10 Things: Visit Pensacola Beach

Happy Wednesday dear Friends!

Over the weekend I hit the road with my friend, Tami, for a girl’s weekend in Pensacola Beach, Florida.  We had a fabulous time getting away from Atlanta, soaking up some vitamin D, and catching up on the latest happenings in our lives.

Between Hurricane Sally in late 2019 and Rona shutdowns in 2020 Pensacola Beach has weathered its storms and is ready for summer 2021!  Pensacola Beach is not a PCB, Destin or Daytona (thank goodness), but it’s the perfect location for a family or girl’s getaway.  The atmosphere in Pensacola Beach is so much warmer, welcoming and friendlier than larger beaches.  It retains a bit of a vintage vibe which I appreciate more than ever right now!

So, what can you do in Pensacola Beach?  Here are “10 Things” to fill your week while vacationing here.

1) Eat at one of the many local restaurants along the strip. Pensacola Beach is making a splash in the foodie scene and there are so many great options!

Tami and I first ate at Laguna’s Grill and Bar as we rolled into town. This adventure park/restaurant was so bright and colorful, a fun place to dine and play!  The coastal views made for the perfect welcome to the beach.  I ordered delicious shrimp tacos made using gulf-caught shrimp and the crispiest fries ever!  Tami dined on a grilled cheese sandwich made with gruyere and Havarti cheeses.  It was all so delicious.

Another great place to eat was Water Pig BBQ. Sitting right on the water the chopped brisket with caramelized onion tasted even better.  You have to try the pimento cheese as well!  After supper, walk next door to Water Pig’s sister restaurant, Red Fish, Blue Fish for a drink and watch the sun go down.  The setting is beautiful.

Sunday Brunch at the Hilton is absolutely wonderful.  With live music, fresh seafood and so many other dishes from prime rib to fresh pasta, if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault.

Also located at the Hilton is an unassuming restaurant on the second floor called Bonsai.  I plan to review this separately, but y’all, trust me, you will want to check Bonsai out!

 

2) Head over to Ft Pickens National Seashore for trails, fishing, and history.  This beautiful area is rich in history and absolutely stunning. Learn about the fort itself as well as the fortifications that were made up through World War II and take in all the natural shorelines this preserved area has to offer.  There are park rangers around to answer your questions, but tours are mostly self-guided.  If you’re not a fan of history, you can hike along the parks many trails, or take a guided nature tour.  While in the park we saw a majestic eagle, turtles and so much more.  If i hadn’t been driving, I would have love a pic of the eagle.  Y’all, he was stunning!  Fort Pickens is a great place to watch the sunset, ad I’ve heard rumors that it makes a fantastic viewing area for watching the Blue Angels practice. The area is a part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and if you are an America the Beautiful passholder you are covered here.  Otherwise, it’s $25 a car and the admission is good for seven days.

 

3) Find adventure out on the water.  Pensacola beach has so many options available for water activities aside from playing in the surf.  Rent a boat for fishing, or dolphin watching, take a sunset cruise, kayak the calmer bay water, paddle board, parasail, or rent a jet ski to jump wakes and fly across the water.

Tami and I rented our jet skis from Key Sailing and had an absolute blast out on the water.  The staff at Key Sailing were friendly and helpful.  The jet skis were new and well maintained.  I highly recommend that you check them out.

Key Sailing

400 QuietWater Beach Rd.

Pensacola Beach, Florida 32561

(850) 932-5520

 

4) Shop the Boardwalk shops.  These shops are a mix of small boutiques as well as the more well-known Ron Jon Surf Shop and southern beach staple Alvin’s Island.  In the Boardwalk area you will also find a few restaurants and ice cream!  There is also a beach entrance in the area, so if you forget your sunscreen or need an extra towel, everything is extremely convenient.

 

5) Miniature Golf at UFO’s.  When our kids were at home no beach vacation was complete without at least one mini golf excursion.  UFO’s is cute and different with it’s out of this world theme.  It’s also walking distance from many of the local hotels or restaurants making it super easy to get around.

UFO’s Pensacola Beach

2 Via de Luna Dr

Pensacola Beach, Florida 32561

(850) 677-8830

 

6) Stay at the Hilton Pensacola Beach.  This beachfront property has everything you need for a fabulous vacation stay:  great food, beautiful views, fantastic pool area, a top-notch staff who went above and beyond, and of course access to the beach right out the back door.  Tami and I had a 2 1/2 room suite that could easy sleep 6.  There were 2 queen beds as well as a set of bunks perfect for kiddos.  The sitting area had a sleeper sofa if needed as well as a kitchenette for making sandwiches and keeping drinks cool in your room.

The breakfast buffet each morning is convenient and delicious.  Have Miss Shirley make you an omelet from scratch or choose a more carb heavy breakfast by munching on a large assortment of muffins, bagels, and waffles.  There is something for everyone!

If you stay at the Hilton, have Donna or Jacalyn from the Butler’s Pantry.  make you a Teavana Peach Tranquility tea in the evening to drink as you unwind on your patio.

Hilton Pensacola Beach

12 Via de Luna Dr

Pensacola Beach, Florida 32561

(850) 916-2999

 

7) Visit the Gulf Islands National Seashore.  Fort Pickens is not the only preserved area on Pensacola Beach. On the opposite side of town you will find the Santa Rosa area of the National Seashore.  This, to me, is the beach.  Sand dunes, and plenty of natural, and mostly unspoiled beauty.  This is a beautiful area for a walk, catching the sunrise, or sitting and savoring the quiet, natural sounds of the coast.  I wish that more beaches would would retain these large areas of preservation and less development.

 

8) Get your fitness on.  Pensacola Beach is bike and pedestrian friendly.  Leave your car at the hotel and venture out to explore.  Take a walk on the beach, hit the trails in the National Seashore areas (there is a great paved trail in the Santa Rosa area), or bike around Pcola.

You never know what you’ll see on a beach walk!

If you need a workout, hit the gym at the Hilton.  They have everything you need for a great sweat session!

 

9) Be sure to watch the sunrise or sunset in Pensacola Beach.  There is prime viewing for both just about any way you look!  My favorite sunrise was out on the beach as i was walking back from the pier and the most beautiful sunset was one I watched from Red Fish Blue Fish.  There are other beautiful places to watch from, but plan ahead, because it goes fast!

 

10) Finally, don’t forget to catch some rays on Pensacola Beach!

{Like you would, right?}

The beaches were well staffed with trained and attentive lifeguards (who stayed on top of red flag conditions).  Watching them work over the weekend was exhausting, especially when dealing with people who overindulged in alcohol and others who just wanted to push their buttons.

If you need a chair and umbrella, the guys at Lazy Days are great to work with and will happily make a great deal for more than one days rental.  The chairs were well kept and comfortable for tanning, enjoying the waves, or people watching.

It’s not too late to plan a getaway for this summer.  Pensacola Beach is a 5 1/2 hour drive from north Atlanta which makes for an easy weekend road trip.  Check out all Pcola has to offer and let me know what you think!

Uncle Jack’s Meat House – Peachtree Corners

In a year where we’re continually hearing news of businesses closing, it’s quite exciting to celebrate an opening! 

New York restaurateur, William Degel is opening the doors to his third metro-Atlanta eatery, tonight in the rapidly growing community of Peachtree Corners.  It’s taken three years to make this day happen, but it’s definitely worth the wait for the newest addition to the Uncle Jack’s family!

Last week Audley and I were invited out for the soft opening where we were delighted with a fantastic taste of what’s in store for diners.  Executive chef, Dylan Temple, has helped create a menu that will leave you salivating for more! 

Uncle Jack’s uses a farm to table mentality and employs local ingredients whenever and where ever possible.  I don’t know where to really begin, but definitely start your evening off with the tender and flavorful lamb lollipops coated in Dijon mustard and panko, or the crispy pork belly “chicharrons” that will give your taste buds a kick!  If you prefer something a little “less”, try the Swedish meatballs that combines, ground quality pork, beef, and veal in a house created pan gravy for a savory bite to wet your appetite for more.  If prefer seafood, the Maine lobster and avocado mini tacos are  the northeast meets the south with this delectable meshing of flavor.  Of course no meal is off to the right start without an order of Uncle Jack’s signature Applewood smoked bacon with a chipotle maple glaze served with housemade peanut butter.  Trust me, you have to give these a try!

After waking your taste buds, head on over to the main menu to find a dish that will satisfy even the pickiest of palettes.  Keep things simple by trying the Peachtree Burger, also known as the Duke (influenced by Paul Duke, who has had a huge impact on the growth of Peachtree Corners).  This top quality beef burger is topped with fresh Georgia peach jam, housemade peanut butter, and maple bacon and served on a brioche bun.  Oh y’all, this often carb skipping foodie absolutely loved it!  Its perfect for a midday lunch and will keep you satisfied for hours.  

If it’s steak you are wanting, Uncle Jack’s all natural aged cuts of beef will having you returning time and again for a tender and savory bite.  The 35 Day dry-aged “Fred Flintstone” Longbone is Audley’s absolute favorite, but I really enjoyed the tender and juicy cut of the NY Strip.  There are sauces you can top these with, but I savor the flavor of a good steak; no sauce needed.

If you have room (and I suggest you try), you must indulge in dessert.  From the simple ‘Baking Bad’ cookie trio consisting of a Peanut Butter Maple Bacon Cookie, Lemon Marshmallow Cookie, AND Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cookie to the Fudge Brownie Soufflé, you cannot go wrong.  

The Uncle Jack’s experience is as much about the decor as it is the food, which create the perfect atmosphere for an upscale yet casual night out. 

“Uncle Jack’s has the look and feel of a 1900s building in New York’s Meatpacking District, complete with aged cement, raw vintage steel, subway tile, meat hooks, custom wallpaper featuring archival butcher photos, and flying pigs and steer heads mounted on the walls. The tufted and red vinyl seating, marble bar tops with old school bar styling mixed in and outdoor fire pit lounge areas provide a pop of sophistication while also reinforcing the vintage theme.”  The Peachtree location also has a 16-person suite you can reserve for private parties that was named after former wrestling icon, Ric Flair.

Uncle Jack’s Meat House Peachtree Corners is accepting limited reservations through their website or by calling 470-532-1010

Check it out and let me know what you think!  

Uncle Jack’s Meat ‘House – Peachtree Corners

5222 Peachtree Pkwy. Ste 920 Peachtree Corners, GA 30092

(470) 532-1010

 

McCray’s Tavern East Cobb; A Review

Last weekend Tammie and I enjoyed a fabulous dinner out in Marietta at McCray’s Tavern and Pour House. Since moving to the northwest-side of Atlanta over the summer I’ve not been out much to see what all the area has to offer, so I was excited to go to dinner… and who doesn’t love a girlfriend’s night out?!

This was not my first visit to McCray’s; they have four locations throughout metro Atlanta and I have eaten (and thoroughly enjoyed my visit) at the location in Lawrenceville. McCray’s East Cobb is brand new, braving the coronapocalypse to open this year!

With a new chef on board, McCray’s is showcasing a modern twist on old tavern fare with a new menu, exciting original cocktails and local craft beers. McCray’s has also reached out to local sources for beef, chicken and even bringing in seafood from the Gulf for the freshest and tastiest of menus.

McCray’s East Cobb creates a modern but inviting atmosphere and is family friendly. If you want to catch the latest televised sporting event, McCray’s has you covered with flat screen tv’s conveniently placed where everyone can watch! Our server was delightful and the food was absolutely delicious!

For appetizers Tammie enjoyed a grilled shrimp salad while I savored the tuna tartare.

For our entrees Tammie tackled the double cut pork chop with mashed potatoes and green beans.

I went with traditional tavern fare and enjoyed the “Tavern Dip” (prime rib, horseradish cream, caramelized onions and au jus) and fries.

We were so satisfied … ok, we were stuffed … with just dinner, but enjoyed dessert anyway; splitting the Creme Brûlée with berries.

McCray’s East Cobb will definitely be a restaurant I’ll return to in the future, and soon, as they are hosting Sips & Stogies on October 22!  Audley says make reservations, so I’m looking forward to date night as well! You can make your own reservation for Sips & Stogies by clicking here.

If you’re on the northwest side of Atlanta, or just passing through looking for good food in a welcoming environment, definitely visit McCray’s!

Make a reservation at 404-800-3553 and check out McCray’s today!

4880 Lower Roswell Road, Ste 850

Marietta, Georgia 30968

Sugar Factory Atlanta!

Happy almost fall boys & girls!!

Have I ever missed you all, but sometimes we just have to have a little time for ourselves to regroup, refocus and decide exactly what we want to do!! I am back and do I ever have a great restaurant to share with you this Foodie Friday!

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered in the 2 1/2 years we’ve been living in Atlanta it’s that you can find something for every palette in the family and have a blast doing so!

The latest in food and fun here in Atlanta comes in the form of the Sugar Factory in the heart of Midtown. This is the 16th Sugar Factory location, and I can totally see why the company is growing! I was invited to pop in last night for a little tasting and can’t wait to return for a night out again soon!

 

 

With fun decor from chandeliers to a candy wall & tufted benches, music, monstrous burgers (that’s what they’re called!) & salads, so many unique libations, desserts galore, the Sugar Factory is the perfect place for lunch with the kids, a girls night out, birthday celebrations and just a casual night out with friends.

It’s loud, trendy and will definitely make the perfect setting for any adult night out!

 

Last night I was able to taste a few items from the menu including bruschetta, the Big Cheesy (this one includes macaroni and cheese), shrimp, several drinks and of course I couldn’t go without sampling a fabulous over-the-top-milkshake!

 

“Sugar Factory is all about celebrating the sweetest moments in life. We want to create a fun, unforgettable dining experience for any age, at every location,” said Sugar Factory Owner Charissa Davidovici. “We are all about treasuring family fun and are looking forward to welcoming the Atlanta community to our newest restaurant.”

The drink menu is expansive and all I love dessert in one way or another. I do love the fast that any of their drinks can be made without alcohol, so those of us who do t really drink can still have a cool glass and drink, too!

 

 

Just a few quick observations:

1. This isn’t McDonalds or Chic-Fil-A. If you decide to take children plan your budget ahead of time and plan to spend money. Milkshakes begin at 20$. Lunchtime may not be as hectic as the evenings. After all this is still a bar.

2. If you are looking for an intimate spot for a date, this is not the place to go. It’s loud, colorful, and you will be seated very close to other patrons!

3. In the mood to celebrate?! This is the place! Not only is the food over the top, so are their celebrations!! Grab the girls for a night out, your closest friends to feel young again, or several couples needing a casual night and head on over!!

4. Make a reservation. Definitely make a reservation. Without one you may be waiting two hours for a table!

I’m looking forward to taking my own family when Bradley comes home on leave from the Marines in a few weeks. He’s a sugarholic and this screams our young Lance Corporal’s name!

Check out the Sugar Factory on your next weekend getaway to Atlanta.

The Sugar Factory

1080 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
470-428-4395

‘Til next time!!