Beach Briefs

Plein Air Invitational

Plein Air InvitationalThere’s nothing quite as inspiring as scenic beauty in a natural setting. Whether you’re seeking a muse for your own artistic endeavors or simply the opportunity to appreciate someone else’s craft, America’s Great Plein-Air Paint-Out along Florida’s Forgotten Coast is the place to be. Taking place May 2 – 12, artists will capture the coast from Alligator Point to Mexico Beach through the historically European practice of open-air painting. Events include a quick-draw, exhibits, artist demonstrations, workshops, receptions and more. pleinairfl.com Be sure to mark your calendars for even more events on the horizon in Mexico Beach — Best Blast on the Beach brings fireworks and a 5k to the area July 4 and the Mexico Beach Off shore Classic attracts anglers with fishing tournament categories including king, wahoo and dolphin. mexico-beach.com

Photo courtesy of Sandie Yarbrough

Raise a Toast on the Coast

Raise a ToastThe beaches of Northwest Florida’s South Walton area have a long-standing reputation among epicureans as one of the best destinations for food and wine festivals, and this season offers not one, but two opportunities to indulge. Up fi rst is the 30A Wine Festival, an intimate event featuring wine tasting seminars, a grand tasting, a band party and the all-new Rosé and Croquet event March 9 – 10 in Alys Beach. 30awinefestival.com; for accommodations, visit alysbeach.com. Later in the season, the inaugural South Walton Wine & Food Festival takes place April 25 – 28 in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, boasting more than 800 wines, a culinary village, cooking demonstrations, entertainment from celebrated songwriters and more. Cheers! sowalwine.com

Oceanfront Feasts

Oceanfront FeastIf we lived on the coast, we’d host beach bashes with fresh-catch feasts every weekend, but since our days by the sea are limited, we’re experts. Grayton Beach Catering sizes along the Florida Panhandle. graytonbeachcatering.com Need a place to stay? Consider one of Points North’s partners for beach house and condo rentals in Northwest Florida:

Dale E. Peterson Vacations, 800-336-9669, destinresorts.com

South Walton Beach Rentals, 888-364-6791, brswvacations.com

Photo courtesy of Shelly Swanger

Airport Parking

With direct flights from Atlanta to destinations like Panama City, Destin and Charleston, reaching your beach destination can be quick and painless and devoid of the “Are we there yets?” Ease the hassle of

airport parking with Points North partner Park ‘N Fly, which offers complimentary, continuous shuttle service from off-site lots, luggage assistance, affordable rates and additional perks like baggage check and car detailing. pnf.com

Beach BumsBeach Bums

Dress your little beach babe in style with Beach Bums by Baby Aspen, super-cute seersucker diaper covers decorated with all your favorite sea creatures ($38.75 for a set of three). The boutique-quality, online baby gift shop is based right here in Duluth. babyaspen.com

Photo courtesy of Baby Aspen

Rock On!

Rock OnIt’s concert season across the South, and as much as we love a good amphitheater or arena, you just can’t beat a live concert on the coast. Offering a unique entertainment experience, the Hangout Music Festival takes place directly on the beaches of Alabama’s Gulf Shores and brings in an incredible array of musical talent year after year. Headliners for the 2013 festival, May 17 – 19, include Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Kings of Leon and The Black Crowes. Snag single tickets or splurge for a full travel package including local lodging and transportation to and from the event. hangoutmusicfest.com

Photo courtesy of Dave Vann

Plan it with the ProsPlan it with the Pros

The Crystal Coast has become one of the hottest beach destinations in the Southeast for family vacations, reunions, weddings, corporate connections and just about anything that has to do with sun and sand. Should you get the notion to host a shindig of sorts, sit back and leave the details to local experts. Crystal Coast Tent and Event Rentals is the area’s only event rental company with Certified Event Planners on staff. Just thinking about it makes us want to throw a little party on the beach! crystalcoasteventrentals.com

Photo courtesy of Ellen LeRoy Photography

UnscriptedUnscripted

The chic destination of Bal Harbour, Fla., recently launched a new public art program called “Unscripted.” This year-round, public art commission was created to support and challenge the artistic talents in South Florida. Artist Christy Gast has been named the second winner of “Unscripted” and her commission, “Self Portrait as Barefoot

Mailman” opens this month. balharbourflorida.com/unscriptedartprojects

Photo courtesy of Bal Harbour Village

 

Seaside Walking ToursSeaside Walking Tours

It may seem unlikely that architecture could create a destination, but the iconic pastel cottages and white picket fences of Seaside, Fla., have played a large role in the branding and appeal of this popular little town. Learn about Seaside’s world-famous, New Urbanist design on an intimate walking tour with Mark Schnell, a boutique urban designer based in Seagrove Beach, Fla. The 1.5-hour tours are by appointment only. seasidewalkingtours.com. For Seaside accommodations, visit cottagerentalagency.com or homeownerscollection.com.

Photo courtesy of Steven Brooke Studios

Outer Banks Outfitter

Having lured countless generations of families to its charming, quintessential Coastal Carolina getaway in the Outer Banks, Sanderling Resort is proud to partner with Kitty Hawk Kites, the largest water-based outfitter on the Outer Banks. Onsite activities will include kayaking, surfi ng, paddleboarding, skimboarding, boogie boarding and bicycle rentals. A dedicated representative from Kitty Hawk Kites will be stationed at the resort and all activities are open to guests and the public. To book your adventures, contact Sanderling Resort at sanderling-resort.com 855-412-7866.