Even during the middle of the busy summer season, the Henderson Park Inn is a romantic beachfront cocoon tucked on a quiet side street in Destin, Florida. The gray clapboard bed and breakfast resembles the seaside homes of upstate Maine.
The 36-room inn is on a one-mile stretch of sugar white sand beside the emerald waters of the Gulf Coast. An adults only property, every guest room receives a bottle of wine and flowers upon arrival.
On the Tuesday afternoon we arrive, the sun is shining on the green blue water as storm clouds began to gather. Our first floor Executive Suite is a large room with a king-size four-poster bed, two leather chairs and a small bar-height table with chairs. Amenities include: a microwave, mini fridge, coffee setup, jetted bathtub with shower, television with DVD player (free movies can be borrowed from the front desk), and free Internet.
Two glass doors open onto a covered wood balcony with chairs and a side table. Jim pours the wine, I unpack our books and we both take in big gulps of ocean air–this is relaxing. I could sit out here all day with the sound of the waves splashing onto the beach.
We’ve vacationed in Northwest Florida for years, but only recently discovered the Henderson Park Inn. This Gulf Coast gem is the perfect escape for a couple. The Inn prides itself on service. Breakfast and lunch are included in the pricing.
Breakfast is a huge spread. I choose oatmeal with an apple topping–it’s like apple pie without the guilt. Jim’s made-to-order omelet with tomatoes, cheese and bacon is delicious. We chat with a couple from Bloomington, Indiana who are thrilled with the Inn, love the beach and especially like that you have to be 25 or older to even make a reservation. Jim and I sip on a second cup of coffee and read the complimentary USA Today as more guests assemble for the morning meal.
Each evening, guests place their orders for the following day’s lunch. The selection is a range of sandwiches and salads from classics like ham and Swiss to Mediterranean Veggie. Fresh lemonade and gourmet cookies magically appear from noon to 2. Boxed lunches are a wonderfully flexible idea. You can eat on the beach, the dining room or your private balcony.
From 4 pm to 5 pm, guests gather on the Inn’s outdoor deck for the complimentary Happy Hour. Under the Tiki Bar, beer and wine flow as strangers introduce themselves. Many people choose to sit for the next few hours enjoying the front row seat to a spectacular sunset.
Another great seat is at the Beachwalk Cafe which offers indoor and outdoor dining. Only open for dinner, reservations are recommended. Make it early–if you want to see the view. We dined after dark, but were treated to an amazing lightening display.
The restaurant’s decor is understated with a very attentive wait staff. We ordered a glass of wine and the crab meat spring rolls–a light, airy appetizer with a soy ginger dipping sauce. For an entree, I had a Southern Classic–shrimp and grits. Jim ate every bite of his ribeye cap with mashed potatoes and asparagus. The tart key lime pie with a cheese cake texture is superb.
The main attraction is the beach where the Inn has a row of umbrellas and chairs reserved for guests. Beach towels are stored in the lobby. Explore the area on one of the complimentary bicycles and take a ride to the nearby park or even 30-A with it’s funky art galleries and unique shops. Keeping cool is easy–community refrigerators are stocked with bottled waters, sodas and ice-cold candy bars.
Currently, the Inn is providing one complimentary ticket per stay to the Sea Blaster Boat Cruise. The most romantic choice is a sunset cruise.
The Henderson Park Inn is a cozy retreat. I highly recommend it for couples celebrating an anniversary, rekindling the romance, or those in need of a secluded and relaxing escape. Thanks to the Inn for hosting our recent visit. Rates range from $139 to $609 per night. Call 1.888. 836.1105 for reservations and information.