Thursday, June 20, 2024

Our 2024 30A Summer Beach Trip - Days 1, 2, & 3

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It’s time for my first beach trip recap!  I always love recapping our travels, documenting all of the little details, and preserving all of the memories for the kids to look back on one day.  Forever grateful for this online scrapbook that I started nine years ago.  <3

Saturday, June 1

Saturday morning, we slept in, I finished up a couple of blog posts, I got showered, we had lunch at home, we finished packing, and then we hit the road!  The condos in 30A are never available for check-in until 4 PM CST which is 5 PM EST (our time), so there’s never a rush to get down there early.  Instead, we’re able to take our time getting there because we’re so blessed to be just a short drive away.

The drive went smoothly, and we had minimal traffic.  Naturally, all of the traffic hit right as we were getting close to the beach, and by then, we’d been in the car so long that I needed to go to the bathroom thanks to all of the water that I drink, so we ended up stopping at a McDonald’s on the way.  My toxic trait is that I always think I can make it to wherever we have to go without having to stop for a bathroom break, and then once we’re in the middle of nowhere (or stuck in traffic) with no gas stations or restaurants in sight, I decide that I’m going to die because I can’t hold it anymore.  Hahahaha. 

Thankfully, we made it to the little strip of restaurants and shops just in time, so Olivia and I ran in and ran back out, and shortly after that, we were in 30A!  We stopped at Publix on the way in to load up on groceries for the week, and most of the groceries ended up in my lap as the car was packed to the gills with all of our luggage and beach stuff.

We made the short drive to the condo after that and got everything unloaded.  We have been staying at the same condo complex for the last few years, but this year, the rooms we wanted were all booked EARLY, so we ended up choosing to stay at the condo complex next-door to the one where we usually stay, and it was nice!  There were a couple of things about it that weren’t so great (the bunkbeds and the broken venetian blinds… who still uses venetian blinds?!) and I did miss our old condo, but this one turned out to be nice.  The best part about this one was that our unit was on the end, so we had two walls of windows that overlooked the beach!  Look at those sweeping views!

While we were in Publix, Brian had ordered Angelina’s pizza online and told them to have it ready at a specific time, so by the time we got everything unpacked and put away, it was time for B to pick up the pizza.  We’ve been getting Angelina’s takeout every single year for the last 5-6 years on the Saturday that we arrive, so it’s tradition.  We’re always tired after the drive, and it’s always peak time (and too late to try to go anywhere) that first Saturday that we arrive, so takeout is always the best option.  And Jacob has declared Angelina’s to be his favorite pizza of all-time, so he was thrilled.

After dinner, we hit the beach!  It had stormed all day prior to our arrival, so the ocean was angry and, therefore, the water wasn’t its usual shimmering emerald self, but it was still beautiful, nonetheless.  Side note, I wore that outfit below in the car and Brian was like, “Are you wearing that to the beach?”  Lol.  Yes, yes I am.  Sorry not sorry that my outfit looked like pajamas.  It was comfy for the car ride down and who cares what you look like on the beach!  Haha.

After our beach walk, we had M&M ice cream sandwiches in the room that we’d bought at Publix, and we watched an episode of Is It Cake?  We always travel with our Roku, so all of our steaming services can come along with us, and it’s the most convenient thing! 

We finally got the kids in bed at 10:30 our time and we were all BEAT.  Typically, the kids sleep in the bunk beds, but the top bunk in this particular condo was unusable as it was, like, ten inches from the ceiling and it didn’t have a rail.  It would have been like sleeping in a coffin with the risk of falling seven feet down to the hard floor below.  Haha.

Instead, Olivia slept on the pull-out couch, and Jacob slept on the bottom bunk of the bunk beds.  B and I had our own room, and it was so nice because this time it had a window that overlooked the 30A strip and the ocean. 

Olivia had brought along her sleep mask and, like, 20 stuffed animals – forehead slap – so she was cozy and ready for bed with all of her little buddies.  Haha.

We were all worn out from the drive and the salty air, so we passed out after getting the kids in the bed.  B and I have started traveling with this fan to drown out any noise and it is THE BEST THING EVER.  I usually struggle to sleep anywhere that’s not my own bed, but this thing is a gamechanger, y’all.


Sunday, June 2

Sunday morning, we were up at 8 AM our time which is 7 AM beach time, and Brian headed straight out to check on our chairs.  Real estate right by the water’s edge is scarce when you stay in a condo, so B gets out there early every morning to make sure we get a good spot.  We usually bring our own chairs and umbrella because the beach chairs are immensely expensive (like $40-$50 PER DAY), but this year, our condo came with free beach chair service (WOO HOOOO!), so it was very convenient.

However, the first morning, B walked down there and couldn’t find beach chairs with our condo number on them, so we had no idea what to do.  We had brought our own chairs and umbrella just in case, so he hauled them down there and set them up.  A bit later, he was able to call the chair service, and they sent someone out immediately to bring our chairs and umbrellas, and then we never had an issue after that.

After our stuff had been hauled down, B drove down to The Donut Hole in Inlet Beach to grab a dozen.  Their Dutch Crumb donuts are my favorite donuts of all time, and they’re the only place we’ve ever found in the world that has them, so I always savor every bite since I know it’ll be a whole year before I can have them again.  They’re very filling, so one is plenty, and I spread mine out over three days.

While B was gone, I did my morning quiet time – gratitude journal, prayer journal, devotional, and Bible study – and I finished up right as he was getting back to the condo.  We all ate breakfast, and then got ready to head down to the beach!

We got down there at 10 AM our time (9 AM beach time) and spent the rest of the morning there.  It was then that the guy came from the chair service to remedy our chair situation, and then I had just settled in with my book when I heard a lady screaming and looking panicked.  She was screaming at a teenage girl saying, “I TOLD YOU TO WATCH HIM AND NOW HE’S GONE!”  Then she started running up and down the beach in complete anguish searching for her child. 

My heart sank when I realized what was going on, and I jumped up ready to help search.  Just as I jumped up, somebody pointed her west down the beach, and I saw her run as fast as she could and snatch the kid up.  He was tiny.  Probably two years old at most.  So, I can’t imagine how terrified she must have been.  It was upsetting to me, and it wasn’t even my child.  My mind, of course, went to the worst case scenario, and I thought for sure he had wandered out into the ocean and was never going to be seen again.  Ugh.

So that was not the best way to start the morning, but thankfully, it all ended well, and then we were able to relax. 

The day started out cloudy, but the sun came out shortly after we got down there.  And unfortunately, the water was gross because the storms from the previous day had churned up a bunch of gunk, but at least the weather was nice!

On our beach vacation last year, Olivia made a friend named Evelyn from Indiana.  They were inseparable for the last few days of our trip, and they have been writing letters to each other in the mail all year since then.  They even sent each other friendship bracelets.  <3  We knew that they were supposed to be coming back down the same week and staying in the same condo again, so we were hoping to be able to find them.

Sure enough, late in the morning, they walked up the beach and they found us!!  Olivia was THRILLED and she and Evelyn picked right back up where they left off last year.  It was the sweetest thing.

We headed up for lunch around 12:30 our time, ate sandwiches, fruit, and leftover pizza, and then went straight back down to the beach.  That’s our usual rhythm every day while we’re there – beach in the morning, lunch/break in the condo for about an hour, beach in the afternoon, and then up to the condo to get showered and ready to go do something fun in one of the neighboring beach towns.

We headed back down to the beach at 1:30 our time and spent the rest of the afternoon out there.  I read my book for a long time, and I also hung out with Evelyn’s mom, Erin, in the ocean for a long time.  They are just the nicest people!

We headed back to the condo around 3:30 our time and got showered and ready, and then we made the drive to Panama City Beach so we could eat at Pineapple Willy’s.  It’s about 45 minutes from where we stay, so it’s a bit of a haul, but it’s tradition for us to eat there every year.  Jacob and Olivia have both eaten there every single year of their lives with the exception of 2014 – that year we skipped our 30A trip to go to Myrtle Beach for my sister-in-law’s wedding.

B and I got our usual Pineapple Willy drinks – one of the best mixed drinks ever! – and we all enjoyed our dinner.  Their food is surprisingly good for a basic beach restaurant. 

After dinner, we continued our tradition with mini golf.  We always go to the same place (except for last year when we tried a new place and were disappointed – haha), and this year was no exception.  Olivia got a hole-in-one, and it was the only time I happened to be taking a video, so it was perfectly timed.  She was the only one of all of us to get a hole-in-one all evening!

The scores were closer than they’ve ever been, and we’ve finally reached the point in life where Jacob is now beating me at mini golf.  I guess all of his golfing for the school team is paying off!  Haha.

After mini golf, we headed to the Pink Pelican for ice cream… another longstanding tradition of ours.  They have SO MANY FLAVORS.  Seriously, the most I’ve ever seen at any ice cream place ever, and all of them are so delicious.  They have my all-time favorite – banana crème pie – so I wasn’t going to turn that down, and I even opted for a waffle cone.  Who even am I?!

I’ve always loved ice cream, and I used to eat a small bowl of frozen yogurt before bed for years until I got Covid.  When I got Covid in 2022 I lost my sweet tooth and completely stopped eating ice cream, and I haven’t eaten it much ever since.  I can’t say no to banana crème pie, though.  ;o)

By the time we left there and made the drive home, it was LATE, so we got the kids in the bed, and then B and I passed out, too.  We were all exhausted from the sun and surf and sand and aaaallll the yummy food!


Monday, June 3

Monday, we were up at 8 our time again, and Brian and Olivia went to make sure our chairs were there.  They were, indeed, so he plopped all of our stuff down to let everyone know they were claimed. 

When they came back up, we had leftover donuts for breakfast and then I did my Bible study while the kids watched cartoons.  We headed down to the beach at 10 AM our time and settled in for a long day by the water.  The weather was beautiful, and the ocean had mostly cleared to its sparkling emerald perfection, so the kids spent the morning on their boogie boards and throwing the ball back-and-forth while I read my book. 

The beach is literally the only time in life when I actually relax.  I’m going going going nonstop all the time at home and on other vacations we take (Disney World, New York City, Nashville, etc.), but when I’m at the beach, I’m in total sloth mode.  I will literally lay around all day and read.  I could sit out there for hours and be perfectly happy with my book.

Before lunch, the four of us went on a beach walk for about a mile, and then we headed up for lunch in the condo again.  We went back down to the beach right after lunch, and then settled in for the next couple of hours.

Olivia played with Evelyn, Brian and Jacob threw the ball back-and-forth, and I read some more.  Our seat neighbors that day saw my UGA hat, and they told us that they were from Atlanta and they were huge fans, too.  All three of their kids had recently graduated from there, one of whom worked for the football team and knew who my cousin was since he works for the UGA football team, too.  Such a small world!

We ended up going back up to the condo around 2:45 our time, which was earlier than usual, because we wanted to get to Seaside early for dinner.  Seaside gets packed pretty early on, and we wanted to eat at Great Southern Café.  They have happy hour drink specials until 5, so we got there around 4:30 to partake.

B and I both had a round of Old Fashioneds and then another (another round, please!), and we took some pictures while we were waiting for our food.  I call this series “The Many Faces of Jacob and Olivia.”  Hahahaha.  They are so into making goofy faces these days, we can hardly ever get both of them to look at the camera and smile normally at the same time. 

Great Southern Café is known for their southern cooking, but it’s fancy southern cooking.  B and I always get veggie plates because they have so many good ones, and this time I got the gouda cheese grits (a must!!), the garlic green beans, fried okra, and black-eyed peas.  All of it was divine.  B had the same thing, but he got the fried green tomatoes instead of the black eyed peas.  Their fried green tomatoes are the best of the best!

Olivia was super excited because fried okra is one of her favorite foods, so she was in heaven with that and her mac n cheese.  And Jacob had to take this funny picture with his meal because they gave him one lone sweet potato fry among all of his regular ones.  Haha.

After we were done eating, we headed to Duckie’s to look around, and of course, the kids wanted to get souvenirs.  We always let them pick out one souvenir from the trip, and Duckie’s is always their go-to place because they have so many unique things.

After Duckie’s, we browsed a few of the other shops, and I grabbed some ChapStick with SPF because my lips had gotten sunburned.  And, of course, we had to stop by the little post office and take a picture!


The kids wanted ice cream for dessert, so we went to Dawson’s (our usual).  B and I were too stuffed for dessert, so we let the kids grab theirs, and then we went to hang out by the green to watch the performance that was taking place on the stage.

We made our way back to the condo after that, and we got back just in time to walk on the beach and hunt for crabs.  We saw a giant sand turtle someone else had made on our walk, along with a jellyfish and a couple of crabs. 

Just as we were heading back towards our condo, Evelyn’s family came outside to crab hunt with us, but our time with them was short because it started raining.  We all ran up to the condo, got in our PJs, watched another episode of Is It Cake? and then we hit the hay around 10:30 our time again.

And that was the first part of our trip!  Stay tuned for more, hopefully, tomorrow!

Happy Thursday, y’all!


  1. That sounds like the perfect start to a nice, relaxing vacation! We travel with our Roku stick too and love that we can pick up on our shows right where we left off.

  2. I would really like a nice relaxing vacation like that. Other people in my family are more restless though.

    1. I'm the one who usually can't sit still and would rather be on the go, but when we go to the beach, I totally enter sloth mode. Haha. I just love laying on the beach with a book.

  3. I'm the same way with the relaxation. It's the one vacation where I don't feel the need to plan all the details!

  4. One thing I love is donuts and wow I always love your donut photos from your beach vacations. We have never done 30A, just Destin and Orange Beach (which I guess is a different area), but we need to add the 30A area to a beach vacay one of these days. I'm just curious if there is anywhere close to fly in or if we'd have to drive (been loving driving less these days!). Oh, your daughter reminds me of mine when she was younger. She'd pack an entire suitcase of stuffies and dolls if she could! SO cute!


    1. Destin is about 45 minutes west of the 30A area! If you ever decide to stay in 30A, you can fly into the Panama City Beach Airport and then it's about a 30 minute drive to 30A from there. If you ever decide to go, let me know and I can give you lots of tips! And I love that! Olivia brings those stuffies everywhere we go!


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