Experience a beautiful sugar sand beach, pools, biking, paddleboarding, shopping, restaurants, golfing, and more in this family-friendly golf cart community. Read all about the best Florida beach for families at the Sandestin Resort–and why we can’t wait to go back!
We live in a cold climate, and love to get away for either our winter break in February or spring break in April. It’s our time to enjoy a bit of sun and warm up for a week! In our quest to find the perfect spot to visit, we discovered Sandestin Florida quite by accident. We’ve now been twice, and can’t wait to go back again. Keep reading and you’ll find out why it’s the best family beach trip…with something to do for everyone!
Best Family Beach for Families in Sandestin
We were searching for a place to go for February winter break when I stumbled upon an Airbnb listing in Sandestin, Florida. As I started reading about the community, and all it had to offer, I was intrigued. We made the trip and fell in love with everything about it…so much so we went back for spring break the following year!
There are so many things we love about this community, and with something to do for everyone, it really is the perfect place for all ages.
Why we love Sandestin
I’ll admit that I’m not a huge lover of beach vacations, but the rest of my family is. Sandestin is the perfect compromise because there there are so many things to do. We can enjoy the gorgeous beach, but the list is long of other outdoor activities. The ages of my children currently span from elementary school through high school, and each of them loves to go and has something to do. Even younger ages–toddlers and preschoolers–have plenty of options, making it a great beach vacation for families of all ages and sizes.
We can spend the day biking, going on adventures, swimming, fishing, walking along the beach, eating a yummy dinner, getting ice cream, and taking the golf cart on a ride to see the views.
What is Sandestin? Is it a town or a resort?
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is on the Emerald Coast, located on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast in Miramar Beach, Florida. and consists of 2400 acres of fun! In addition to the resort lodging, there are also homes where people live year-round or part of the year, and others you can rent out as vacation homes.
One of the most fun things for our family is that it’s a golf cart community, where you’ll see more golf carts on the road than cars! My kids absolutely love being able to go to the grocery store, pool, beach, to dinner, shopping, to the movies…or anywhere…in a golf cart. Once we arrive, our vehicle usually stays parked the entire time! There’s golf cart parking everywhere, even Publix, the local grocery store that’s accessible from the resort.
Things to do in Sandestin
Beach: The beach is 10-minute golf cart ride from most homes within the resort, and less than that by car. It’s a beautiful beach with stunning, white sugar sand. The water is a gorgeous color–one of the prettiest I’ve seen even compared with beaches in the Keys and further south in Florida. I’ve been when it’s calm, and also when the waves are big enough for the kids to get in on boogie boards.
Biking: The places we’ve stayed have had bikes available for us to use, but there are also places to rent bikes, including the resort. If you stay at the resort, you receive complimentary rentals. There are sidewalks all around the community, and it’s easy to explore the whole area. It’s very common to see people out and about in the morning, but also throughout the day.
Pools: There are many pools accessible depending on where you stay. If you’re staying at the Sandestin Resort, there are pools specific to them. There are small neighborhoods throughout the Sandestin community, each one with their own pool. The two places we’ve stayed each had different pool accessibility–but we had at least two different options with each one.
Baytowne Wharf: The Village of Baytowne Wharf is located within the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. It has restaurants, shopping, plus activities for kids, and is a fun way to spend time. We love to go at night after dinner to walk around, and get ice cream! Throughout the spring and summer there are nightly concerts and other performances and festivities in the square.
Watersport Activities: Paddleboarding, kayaks, boogie boards, pontoon boats, and fishing are all available. The marina is a great place to rent equipment, and it also has a restaurant with a gorgeous view!
Shopping & Restaurants: The Grand Boulevard shopping area is accessible by golf cart from Sandestin, even though it’s not within the Sandestin limits. It’s only a 5-10 golf cart ride from most places within the resort. Publix, the closest grocery store is there, plus quite a few shops, restaurants, and a movie theater. It’s a favorite of ours to visit! There are several nicer restaurants, but also ones that are family-friendly, depending on what you’re looking for.
Golfing: It probably goes without saying, but there is ample opportunity to golf, including right along the water.
Best places to to stay in Sandestin
There are hotels and other lodging owned by the resort that you can stay in, such as the Sandestin Resort (hotel and condos) and the Hilton Sandestin. but there are also privately-owned homes and condos that you can find through Airbnb, VRBO, and Emerald Coast by Owner. We prefer to rent through one of the latter, but all are great options, depending on what you’re looking for.
Because we have a large family, it’s easier to rent a private home where we can have more space and amenities that suit our family. I also think it’s more reasonably priced to do it that way. The one we just stayed in for spring break was our favorite–came with bikes, two golf carts, beach chairs and toys, fishing equipment, and more. The pool was just about 50 feet from the house, and there the back patio looked out over a small lake. It was perfect! (If you’re interested in the property, email me at [email protected], and I’ll send you the link.) If you search Sandestin on those sites, you’ll see what’s available during your dates. Like any lodging, the sooner you look the more options you’ll have, but it’s still worth a look with short notice.
Is Sandestin the same as Destin?
They are not the same! Destin and Sandestin are about 8 miles apart, and in different counties.
Which is better, Sandestin or Destin?
Personally, Sandestin is my fave! But it really depends on what you’re looking for, and your personal preference. Destin is bigger and busier, feels a little more touristy overall. But there are also beautiful beaches, including Miramar Beach and Henderson Beach, and a ton of things to do. Sandestin is quieter in general, and smaller, which makes it very family-friendly. If you stay in Sandestin, Destin is extremely accessible, and you can always drive and take advantage of all it has to offer, and all the 30A beaches.
What is the best time of year to go to Sandestin?
We’ve now been mid-February, and during spring break in April. We also had conversations with several of the locals that live there all year long, and asked them this same question. February and April each have their pros and cons.
February was not busy at all. We could go to the beach anytime, and there were no crowds. The water was about 10 degrees cooler, but when you’re coming from a lot of snow, anything is warmer than what you have! My kids still played in the water and had a great time. Most of the restaurants and shopping were open at the Wharf, and just about everything at The Grand Boulevard. We swam in the pools, biked, and adventured. The main thing we couldn’t do was any kind of water sports, since they weren’t open yet. If you’re looking for a winter getaway, this is a really great option. We also saved a lot more money going in the winter–housing was quite a bit less. If you’re looking for a budget option, and can sneak away in late February or March, it’s one to check out!
April was busier, but with it being spring break month, that’s to be expected. I noticed the biggest impact at the beach. If you want to get a spot, you need to get there before 10am, 9am if possible. That actually works well for littles–then you can get them home for lunch and a nap if needed! My teens had a harder time with that time of the morning, but it was worth it on our designated beach days. If they didn’t want to swim, we’d go walk along the beach after dinner. That’s when it was less crowded, and just enjoy dipping our feet and looking at the views. Everything was open by April when we were there, so you could enjoy all the amenities.
According to the locals, the summer is very busy. The best time to go is typically in April and May. That’s when the sun is shining, and the temps are high enough to swim comfortably but not SUPER hot. (It was in the low 80’s when we were there.) In the summer, you can expect more crowds, but if you love the warm weather and want a summer beach vacation, this should definitely go on the list!
Overall, this is one of our favorite places to visit, and we will definitely be back. It’s one of those destinations that you don’t mind repeating, which isn’t always the case. We love Sandestin, and it’s the best beach in Florida for families!