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westwinds tower

“Sandestin Is More Than a Destination, It’s an Experience

westwinds towerby Russ Jones, Guest Contributor

When I moved to Mississippi I’d heard about Northern Florida as a popular vacation destination. In less than an easy six hour drive from Oxford, known for its catfish and the famous “Grove” at Ole Miss, you can be at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, surrounded by ocean views and raw oysters on the half shell.

Located between the Gulf of Mexico and the Choctawhatchee Bay, in Walton Count, many call the 2,400-acre resort a “destination.” I liken it to more of an “experience.” While the phrase “there is something for everyone” is rather cliché, it rings true for Sandestin on Florida’s Emerald Coast.

Along with another couple, my wife and I enjoyed a 2-bedroom condo in the Westwinds beachfront tower. Since we love to cook, we appreciated the fully equipped kitchen where we cooked breakfast each morning. One night we even cooked fresh lobster tails we purchased at an area fish market.

Landlocked in the Midwest most of my life, I’m not sure what was better, sipping my hot morning coffee on the balcony watching people get their daily walk on the beach or watching the dolphins swim as the sunset in the background.

With the room came the complimentary use of bicycles, kayaks and rounds of golf. There are also four award-winning courses, 15 tennis courts; 19 swimming pools; a 113-slip marina and a fitness center and spa.

My wife and I joined Mark and Tammy Graham on their first few days of marriage following their wedding in Jackson, Mississippi.

“Sandestin is the perfect location for a honeymoon,” said Mark Graham. “It’s beautiful, romantic and relaxing. There’s a lot to do inside the resort and a lot of sightseeing opportunities nearby.”

Village of Baytowne Wharf
There it was, ACME Oyster House. It had been 35 years since I ate my first raw oyster in New Orleans. ACME is synonymous with Bourbon Street.

“Acme Oyster House in Baytowne Wharf was my favorite, their oysters on the half shell were great but their chargrilled oysters were amazing,” Tammy said.

But little did I know, nestled in the center of Sandestin on the Choctawhatchee Bay is the quaint Village of Baytowne Wharf that has shops,
nightclubs, condos and restaurants — including ACME Oyster House. A blend of the French Quarter and Charleston’s southern charm, the village is a great option when you need a break from the beach.

“Destin was the obvious choice for our honeymoon because we both love the beach and because it’s my favorite place on the planet,” said Mark. “We chose Sandestin in particular because it’s the preeminent resort on the Emerald Coast. I’ve stayed in various units around the property quite a few times and have fallen in love with it.”

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort has 2 conference centers – Linkside Conference Center and Baytowne Conference Center. Sandestin offers excellent facilities for meetings, corporate retreats, weddings and special events – offering 65,000 square feet of function and space on the gulf and bay.

A View From the Bay
If your budget allows, I absolutely recommend renting a boat for the day. The folks at True Blue Pontoon in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. were welcoming and accomidating. Family owned and operated, they are located behind the Elks Club.

Our boat was the “Kicking A,” named by Sandy after the University of Alabama. She safely delivered us to a seafood restaurant for lunch and fishing under the nearby bridge.

While we didn’t catch any fish, our boat was in tip-top condition. It was the kindness of owners Terry and Sandy Breed, however, that would have me rent again. After a long day on the water, the crew met us at the dock and helped us lug all our gear back to the car.

The only thing I wish I had done differently was planned a longer trip so I could have experienced more of Sandestin and the surrounding area.


Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort
9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy W
Destin, FL 32550
(800) 622-1038

True Blue Pontoon
1335 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
(850) 910-3636

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