches and offers plenty for the family to do once a day at the beach is done. You’ll find golf courses, aquariums, and many other attractions that help make this destination a vacation to remember.

There are plenty of places to choose from when looking for a great vacation on the beach in Florida. White sandy beaches mixed with enough great food and nightlife to keep you busy after a long day on the beach is standard for many of these hot spots. Consider any one of the best beachside cities in Florida for your next vacation to the Sunshine State.

Ben Holt is a fresh air enthusiast and loves writing about it. Ben is always looking to make the most of a summer day, whether he is relaxing in his garden, hiking on an off-beaten trail or entertaining friends on his newly renovated patio.

Laguna Beach, Three Arch Bay & Tidepools

Laguna Beach, CaliforniaWhen I decided to move to Orange County, I was excited and nervous.  This was going to be my first time living away from the Central Coast town that I was born and raised in, had gone to college in, and had started my career in.  I had barely settled and homesickness hadn’t even had a chance to kick in, and my family and some of our close family friends came down to visit – it ended up being one of the best weekends I have ever had…

Our family friends have a house in Three Arch Bay, a private beach community on the southern end of Laguna Beach, that was established in the 1930′s.  We started the weekend at the property and headed down to check out the private beach.  A few hundred steps later (maybe only a slight exaggeration) we found ourselves on a quaint, private, and uncrowded crescent of sand, sheltered by bluffs on one side and open to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean on the other side.  Once I had staked out my spot on the sand, I started checking out my surroundings.  There was a handful of other groups at the beach that day – a couple groups of teenagers and skimboarding, some 20-somethings working on their tans, a couple families with young kids playing in the sand and jumping in the shallow whitewater…and a crew setting up what looked to be a stage.

One of the crew members told us that they were setting up for a birthday party that one of the homeowners was having at the beach that evening.  Sure enough, as the day went on, the stage was completed, and the party site really started to take shape.  Tables and chairs were arranged, tents were erected, decorations were thrown up…so, of course we decided to stick around to see what all the fuss was about!

Tide-poolGuests started showing up around 4, and by 5 or so, sound checks started to sound over the microphones.  By this time, there were maybe 50 party guests, the ten of us, and only about 15 other beach-goers.  When the music started we all wandered over to hear who was playing.  We recognized the classic surf rock immediately once The Beach Boys started crooning and proceeded to play all of their best hits – we had stumbled upon a private Beach Boys concert!

The night eventually wound down and we made our way back up to the beach house.  The next morning, we woke up to sunshine and clear blue skies – another perfect beach day!  We went into Laguna Beach, where we had lunch at Goko Cafe (great Greek food – very fresh and mostly organic) before visiting the tide-pools at Picnic Beach (also known as Heisler Park Reserve).

As a kid I remember being fascinated by the sea creatures I found in the tide-pools – starfish, sea urchins, tiny fish, and my favorite, hermit crabs.  At Picnic Beach that day, there were several families with small children – all of the kids were enjoying exploring the rocks, looking for their favorite tide-pool critter.

Laguna Beach also has a variety of shops – everything from vintage boutiques and candy shops, to jewelry stores and art galleries.  It is a great beach town to vacation to and there are tons of beach vacation rental properties to stay in.

What stores and restaurants do you hit up when you are in Laguna Beach!  What is your favorite stretch of sand?  Leave us a comment!

Mountain Retreat Vacation House in Big Sky, Montana

The Big Sky Mountain Retreat House, also known as the original Montana Escape, is located directly in the center of Big Sky, Montana. In November 0f 2003 the home was selected to be featured on Fine Living TV’s 10 Perfect Winter Wonderlands. At that time the home was lacking a master tub and a bit more space. Over the years the owners have had the pleasure of working with Alan Roos of Coyote Creek Construction in expanding and enhancing the living space – all the while keeping within a reduced footprint and budget. The end product is 3700 square feet of a perfect Big Sky Mountain Retreat House that all guests will continue to appreciate.

Big Sky, Montana is considered one of the Coolest Mountain Towns and one of the top 10 ranked by the Mens Journal.  Is it that fact that there’s no waiting in long lift lines or the crisp and fresh thin mountain air? The views? The thousands of skiable acres? Whatever the reason, Big Sky Montana is a great place to live the high life.

Visitors come to Yellowstone National Park looking for wildlife. Many will have their first and only encouter with wildlife in their lifetime. The Mountain Retreat House sits in a prime wilderness zone in Yellowstone County. It’s far enough away from the summer crowds of The Park, but remarkably close to 5 star fine dining and world class sking. Visitors to the Mountain Retreat House and to Yellowstone may find wildlife such as moose just outside The Park, in Big Sky, Montana. When Yellowstone is the busiest, is also when the wildlife population of the villages of Big Sky, Montana increases.

This home’s location, nestled among old growth trees overlooking breathtaking views of Big Sky, was selected for the easy drive to the Gallatin River, Ousel Falls as well as the Ski Runs from the Yellowstone Club to Moonlight Basin. Its located in Aspen Grove, a development of one half to three acre home sites closest to the Town Center and both Big Sky Mountain and Meadow villages. When you are at the Mountain Retreat House, you’ll feel like you’re miles away from the rush of day-to-day life, yet it is conveniently located less than a hour from the Bozeman airport – It’s only a 40 minute flight from Salt Lake City!

Whether you and your family enjoy world class powder skiing or fishing for that trophy rainbow trout, Big Sky is the place and this is “The House”. It has 4 private suites, each with its own bath; one with a wet steam room and one with a huge soaker tub and a walk in shower. All bedrooms have mountain and forest views. The main master bedroom is steps from a private 5 person hot tub. Enjoy spectacular night views that include shooting stars and the milky way. The hot tub and steam shower are perfect after a long day of carving the ski slopes.

This little guy was born on the property just steps from the patio!

This little guy was born on the property just steps from the patio!

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (28 of 40)

thai crew team

thai crew team

traveling om
“after we reached our “om” in cambodia with ancient towers and local laughs, we ventured on back into thailand.  our second time entering thailand, and this time like the first, the country seems to be at unrest.  from our taxi ride over the border and into bangkok, much more was visible this time around. swat teams on every corner with the plastic shields and army officers manning their perches, all with rifles.  still, in our little touristy neighborhood of koh san road, life goes on as normal.  little did we know, the morning we arrived one of the main current party leaders (a yellow shirt) was attempted assignation on (by red shirts) in his motor parade by assult rifles.  scary stuff, but lucky for us, the swat and army teams on corners was the only witness we had.  but, i’m guessing it’s gonna take some major time and consideration before thailand is at peace with itself.

approaching raley

approaching raley

after our short stay in the city, we flew south to krabi, land of emerald seas and rock climbers dream limestone cliffs.  first night was spent in krabi town (the province is also named krabi) which is nothing more than a boat launch to the islands around.  but we did catch a great weekend market including karaoke, marching band, and delicous food carts. from krabi we headed out to the penninsula of raley.  this is the paradise at krabi. split into east and west sides surrounded by towering limestone painted with rockclimbers everywhere.  mom and cindy stayed on the fancy west beach while jeff and i bargined for a great bungalow in the center in a breezy grassy valley in the midst of limestones, only 5 minute walk to west or east beach. there’s no cars, only boats, monkeys, birds, great beaches.

raley cove

raley cove

on arrival we realized we were just in time for the ‘awards ceremony’ for the annual rock climbing cup and fire dancing contest. so by night the west beach turned into a stage and fire show with live music.  after some impressive fire dancing, jazz and then calypso music, we were suprised to see our token thai reggae band, job 2 do, headline the show.  jeff and i first heard of them in phuket and then spotted them throughout thailand but we were always a day or 2 behind their shows. so it was fate we’d see them eventually. it was a great show.  dancing, drinks, and we got it all recorded…jah rastafari.

bungalow

bungalow

after exploring more hidden beaches for a day (by the way, the water temp, way too hot, by far the warmest water any of us have ever swam in), we left onward on a speed boat tour of surrounding islands: hong island, paradise, and two others whose names escape me.  we loaded on our speedboat with 16 others and were on our way. cindy, mom and i sat in the front of the boat while jeff got left in the back.  the driver said it may be a bit bumpy so beware. man oh man were we in for a ride.  there were four others up there with us and we went flying in the air, thank god for the railings we were able to grab ahold of. 20 minutes later we arrived at hong island.

gang on the beach

gang on the beach

here, we kayaked around the island into a beautiful lagoon, emerald with white sands.  once we reached the lagoon, already tired from our paddeling, we decide to go for a swim. jeff asks the guide if there’s a certian area, and he points to the sandy part.  unfortunately, mama wasn’t near us to hear these directions, so she leaped off her kayak onto a blanket of coral – sharp glass-like coral.  too quickly, her toes and feet got sliced (as seen in the graphic picture). luckily she didn’t loose any limbs, but she sliced her big toe and middle toe pretty bad, as well as the bottom of the other foot.  strong as she is, we continued our kayak trip and then back at the beach had the ‘life guard’ do a quick tape job that lasted a short two minutes. we pressed on. we snorkled until it was time to go onto the next island for lunch and more snorkling.  by the end of the day, we’d snorkled, swam, sighted a giant monitor lizard which roam these islands, lunched, and bumped our way back to mainland.  next day on to phi phi don…

xoxo”

happy couple

happy couple

fire show

fire show

fire dancin

fire dancin

jah

jah

job 2 do concert

job 2 do concert

paradise beach, raley

paradise beach, raley

beach view

beach view

beach panorama

beach panorama

beach shells and crab holes

beach shells and crab holes

fertility cave

fertility cave

cave close up

cave close up

caterpillar

caterpillar

beach sign

beach sign

raley west sunset

raley west sunset

jeff bravin the seas

jeff bravin the seas

hong lagoon

hong lagoon

Top Southern California Beaches

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Southern California is known for its beautiful people, great weather, and gorgeous beaches. All along the most southwestern tip of the USA are an assortment of beaches with surf and sand to enjoy at almost all times during the year.

Whether you’re looking for surf, excitement, a family beach, or the prettiest views on the coast, there are plenty of options to fulfill every desire you have.

Newport Beach offers decent waves and a relaxed atmosphere. Newport’s beaches aren’t too crowded despite the beautiful surrounding, making the area a great place to skim or just read a book while soaking in some sun. Newport also offers several oceanside cottages for rent, making staying there an attractive option for people looking to “get away” at a more affordable price.

Huntington Beach is known for its excellent surfing. The beaches tend to get more crowded, but offer the excitement of a social atmosphere as people throw footballs, play volleyball, and walk the enjoyable Huntington Beach Pier. Huntington is a great place to start an exciting weekend off right.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach offers secluded, beautiful beaches. There are family-friendly areas that tend to be more crowded, but travel further down the surf and you can find beaches where you can isolate yourself and enjoy some gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. The sand is hard-packed and easy to walk on, making a romantic walk on the beach a great idea for blossoming Southern California lovers.

Santa Monica is one of the most popular beaches in Southern California, offering a nearby amusement park and an enjoyable volleyball scene. The world renowned Muscle Beach can also be found in Santa Monica, along with the newly renovated Chess Park.  During the summer you can also find free live concerts on Thursday nights.

Venice Beach is featured in movies such as White Men Can’t Jump and the TV show Pacific Blue. Street performers litter the coast, offering entertainment for all who are willing to watch and participate. You can also find small beachside shops that make shopping while enjoying some rays an easy endeavor.

Santa Monica Pier

While these five offer some of the most diverse and enjoyable locations for spending your day on the coast, there are several other beaches to enjoy in the Southern California area. Generally, you can’t go wrong. Beautiful weather and clean beaches can be found almost everywhere, so pack up your towel, a smile, and a pair of swim trunks, and you’ll most definitely enjoy your day in the sand.

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Ross Hudgens is a travel writer for Low Fares Blog. Lowfares.com is the number 1 travel website for cheap flights and discount airfare.

California’s Central Coast’s Beach Communities

Cambria – Located just off of California’s Pacific Coast Hwy 1 is Cambria – a picturesque artists community set amidst the pine trees and foothills half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Head to Cambria’s “East Village” for a selection of small restaurants and cafe’s set between gardens and old historical buildings. There is a cute downtown village area with boutiques, antique shops, flower stores and art and jewelry galleries. Cambria has a selection of great hotels to choose from.  The FogCatcher Inn has beautifully appointed rooms – I highly reccomend a stay in one of the oceanview rooms. Centrally located, Cambria is a great place to head out on day-trips from.   Vacationers can head a short distance to tour either Hearst Castle or to San Simeon, home to one of California’s largest populations of elephant seals. Moonstone Beach is also nearby, which is a great place to walk the beach before dining at one of the delicious restaurants while you take in some amazing ocean views.

Morro Bay – Surrounded with natural beauty, Morro Bay is a great place to spend the day or the weekend.  Whether you like shopping, hiking, boating or all of the above, this harbor town has it.  Morro Bay’s Natural Estuary has great hiking trails, and is home to the Museum of Natural History and a Heron Rookery Preserve.  Continue down Morro Bay’s Coast and you will find more bluff trails, the Elfin Forest and the Sweet Springs Preserve.  The entire bay is home to many different species of birds making it a bird-watcher’s dream.  Morro Bay also has a great beach, with certain parts that are dog-friendly.  Local surfers enjoy “the Rock” – not only does this break have a killer view of Morro Rock, but the water is a few degrees warmer than the surrounding water thanks to the

Avila Beach – For a funky little beach town that’s not much larger than a neighborhood, Avila Beach sure knows how to make headlines. In the late 90′s and into 2000 the community got an almost complete makeover after it was discovered that a Union Oil Co underground pipeline had been slowly seeping oil into the ground for decades. But now Avila is back and better than ever, with a re-vamped boardwalk that hosts a farmer’s market each Friday afternoon, delicious deli’s and an assortment of upscale eateries. Locals and visitors enjoy Avila for its unpretentious and friendly atmosphere where flip flops and sandy toes are practically a uniform. Looking for some great grub? Be sure to wander over to nearby Port San Luis to Fat Cat Cafe – it’s so good that Sunset Magazine wrote about it!

Shell Beach – Unlike the others on the list, Shell Beach doesn’t have a central downtown or main street, per se, and really is more of a neighborhood. If you turn down Silver Shoals Road off of Shell Beach Road, you will dead end into a grassy area on the bluffs of what the locals have dubbed “Silver Shoals Beach.” This park is a great place for picnics and people watching. There is a dirt trail that leads down to the beach where, even on a windy day, is perfect for sunbathing as the sand is protected from the elements by the sea wall behind you. Feel free to bring your furry friend – the crowd is usually mellow and on the younger side so nobody minds that you are voilating the “no dogs on the beach” policy that most California beaches seem to have.  If you’re looking to stay in Shell Beach, check out the lux Dolphin Bay Inn – not only is is gorgeous, set atop the bluffs with panoramic views of the Central Coast, but the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean stayed there while they were filming on the nearby dunes!

Pismo Beach – If you want some action, Pismo is the beach for you – there is more going on and much more to do here than at any of the other beaches on this list. Pismo Beach offers great shopping. Vacationers can find everything from surf stores, antique stores, candy shops, souvenir stores and more.  Pismo’s sandunes are a great place to camp, go off roading and ride horses.  The pier at Pismo Beach is a great place to fish, people watch and get tasty treats including hot dogs, ice cream, and snow cones to name a few. As you stroll the beach, look for the volleyball nets – there is often pickup games and the courts are also the location of tournaments during certain times of the year. You must allot time for a trip to Splash Cafe. Be prepared to wait, but I assure you that even a half hour wait is well worth it. There is a lot to choose from on the menu – and all of it is good – but this place is famous for their clam chowder.

Guest Blog – North Captiva Island


Mangoes ready for the takingby Sarah Rapp
Resident, North Captiva Island

Did you know that besides Florida, no other states report the production of mangoes? Consequently, Florida is the main United States producer of this fruit. Mango Mania is a festival held at the German American Social Club (2101 S.W. Pine Island Road, Cape Coral during the month of July).

Festival-goers can taste and buy their fill of just-picked mangoes of assorted varieties, many of which are not available in supermarkets. Additionally, they can learn how to grow their own and buy a tree. There’s music, dancing and even some non-mango comestibles for anyone who simply can’t live on mangoes alone.

If you don’t have time to go to the festival, order mangoes from the market, or stop at one of the local fruit stands on the way to the marina. The fruits vary in shape (kidney, round, oblong, oval) and weight ranges from a few ounces to five pounds.  Although the fruit will ripen on the tree, it is usually picked green and will ripen quickly. The fruit is just delicious…so why not celebrate your own mango mania while visiting North Captiva!

 

Mango Salsa
Fresh mango salsa is easy to make and perfect with halibut or salmon or as the salsa in fish tacos.
Ingredients:
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 Jalapeño chile, minced (include ribs and seeds for a hotter taste if desired)
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste. Also good with diced red bell pepper
Directions:
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the salsa ends up being a little too hot or acidic for your taste, you can temper it by adding some diced avocado.

Mango Salsa

Fresh mango salsa is easy to make and perfect with halibut or salmon or as the salsa in fish tacos.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Jalapeño chile, minced (include ribs and seeds for a hotter taste if desired)
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste. Also good with diced red bell pepper

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the salsa ends up being a little too hot or acidic for your taste, you can temper it by adding some diced avocado.

In Honor of Father’s Day…

OK, so you’ve already given your dad that customized necktie embellished with your photograph on it, now you have a little down time while your dad is out getting acquainted with the new gas grill your mom gave him.  Before your family sits down to eat, now’s your chance to read up on Beachhouse.com’s  picks for the top baseball parks to visit….maybe next Father’s Day, instead of giving him some cheap cologne that smells like Robert Downey Jr. trying to cover up after a bender, you can spare your dad the hassle of faking that he loves your gift and give him something he will truly enjoy – tickets to a baseball game and some quality bonding time with you…and a couple of ball park brews never hurt anybody – emphasis on couple.

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs

Wrigley Field is one of the oldest and most notorious fields in the United States.  Despite the field’s notoriety, the Chicago Cubs haven’t exactly made a name for themselves – unless you count the fact that they have never won the World Series, and now that the Red Socks have won theirs, the Cubs are officially the worst cursed team in the league.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy yourself at the home of Ferris Bueller’s infamous day off, deep dish pizza and organized crime.

AT&T Park, San Francisco Giants

If your dad likes the finer things in life, he’d love to be treated to a day at the on-the-water AT&T Park.  Some of baseball’s greatest call this park home, including Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and all time home run leader, Barry Bonds.  The park has every amenity your dad could ask for and all kinds of classic and not so expected stadium food – the crab sandwiches and Cuban cuisine (in honor of Orlando Cepeda – former Giant) are some of the fan favorites.  And if your dad is the kind to get a little out of hand after a couple brewskies, it won’t faze this crowd – they’re used to scandals (Steroids anyone?)

PetCo Park, San Diego Padres

It may seem biased to have more than one California stadium on this list, but if you lived here, you’d know why we’re biased.  Even though the National League West is quite possibly the weakest division in sports, the Padres stadium and ambiance of the surrounding cityscape’s is unparalleled.  It’s always sunny and there’s plenty to do – so if the team ain’t winning, go surfing or get tipsy with the college kids.

New Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees

One of the most loved (and hated) franchises in all of sports, as of the 2009 season, the Yankees have a brand spankin new stadium to call home.  They left their monument to baseball history behind them and started this season with a new coach.  Besides being the most winningest team in the history of baseball, they have, arguably, the most loyal fans in the game…so you and your dad, foam fingers and pin-stripes in place, will fit right in.

Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox

Fenway Park is the oldest stadium in the US, making it a perfect place for a dad who loves the classics.  With 2 recent championship titles under their jockstrap, the Red Sox are one of the most intimidating teams to compete with and one of the most exciting teams to watch.  Not for the faint of heart or dad’s with young kids (and virgin ears) Sox fans are hard drinking and curse like sailors…they’re also overwhelmingly passionate about their team.  After the game’s over there’s still plenty to do in one of the oldest city in America – so buy a pint, start dropping your r’s and you’ll fit right in.

Travel America – Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Kitty Hawk is a lovely town located in Dare County, North Carolina.  It is an old city that was established in the 1700s and was previously known as Chickahawk.  At one point, Kitty Hawk was a remote area; today it is one of the most thriving beach communities where thousands of vacationers visit every year.  The town has both a laid-back, romantic atmosphere and exciting attractions including sandy beaches, great shopping, superb dining, entertainment facilities, and enjoyable aquatic activities.  Kitty Hawk is an ideal town to relax and to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

By far, what attracts most vacationers to Kitty Hawk is the beaches! Particularly in the spring and summer, you can sunbathe, take a nice nap, read a book or people watch at the beach.  For ultimate relaxation, you can take a yoga class or get a massage.  In addition, you can hunt for shells or sea glass, swim, fly a kite, build a sand castle, surf, and boogie board.  You can literally spend your entire vacation at the beach without experiencing a dull moment!

Kitty Hawk is also a great city for fishing; TW’s Bait and Tackle is an impressive facility that provides fishing paraphernalia.  Besides aquatic activities, miniature golf is a popular attraction for the family.  You can also enjoy golf at the popular Seascape Golf Course.  Kitty Hawk Woods is a great attraction that has a maritime, forest, swamp, and marsh.  You can explore this 461 acre area and find a variety of animals including gray foxes, white-tailed deer, amphibians, river otter, hawks, and herons.  For hiking lovers, there is an impressive trail as well.   

Along with the outdoor activities, Kitty Hawk also has indoor attractions.  Kitty Hawk is a great city to eat out in; there are great restaurants that have Eastern North Carolina barbecue and local seafood is definitely a favorite!  You can relax while sipping on a cocktail at the patio of Ocean Boulevard and enjoy breathtaking views from the Black Pelican.

Shopping in the city is enjoyable as there are a bunch of locally owned and interesting shops in town.  Whether you are looking for homemade dog biscuits, local artwork, funky clothing, accessories, beach souvenirs, you are bound to find something of interest at Kitty Hawk.  For some entertainment, you can go to the Outer Banks Music Showcase that offers shows featuring live music and comedy.  The Music Showcase plays diverse music including pop, country, and beach hits.  During the winter, special shows are offered like Bluegrass and Elvis tribute.

Kitty Hawk has a great location because popular attractions like Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head are only a short drive away.  Kitty Hawk is a lovely city that provides a wonderful vacation experience.  A vacation at Kitty Hawk in a beach house will leave you with a lifetime of memories!

The Secluded Abaco Island – Bahama’s Little Paradise

The beautiful Abaco Island, also called “the top of the Bahamas,” is located in the northernmost portion of the country.  The south of Abaco Island is comprised of a group of small islands and settlements including Casuarina Point, Elbow Cay, and Little Harbor.

Each settlement is worth exploring because of its uniqueness.  However, all the islands share the beautiful warm weather year-round and spectacular views.  Vacation homes are popular among tourists as they capture the true essence of the island and make you feel at home away from home.

Casuarina Point is a small, exclusive settlement that is located on the breathtaking beach.  The beaches are usually secluded and they are perfect for couples and also for families to spend private, quality-time with each other.   Luxurious beach houses are ideal for family reunions and for couples looking for a getaway.  At the beach, this is right outside your doorstep, you can enjoy gorgeous views of sunrises and sunsets, have privacy in a serene atmosphere, and observe the tropical landscape.  You can also indulge in snorkeling, fishing, scuba diving, and fishing.

Elbow Cay is a nice island that stretches to the renowned Tahiti Beach.  You can go to restaurants and bars that you can reach by rented boats of golf carts.

Little Harbor is a laid-back, tranquil community of South Abaco Island.  It has a captivating deserted lighthouse that you can explore.  The beautiful sandy beach along the community has a number of boats and great rock cliffs to observe.  Little Harbor is a haven for people that like to fish and it is also a perfect idea for bone-fishing.  You can turtle watch which is an enchanting experience as the serene waters are replete with sea turtles.  The different communities of South Abaco Island make fantastic vacation destinations.  At Elbow Cay, you can visit nice restaurants and enjoy Tahiti Beach.  Casuarina Point is a little taste of paradise with its privacy and pristine beauty.  While staying at a beach house in this beautiful location, you will feel as if you are on your own island!

Explore California’s Central Coast

The 2004 hit movie Sideways did wonders for California’s wine industry, showing that the long fêted Napa Valley is not the only California wine region worthy of acclaim.  With almost 200 wineries between San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles there is a tasting atmosphere and tasty vintage to appease every palate. 

Mimicking the famed growing climates of long renowned wine regions, the micro-climates, soil varieties, rainfall, elevation and long growing season of this area accommodate many of the same varieties of grapes previously known only to Europe and the surrounding areas.  The Central Coast is, however, unique because of the contrasting daytime high temperatures (ranging between 85 and 105 degrees) and chilling nighttime temperatures that drop by 50 or 60 degrees.  Winemakers believe this fluctuation to be a key factor in exuding the intensity found in grapes of this area.  Known mostly for it’s superb Zinfandel grapes, the Central Coast conditions also supports the growth of dozens of wine grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Viognier, Roussanne, even Mourvedre.

The Cuesta Grade, separates San Luis Obispo into “north county” and “south county”, making it a little less daunting to tasters wanting to make a dent in the vast array of tasting rooms in the county, allowing them to conquer one area at a time.  North of the grade, in Paso Robles, are several wineries and tasting rooms, all located in “West Paso” as the local’s refer to it – meaning west of HWY 101.  Some of the most popular include Tablas Creek Vineyard, Justin Winery, Eberle Winery, and Opolo Vineyards. West Paso is known for its rolling hills, meandering roads and sun-filtering oak trees.  A whole other crop of wineries can be found in East Paso.  East of the 101 tends to have more level parcels with the majority of the wineries dotted along or just off of HWY 46.  This includes Vina Robles, Martin & Weyrich Winery, and the notorious Tobin James Cellars.

San Luis Obispo proper is located at the base of the Cuesta Grade.  Cooler temperatures (sometimes by as much as 10 degrees on a summer day)  alter the chemistry of the product and make for a different tasting experience.  Many of the wineries and vineyards of San Luis Obispo boarder Edna Valley, which runs east to west and is paralleled by the Santa Lucia Mountains.  The location of Lake Lopez to the south and Islay Hill to the north helps to keep the valley cool with breezes also rolling in off of the Pacific Ocean.  Edna Valley Vineyards, with its picturesque panoramic views of rolling vineyards from its tasting room, along with Meredian Vineyards, Baileyana Winery, Claiborne & Churchill Vintners, and a host of others, can be found nestled among the vibrant fields of San Luis Obispo’s grapevines.

In addition to introducing new varietals to the area, many central coast winemakers are testing innovating ways to alter the finished taste of the wine.  While some prefer the tried and true traditional method of aging wine in Oak barrels, some are embracing the newer practice of employing stainless steel barrels in order to produce a crisper wine…and some use a combination of the two methods.  Cutting edge or classics – all can be found and enjoyed while exploring the tasting rooms and vineyards that the Central Coast has to offer.

The Central Coast is a great place for a weekend trip or a vacation stay – besides the selection of vineyards and tasting rooms, there is also a number of beaches and state parks to visit.  San Simeon (and Hearst Castle), Cambria, Cayucos, Avila, Montana de Oro, Morro Bay, Los Osos, Shell Beach and Pismo Beach each have their individual charm and make for a great day at the beach!

Teriffic Vacation in Seaside, OR!

Seaside is a beautiful city located in Clatsop County, Oregon.  Seaside is a tourist hotspot because of its fabulous beaches, chic vacation homes, close proximity to Portland, and interesting events that occur throughout the year.  During the summer, you can watch the widely-known Hood-to-Coast Relay or the beach volleyball tournament; and during the winter, you can enjoy the beautiful beaches and serene atmosphere.  You are bound to have a wonderful vacation experience in Seaside no matter what time of the year you visit!

The terrific beaches of Seaside will keep you coming back to this city.   Seaside Beach is a scenic, sandy beach with clear waters.  At the beach, you will find volleyball, sandcastles, swing sets, kites and much more!  Seaside Promenade is a beautiful two-mile long walkway along Seaside Beach that you must check out.  You can embark on a soothing, beautiful stroll and watch the sunset or relax and soak in the beauty of the beaches and the glow on the sand produced by the reflection of the street lamps.  You can also start a little fire and listen to the sounds of the waves at night for a truly romantic experience.

Two notable state parks are located near Seaside: Del Rey State Park to the north and Ecola State Park to the south.  At the beautiful Del Rey State Park, you can relax, watch the view of the ocean, and have a wonderful family picnic.  The famous Ecola State Park includes Indian Beach and has unrivaled views of the Oregon Coast.  The park also has a historic dimension to it because you can walk along the Clatsop Loop Trail that has footsteps of Captain Clark and his men.

Seaside offers a variety of sports including swimming, surfing, volleyball, golf, tennis, kite-flying, and crabbing at Seaside’s 12 Avenue Bridge.  Fishing is a popular pastime in the city—anglers will encounter steelhead, trout and salmon in the waters!

One of the prime attractions of Seaside is the Seaside Aquarium which is one of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast.  At the aquarium, you can feed the seals and observe fascinating, native sea creatures.  In some of the underwater areas, you can see some exotic life forms including a spectacular 20-Ray StarFish, a brutal Wolf-Eel, or a deadly Moray Eel.  The Seaside Aquarium is most definitely a fascinating place to check out during your terrific vacation at Seaside!

Seaside has a variety of scrumptious restaurants and eateries.  Fresh seafood and well-known Oregon wines are the specialties at restaurants in Seaside.  Doogers Seafood and Grill is a great restaurant for seafood and Guido & Vito’s Italian Cuisine is a superb Italian bistro.  Seaside is a fantastic city for a vacation for the whole family.  By staying at a beautiful beach house, and exploring the different aspects of this city, you are bound to have a terrific vacation!

Take the family to Dillon Beach, CA – even your dog!

Even the most finicky vacationer can find a city in California that satisfies their hunger to travel.  With cities like San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Palm Springs, Sacramento and San Francisco, there is never a dull moment where one has to stop and ask, “what should we do?”

But what if you want a different kind of trip?  A mellow one where you spend more time sitting on a beach than walking city streets, eating at cafes than drinking in clubs, and where you don’t come home feeling like you need a vacation to recover from your vacation?

Dillon Beach, located about 20 minutes north of San Francisco, is one of California’s best family vacation destinations…and I mean the whole family, as Dillon Beach is one of the few dog-friendly beaches in California!

This serene little town overlooks the scenic Point Reyes Peninsula where visitors can enjoy swimming, kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, sailing, hiking, fishing, cycling, beachcombing, antiquing and even digging for the famous Dillon Beach giant clams!  Children especially love running up and rolling down the sand dunes!

A long, gently sloping stretch of sand, Dillon Beach is usually crowd-free – which, as some dog owners will attest to, is crucial if you have a Chihuahua who thinks he is about 75lbs. beefier than he really is and insists on finding the largest dog on the beach, chasing it down until the poor unsuspecting thing relents, and proceeds to perform actions too inappropriate to discuss with you all.  What?  Oh, you thought I was talking about my little angel?  I was speaking hypothetically, I swear…

Attracting surfers from nearby Mendocino, Napa and San Francisco counties, Dillon Beach’s surf is clean and consistent, although perhaps not the largest or most powerful surf around (expect 3 – 5 foot swells on most days).  Liquid surf shop, located inside the general store, carries full gear for purchase or for rent.

Once you and your family are tired out from a day at the beach, visit the Dillon Beach Cafe and enjoy delicious breads, perfectly cooked meats, and famous clam chowder – all using locally grown produce!

If you are too sandy to dine (or have your pooch with you) stop by the General Store at Dillon Beach for some groceries to take back to your vacation rental home!  The general store carries a wide variety of groceries including canned clams, fine wines, beer, ice, house-made deli sandwiches and salads, as well as salt-water taffy.  Beach necessities and souvenirs can be found here as well – shells, warm sweaters and hats, toys, tide books, bait, and most anything else you might need.  Local tip:  stand on the brass star and see what happens!

Itching for some excitement but don’t want to drive to San Francisco?  Head west into Tomales (an antique farming and dairying village) where you can chat over a few cold ones at the William Tell House Restaurant and Bar – the prime rib is highly reccomended! There’s also a bakery, a general store and a cafe just a stone’s throw from one another