Blanes, Spain

Jardi Botanic Marimurtra
Jardi Botanic Mari

Blanes is a seaside resort located in the Girona province of the Catalonia region of Spain, and known as the “Gateway to the Costa Brava”. While smaller than Lloret de Mar, Blanes is still a very popular tourist destination, and a big town! Blanes is a great destination offering a wide variety of activities, eateries, shops, beaches, and attractions! We visited Blanes in June as a day trip from Girona, but many people choose to visit Blanes for extended periods of time as their summer getaway and base for exploring the Girona area of Spain! We thought Blanes was a wonderful day trip with our little one, and hope you plan a visit to enjoy the stunning beauty and local scene!

Travel: Blanes is appx a 1 hour car drive from Barcelona. As already mentioned, we visited Blanes as a day trip from Girona, and the drive took us appx 1 hour. There is also train service from Barcelona to Blanes. You can leave from Barcelona airport or Barcelona city center. If traveling from the airport, the trip should take you appx 2 hours, and will cost less then 7 Euro one way. If you buy the return ticket, it will expire by the end of the following day so it is best to buy 2 individual single rides so you have more flexibility in your timetable especially if traveling with little ones unless you absolutely know you will be returning the next day. Also, you must purchase the train ticket in person at the ticket counter. As of current, it is not available on the RENFE website. There are also day trips available from Barcelona that will take you to the Costa Brava such as this one via Viator that has 5 star reviews!

Exploring Blanes: 

Jardi Botanic Marimurtra: Our first stop in Blanes was the Marimurtra botanical gardens, and this was quite possibly my favorite spot we visited in Spain! The gardens are located at the top of steep cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean with panoramic views and a variety of over 4000 plant species! There is a small cafe on site with snacks, lunch items, ice cream, etc. which was great for visiting with a child. The gardens are stroller accessible, but some areas are not. You must follow the pathways that are stroller accessible. We usually parked the stroller, and would hike down the stairs when there were areas where we wanted to visit, but could not venture with the stroller in tow. There is also a photo opportunity with exotic birds on site where little ones can hold the birds on their arms – this was a hit with our daughter! 🙂 When we visited in June, the gardens were open daily from 9 am to 8 pm. Ticket prices are 7 Euro per adult, and our daughter was free as she was under 4 years of age.

The Beach: There are several beaches to choose from in Blanes, but we we chose: Cala San Francesc. The beach is also known as ‘Cala Bona’ which means ‘pretty cove’ – we heard lots of locals referring to the beach by this name! This beach is located close to the Jardi Botanic Marimurtra gardens which is why we chose it. You can walk from the gardens to the beach down the small road, and you only have to park once! It is a cove beach surrounded by cliffs and trees! There is a restaurant on site, bathroom & changing facilities, lifeguards, chair rentals, and stroller access pads! This is a great beach for kids!

Cala Bona
Cala Bona Beach near the gardens Hubby and daughter 🙂

Other local activities to consider: Castillo de San Juan Blanes is an old fortress perched high above Blanes with great views. There is also an outdoor market beachside every Monday on the Passeig de Mar in Blanes from 8 am to 2 pm.

Tips to Remember (especially for kids):

  • Most shops and restaurants will close for Siesta starting around 2pm so make preparations for your little ones if they are not used to eating late.
  • Spain’s beaches are topless so prepare any children for this in advance if this is different than your norm and as needed.
  • Prostitution is legal in Spain, and on the Costa Brava highways we saw about 15 prostitutes  with plastic lawn chairs and umbrellas alongside the road. Children may ask a lot of questions regarding this so just prepare your answers ahead of time based on what you are comfortable divulging to them based on age.
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Jardi Botanic Marimurtra
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Jardi Botanic Marimurtra

Calella de Palafrugell, Spain

Calella de Palafrugell
Husband & daughter exploring Calella de Palafrugell!

Calella de Palafrugell is located in the Catalonia region of Spain and is a small fishing town on the coast of Costa Brava, Spain in the province of Girona. This small town is stunning and captivating, and the pace is ideal for recharging and letting little ones have free reign.

View from walkway under Saint Roc Hotel
View from walkway under Saint Roc Hotel

Travel: Calella de Palafrugell is appx 1 hour 30 minutes north of Barcelona, and would make a wonderful day trip! We spent 1 week in the Girona province, and traveled to Calella de Palafrugell from the city Girona, Spain. The drive took us appx 1 hour. There are also tour companies that will bring you to Costa Brava as a day trip from Barcelona such as this one thru Viator which has 5 star reviews!

Hotel: We stayed at Hotel Garbi which is less than a mile walk to town. The hotel is situated higher up in the town, and doesn’t afford sweeping views of the ocean, but we chose this hotel for the amazing kid friendly amenities. The hotel has a play gym on the outdoor terrace of the restaurant, a pool, kid toys & tent in the lounge, and lots of room to explore including lots of trees, statues, and live ducks. We loved this hotel, and would definitely stay here again. We had one of the ocean facing renovated Mediterranean rooms. We traveled in June, and paid 152 Euro for bed & breakfast! The breakfast was very good: continental style, but offered a hot and cold buffet with juices, coffee, and wine! Another favorite hotel in town is Sant Roc. This hotel has probably one of the best views of Calella de Palafrugell, and if you are able, definitely dine on their outdoor terrace for sweeping views. This hotel is also a closer walk to the center of town. There are also lots of self catering holiday homes / apartments available for rent.

Exploring the village: There are several little beaches scattered along the promenade of Calella de Palafrugell. They are easy to spot, and you can choose to set up where you wish. Our daughter loved looking for rocks and shells at the beach, and found some beautiful additions to her collection. We enjoyed just strolling thru this seaside town, spending time at the beaches, having lunch & ice cream, and browsing in all of the shops along the promenade. The town is so small that we found it nice for our daughter to be able to walk alongside us and enjoy some independence after being in the bigger city of Girona and especially true when compared to Barcelona. We ate lunch beach side on the promenade. There are several restaurants to consider. Remember that most restaurants close down for siesta especially in this little town, but we did find there were still a few open serving food, tapas, and drinks. The seafood was fantastic! The shops also close down so make sure you visit them earlier in the day if you can. Most restaurants open back up around 8 pm for dinner, and most shops re open around 5 pm. There are also the reported stunning gardens of Jardi Botanical de Cape Roig in Calella de Palafrugell. We did not have the opportunity to visit, but consider keeping this on your radar for another family friendly activity.

Beach, Calella de Palafrugell
Beach, Calella de Palafrugell

Tips to Remember (especially for kids):

  • As already commented on most shops and restaurants will close for Siesta starting around 2pm so make preparations for your little ones if they are not used to eating late.
  • Spain’s beaches are topless so prepare any children for this in advance if this is different than your norm and as needed.
  • Prostitution is legal in Spain, and on the Costa Brava highways we saw about 15 prostitutes  with plastic lawn chairs and umbrellas alongside the road. Children may ask a lot of questions regarding this so just prepare your answers ahead of time based on what you are comfortable divulging to them based on age.
  • For great photos, walk to the hotel Sant Roc and follow the stoned pathway in front of the hotel down below, and you will come to a section overlooking all of Calella de Palafrugell.

Favorite beach products for little ones!

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Enjoying the beach with little ones can sometimes be a lot of work! There is so much preparation in order to avoid sunburns, heat overload, bathroom disasters, and sandy eyes! Here are my top favorite items that always make our beach trips with little ones a joy!

Tent: We always pack the tent! It is amazing how much more enjoyable our beach trips are with our tent! But then again with me having quite a fair complexion, I probably benefit  from the tent more than my daughter! 🙂 The tent makes nap time, potty breaks, etc so much better. It is like our own little home on the beach!

A portable potty: Little ones often have to have numerous potty breaks at the beach! And often kiddies are very scared about going potty in the ocean, and they do not want to take a break to go find a public restroom. Please use this suggestion within reason because obviously a public restroom will be needed in circumstances especially if anything other than number 1 is going down. We love our Potette Plus Travel Potty! It folds up to fit into a purse, backpack, or beach bag! The legs fold out and make a small potty. Absorbent liner bags fit inside the potty, and once done the bags tie up and throw away mess free. This is one of my favorite toddler contraptions!

Baby Powder: If your little one gets sand all over them, use baby powder! Baby powder takes dry sand right off and will circumvent that dreaded situation of sand in the eyes!

Inflatable Pool: We always take an inflatable pool with us to the beach. Our daughter used this at the beach for the first time when she was 6 months old, and continues to use it and she is almost 3! The inflatable pool we have is small and once deflated folds up to fit in my beach bag! It is easy to blow up, and offers a great place for a tot to play and cool off from the heat!

Inflatable Pool

Portable Clip Fan: Sometimes, the summer heat can be sweltering and a little hot for a baby who is only a few months old. A fan like this is great, and clips to to the beach chair!

Radio Flyer Wagon: This wagon breaks down with all of the paneling coming off, and makes it easy for us to load it into our Toureg for a drive to the beach! The wagon isn’t a necessity, but it definitely adds a bit more fun to long beach days. We use the wagon to pull all of our gear to the beach! Your tot can sleep in he wagon, and our daughter loves wagon rides on the beach!

Radio Flyer Wagon Beach

Mum & Bub Soothing Ointment: Long beach days can sometimes leave little one’s sensitive skin chaffed. This is my absolute favorite skin product! The soothing ointment was developed by a leading dermatologist and is naturally derived. It is infused with pawpaw fruit, and free of sufates, parabens, phthalates, gluten, soy, chemicals, etc.

The Beaches of 30A

Rosemary Beach, FL

Scenic 30A is an appx 20 mile stretch of road in Florida that runs parallel to the beach through charming seaside towns and alongside the Timpoochee Biking Trail.

We have visited 30A numerous times staying in multiple locations. We have stayed at Gulf Place near the beginning of 30A. At Rosemary Beach at the end of 30A, and at Watercolor and Seaside in the middle of 30A. We have booked directly through Watercolor Resort and Gulf Place, and we have also booked through VRBO and cottage rental agencies throughout 30A.

The beaches along 30A are a great place to make memories with little ones that will last a lifetime! I will never forget when my daughter giggled when she saw a crab on the beach the first time, or how she begged us to go crash into the waves with her. She and her cousins had a sand castle building contest and a sand burying contest! She collected nearly 45 seashells which are displayed in mason jars on my bathroom shelves and she filled our hearts with laughter and joy! 30A is where our favorite beaches are located, and I hope these tips help you enjoy 30A with your little bambinos in tow!

Logistics: 30A is an approximate 30 minute drive from Destin, Florida or Panama City Beach, FL. If coming from Panama City Beach you will hit the beach community of Rosemary Beach first. If coming from Destin, you will hit the communities / resorts located at the western end first beginning near Sandestin and hitting Gulf Place, Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton Beach, Seaside, etc first.

Activities:

The Beaches: Beautiful stretches of white sandy beach, sand dunes, clear bright blue waves, and beautiful sunsets are abundant along the beaches of 30A. The majority of our time is always spent enjoying the beach and activities beachside.

We love paddle boarding the waters of 30A with our daughter, and have found Surf Sup Rentals to be a great rental company. They deliver and pick up your board when you are done, and we find the prices more reasonable than the companies located directly on the beach especially for a full day rental! If you are only wanting to try paddle boarding for an hour or so then the companies located directly on the beach are much more convenient.

 

 

If your little one wants to try their hand at surfing, 30A adventures hosts daily surf camps from their Seagrove location in both the morning and afternoon during the warmer months! And if you are visiting outside their normal camp offerings, you can always book a private lesson.

Biking: We always book bikes for our trips to 30A. Normally the bikes are included in our rentals, and they are either on the property premise or we are provided vouchers to go to the rental company, and pick up our gear. We always purchase a child carrier as well. Our daughter enjoys riding in a child seat and the pull behind wagon so it is always a tossup as to which we book! We enjoy riding our bikes to the beach, and through the charming towns that dot 30A. We also have tried our hand at some bike trails located throughout 30A. A great guide to the Timpoochee Trail can be found here! Also there are some great trails specific to each development along the way. One such example are local trails located throughout Watercolor Resort that allow you to bike around the lake, etc.

Beachside Communities: Beginning at the Eastern end of 30A in Rosemary Beach, our favorite stops along the way with kiddies are as follows:

The Sugar Shak (Rosemary Beach): Kids LOVE this place which is stocked from floor to ceiling with stacked rows of CANDY! Every candy imaginable is housed here from old school candies to imported candies from Europe. They also have an extensive ice cream bar, and I must say the ice cream is great! This is a fun little shop for kids, and very memorable. Our daughter still talks about the Sugar Shak!

Playground Park (Rosemary Beach): This park is located on the beach side of 30A in Rosemary Beach accessible right off the biking/walking path nestled in between mature trees! It is a great little playground with wooden equipment including swings, slides, monkey bars, and family swings to sit on and watch the kiddies play! We rode our bikes here one evening before heading to dinner!

Camp Rosemary: Created for kids ages 5 – 12, Rosemary Beach offers Camp Rosemary which runs from end of May to beginning of August! The camp is a drop off program with daily activities planned for kids. However, Camp Rosemary also offers kids activities/crafts throughout the week for any kids staying in Rosemary! You can pick up a local calendar of events upon arrival or check their website here!

Rosemary Pools: Rosemary Beach has 4 pools: Coquina Pool, Sky Pool, Barbados Pool, Cabana Pool. The Cabana Pool has a separate kid’s pool and kid’s playground adjacent to the pool which makes it our favorite. The Sky Pool is also great as it is indoors for a brief reprieve from the sun or if you happen to get a bit of rainy weather in sunny Florida! More info on the pools here!

30A Farmer’s Market (Rosemary Beach): On Thursdays and Sundays from 9 am – 1 pm located on the green at Barrett Square. This is a great farmer’s market with so many wonderful local foods, vegetables, fruits, breads, and specialty items! My favorite vendor is “Matt’s Mom’s Mustard”! I did not expect to spend $18 on mustard on a random Saturday morning in Rosemary Beach, but this mustard is so amazing! We purchased the “original mustard”, “pineapple mustard”, and “Russian mustard” We also got a fourth free for buying 3! They give free samples so if you find their stall, definitely stop in for a try!

Cowgirl Kitchen (Rosemary Beach): Love their pizzas!!! Menu here!

Fonville Park & Press (Aly’s Beach): Fonville is a fantastic kid’s park, outdoor seating area, and coffee bar and café located in Aly’s Beach! This is one of our favorite stops on 30A! We love going for breakfast, sitting outside, and watching our daughter enjoy the park! It has a fantastic green space!

 

 

Charlie’s Donut (Aly’s Beach): We enjoyed riding our bikes to this donut food truck located in Aly’s Beach! They open daily, but often sell out quickly especially during the peak summer months. They have amazing donuts with some unique flavors such as red velvet or my favorite the sour cream pound cake. We enjoyed our donuts, and then our daughter played in the splash pad located directly in front of the donut truck! This is a great morning stop for kids! And don’t worry about cash, they accept cards!

 

 

Seaside Outdoor Movies (Seaside Amphitheater): Enjoy Seaside’s Outdoor Movie Series during the Summer Months at the grassy Seaside Amphitheater right in the middle of town! Movies are on Friday nights, and begin at 8:00 pm! Be sure to check the summer schedule seasonally! Our daughter loved this, and my suggestion is to get food from either Modica Market in Seaside which has great takeaways and specialty foods such as cheeses, coffees, cakes, etc or the nearby food airstreams which leads into…

Food Airstreams (Seaside): Enjoy food truck fare right in the middle of the cute, charming town of Seaside which is where the 1998 movie the Truman Show was filmed! There are so many great options, but our favorites are Barefoot BBQ and Meltdown on 30A. Meltdown has some quirky spins on a traditional grilled cheese, and my husband loves the spicy BBQ Pork from Barefoot! And mine and my daughter’s absolute favorite food airstream is FROST BITES for all of your snow cone/ice cream needs! Order the piggly wiggly: custard on the bottom, shaved ice in the middle, and cream on top. My favorite flavor is vanilla custard, peach shaved ice and cream for a spin on peaches and cream!

 

 

Duckies Fun Shop (Seaside): Duckies is a great toy store in the middle of Seaside with fun, unique toys! A favorite of our daughter! We first took her here when she was 6 months old, then at a year, and then again at 2! Every time it was a hit!!!

Sundog Books (Seaside): Sundog Books is a great local book shop for adults and kids located right in the middle of Seaside. All of the books are arranged by categories which is so fun! They showcase popular books up front, and then have similar genres grouped together so that if you are a fan of say Jane Austen books then you would also quite likely enjoy the books grouped with the Jane Austen books! And who doesn’t love a good read at the beach!

Seaside Farmer’s Market (Seaside): Seaside also offers a local farmer’s market similar to the one located at Rosemary Beach although Seaside’s Farmer’s market is a bit bigger! The market is every Saturday from 9 am – 1pm and you can find everything from organic meats, vegetables, fruits to specialty cakes, breads, and crafts!

Watercolor Outdoor Movies: (Watercolor Resort): Watercolor also hosts an outdoor movie and concert series for guests running from end of May through early September. Movies are hosted normally on Thursday nights with concerts on Wednesdays at Marina Park! Be sure to check the seasonal schedule at Watercolor!

Watercolor Pools: If guests of Watercolor resort, you have access to 6 resort pools!!! One pool is an adult’s only pool so for kid friendly options there are 5 pools to choose from! All of the pools are fun and beautiful. We love the Beach Club Pool due to its proximity to the beach and food service; however, we also enjoy the frog and dragonfly pools located further back in Watercolor as they are very kid friendly!

Western Lake (Watercolor): A plus of staying at Watercolor Resort is access to the boathouse where you can kayak, paddleboard, or fish. We have kayaked the lake, and find it extremely relaxing and fun!

Camp Watercolor (Watercolor): Watercolor also offers a kids camp similar to Rosemary Beach. Geared towards children ages 5-12, the drop off camp offers daily activities and crafts!

The Red Bar (Grayton Beach): The Red Bar is an iconic, unique venue located in the heart of Grayton Beach. They schedule live performances weekly, and during the summer months the wait to eat here can be quite lengthy as they do not accept reservations! With smaller children lunch would be a great option, but with older kids in tow they would no doubt enjoy the eclectic mix of furnishings and live entertainment!

Blue Mountain Beach Creamery (Blue Mountain Beach): Located right off 30A on county road 83 in the community of Blue Mountain Beach is the creamery. This place has amazing ice cream made fresh daily, and an amazing amount of flavor variety! The line at this place is sometimes wild, but definitely worth the stop!

Beach Horse Back Riding: (Gulf Place): Just north of Gulf Place on 30A is Arnett’s Horse Ranch where you can enjoy horseback rides along the beach!

Artists at Gulf Place (Gulf Place): The colony of artists at Gulf Place hosts art camps for kids during the summer months at Gulf Place on 30A! The cute little huts in the center of Gulf Place development feature work from various local artists daily! Be sure you check the schedule for which kid’s workshops will be presented during the next summer offering! Visit their webpage here!

For my favorite beach items with a tot in tow, please read my post here!

Rosemary Beach

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Rosemary Beach Sunset