I had not stepped on a Florida beach in five years before a few weekends ago. One of my best friends from college moved to Navarre, Florida five months ago after she got married. I could not wait to plan a visit and neither could she.
I must admit I’m not the biggest fan of the beach though. I love walking along the shore, sand squeezing through my toes with gentle waves crossing over my feet. It’s so relaxing. I don’t, however, like laying out in the sun or getting in the water, so I hoped our itinerary would be filled with many other activities—and it sure was!
|Me & Mary|
Afterward, we ate Thai food and Mary and I readied for our first round of shopping, which was at the Pensacola Mall and included dinner at Red Robin. It was a great first day! The next day we continued shopping, but this time we headed further east to Destin and shopped at the Destin Commons, ate lunch at the fantastic Panera Bread restaurant and visited stores at the Destin Outlet Mall too.
Our dinner was definitely a unique experience at McGuire’s Irish Pub Restaurant in Destin. McGuire’s has been a Florida institution of great cuisine and music since 1977. The Destin location opened in 1996 and features a lengthy menu and live music with over a million one-dollar bills suspended from the ceilings and stuck to the walls. It’s also neat to note that Florida is called the Emerald Coast while Ireland is the Emerald Isle.
We sat outside on the upper deck, enjoyed live music and fare such as one of McGuire’s famous steak burgers with smoked Gouda cheese and Irish Potato Fries and their famous Reuben sandwich made with corned beef, swiss cheese and sauerkraut on rye bread.
|Lovely sunset at Navarre|
I enjoyed the beach and shopping, but Saturday held my favorite activity of the trip – visiting the Blackwater River State Park. The park, which is only about 30 minutes northeast of Navarre, allows for visitors to rent tubes and float down the Blackwater River. And that’s just what we did. It was incredibly relaxing. The scenery was beautiful, especially when it poured down raining several times during our two-hour float. I hadn’t been down a river in a tube since a trip to the Bogue Chitto River in Mississippi when I was a kid, so it was a great experience.
|Tubing down Blackwater River!|
It’s also one of the most popular spots on Navarre Beach. We paid a dollar to walk out on it just after sunset and it was gorgeous. Later, we listened to some live music at the Navarre Beach Pier Restaurant and enjoyed the lovely gulf breeze on my last night in Florida.
Sunday was my final day and our destination was Pensacola. We had brunch at a fabulous little restaurant called “Another Broken Egg,” and then we made a trip to the National Naval Aviation Museum. This museum is incredible! I wish I had a whole day to explore it and the surrounding area’s historic Fort Barrancas. The museum opens up to a Wright Brothers plane suspended in the entrance. There’s also an IMAX theater and dozens and dozens of aviation displays with massive planes from multiple eras hanging from the ceilings. I’ll definitely be going back there.
|Entrance of the National Naval Aviation Museum|
The Pensacola Lighthouse was built in 1859 and gained damage during the Civil War from Union fire across the water at Fort Pickens. It’s also known for being “haunted.” I think the ghastly part though is the climb.
|The Pensacola Lighthouse|
These stairs were not only spiraling forever upward, but they were also made of metal with decorative cutouts in them so you could see how far below you would fall if you tripped. Then, there was the part about how narrow the staircase was and that people were coming down as you were going up and they had the only railing to hold onto. We also had to make the climb barefoot because we were wearing flip-flops. It was all just a bit unnerving to say the least.
|Gorgeous view from top of lighthouse|
Do you have a memorable beach trip to share? How have you fared with climbing lighthouses? Please join the conversation below.