The southeast part of the Florida panhandle is known for beautiful white sand beaches, gorgeous sunsets and great seafood. An iconic restaurant recently opened its second location in this area – Lulu’s in Destin. I have been to the original in nearby Gulf Shores, Alabama, but the newest Lulu’s offers just as much fun with even more perks. Most folks know this, but Lulu’s is owned and operated by Lucy Buffett, youngest sister to Jimmy Buffett.
The site of the restaurant isn’t on the Gulf of Mexico beach, but is nestled into a wonderful area on the Choctawhatchee Bay, in sight of the Destin Bridge. The building that houses the restaurant and gift shop is large and open-aired, with the accompanying beach just a few feet from the tables full of diners. Right in the center of the restaurant space is a stage, which hosts nightly live music.
Out on the beach area, there is an amazing amount of fun to be had for kids of all ages. While I was there, children were running by, playing in the sand and enjoying a couple of areas made just for them. One particular bit of fun comes with a price, but I wish I could have had a safe bungee experience when I was eight or nine! The kids I saw on the “Jellyfish Jumper” were having a blast! There are also paddle boards and kayaks to rent, plus several colorful Adirondack chairs area scattered about if you choose to just chill with a cold drink.
And cold drinks? Yes, please… the cocktail menu at Lulu’s is vast and varied and delicious. I was told when I ordered my margarita that it wasn’t the same as a Margaritaville (bar) version, but it was tasty. The food menu was casual and reasonably priced, with many local specialties featured. I had to try some of Lucy Buffett’s famous gumbo and it didn’t disappoint. Portions were large and I was sorry that I couldn’t order more, since there were so many dishes that called to me.
We had just been served our food when the live music began and I thoroughly enjoyed a local husband/wife duo called Coconut Radio. They played quite a bit of Buffett cover but mixed in other fun cover songs and a few of their originals. Sue plays violin and I was amazed at how, with the help of electronics, she was able to make the strings sound like steel drum. Steve delivers great vocals and guitar and he picks youngsters to join them on stage with a percussion instrument. Coconut Radio was family-friendly, interactive and extremely fun to listen to.
The gift shop offered an assortment of t-shirts and various items with the Lulu’s logo, but I snatched up Lucy’s latest cookbook/memoir called “Gumbo Love.” Many local products were also featured and inexpensive beach jewelry made for fun purchases.
You’ll need directions to get to Lulu’s as it’s not right on the main highway that crosses through Destin, but if you plan to visit, give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the premises and go hungry! You won’t be disappointed.