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Last-minute Family Beach Vacations

by Renee Taliaferro on August 6th, 2009

Conditions are perfect on the Emerald Coast for a last-minute family beach vacation. Emerald green waters are crystal clear — in Destin there is no sea weed and no jelly fish in sight — a nice improvement over the past few weeks. Summer has finally warmed the water to a pleasant, relaxing temperature. Some of the crowds have gone home, making it easier to dine out without the wait or drive through some of the more congested areas. We were also in Panama City Beach and the Hwy 30A area this week and they looked even less crowded.

The past week my daughter and I enjoyed our annual trip to The Track — one of our favorite amusment parks in Destin. We try to go early or late summer when the park isn’t too crowded, but we hit it just right this year — arriving aound 5:30 there were no waiting lines for either Track.

We also visited The Gulfarium in Fort Walton for the first time. The dolphin and sea lion shows are all outside, so the warm sea breezes kept the summer heat under control. My daughter loved the shows — they were certainly entertaining.

We also stopped by the Silver Sand Outlets this week for some last-minute back-to-school shopping — we found some great bargains. It was a trip we don’t make in the middle of summer because of traffic and crowds and heat — but this was a great week to spend a little time shopping. We also went to look at some of our favorite art galleries and shops in Seaside and the Grayton Beach area.

We’re so thrilled the weather is cooperating for one more week before school starts back (mid-August for us) — especially because Red Snapper season closes August 14th. We’ve enjoyed some spectacular days on the Gulf recently, catching mainly snapper and grouper.

Besides relaxing and playing on the beach, there is really an endless supply of activities for family fun on the Gulf — and just a little more time to enjoy them before school starts back. Charter a fishing trip, take a sunset cruise, a dolphin excursion or even a snorkel trip . Or rent a boat or jet ski or bike or kayak for the day. Go parasailing! Visit area museums, art galleries, shops, golf courses. And of course enjoy dining anywhere from the numerous casual beach-front seafood eateries to world-famous gourmet restaurants. It’s all on the gorgeous Gulf Coast in Alabama and Florida. For more information on planning your perfect beach vacation getaway, visit

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