10 Reasons to Choose a Beach House Vacation


There is nothing like a vacation at the beach, but some beach vacations are more relaxing than others. While the activities and glamour of resorts are tempting and the idea of having someone cook and keep your bathroom stocked with fresh towels a gift, there is something just a little too structured about resort vacations. It feels like you are a guest in someone's home, having to keep up appearances and tend to your best behavior. And, if you are traveling with kids, it's just that much more anxiety and effort to keep everyone in line!

After about four days, I long for a 'uniform' of shorts, tee shirts, and flip-flops. I want to stroll down to the beach without having to traverse a hotel lobby. I want to eat hummus and veggies in the middle of the afternoon without having to find a restaurant to order it. After 30+ years of vacationing at the beach, I have to say that the best way to enjoy a beach vacation is at a beach house.

The white sand beaches of the Florida Panhandle are a magnet for me and my family. Each summer we pack up the cars and head for the Gulf. It is an eight-hour drive from our Atlanta home, but one that is often filled with laughter, casual conversation, and quiet anticipation. The miles go by quickly - at least for the adults in the caravan.

The time with family is the most enjoyable part of the beach house. We cook meals together and lounge around the beach together. We spend time on the screen porch playing guitar and ukulele or stroll the beach silently searching the water's edge for shells. It is the laid-back atmosphere of the beach house that is conducive to a very restorative vacation. If I have to boil it down, there are ten very good reasons why I prefer renting a beach house instead of taking the family to a beach resort.

Early morning at the beach house, the girls still in their pjs!

Early morning at the beach house, the girls still in their pjs!

  1. I can wear shorts, a tee shirt, and flip flops the entire vacation. No dress code for a hotel lobby or having to spruce up for dinner out, a beach house is "home" for the duration of the vacation. We can relax and be very casual.

  2. No driving. Typically, we park at the beach house and stay there or just walk to nearby cafes and shops. We can be self-contained if we want to withdraw from the world for a week. Even if we do have to venture out by car, the small-town vibe keeps traffic to a minimum. 

  3. Coffee at our leisure. We get up early, make a pot of coffee and hit the porch to watch the day begin. No calls to room service, no one-cup hotel coffee makers, no tiny balcony overlooking a parking lot. We sit and listen to the waves and enjoy the privacy.

  4. Reading all afternoon. On the screen porch or under the beach canopy, just settle into a chair with a good book. The only interruption is the sound of the kids at play, the surf on the sand, and the cry of the gulls. We don't have to look for a chair vendor. The lounge chair is paid for and the placement is our choice.

  5. Building sand castles with the kids - young and old alike. You can do this anywhere, but it is nice to see those architectural wonders in place until the tide takes them away. No beach grooming crew to flatten them. 

  6. Shelling along the water line. Feet in the water, eyes on the sand, and a basket in my hand for all the treasures I find. I like to think that all beaches offer this simple pleasure but I have found more and more resorts groom the sand for debris and with it remove all the shells.

  7. Sitting at the water's edge. A beach chair sitting low to the sand is the perfect height for the surf to wash over my feet. A big sun hat makes staring at the ocean delightful. Ok, so you might be able to do this at a resort but you'll probably have to use their chairs.

  8. Sunset cocktails on the porch and a stroll down to the sand to say "good night" to the beach. You can have cocktails at any resort, but you will need to dress appropriately, pay for the drink and tip the bartender. No one cares what we wear to cocktail hour as long as we are clothed. We take turns tending our beach house "bar" and no one expects a tip.

  9. Kayaking along the coast. When the water is calm in the early morning, this is a restorative activity. The sun is not too hot, the water is like glass, and the birds swoop down to fish. Very zen. Most resorts are busy places and water sports keep the coastline humming with seadoos, parasailing boats, and windsurfers. 

  10. Watching the wildlife. The dolphins head east in the morning 'going to work' and head west to 'go home' in the evening. The pelican squadrons skim the surface of the water in perfect formation. The sandpipers 'back and forth' dance with the surf. And the flock of gulls who gather for 'cocktail hour' stand around on the sand in late afternoon. You may see some wildlife around resorts too, but probably not from your hotel room balcony.

If vacations are to be restful and restorative, then the choice of taking a beach house vacation wins hands-down in my book. But then again, I am an advocate of sabbatical, weekend getaways, and hikes through the forest. Not glamorous or trendy, but a nice way to live. For those who are overwhelmed with stress, live by an overstuffed calendar, and spend most of their days bound to their jobs by an electronic tether, maybe it's time to consider a different way to take vacations at the beach. 

I will admit that there is a lot of planning and packing that go along with a beach house vacation. But once you get the hang of it, planning and packing get easier each time you go. In fact, you may find that you prefer a beach house vacation for the holidays or spring break as well as summer vacation. You can set the pace of your day. You can dress as casually as you like. You set the menu, the meal time, and the company with whom you will dine. Best of all, you get to have more time with those you love in a place that relaxes you, creating the collectible experiences you will enjoy for years to come. 

To make your beach house vacation planning and packing a bit easier, we have prepared a Beach House Vacation Planner to help. You can get it HERE.