Kids Life Magazine
Are We There Yet? WaterColor Inn and Resort - WaterColor, Florida
By Linda Holloway
WaterColor Inn and Resort – WaterColor, Florida
Planning a family beach vacation becomes even more important when you realize from the time your children are born until they are sporting a cap and gown is approximately 18 years. From tiny toes in the sand to competitive games along the shore, beach vacations are the number one family memory-maker. We found the ideal beach destination to create those important vacation traditions, simply tagged WaterColor Inn and Resort.
WaterColor Inn is situated along the beaches of South Walton, overlooking the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The Inn has recently undergone a major expansion adding more family-friendly amenities. Nestled within a 500-acre community, boasting 1,400 feet of sugar-white sand, and bordered by picturesque pine forests alongside Western Lake, the WaterColor Inn is the flagship of South Walton’s WaterColor community. The Inn offers 60 Gulf-facing rooms, plus seven one and two-bedroom family suites. This Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond boutique Inn transports visitors from the typical hustle of crowded properties to a destination with incredible activities for kids and a relaxing vibe for adults.
The new seven family suites are conveniently located on the hotel’s first floor, making them ideal for larger family getaways. Each suite comes equipped with a kitchenette, microwave, and mini refrigerator, as well as a personal “Treat Suite,” which is everyone’s favorite. Here, you will find complimentary sodas, fruit, ice cream, coffee, and snacks. The bunk bed suite is a family favorite—complete with a television and a porthole for natural light. Each family suite features a private, furnished terrace that is a few steps from the new 2,800-square-foot zero-entry pool, ideal for the younger set. The large cabanas are so comfortable that they are perfect to lull babies to sleep. This area features food and beverage service from the on-site restaurant, Gather Kitchen + Bar.
We lodged on the 4th floor, where the king-size mattress was unbelievably comfortable—complete with luxurious Egyptian cotton linens. The sofa bed is perfect for children. I admit to visiting the Treat Suite more than once. The amenities are endless with complimentary house-made biscotti, jam, and scones upon arrival. The nightly housekeeping service comes with freshly- baked cookies, along with the recipe; there is even a departure gift. The staff is impeccable and always eager to help. Our private balcony came with Adirondack chairs and a direct view of the famous white- sand beach below.
They tell me there is a scientific reason for the white sand, thousands of years in the making, but you will soon forget about the scientific details because words cannot compete with the five senses…it must be experienced. Here is where kids are hard at work with buckets and shovels, but all ages can enjoy a plethora of beach activities. Relaxing Gulf groupies can be found under the Inn’s blue umbrellas and chairs for a front row seat to the greatest show on earth. I strongly recommend you reserve your beach set up in advance. Be sure to ask about the beach bonfire services—a memorable family favorite.
Pools Galore, Dining and Activities: WaterColor Inn boasts the most pool accesses on Scenic Highway 30-A, as well as an array of casual dining restaurants. There are 10 pools in all. Next door, the WaterColor BeachClub features a main pool with expansive seating and lounge areas, a second infinity pool with lounge seating, and a third pool with zero entry—all with unobstructed views of the Gulf. Kids will enjoy weekly events, such as golf games and other activities. Guests also have access to six WaterColor Community pools. The Inn provides twocomplimentary adult bike rentals per room (based on availability) and access to tennis and golf at Shark’s Tooth Golf Club. For outdoor and boating fun, there is complimentary kayak/canoe rental at WaterColor BoatHouse (2 rentals for 1 hour per day) and discounted stand-up paddleboard rentals. Guests can also enjoy the brand-new Cardio Room overlooking the pool deck. Hungry? Indulge in one-of-a-kind resort dining venues, including Costa Chica, WaterColor Grill, and the Beach Cow.
Camp WaterColor is the ideal recreational destination for families featuring the main Butterfly Pool with Monarch Slide, the Caterpillar Pool, a zero-entry pool, and a small children’s area with slide. The popular Lazy Lizard Pool is a zero-entry lazy river. Designed with kids in mind, this area is a family favorite complete with a lifeguard on duty. Camp WaterColor also features a playground, basketball court, and the Canteen Restaurant conveniently offers a walk-up counter.
As one the area’s largest family-style restaurants overlooking the Gulf, Fish Out of Water is my favorite place to dine. The restaurant’s impressive Gulf view had me the second I spied the outdoor deck, an open-air celebration of the freshest delights from the Gulf. I enjoyed the amazing Fish Basket (Grouper was in season) and the Heirloom Tomato Salad, while my husband had the Shrimp Basket and fruit for lunch. Fresh local fish is best! The zero-proof Georgia Peach at the Beach was our favorite drink.
One of the best breakfasts I have ever eaten was at Scratch Biscuit Kitchen. Located in the WaterColor Town Center, the enormous, fluffy scratch-made biscuits with house-made jams, jellies, and butters were delectable. Ask for the Old Southern Breakfast, and I promise you will not leave hungry. My husband raved about the Biscuits and Gravy. Try the Biscuit Doughnuts, with chocolate gravy, strawberries, and powdered sugar…it is a Southern delight!
Before you leave, visit the WaterColor Store and WaterColor Kids located at Town Center. The stores offer exclusive branded WaterColor merchandise and renowned brands and jewelry as well. Of course, the entire family will want a colorful WaterColor T-shirt to take home to remind them of a beach oasis where complete contentment and happiness thrive…. WaterColor Inn and Resort.
South Walton: Add nature treks to your vacation at Watercolor Inn. With more than 200 miles of famed beaches, hiking and biking trails, four state parks, and the Point Washington State Forest, this idyllic place is one of the few places in the world where coastal dune lakes exist. Challenge the kids to conduct an internet search on coastal dune lakes, and then explore the geologic wonders. Ask the questions: Are the lakes fresh water, salt water or both? What animal and plant species are found here? Why is the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park identified as the most pristine piece of coastal property in Florida? Western Lake is our favorite dune lake where paddle boards glide smoothly by majestic pines along this intricate ecosystem. Eden State Park is always our last stop. We have been coming here for decades where our children ran free under centuries-old live oak trees. Mixing a beach vacation at WaterColor Inn and Resort and exploring breathtaking nature nearby, is an ideal vacation combination.
For Watercolor Inn reservations, call 877-353-5239 or visit www.watercolorresort.com.
For South Walton information, visit www.visitsouthwalton.com
Lead photo: Larry Holloway
Second and third photos: The St. Joe Company