I debated about even making this trip with the varied news reports about the oil on Pensacola Beach, but I'm very glad I went. We left Carrollton, GA (where I work a night shift) at 7am. Stopped in Montgomery at the SAM's Club for gas. We made to the toll booth onto Santa Rosa Island by lunch time.
I feared that we would have to wait till closer to the normal 4pm check-in at the Hilton, but they had a room ready for us to check-in at 1pm CT! Sweet! Very friendly and helpful bell hop staff to take luggage and beach stuff for a family of 5 (mom, dad, 2 teen boys & nana) to a 2 queen bed, bunk beds and fold out sofa bed room on the 6th floor of 17 in the Tower. I stepped out on the balcony and thought "vacation time is FINALLY here!"
In addition to the info on TA I found thru varied internet searches the PB tourism website and the ISLAND TIMES, a local news site that was very helpful. We ate lunch at the NATIVE CAFE, a local lunch place that specalized in Fish Tacos. My mom and I shared this (minus the peppers) and a bowl of the Shrimp Chowder. The tacos with grilled Mahi Mahi were excellent, but the chowder was a bit spicy for my taste. My hubby had the BIG Beach'n Salad w/ grilled fish and my sons had Native Burgers. His salad did not disappoint and my son claimed the burger was "Heaven on a bun!" The Native Cafe provides a healthy alternative for breakfast and lunch daily, and dinner Fri & Sat from April till October.
Our suite at the Hilton had a kitchenette (microwave, frige and sink) but NO dishes or flatware! So back across the bridge to Gulf Breeze Pkwy and the Wal-Mart to pick up plastic plates and flatware, lunch fixings, snacks, drinks and things we forgot (hats for my boys!) Wally world had all but the hats, but they had a Beals store nearby and found two of the SPF hats, along with a Tervis Tumbler (which works great) that said "WELCOME TO PARADISE!" for my beach souvenier. Back to the Hilton to crash for the evening!
Our stay at the Hilton was thru HHonors points (we own timeshare weeks with Hilton) and got vouchers for continental breakfast, 2 per ticket. We upgraded one morning to a full hot breakfast for $3/pp. Otherwise we loaded up our take-out containers with fruit, muffins and cereals.
Thursday was RED FLAG beach conditions due to an exiting tropical storm in the Yuccatan. I had never seen 4 foot waves in the Gulf, but the water looked so yucky from the Gulf Oil spill and the disperatants that I wouldn't have gone in anyway. My mom and I did a beach walk and observed the yellow-vested clean up crew raking the sand and picking up seaweed with shovels. I saw *one* tar ball. I guess they saw something we didn't. We snagged a couple of loungers with an umbrella by the pool and spent most of the day there, just reading and relaxing. Caught the Blue Angels practice on the beach which was great!
We ate at Peg Leg Pete's for dinner. Very good local place but a bit of a wait. We opted for outside seating but we ended up over the speaker for the singer at the bar below so it was quite loud. The food was good with large portions. We requested some cajun dishes w/o the spice and were accomidated.
Friday morning while sitting out on the balcony enjoying my morning coffee the chair hogs had disended and chairs had a towel or a person in all of them. The in-room coffee maker (LavAzza) was quite good (better than the bitter Starbucks they serve for breakfast!). We went shopping accross from the Hilton at Tropical Waves and up to the Circle K for more Diet Coke for the hubby. We enjoyed the full Blue Angels Practice show from our balcony today. The public beach was quite full even for this! Delivery from Papa Johns was dinner fare tonight!
Saturday was another relax in the room morning till the afternoon Air Show. It was simulcast on a local tv station so you got great views in and out of the room! After the show when the crowds had cleared out, my mom and I spent some time on the beach looking for shells and our putting our toes in the sand. The water was near calm and looked much better. The yellow-vesters were also absent the two air show days.
Dinner was at the Sidelines Sports Bar just a short walk from the Hilton. They had the BEST Grouper Sandwich! The fish was so big I had to fold it over to fit the bun! The mixed appetizer was good but heavy on the onion rings. Burgers for the boys were also very good.
Too soon it was Sunday morning and time to leave. My mom and I went to walk on the pier that morning but we got there and it COST $1.25 pp to walk on it!! With no money in our pockets we just walked back to the Hilton! We left about 11am CT and was back in Dallas, GA for dinner. All in all a very good, but much too short vacation!