My wife, Marissa, is adamant about taking the children to Disney World. The thought slightly unnerves me: heat, lines, chaos, Smart-car-sized teacup rides. Because of this threat to travel with the family to Disney one day, whenever I hear the words Florida and children in the same sentence, I get sick.
(And then I hear that terrible song—“It’s the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Come inside, it’s fun inside.” But the reason that I hear this song is because my two-and-a-half-year-old has terrible taste in television and is usually in the living room watching the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse whenever I’m trying to do my day’s thinking.)
When we decided to head down to South Walton, Florida, and took a room at the Hilton San Destin, I felt a little sick to learn that we were near to Baytowne. Baytowne was boasting a small adventure park for children. My wife suggested we go. I made the Goofy laugh—You know, the one that always sounds like he’s choking on a mischewed bone—but then decided to go along for the ride.
Traveling with Children to Baytowne
As it was, Baytowne offered quite a bit more (than expected) and quite a bit less (than Disney, thank goodness). For my two-year-old there was a carousel with fantastical creatures and a children’s ropes course. We even put her on this bungee-trampoline and offered our best wishes. And when we ran out of tickets for attractions, we brought her to an incredible, free playground that resembled a castle. It even had what looked like a hard plastic La-Z-Boy swing.
For me, there were few crowds. And like any responsible parent, I could send my kid off to play in the park while sipping a local beer. (Open containers are permitted in Baytowne until ten at night, though I’d suggest making sure the laws haven’t changed before you start chugging prior to noon.)
While Baytowne is completely inauthentic (as are most places with ziplines crisscrossing the sky), I enjoyed it. There were a few excellent meals—check out the Marlin Grill for upscale surf and turf or the Baytowne Melt for affordable grilled cheese—and I got to dance with my daughter at some late-night, outdoor, live music venue. And when I left, the idea of children in Florida became something that I actually cherished. (Though I still hate that damn song.)
(Note: I do have another daughter, who came on the trip, but we didn’t get many good photos of her; she was sort of lazy and didn’t get out of the stroller much. I guess that’s what you get when you bring a two-month-old to a place like Baytowne. And she couldn’t bust a move like in this video below.)