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Chris graduated from Georgia State University in 2009 with degrees in Journalism and Creative Writing. He has spent a lot of time working with the media. From engineering radio broadcast for most of Atlanta’s major sports teams to shooting high school football games behind a camera, Chris has a lot of media experience. Besides that, he loves soccer, detective shows, and a buffet list of 'nerdy' things that would embarrass his wife.

Finding Pleasant Hideaways in Florida

When I think of relaxing, I typically think of Florida – always have. On the rare occasions when I get to take extended time off from work, Florida is usually the first place that pops into my head. I’ve probably been there more times than I can remember. Growing up, I thought I must have seen every place imaginable; from Orlando to Miami, Ft. Lauderdale to Destin, I had pretty much seen “every inch” of Florida.

But little did I know that these two little cities on the pan handle would have me quickly forget my past travels. In fact, I can safely say that if you haven’t visited Port Saint Joe or Cape San Blas, you may be missing out two of the most relaxing places in all the state. What started out as a four-day weekend to attend my friend’s wedding, soon turned into the best time I had spent on a beach in a long time.

Beach

Almost evening on the Beach. Photo Credit: Chris Hill

When you first get to the peninsula, you won’t know what time it is, as your destinations straddle the Eastern and Central Time Zones. Usually, I’m pretty OCD about that sort of thing, but I have to say that it was pretty nice. In fact, I suggest you just turn off your phones all together. If you need to keep time, just look to see how low the sun is hanging over the ocean.

Speaking of the ocean, it’s hard to start a conversation about a place in Florida without first talking about the beach. One step off the boardwalk and into the smooth sands of Cape San Blas will have you wishing that you could be that lucky everyday. The beach offers instant relaxation, with the only other occupants being that of the residents or vacationers who are staying at the neighboring beach houses. I imagine that even if a boom of tourism hit the area, the beaches would still maintain their quiet and private elegance. The sandy ground has random scattering of shells and barely-noticeable holes for hermit crabs – instant fun for any young eyes that are quick enough to chase them from hole to hole.

If you don’t get a chance to visit the beach during the day, then you should definitely make it there at night. Being from the city, I kind of forget what the real sky looks like behind the skyscrapers and smog, that is until I stood ankle deep in the pleasant tide and looked up. It was absolutely amazing to see how many stars were out; it was almost as if someone sprinkled a bunch of glitter overhead! That’s what you get when your view is unabated, I suppose.

After spending time on the beaches of Cape San Blas, you should definitely make your way to the Port Saint Joe, and more specifically to a nice waterfront restaurant called Dockside. This spot sits on a port where you can see flying seagulls and floating ships. And if you look closely enough, you’ll also see busy fish swimming next to your table. The surroundings are almost as good as the food at Dockside, and the restaurants locale is only matched by the plates of seafood that they bring out. With crab cake sandwiches and tons of fried or grilled options, this place had all of it’s bases covered.

Dockside

The view from the ports of Dockside. Photo Credit: Chris Hill

However, even with that raving review, it still wasn’t the best dining spot that I ate at during my time down there. Actually, as much as the scenery made the meal at Dockside, it was a small 4×4 dive bar on the outskirts of the city that really settled the weekend.

Right outside of Port Saint Joe, in Mexico Beach, Florida, there’s a little (and I mean little) dive that serves up it’s namesake – Killer Seafood.

I had heard a few good things about it from some of the locals and decided to check it out. Best choice I ever made! Not only is this place fairly affordable, but the portions and generally quality of the food that fills your plate is ridiculous. I’m talking shrimp, scallops, crab cakes, fish, more shrimp, more shrimp and MORE shrimp. I almost couldn’t leave my seat, I was so full.

It sounds a lot like all I did was eat and sit on the beach…well, that’s mostly true. But when you take a trip to these relaxing places, what else are you supposed to do? Now I’ve visited a decent amount of vacation spots in Florida, most of which have provided a good time or two. However, I didn’t appreciate what a vacation really could be until driving through Panama City Beach on the way back home and feeling like it was way too crowded.

Take the hot spots and party-life and give me the cool beach breeze all to myself – that’s the vacation I want.

For more information on sights and attractions in Florida, check out their official tourism site, Visit Florida.

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