Playing tourist …when you aren’t one.

The Destin Bridge and east pass.

The Destin Bridge and east pass.

I got the opportunity to play tourist in my town with a group of fellow bloggers recently and I must admit, I had a blast. Catching up with old friends and making new ones never gets old to me. We stayed at the Emerald Grande overlooking HarborWalk Village, the Destin Harbor and the East Pass leading to the Gulf of Mexico. The entire Destin fishing fleet travels right by this area and if you are fortunate enough to be an early riser, you can watch them parade out each morning to gather the day’s catch.


Harborwalk is home to restaurants, shopping, events and music. There is always something on the calendar of events most weekends and each Thursday during the summer is ended with a display of fireworks that I can sometimes see from my house. During the Mardi Gras months, there are parades and Christmas is beautifully lit the whole season.

Who wouldn't want to cook in this kitchen?

The Emerald Grande is a 13 floor condominium with two towers – East and West. The west tower has independently owned condominium units from 2-3 bedrooms with full kitchens, laundry machines in the unit and spacious living areas. The east tower has fractional ownership with some of the units on a rental program. Both towers have similar furnishings and access to the same amenities – pools, fitness center, spa, meeting rooms and garage parking.

Bowling in a fishbowl Bloggers Bowling!


The first evening we went to Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill. We sampled the menu and then donned our bowling shoes to try out the lanes. The sampler was delicious and the bowling truly was a blast.

The ambiance is awesome at Uncle Bucks! The decor is fantastic!

Seriously, how neat is this? You feel like you are under the sea!

Serene Day at the Beach    IMG_6266

The next day we rode the Emerald Grande water shuttle to the beach and enjoyed the cloudy, non-humid day for a couple hours before lunch. Although the sky was overcast, the water was warm and it was really an excellent time to be at the beach.

Fried Green Tomatoes = Bliss! Lunch at Lulu's!

For lunch we reconvened our group at Lulu’s. They are located at the foot of the Mid-Bay bridge next to Legendary Marina and just north of Destin Middle School. I had not had the chance to eat at Lulu’s before and I was REALLY missing out! We tried tuna dip & fried green tomatoes  for an appetizer and they were wonderful.

Fish Trax! Shrimp & Grits (Manna from heaven)

I was happy to notice that they also had FishTrax on their menu! Are you familiar with FishTrax yet? Its a service I have seen at one or two local restaurants that lets you stalk your meal. Find out who caught your fish, where it was processed and even who prepared your food. It’s the coolest trend I’ve seen in local eating. I didn’t get a fishtrax with my meal as I had ordered the shrimp & grits. It was utterly delightful and truly worth returning to eat again.

New baby dolphin! Gulfarium history

After lunch our group headed over to the Gulfarium. The Gulfarium is a fixture in our area and has been here since 1955! I honestly did not realize that until this most recent trip. I do remember going to the Gulfarium in early high school for my marine biology class and wishing fervently that I could speak dolphin. They have a new baby dolphin named Kaya and watching her swim with her mom was beautiful.

Sea lion waves! Walk like a sea lion

We watched the sea lion show and it was a hoot. The sea lions appeared to have more fun than the trainers.

Turtles Penguins

There was a great variety of wildlife at the Gulfarium to view – from turtles, penguins and sea lions to otters, sharks and rays. The animals appeared to be very well cared for and the staff was friendly and knowledgeable.

Ropes course at Sunset

After our fun at the Gulfarium, our last event was a fun Mom’s Night Out at Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone just across the street from the Gulfarium on Okaloosa Island. Its a new business that just opened this year and I’ve been eager to check them out. The ropes course is very visible from the road and looked like a worthy reason to return.

Arcade Dinner

We had dinner in the dining area and I noticed a birthday party going on in a room adjacent to ours. We had pizza and there was an excellent menu with lots of salad options as well. The arcade was large and something I know my boys would adore.

4D Movies! My viewing companions

In addition to the ropes course and dining area, there are several additional places to explore. Our first stop was the 4D movie experience. We saw the Dino Safari which looks similar to a recently released popular dinosaur movie. The seats moved, the movie was in 3D and there was a sensation of wind and movement throughout the movie. It was a really neat experience!

He looks grumpy! My firstborn would live here

Next up was exploring the rest of the area which included mini golf complete with moving skeletons, bumper cars, a trampoline jump, bumper boats, a lazer maze, and a mini roller coaster. My older son went to a birthday party the weekend after my adventure in the zone and he had a blast. I will definitely keep the Adventure Zone in mind for future birthdays and weekend family adventures.

I was fortunate enough to try out all these gems right under my nose thanks to MomDot and the fine folks at Brandcation. Thank you! I can’t wait to go back and take my family!


This weekend I am playing tourist in my hometown. Courtesy of the fine folks of MomDot Media, the Emerald Grande, Uncle Bucks Fishbowl, Lulus, the Gulfarium and Wild Willys Adventure Zone, I will finally experience all the fun stuff I hear about but never quite make the time to do. (Seriously, it takes having houseguests to get me on the beach during the summer.)

Stay tuned for fun updates on Twitter and Instgram via my account @Destin_Mom! Check out our adventures under the hashtag #emeraldcoasting and #finalDESTINation15

Pictured above are our beautiful beaches on a sunny summer day. 

Love Rocky Goes to the Beach

I purchased a shirt for myself and Gavin pre-Christmas from Love Rocky, a friend I’ve made online that makes awesome screen printed clothes. Her Etsy store is here and her facebook page is here.

throwing sand

Gavin adores his shirt. It is soft, stretchy and is just the right attitude for my feisty little guy. He had such a blast playing on our beach that I’m not sure he realized that I was photographing him to send the photos back to my friend. Thankfully she loves the shots as much as I do and has shared them on her facebook page and across social media platforms.


We ended up spending 2 hours just hanging out. I shot photos (which I love) and Gavin dug in the sand, ran in circles and chased birds (which he loves). Right before we left, we caught the sunset. A perfect ending to a fantastic afternoon.


Checkout Love Rocky’s designs! She has clothes for kids and moms. And if you use the coupon code DESTINMOM at check out, you’ll get 20% off your order! (Seriously. I need to go shopping now.)

One more for the road!


Bunco night

Destin is a neat community. So many of the full time residents cross paths on a regular basis. It is such a common thing that I joke with Cam that there is less than two degrees of separation between most of the people here. Even if you aren’t a local, after a week or so you will have run into someone that I know.

To help increase the camaraderie with the moms in the area, one of our group started a Bunco night once a month. If you’ve ever played Bunco, you can attest to how easy it is. Really the point of the game is to drink wine and catch up on the latest gossip with the excuse of rolling dice and occasionally yelling Bunco! (Something you get when you roll all the dice in the chosen number for the round.) I’ve played for charity before and with other groups but this group has been fun, mostly because I know some of the ladies with enough new faces to expand my circle of friends.

Last week was our monthly Bunco meeting and we met at the local offices of a real estate group owned by our hostess. We spent more time socializing than usual, so it was tossed around as to if we should play or just hang out more. Then our hostess brought out a different dice game to try.

It was called Left Right Center and was easy to pick up, even after a glass of wine. We photocopied a few ones to represent the pot (we each contributed $10) and everyone started with $10 in fake ones.

The point of the game is to end up with all the money. Much of it ends up in the center with some getting passed left or right. Each time someone rolled all dots and got to keep their ones, we passed around a tiara. Everyone had a chance to play princess!





It ended up with Audrey and Tina having the last of the pot and deciding to split it.


The entire evening was a blast and I can’t wait to see what next month holds!

Do you play Bunco in your area?

Field Trip to Krispy Kreme

My youngest had his first field trip today with his 4 year old preschool class to …. Krispy Kreme. They LOVED it.

The manager came out and explained how the dough moves along the conveyor belt cooking the donuts, flipping the over and cooking the other side. Then they move along and go under a stream of icing to make the “Hot Now” iced donuts that Krispy Kreme is famous for.

Usually, the most popular donut is the simplest – the classic iced. This time all the kids got chocolate iced with sprinkles. Gavin was in heaven!

The kids all got KK hats as well. They were so cute and the hats fit them perfectly.


Thank you Krispy Kreme Destin for letting 19 four year olds invade for a morning of sugary fun!


Belly dancing in Destin

I have a beautiful and amazingly talented friend, Claire who is a belly dancer. She teaches, attends workshops and even planned part of her wedding around belly dancing. (Best wedding ever!) She is affiliated with Fat Chance Belly Dance which has studios all over the world. This is her in the middle of a dance:

Considering the grace with which Claire dances, it can be a little intimidating to want to try belly dancing. However, when TheXperience posted that they were hosting a belly dancing class on the first Fridays of each month, I had to give it a try. I’ve already conquered the fear of working out, so why not this?

20130915-131704.jpg (Photobomb from Michelle!)
I showed up in just yoga pants and a workout top. The studio let us borrow the jingly scarf to properly learn the moves. I totally bought my scarf to bring home and practice. Some moves needed additional work when I wasn’t ready to fall over.

(My partner in belly dance, Susanna showing off her scarf.)

I had worked out with Karna that morning (hello 5am!), so I was a bit sore going in. I thought the class would be easy-peasy. Silly me! It was as much of a workout as my morning class, so my already sore oblique muscles were screaming. An hour long class and by the end, I had worked up a good sweat and a healthy respect for my hip swinging friend in Texas.
There were approximately 9 ladies there, including Michelle who you might remember from the kids yoga class. I expect there will be even more ladies in attendance at the next class. Hopefully with time, I can work up to Claire’s level of expertise.

Checking out TheXperience’s schedule, I am trying to figure out what I should try next. Any suggestions?

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this blog post and all opinions are my own.

Yoga for Kids

20130823-204728.jpgRiley practiced his relaxation pose.

Recently I won a giveaway on Okaloosa-Walton Macaroni Kid for a kids yoga class at Studio E in Destin. I love yoga and have been looking for ways to incorporate it into my routine and expose my boys to it. I was thrilled to bring them to a class.

Prior to attending the class, I messaged Studio E on Facebook to make sure that I could bring both kids and what items I needed to bring. They assured me that I could bring the kids and that we didn’t need to bring anything. Mats were provided and there was a water cooler in the studio.


We got to the studio a little early and the boys were excited to check it out. I met Michelle and her son Cade. Riley was pleased to see someone his age. Michelle was very welcoming & friendly. She assured me at the beginning of the class that it was a kids class. As such, if the younger kids were more interested in exploring than in participating, it was ok. That really did set my mind at ease as I was sure Gavin was only good for maybe 5-10 minutes of yoga.

Michelle started the class off with breathing exercises including morning sun salutations. We transitioned to energetic breathing and learned the difference between the two. Then we tried out several poses that were new to me. One was similar to a warrior pose. We also did a few partner moves, which were awesome. I partnered up with Riley and Michelle partnered with her son Cade. By this time, Gavin was exploring and off in his own world.

Riley liked doing the moves together and one of his favorites was Lizard on a Rock.


Many of the moves in class had animal names. We also did Rabbit and Turtle poses. After going through the series, Michelle read the story of the Tortoise & the Hare to the kids. When we reached a point in the story where one of our moves was mentioned, we paused the story to do the move.


After reading the story, we laid back on our mats for Savasana. Michelle led a great guided relaxation that even chilled Gavin out. (I think he was afraid of falling asleep though since he skipped his nap today.) Afterwards, Riley didn’t want to get back up, he was so calm.


After class, Gavin tried out the Surfset boards. If they had a class for kids on those, I bet he would be first in line!

Would I go back? Absolutely. I may leave Gavin home for a bit until he is older and more interested in yoga. It was a great bonding experience with Riley and something I can see doing again.

Studio E offers more than just yoga classes for kids. They also offer Surfset, Pilates, Aerial fitness, SUP Pilates, belly dancing, and more. The fall schedule is going online soon, so check them out! You may even find me trying out a class or two!

Back to School


It’s that time of year again! Moms across the area are rejoicing for a few hours of free time during the day and for the return to routine that we all crave. Riley started 4th grade this morning. I gave him the choice to meet up with friends or ride the bus and he chose to ride the bus. He mentioned that a friend from his bus, Tanner was also in his class. I think he was excited to see him.

We’ve been quite fortunate over the years to have excellent teachers for Riley. He isn’t a difficult student, but he could slip through the cracks if not noticed. Riley is very passionate about a few subjects and could care less about others. Each of his teachers over the years has nurtured him and helped him to grow into who he is now. By all reports and rumors, his current teacher is an excellent fit.

I’ve got one more week before Gavin starts Pre-K, so expect a second photo then!

What is your favorite part of back to school?

Paddle boarding in Destin

Gavin, my second born turns 4 on Monday. He is full of adventure and a zest for life that I admire and try to cultivate. He loves anything to do with water and really likes paddle boarding.

We were fortunate today to be able to take out several Bote Boards courtesy of Tristan and his mom, Magda. It was such a treat to get out on the water with friends and family. My in-laws even went out with us!

My in-laws went out on the Bote Breeze boards. They are so neat – inflatable boards that paddle like fiberglass boards. The Breeze actually deflates and fits into a backpack which you can carry with you anywhere.

The rest of us went out on the Bote HD boards. If you haven’t been out paddle boarding before, I can’t recommend these boards enough. Heck, even if you have been paddling – try them. They track straight in the water, are super stable, and extremely versatile. I own a Bote Board, and while it is wonderful, it is not an HD.

My board mate Lily agreed it was fun. It was her first time out on a board.

Susanna & Abby took turns paddling.

Coming back to the park, I ended up with Gavin and Tristan on my board. They were such a hoot. If they weren’t busy sticking their heads in the water to try to see fish, they were plotting when they would jump off the board next. I really enjoy seeing these two together.

Once the adults got back to shore, the kids decided they wanted to go out. Tristan opted for a Breeze to paddle him and Gavin around.

The girls decided on the Bote HD to try out on the water. My niece Natalie enjoyed paddling without a passenger while Lily and Abby learned steering and balance.

It was a wonderful experience and if I ever have the chance, I’d go again in a heartbeat. Thank you Magda, Tristan and Bote Boards for Gavin’s birthday gift of time on the water!

*Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation for this post and all opinions are my own.*

Abrakadoodle + giving back

The Art of Engineering

Abrakadoodle was started in our community in 2008, when my firstborn was 4 years old. I remember meeting Erin, the owner, when she joined our playdate group to do an art project together with our little ones. I was impressed by the frames that the artwork went into and the quality of the finished products. The kids had a blast getting messy creating art and the moms had a fridge worthy piece of art to show off!


Abrakadoodle has grown exponentially since it started in 2008 and went from a mobile location to over 16 locations throughout the Emerald Coast. They offer classes that range from Mommy & Me for toddlers up to camps designed for middle schoolers. In addition they also offer adult painting nights, pinterest classes, and they have partnered with local artist Alan Moore for recycled folk art classes.

Recently, Erin has branched out to help out local organizations within our community. There is a class this Thursday to benefit Feline Friends of Destin, a local charity that works with the local cat population.

FFD flyer

By joining them Thursday evening, you will enjoy a painting class that results in the lovely cat photo above to take home and showcase, plus the added benefit of helping out a local charity!

If cats aren’t your interest, there is another charity painting/mixed media event in August for the whole family.

FFTFood for Thought outreach helps to feed local kids via the schools. Its a great program that also collects backpacks to help equip kids with the nutrition they need to thrive. This class is being held on a Saturday morning so that you can bring the little ones to participate.


What are your favorite ways to give back to your community?


**disclaimer – I was not compensated for this post. I do volunteer with Abrakadoodle and support them with my time. All opinions are my own and unsolicited.**