In case you missed all our excitement and a ridiculous amount of beach stories on Instagram (if you want to see them still you can find our stories in our highlights under the highlight "travel" HERE) We went to Florida for an Insta-meet with a few other bloggers! This was honestly the first time I had been to Florida since I was 12 AND the girls first time ever so it was a huge deal! We spent the weekend exploring Panama City Beach and Jessamyn might be asking when we are going back every single day... I am not exaggerating. I got a lot of messages about Panama City Beach and traveling with kids so I thought I would give you a quick recap incase you want to try this trip as well or are looking for a good getaway spot with small children.
ps. and if your one of the many people who asked if it is even worth it to travel with a baby (or didn't ask but are thinking it) my answer is YES 100% yes. No, neither girl will probably remember much from this trip but I will remember the giggles, the cuddles, and the magic that is sitting on the beach while holding your babies and watching the waves crash back and forth on the sand... there is really nothing better.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort Panama City Beach and it was one of the best hotel experiences I have ever had. The staff was super friendly and accommodating, in fact when I got there and was struggling with our bags and the girls were both melting down a staff member helped me and then gave me his card in case we needed anything during our stay. Every single room at the Holiday Inn Resort overlooks the ocean and all I can say is wow. When we showed up in our room we found all the towels folded like different animals and it was just the sweetest touch. There were also bunk beds in our room which was awesome because Jessamyn basically decided they were hers and the whole time we were there it was like Ben and I were on a different vacation than her... just kidding but NOT having to share your bed with a three year old definitely ups the vacations awesomeness levels by like a thousand.
The Holiday Inn Resort Panama City Beach not only has beach access but beautiful outdoor pools and a splash pad that Jessamyn would have had us play at the entire trip. (ps. the hotel provides swim diapers which... is an AMAZING touch considering without them it could really ruin your vacation experience with small children) I was also impressed by the outdoor bar and the general atmosphere was so relaxing. They even had movies projected at night which was super fun (we watched from our balcony) and being so close to the ocean was like nothing else... I am legit scheming how to get back because we loved being there so much.
That first night in Panama City Beach Florida we went on a dolphin cruise with Island Time Sailing. I had never seen a dolphin in the wild and Jessamyn didn't actually know what they were at first (she thought they were sharks) SO yeah we were super excited. The boat had a really calming energy and the snack and drinks you could purchase below deck were a really nice touch. We rode out past Shell Island and saw quite a few dolphins. Jessamyn was in heaven the whole time she was dancing, and shouting at dolphins, and just having the time of her life. (Ophelia was totally into the music) Island Time Sailing had music playing the whole time and even got a few games going including a hoola-hoop competition which I didn't play but Jessamyn was all about it. If you have a chance to go on a sunset dolphin cruise I would definitely recommend it, there is nothing more magical than watching dolphins swim while the sun sets... seriously though it was amazing. Also random bit of information it is also considerably cheaper if you go on a weekday so as you plan your trip to Panama City Beach Florida definitely keep that in mind and check out Island Time Sailing.
The next day in Panama City Beach Florida was spent on Shell Island. We took a private boat with Shell Island Snorkel and Dolphin tours and it was again so amazing ( sorry its hard not to describe everything about this trip that way....) We spent that day playing in the sand, finding shells, and then I spent most of it holding a sleeping Ophelia on the boat. Having never been to Shell Island I had actually researched it ahead of time and considered going back on our own via ferry from the state park (which looks super fun too) BUT after taking a boat over and being able to swim and relax on the boat I definitely would recommend going that route and think it really made Shell Island that much more awesome. ps. there was also a boat ice cream truck that came by which I now think is an awesome idea and am wondering why I didn't go into that profession?!
That night we ate tacos and made s'mores around a fire on the beach and it could not have been a more perfect way to end the day. Endless Beach Rentals set up the most beautiful and cozy space to watch the sunset and enjoy the fire and honestly those tacos definitely go into my top ten for most delicious tacos ever. Sitting by the fire in Panama City Beach, watching Jessamyn roast marshmallows and giggle uncontrollably was everything and will forever be one of my favorite memories and something I definitely want to do again.
The next day was spent just enjoying the Holiday Inn Resort, and exploring a few more food places we wanted to try. I mentioned it before but Jessamyn was obsessed with the splash pad.. the Holiday Inn Resort did an amazing job of setting it up so she could play and I could sit back and enjoy a drink while watching her it was awesome. Also with the beach being right there we could literally alternate between the beach and splash pad... all day long which is totally what we did.
One thing, okay maybe the only thing we did that day besides the splash pad and beach was we went to Finn's Island Style Grub. We are kind of food snobs when we travel.. I will just put that out there AND we were so impressed with these tacos! Ben and and I both got Ahi tuna tacos and could not stop raving about them. The only downside was we tried to go back the next day and they were closed so definitely plan ahead on that one but do go... you wont regret it.
The one other place we went that day was Thomas Donut and Snack Shop and basically ate our body weight in donuts... it was worth it. They do have breakfast sandwiches and options other than donuts BUT go for the donuts they are amazing!
Having never been to an Insta-meet I wasn't sure what to expect but wow it was perfect. Panama City Beach Florida is such a fun family destination and such a good spot to go with a group. We had so much fun meeting the other families and Jessamyn asks almost daily when we are going back to Florida to see her friends. If you have any questions about things we did or anything at all about our trip to Panama City Beach Florida please leave them below. OR if you have any recommendations I want those too because we will definitely be back! If you want to learn more about the other bloggers who were there I have linked them below so definitely go take a look!