Two Retirees on Vacation

Like many retirees, we travel a lot, but we haven’t taken a vacation in years. When we travel, it is all about experiencing new cultures and cuisines, while learning about the history and geography of a place. We are busy, engaged and on the go.

After returning home from a few weeks in Europe, we have been known to quip, “we need a vacation”. But, it almost seems redundant to the leisurely retirement lifestyle we live. Some of you might remember what a vacation is like; a few days lounging on a beach, sipping margaritas and whiling away the hours until sunset; then back to work!

A Traditional Vacation

This year we added a traditional ‘vacation’ to our schedule for several reasons; a beach side resort condo in ‘off season’ doesn’t break the bank, the Northwest Florida location afforded me an opportunity to visit with family who live in the area, we were able to beat the heat of South Florida for a short time, and it was a comfortable way to invite Malcolm’s mom to be with us. She has traveled abroad with us on several occasions in past years, but at 90 the physical and mental exertion is too much for her and staying in one place is a good idea.


I found a two bedroom condo on VRBO and rented it for two weeks. The condo is located within Tops’l Tennis and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, on the North West Coast of Florida. It was very comfortable for the three of us and did not feel crowded when my brother and his wife visited for two nights. My only complaint, and something that I will consider next time is the smallish patio which held just a high top table for two. However, it was nice for the two of us to enjoy an evening cocktail and bit of privacy from time to time.

All the comforts of home
View from our balcony

Tops’l Resort encompasses three condominium buildings (two pictured and the one we were in), an array of town homes and court side homes, several pickle ball courts, an 18 hole putting course, a chipping green, several swimming pools, a beach side bar, Tops’l tennis center with twelve tennis courts and a full time teaching professional, daily exercises classes, a fully equipped gym, a tiki bar for snacks and drinks and a full service restaurant. The resort also offers a full calendar of events like karaoke night, Bingo, bridge and specialty dining evenings.

Emerald Coast

This area along the North West coast of Florida is commonly referred to as the Emerald Coast – for obvious reasons. The water from the Gulf of Mexico ranges from crystal blue to emerald green and the white quartz sand enhances the color while creating a dramatic contrast. It didn’t hurt that the clouds were amazing on the day I took this shot.

Early Morning Walk on the Emerald Coast

Perfecting the Art of Doing Nothing

So, what does one do for two weeks while vacationing at a Florida beach side resort during winter with mixed days of sunshine/rain and 40 to 60 degree temperatures? Establish a routine for doing nothing, of course. After about a three day adjustment to the quiet, we found that we were quite good at doing nothing and we continued with that pattern for the remainder of our stay.

The routine went something like this; morning coffee, breakfast, a walk on the beach, lunch, followed by two hours of Mahjong, (the only game that can hold our interest for that long) an afternoon sweet treat, and/or nap, and/or second beach walk, cocktail hour, dinner and a little night time TV viewing; of the nonsensical variety, of course. Avoiding political talking heads and market analyst, contributed greatly to my inner peace. It has been the most perfect ‘head in the sand’ two weeks that I can remember in recent years and returning to my retirement lifestyle will be tough. Poor me!

While I would not recommend a lifetime of the above mentioned schedule, I do highly recommend an occasional reboot.

A Walk on the Beach

Our favorite destination to walk to each day was this estuary which spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. Without an aerial view, it is impossible to know its origination, but most likely it is a creek within Topsail State Park. The park is protected land and the estuary is part of a delicate ecosystem that you can learn more about by attending a talk with a park Ranger.

The round trip walk from our condo was about two and a half miles. Consider that we walked in sand, mostly in bare feet and you will fully understand that I came home with a bruised arch on my right foot. It was worth it.

An Estuary that flows from a creek inside Topsail State Park, cutting through sand dunes and across the beach, making its way down to Gulf waters. Notice how the flow has etched the sand as it meanders toward the ocean.
This is a view of the same fresh water stream in the opposite direction. You can clearly see how it makes its way down to the ocean. Artistic and oddly beautiful.
Malcolm approaching our favorite beach walk destination.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did play tennis twice, I took a stretch class, we all played a night of Bingo at the Clubhouse and Malcolm and I enjoyed the 18 hole putt-putt green nearby. One must do something, while one is doing nothing, right?

Us, doing absolutely nothing!

If you missed our original post about discovering the Emerald Coast, and why we love it so much, you can read that story here. It is so much more than just a beach!

What about you? Have you ever taken a vacation from retirement?

Related posts:

Island Hopping on the Sun Coast

Florida’s Gold Coast

Florida’s Space Coast

The Forgotten Coast

39 thoughts on “Two Retirees on Vacation

  1. If “a few days lounging on a beach, sipping margaritas and whiling away the hours until sunset” is the definition of a vacation, then I’ve never had one. A long time ago we discovered we weren’t beach people and while a couple of hours might be ok, I’d be going a bit stir-crazy after that, looking for something to do.


    1. Joanne, sipping margaritas on the beach is the ultimate ‘do nothing’ vacation. You should try it sometime! There are beach people and then there are ‘beach people’ it is akin to the difference between travelers and vacationers. I am not a bake in the sun kind of person either but I do love the ocean.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You found a great place to do nothing! It’s so fun to walk on a deserted beach. Yes, we have taken vacations from retirement. When we were RVing some of our favorite places were spent in campgrounds where we could sit outside, enjoy the surroundings and do absolutely nothing!


  3. Love your photos, Suzanne. Looks like you found a very nice vacation rental for your stay. I know to go to your blog when I want info on Florida coasts. I agree the occasional reboot is wonderful.


    1. Natalie, the rental was such a pleasant surprise. I am pretty careful about relying on photos and reviews when booking and I have to say it was spot on with regard to what was presented. Happy to provide a resource for your next Florida vacation!


  4. Really beautiful pictures – you’re tempting me! The last real vacation we took (which wasn’t combined with seeing relatives) was so hectic that we needed a vacation when we got home. Last time I try to plan everything myself!


  5. Hi Suzanne, I agree that travelling to see other cultures is not really a ‘holiday’ as we call it in Australia. A holiday (vacation) is spending time chilling out, reading, relaxing de-stressing from life. We are fortunate to live in a place with the ocean across the road so life sometimes can feel like a vacation without us leaving home. Lovely photos and the condo you stayed in looked beautiful. Enjoy! xx


    1. That sounds like the ideal location to retire. Breezy days, long walks, sea birds; a beautiful place to gather your thoughts. The condo, which was recently renovated, was a pleasant place to be inside on a rainy day.My MIL said it felt like home.


  6. Suzanne, I think I need a vacation like this after my 10 weeks in SE Asia. Seriously, this place looks fabulous, a great choice for total relaxation. How lovely that you had your MIL with you to enjoy this paradise. I will have my 89 years old MIL staying with us for two weeks when we get back. But we shall quarentine ourselves first… don’t want to take any risks with her health. Beautiful photos, love the one with the dramatic skies.


    1. Gilda, ten weeks is a long time to be moving from place to place, and I can imagine you must be exhausted, but filled with wonderful memories at the same time. I hope you will share more of your travels soon. It is very responsible to ‘quarantine yourselves’ before the MIL visit. Dramatic skies have a way of stealing the scene in any photo!


  7. Suzanne,
    In addition to doing nothing, it sounds like you even managed to turn “head in the sand” to an art form. I have a problem managing that skill and will work on it. You are right about RVers. It is a great lifestyle and we have learned that it is best to stay in place longer than a day or two and breathe deeply. After all, why hurry when you have your home with you?. As usual, your pictures are exceptional. Joe


  8. Nancy

    Yes, Suzanne, you two have perfected “the art of doing nothing!” LOL How perfectly relaxing. We haven’t made it to the northwest coast of Florida yet, but your gorgeous pictures have made it clear that we will have to. I don’t see it happening this year (or next, as we will be on our great American RV roadtrip adventure…) but certain in the future.
    Unbelievable beach photos!!!


  9. Tamara R

    I refer to our time away from home as ‘Traveling’ because as you so aptly described, it’s generally the opposite of relaxing. Hawaii is generally where we’ve gone to ‘Vacation’ in the past, again for all the reasons you described here about your lovely Emerald Coast trip. Going out in our RV is also pretty relaxing, even if we are active and about, because we know the space so well, and have an Rv routine we quickly slip into.I

    Today, like you, I am checking out. On my agenda is meditation, a run at the beach, and Happy Hour out with friends. I guess we also now Vacation here at home! 😆

    (PS- come visit!)


  10. Hi Suzanne, Your “Tradional” vacation sounds like a win/win/win. The Resort looks like it had many positives. Up until meeting you, Suzanne, I have not really given the Emerald Coast much thought. Your photos show how exceptionally beautiful it is. I love it……”quite good at doing nothing!” And a little of “something.” Great post!


  11. Suzanne, your beach photos are so fabulous! I especially love the one just under the header “Emerald Cost” because of the way the clouds, waves and sand patterns all point to the vanishing point like ribs in a fan, and then you have that one distant person in a red shirt just to the right of the vanishing point. Amazing! As for head-in-the-sand, we experienced that just recently during a wonderful trip to Maui, only to come home to the news about Coronavirus spreading around the world.



    1. Thank you. I love that photo also. It captures the peaceful feeling of our morning walks. We were home for about week when things started getting serious in Washington State an of course, it took about a minute to reach Florida. Take care.


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