We recently spent a week at Carillon Beach in Florida for a family vacation. Carillon Beach is located in the panhandle of Florida on the west end of Panama City. Just a few miles away from Carillon Beach is the historic beach route 30A, which consists of clustered urban beach communities with lots of cute restaurants and shops (this is where were dined out a few nights). However if you are looking for more of a typical tourist beach scene the heart of Panama City is about 10-15 minutes way.
During our trip, we relaxed on the beach, enjoyed lots of delicious food, and tried to be physically active when possible. Check out some of the highlights from our trip!
The beach at Carillon is absolutely beautiful – the sand is a pristine white color and the water is typically clear and blue. Unfortunately, while we were there the water was not as clear as I had seen it in years past (and also had a bit of algae).
The little one loved running around on the sand! He especially enjoyed the sand at night. The last evening we took him out to see the sunset. He had the most precious response to the sunset.
All the kiddos enjoyed playing in the sand and building sandcastles. Well, I am not sure who enjoyed the sand castle building more, it might be up for debate whether it was the children or adults. Some adults take sandcastle building quite seriously. Who knew there was a precise amount of wet sand and dry sand that need to be added?!
It was fun to drool over some of the absolutely gorgeous beachfront properties during the walk. A walk in a beach community must also involve a walk on the actual beach.
And now for the food! While the Carillon beach community does have a few casual restaurants with American-inspired food, we chose to venture outside the immediate area.
I should preface some of these pictures by mentioning that I do try to balance my food choices while on vacay by eating breakfast and lunch “in” and then enjoying a dinner “out”. That typically means I pack some non-perishable foods with me and stop at the grocery for a few perishable things like deli meat, yogurt, salad greens, etc. The pictures below only depict my “out” meals.
On my list of place to eat this trip was Perfect Pig, a small shabby chic bistro located on 30A. The focus of most menu items is bacon and pork (but not all as you will see below). I had eaten both brunch and dinner at this restaurant during a previous visit and the delicious experience made me eager to go back. For brunch (pictured above) I ordered vanilla pancakes with scrambled eggs. We also ordered a croissant with ham and apple butter to split that was mouth watering. Dinner (below) was a potato crusted piece of cod with buerre blanc sauce over a vegetable risotto.
If you follow this blog or my Instagram account even remotely you know that I am a huge fan of donuts. Typically I attempt to make them healthier, but I do enjoy the real deal every once in a while. Thomas Donut and Snack Shop, in Panama City, serves some of the best donuts I have every eaten. Well maybe second to donuts eaten while in Portland, Oregon. Pictured below is a Samoa donut! Not pictured is the scrambled egg and piece of fruit and I ate before the donut to better control my appetite and blood sugar.
Another favorite spot to eat on 30A is George’s At Alys Beach. We enjoyed his and hers cocktails outside the cape cod styled restaurant while waiting for a table one evening. Unfortunately, we sat at a dark table and I wasn’t able to get a great picture of my salmon meal, but it was finished off by sharing this decadent chocolate dessert.
You absolutely can’t go to the beach without having fresh shrimp, and we did just that with a shrimp boil. Our boil included cooked shrimp, potatoes, and corn on the cob from Buddy’s Seafood Market. Buddy’s has two locations – one in Panama City and one on 30A. The shrimp and sides will not disappoint! To complete the boil we cooked up some sausage.
One night we decided to visit Rosemary beach for a happy hour before we joined the rest of the crew back at the house for dinner. We split these crab cakes (on a bed of basil cream) and sangria (well we didn’t split the Sangria) from La Crema Tapas and Chocolate. I can’t wait to go back for a dinner of tapas during another trip!
And last but least (with no picture due to bad lighting) we enjoyed my absolute favorite meal at Restaurant Paradis in Rosemary Beach. This unplanned evening turned out to be one of my favorite meals of the trip. With no reservations, we were only able to be seated in the lounge (outside and dining room were the other options with reservations). The food and waitstaff service truly exampled coastal fine dining at its best. My Gulf Coast snapper over butter squash gnocchi and oyster mushrooms topped with cheese buerre blanc melted in my mouth.
Until next time Carillon Beach!
Your Family’s Dietitian,