I’m a beach girl. Born under a water sign just steps away from the Long Island Sound, I guess the ocean was kind of cooked into my blood from the get-go. I know I’m not alone in this, so if you’re also someone that finds the comfort of the sand and surf the most calming and inspirational place in the world to be, read on.
If you’re reading this blog, you already know that your Gray Card Membership offers you amazingly deep discounts on stays in properties all over this country. Love the mountains? You’re golden with Gray Card. Got a thing for wide open spaces or vibrant cities? Great. Check out Ruidoso, NM or Las Vegas.
But getting back to the ocean, I like mine nice and warm with a side of oysters or grits. I found that and more by stretching my Gray Card stays over not one, not two, not three but four different properties along the beautiful Gulf states. These are places I’ve never been before but will certainly visit again.
I started this trip with a visit to Destin. Often referred to as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village”, there ’s a lot to research about Destin before ever setting foot there. Before stepping on the airplane, Google whetted my appetite with not only information on Destin’s plentiful fishing, but also it’s challenging golf courses, mouth-watering seafood restaurants and it’s mind-boggling array of watersports activities.
That’s why I opted to begin my adventure at The Destin Holiday Beach Resort. Ever at the forefront of my mind were those famous three words: Location. Location. Location. My studio’s sliding back door led directly to a small grassy area with picnic tables, past the lovely outdoor pool, over a cute little wooden boardwalk and right onto the sand.
I could spend time writing about the convenient kitchenette or my comfy bed, but I’d rather focus on the thing that will undoubtedly bring me back to this resort. Location. I woke up each morning and, armed with a cup of coffee that I brewed in my room, strolled right over the boardwalk in bare feet to wish the seagulls and the early-bird fishermen a good morning.
For those of you that might be willing to trade the sandy feet for a bit more creature
comfort, you might think about taking a quick walk across the street to Club Destin. This property will soothe your soul the moment you walk into their newly updated grand lobby. Impressed? So was I… until I walked past the lobby into the three-story atrium that houses a gigantic indoor pool and hot tub along with tropical foliage and palms. Boasting a nine-hole indoor putting green and a 24-hour movie room, this property will check all the boxes for a family whose ultimate vacation includes the beach and then some.
After getting a few great nights of sleep in my giant two-bedroom suite, it was time to hit the road. I’ve visited Pensacola before, but I’ve never had time to check out its lovely secluded and relaxing beaches.
Here, I found the water to be as emerald green and inviting and Google had warned me it would be, but I also found the cutest little places to sit and people watch. Check out the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk for shopping, dining and/or cooling your heels on a bench and keeping look-out for playful dolphins.
After my short exploration of the surrounding area, I checked into the sweetest little two-bedroom condo-style suite any thalassophile could ever hope for. The Holiday Beach Resort Soundside overlooks the calm waters of the Santa Rosa Sound. I enjoyed the view from my private balcony, but there’s nothing like walking down to the water’s edge (again, with coffee) and watching the fish and ducks swim around lazily in the hopes that you brought some bread to feed them. Although the resort offers a heated outdoor pool, hot tub, barbecue grills and tennis courts, I was just fine with my coffee, my book and my nearly-permanent place on a bench at the end of their private fishing dock. I knew there was plenty do in and around Pensacola and it’s beaches, but that could wait until after I was done catching some more rays and finishing some more chapters, thank you very much.
Because I had a little more time and because I’ve never been in the state of Mississippi, I decided to end my seaside sabbatical with a visit to The Royal Holiday Beach Resort in Biloxi. Although the water I saw wasn’t as green here, it was still clear and inviting. The oysters and grits were still plentiful and I could taste that I was getting a little closer to New Orleans with each delicious boudin egg roll and Cajun Alligator bite I had at Fleur De Lis Bar & Grill just up the road in Pascagoula.
Another thing I really enjoyed while in Southern Mississippi was trying my luck at
Treasure Bay Casino which was maybe a three-minute walk from my absolutely adorable spiral-staircased condo. With table games, slots and keno, I was never bored at this place. Hey, it’s not Vegas, but how many Vegas casinos can boast a gorgeous ocean view through the floor-to-ceiling windows of their 9th floor seafood restaurant? Spoiler alert: none.
All in all, my whirlwind tour of the Gulf states was a success. I loved experiencing four different resorts with four completely different personalities, but all centered around what I personally believe to be the most calming, the most inspirational place on this earth: the ocean.