Technology follows us everywhere. With so many families attached to their devices, including my own, I was determined to plan a tech-free family vacation.
I found the perfect place. Located along the banks of the Steinhatchee River, in the Big Bend region of the state, the Steinhatchee Landing Resort provides families with a place to unwind, unplug and reconnect.
And yes, of course, the resort has television and Wi-Fi for those who still have the urge to be connected. We didn’t. Not this time.
At check-in, I knew we were somewhere special when told, “Welcome! The door is unlocked and your key is on the counter.”
The resort features 31 Victorian, Georgian and Florida cracker-style townhomes and houses that welcome couples and families in fully-furnished homes ranging from one to four bedrooms.
Our home for the weekend was named Thomas’ Store, with a faux gas pump and old-time store signage out front. It’s a quaint cottage with a relaxing screened-in patio off the master bedroom, a great place to snuggle up in the evenings with a good book. Just down the lane is the cottage where former President Jimmy Carter vacationed with his family in 1994.
Along the waterfront, two-story cottages have magnificent views of boaters arriving with the day’s catch. Some of these cottages even have their own boat docks, allowing easy access to the river. My favorite was the cottage with a fire pit right in the back yard – a perfect retreat after a long day on the water.
With our bikes, brought with us from home, we set out to explore our beautiful surroundings, which felt more like a friendly neighborhood than it did a resort.
Our first stop was the resort’s petting zoo and farm. The goats, rabbits, ducks and chickens were quick to greet us in hopes we had snacks, and we did. My girls were thrilled to feed the goats celery and talk with their caretaker. We were even offered a few fresh eggs to take back to our cottage. The next day’s breakfast would be a true delight -- straight from the farm.
With the sunny weather outside, the next stop on our bike ride was the resort’s recreation center. We took a dip in the pool and the kids loved playing on the adjacent playground, too. For the sports lovers, there were tennis courts, a basketball court and even shuffleboard.
With a full-sized kitchen, my family and I soon settled in for a meal around the dinner table and a night of board games and laughter. In the distance, we could hear families gathered around the resort’s fire pit, singing songs and enjoying the evening with one another. It seemed the perfect way to relax as a family after a long day of travel. But, after a big day of exploring, we opted to stay inside and take advantage of the quiet night and the welcoming accommodations.
As the rooster crowed the next morning, we discovered fishermen and boaters heading out for a day on the water. With kayaks and canoes available for rent onsite, many guests were making their own way out for a day of scalloping. Taylor County is well-known for scalloping and the resort regularly assists families with arranging a fishing guide. We just enjoyed walking the shoreline, discovering the fish close to the docks.
In the afternoon, we made the 1.5-mile drive into the city of Steinhatchee and discovered fantastic local dining at both Roy’s and Fiddler’s. Both restaurants offer fresh seafood and even allow boaters to bring in their own catch of the day for the chefs to prepare a meal. The broiled sea scallops at Roy’s were extremely fresh; in fact, they were some of the best scallops we’d ever eaten. And at the table next to us at Fiddler’s, we enjoyed getting to know another family also vacationing in the area.
Our time at the Steinhatchee Landing Resort was a welcome escape from technology. Yes, they have it. But there were so many great adventures and opportunities to just relax at the resort we didn’t even want to think about the outside world. We enjoyed our time there so much that we’ve decided to dedicate a trip each year as our annual ‘unplugging’ getaway.
We left the resort feeling we’d managed to get away from it all, refreshed and thankful for the time we spent together as a family.
If you go…
Steinhatchee Landing Resort
228 US Highway 51 North
Steinhatchee, Florida 32359