Clean eating and comfort on beautiful Navarre Beach

Sometimes eating out every meal can get a little overwhelming on vacation. Between the rich food and the sometimes-hefty price tag, all you want is a home cooked meal.

With our full-sized kitchens, you can do exactly that. Take a night during your vacay for a little classic family dinner night. Put the smartphones away, bust out an apron and get cooking. It’s a great way to have a little family bonding or romantic dinner for two.

Plus you can eat that home cooked meal on the balcony overlooking our powder white beaches.

But if you are going to cook a meal on your fantastic Navarre Beach vacation, make that meal fantastic too.

Our local farmers market, Farm to Table of Northwest Florida, will not steer you wrong. This locally focused farmers market was created by Carolyn Hand, owner of Nature’s Hand Cattle Company, and Kim McKelvey, owner of Golden Dreams Dairy. Both ladies are farmers to the core and have been working with cattle in our local area for years.

These women know their food.

“It is by farmers for farmers,” Carolyn told me. “A farmers market is supposed to be about helping farmers. It is not just a place where people are selling something.”

Farm to Table of Northwest Florida started because there was a clear need in Navarre. For a while locals and visitors alike have been traveling outside our beachside community to find locally growth foods.

Kim and Carolyn have been taking their products to a farmers’ market out of town for awhile too, but many of their customers were commuting from Navarre to buy their goods.

So they brought it back home by creating their own market. And I love it.

With the fresh produce available at the market my family chowed down of zoodle spaghetti and meatballs and Mexican stuffed bell peppers, all made with local cheese, veggies and beef. And that was just week one.

Visitors to the market can make their purchases with confidence that what the vendor says is true. All of their vendors are certified with Farm to Table, meaning Carolyn and Kim physically go to the farm location and inspect it for best, clean practices.

“It really does make a difference when you can see what a farmer is doing. When a vegetable or beef comes from China or Mexico, you don’t really know how it was handled,” Carolyn said. “Buying local just gives you a lot more transparency.”

Stop by the Farm to Table every first, third and fifth Saturday of the month to do your own local-grown shopping.

And check out our waterfront condominiums featuring kitchens for your next beach vacation at navarrelistings.com.

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Usher in the holidays at Christmas in the Park

Christmas in the Park is coming to Navarre Beach!

I love this time of year, and I love that while our neighbors up north are shivering, we are celebrating comfortably in the park.

The annual Christmas in the Park festival marks the arrival of the season and is always a blast for locals and visitors alike. I mark it as the official beginning of decorating season for my household.

It all kicks off Dec. 1 with the Christmas Parade through town starting at 2 p.m. Festive floats with candy and other prizes will make their way through the streets, usually to the upbeat tunes of the holidays.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by fire truck in the parade and will be available for free photos with children as soon as the parade ends.

The festivities take place in our lovely waterfront park where a plethora of activities await.

Reindeer games will challenge kiddos with potential prizes on the line. Booths featuring a variety of items will be on sale. Can you say checking off your Christmas shopping list?

Kids can also get their faces painted or have “Fair Hair.” Wild and fun, I highly recommend these kooky hair-dos.

Free baked goods and hot beverages will be available at Mrs. Claus’ Bakery as well. I’m a sucker for hot chocolate this time of year.
Christmas in the Park is really the ushering in of the Christmas season for Navarre Beach. We may not have snow in our slice of tropical paradise, but we definitely have Christmas spirit.

The celebration has that small-town holiday feel. Live entertainment, featuring local schools and choirs from the local area will start at 11 am and continue throughout the event.
The whole festival culminates in the lighting of our 20-foot-tall Christmas tree at 5 p.m.

Christmas time is a perfect time to soak up the sun and enjoy all that Navarre Beach has to offer, no bathing suit required.

Book your holiday escape today at navarrelistings.com.

Delicious Dewey Destin’s open for business

Fresh seafood, sand between the toes and sun in the sky. I can’t think of a better day on the beach.

Navarre Beach’s newest restaurant is offering exactly that.

Dewey Destin’s opened their doors this month, and I am excited to see this regional favorite set up shop along our shores.

The Dewey Destin family has been sourcing straight from the Gulf of Mexico since the 1800s, and they have been serving it up for locals and visitors alike for more than a decade.

The new shop overlooks Santa Rosa Sound’s shimmering salt waters with powder white sands. Seating includes beach loungers, comfy deck seating and indoor seating with a warm feel. Visitors simply walk up to the counter to order. Fresh catch will be visible for folks to see for themselves, and a variety of local beers are on tap at the bar. Then you just find a seat and wait for them to bring the food to you.

I highly recommend if you want to taste a slice of true Navarre Beach.

When you come to the beach, seafood is just part of the expectation. And Navarre Beach has no shortage of delicious from-the-gulf seafood. Dewey Destin’s is just an ideal example.

If you are looking for a not so fishy local cuisine fix, here are a few of my personal favorites, all of which are locally owned and operated.

Looking for cuisine of the east? Try Samurai Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi.

Feeling laidback and wanting some Cajun-inspired fun? Broussard’s Bayou Grill on the beach offers a delicious menu.

Mexican more your thing? You can’t go wrong with lunch or dinner at El Patron Mexican Grill.

Want the romance and authenticity of Italy? Bella Luna Italian Bistro is run by a family that hails from the mother land, and they brought their culinary skills with them.

Come chow down with us here on beautiful Navarre Beach through NavarreListings.com.

Explore Creek culture at annual Pow Wow

Pounding drums, colorful dancers and songs generations old, the Santa Rosa County Creek Tribe wows with their annual Pow Wow.

Part family reunion, part cultural exploration, part history lesson and part festival, the 28th Pow Wow did not disappoint. Just north of Navarre Beach, this annual celebration of our local Native American culture is always a favorite among visitors.

For Chief Tom “Blue Eyes” Nichols, this is a time when eight generations of his family are represented in one place.

“It is like a big family get-together. Really it is a celebration. We celebrate National Native American month with a big family reunion, and we invite the public to witness our culture, our heritage and our language,” he said.
There were dozens of booths selling Native American inspired items, typically handmade by members of the tribe or neighboring tribes.
Traditional foods such as roasted corn and Indian fry bread were also served. You have to try the bread. It’s delicious.
At the center of the festivities was traditional dancing where visitors could become part of the celebration. “Drumming of the Descendants” featured drummers playing traditional music with a pounding beat. Native American singers from throughout the U.S. also provided their talents to the event.

The festival is not only fun. It is about “keeping the fire” of the Creek tradition. By next year the tribe hopes to have their cultural center open where visitors will be able to view more than 3,000 Native American artifacts including 1,500-year-old pottery.

They will also be teaching the Muscogee language, a rarity in modern times. I never leave a tribe event without feeling more connected to the past and richer for the experience. In exploring ancient cultures, we gain knowledge beyond our own world view, peeking into the past while also gaining insight into the modern lives of our neighbors.

The Pow Wow offers this each year.

Did you miss this year’s Pow Wow? Plan a vacay for next year here on beautiful Navarre Beach at navarrelistings.com.

Welcome home Sweet Pea

 

She’s finally back! I am very excited to announce that Sweet Pea the juvenile green sea turtle has returned to her home at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center.

For several weeks Sweet Pea received medical care at Gulf World Marine Institute for a long-term intestinal condition, but she’s a fighter and no illness was going to keep her down.

Sweet Pea went through a lot before coming to live at the sea turtle center.

In August 2016, she was rescued by Gulfarium after she washed up on shore tangled in fishing line. The fishing line had caused damage both inside and out. One of her front flippers had to be amputated, but that doesn’t stop this feisty turtle.

What has slowed her down was the damage caused inside. The fishing line, in addition to a possible spinal injury, made Sweet Pea’s intestinal track not work as effectively as it should. She has had trouble passing food for years.

To help her tackle this issue, Gulf World’s veterinarians brought Sweet Pea in for diagnostic treatment. Now, she is on a diet that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie.

It is called Mazuri Sea Turtle Gel Diet for Herbivorous Turtles.

This strange green “gel” is kind of like tofu in texture, and it is nutritionally complete for a turtle like Sweet Pea.

And she loves the stuff, gobbling it up from her care takers and the turtle center.

Visitors can check say hello Tuesday through Saturday from 12-4 p.m. at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center in the Navarre Beach Marine Park. Book your visit at NavarreListings.com.

Stopping plastic pollution can be fun

Have you ever seen a six-foot-tall straw tell folks to pick up their litter? What about a splashing dolphin made entirely of goggles and masks?

Sea creatures constructed from garbage and turtle-tastic crafts were a few of the activities at this year’s Sea Turtle Extravaganza. This festival marking the end of sea turtle nesting season is hosted by the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center.

The best part is that the activities are really focused on the kids.

The goal of the event is to make learning about conservation and marine life fun through painting, splashing and so much more.

A big message of this year’s festival was tackling plastic pollution. Kids could check out the art sculptures built entirely out of items collected off the beach, check out the Stranger Things Thing in which volunteers collected a variety of peculiar items off the beach, play games, make crafts that taught about wildlife, paint a banner and other activities.

Inside, visitors could tour the aquariums of the sea turtle center. The center also added a new activity where the kids can search for shark teeth through sandy excavation. I will admit that as an adult, I still totally tried my hand at it.

Navarre Beach prides itself on being an ecotourism destination, and the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center is a perfect example. The festival is part of that celebration of our beach and its wildlife.

The center is located in the heart of our Marine Park, one of the few examples left of an uncrowded Gulf Coast beach with white sand, lazy surf and park amenities. It is an ecotourism destination in and of itself. Its my favorite.

On the topic of ecotourism and engaging the kids, coming later this month is the Science Spooktacular. This creepy marine science themed festival is hosted by the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station located behind the sea turtle center.

Participants can get into costume and try out kid-friendly experiments or get hands on with some of the native wildlife in our touch tanks or pilot an ROV or learn about reefs through our live feed camera.

Its always a blast and is scheduled for Saturday. If you missed Sea Turtle Extravaganza, you definitely need come to Spooktacular.

Or schedule your vacation for next October to come check out our turtle-tastic and spooky autumn festival fun. Make your plans at navarrelistings.com.

“The Grand Old Lady” turns 105

Birthdays are a time to celebrate, and just north of Navarre Beach we celebrated a big one this week.

Known as “The Grand Old Lady,” the Imogene Theatre turned 105! This theatre has been offering entertainment in downtown Milton for generations. Milton is a quaint little town just north of our beaches.

Built in 1912, she opened her doors for the first time Oct. 13, 1913.

The cost of construction at that time was $25,000, which would be equal to roughly $631,000 today based on inflation. Yeesh! Looking at her timeless beauty, you can see why she cost a pretty penny.

Milton historians have kept great records of her life through the decades, and they are always on hand to share these stories. The theater was born out of need in the community. In 1909, a massive fire claimed most of the downtown buildings including the community center.

So Steven Harvey, president of the area bank, set out to recreate that space. He envisioned a vaudeville-style theater with shops on the bottom floor and a variety of performances upstairs.

He contracted with locally infamous architect Walker Willis who designed many of the historic structures still standing in the area including the Milton School building and the San Carlos Hotel.

At the time of her founding, Imogene was not yet Imogene. She was called the Milton Auditorium and Opera House, but when the Gooch family purchase the theater a decade later, it was renamed after Imogene Gooch, then 7 years old. The living Imogene was quite the entertainer herself, performed on the stage as a child and famously singing the song “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.”

Through the ages, Imogene hosted live performances, the first silent films, then the first “talkies” or movies with sound. She survived hurricanes, flood and more fires.

In 2009, a fire nearly claimed our Grand Old Lady. Damage to the inside of the building was extensive and our hearts were broken that we might loose this gem of our history.

But the Milton Historical Society rolled up their sleeves and rebuilt her, sticking true to the historic finishes Walker Willis planned nearly a century before.

Now she holds host to performances each weekend including mystery dinner theater, nationally known musical acts and other events.

If you have not seen the Improbable Cause Mystery Dinner folks do their thing you are missing a side splitting time, and the acoustics of the theater for musical performances have become legend among musicians that visit her.

And a historical tour, complete with ghost stories and artifacts from Imogene’s life are always a treat.

So come celebrate the Grand Old Lady with us. Book at navarrelistings.com.