Alligator Point: Our Home Away From Home

Discover Alligator Point, Florida 

Being in Tallahassee, we’re lucky enough to be nestled just a few miles north of some of Old Florida’s most prized possessions – her undiscovered coasts. Thanks to their proximity to town, these beaches are home to many “Tallahasseeans” during the spring and summer months. It’s on these relaxed shorelines boasting of towering pines and abundant wildlife that porches and decks are filled with families enjoying the catch of the day, boats lazily float in the shallow waters waiting to be boarded for a sunset cruise, and where our warm-weather must-do lists come to fruition. 
It’s named Alligator Point because when you’re coming around ‘The Point’ in the gulf waters in a boat, the Pine Trees on land look like the silhouette of an Alligator.  
Alligator Point is coastal community that’s part of what has been coined ‘The Forgotten Coast’ – it’s very quiet and mostly undeveloped. The beaches are white and sandy and while the water is beautiful, it does not compare to the turquoise waters of 30A or other surrounding areas. This allows Alligator Point to remain very “local” – the sort of community where when you pass a boat, chances are you know who’s in it!   


How We Landed at Alligator Point 

The Forgotten Coast has seen generations of our family practically grow up on its beaches. Being so close to Tallahassee (about a 45 minute drive), the in-town crew makes it down to the house quite a bit throughout the year, but the bigger holidays always bring the rest of the family from out of town. 
For years, we have spent not only much of the spring and summer seasons, but also autumn football weekends, holidays, and weeklong post-holiday reprieves enjoying these treasured shores at our beach house and our little escape from the hustle and bustle of “city life.” 
When hunting for our little hidden piece of paradise, a prerequisite was a large enough screen porch, dock, or breezeway to hold our large family as well as entertain from.  
“When we were on the search for just the right home away from home, we knew we needed a space outdoors to gather and celebrate whether we were celebrating a birthday or just a good day on the water,” said Laura. “I wanted a place to kick back, feel the breeze and if the mood felt right, host an impromptu meal or cocktail hour with neighboring families.”  
Now, that home contains almost decades of happy hours, birthday parties, shrimp boils, storytimes, and more memories than we can count. Tucked away amongst the pines, it’s here that we kick off our long season of rising temperatures and later sunsets each and every year. 


Our Life At Alligator Point 

When anticipating the start of spring, we can’t help but think about longer days, warmer weather and time spent outdoors. Because we live in the Sunshine State, this giddy excitement usually kicks in as early as February. And thanks to a few too many hours spent daydreaming about the months to come, by the beginning of March, we’ve got our calendars marked with when we plan to head ‘down to the beach.’ 
Our small but mighty home comfortably suits a core family or even two most trips, but during those bigger weekends we’ve all coordinated to be together, we all pile into the house together and just make it work! Now that a new, young generation is here and our family growing exponentially more and more every day, it’s so fun for those of us that grew up sleeping on palettes or air mattresses to happily transition that pastime to the youngest. Most of us also have one or two dogs, so over the years there has been known to be up to about seven or eight there at once, in addition to the 18 or so people! 

The traditional stops on the way down to the beach usually include:  

  • The grocery store 

  • Mineral Springs Seafood for their special housemade fish dip – makes a great and easy appetizer after a long day on the water.   

  • Boiled Peanuts – “the spot” to get them shifts each year, but the peanuts have to be green for one of us to stop! These usually get eaten up while the cars are being unloaded or any leftovers get taken on the boat the next day and usually don’t last long. Even better - get the recipe to make your own here.

  • ...Among others depending on who gets down to the beach first and recognizes a new need then calls the next person coming.   

When we finally pull into the driveway and feel the bay breeze, we all chip in and unload the groceries, and one of the boys cuts a couple dozen palm fronds to fill the designated empty vessels in the house. The unspoken rule is to leave a few leftover bottles of beer in the refrigerator when you last leave, so the crew in charge of opening the house can have a little taste of vacation right away! 
Then, the wine starts flowing, dinner prep starts, and we start catching up on all the goings-on in each others lives. Sometimes, if the mood is right, the background music will get cranked up and a dance party ensues. 

Each morning is usually spent with a grapevine of phone calls being made to our many friends and neighbors to see where the best location is for our early afternoon meeting point depending on the tide. Once decided, everyone falls into the usual routine of making and packing up the boat sandwiches and snacks, filling the coolers, loading up the towels and sunscreen… ALL the essentials. Then we head out to the meet point with the others to float, swap stories, and visit 


The spot is either the end of “the point,” a sandy spit at the very tip of Alligator Point where just a small slice of sand separates the Gulf of Mexico with Alligator Bay. Or, if the tide is low, we meet on our sandy reef about 5 miles offshore where the water can be as low as 2’ deep. There we use lots of rafts and gather around as the tide gets higher, floating and laughing. As the water rises, we swim up to one another’s boats for a dry spot to visit. So many sand dollars are found on this sandy spot and when the water is clear, someone is always on the lookout for any sharks swimming by.   

When the water is especially calm, we take a longer ride over to Dog Island, a secluded island just offshore that is accessible only by boat. We like this spot as the water is usually very clear and the sand so white it makes for a pretty spot to spend the day together. 


Often our tradition is to simply gather at the end of our dock, set up camp with coolers, chairs, umbrellas and music. Even after a day out on the boat, we’ll spend the late afternoon here snacking on appetizers to hold us over until dark while we watch the boats ride by, water ski, dolphin watch, or teach the kids to fish off the dock. 

Most often it involves letting the dogs run loose which almost always ends up with Kyle and Warren’s English Springer Spaniel, Milly embarking in her iconic jumps off of the dock to endlessly chase a ball or a stick (or simply anything she can find!) where once retrieved, she gifts us (wanting or not) a cool brisk mist shower as she shakes - always just next to you. 

We never let each other miss a sunset, and we always agree that pictures never capture it to do it any sort of justice! 

Holidays At Alligator Point 

Holidays and long weekends not only bring more of our family to the beach, but also the general population at The Forgotten Coast seems to increase significantly. Many more pings in the group text, a longer line at The Tiki Hut for a drink, and more boats on the water in general.  


A few more notable weeks and weekends down at the beach include:  

  • Spring Break 

  • Memorial Day Weekend 

  • Fourth of July Weekend 

  • Labor Day 

  • The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day 

During Fourth of July especially, many fireworks are set off during the various holidays and there is always a perfect spot to view them exploding up and down the beach, either by a nighttime boat ride if the tide allows, or from our dock.  
One of our favorite traditions is setting off wish lanterns - a tradition Marcie and I learned about and were fortunate to experience during a trip we made together to Thailand many years ago. We keep these stocked at the beach house especially to set off on the dock on New Year’s Eve. We all make a wish and let our lanterns go and with nothing around it, you can watch them decorate the night sky while climbing so high and floating so far.   

Entertaining At The Beach 

Entertaining and everything that comes along with it tends to be more of a casual gathering style at the beach. Since the nearest grocery store is about a 30-minute drive away, we do most of the prep work ahead of time in the form of recipe research, menu planning, and delegating meals to different individuals to divide the opportunity to host for the evening (as well as the responsibility to clean up!) 


Recipes and Meals We Serve At The Beach 

In general, our family loves to honor traditional dishes or family favorites when we gather together {see our Go-To Beach Weekend Menu here} but we also love to find and try new recipes to add into the fold. The perfectly planned menu does a little bit of both. Breakfast, Lunch, Cocktails, and Appetizers are usually the easiest meals to experiment with because we tend to eat dinner pretty late – especially in the summer since we soak in every minute of the day out on the dock until after sunset. Usually, the hosts for the evening get first dibs on the post-boat shower to begin dinner preparations ahead of sunset. 
Since we have so many people, we all chip into menu planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. And since we're all grocery shopping, we've found the only way to not go an entire weekend without paper towels or likewise, end up with 47 too many onions (yes, this has happened before!)… and it all happens in a Shared Note.  


How We Use Shared Notes to Prepare For A Beach Weekend 

The Shared Note has a blank template that is split up into sections: 
  • A Grocery Store List broken out by department: Where items that we need in general for the house or for individual recipes get added. 
  • A “We Have Plenty Of...” section: Where items that we’re currently stocked up on (or overstocked) are listed with the quantity we have. This is especially helpful for essentials like paper goods, cleaning supplies, and wine. 
  • A Daily Menu section: Broken out into Breakfast, Lunch, Appetizer, Dinner, Dessert subsections, and where each host can claim a course on a particular day. 
  • A Stock Image section: Where the last person to use the house adds phone snapshots of the pantry and refrigerator before they leave to head home for each reference for a particular ingredient or spice if needed from home or at the store while shopping. 
Ahead of the next beach trip, someone will usually take the lead and claim hosting responsibility for a specific meal or two on a particular day. Then, each person adds their recipes’ individual ingredients in with quantities they’re shopping for as well. As each ingredient is shopped, the owner of that ingredient marks it with a handy little checkmark tool (in place of a bullet) that allows you to check off as you've purchased the item.   
“Depending on the grocery store responsibility assignments in your household, this trick works between spouses or families also! Warren and I have gotten into the habit of adding our items to our Grocery Store Shared Note as we recognize the need, and then have a place to go and reference if we stop by the store.” - Kyle 


How We Entertain At The Beach 

As is our specialty, most nights we set a big, long table and gather around to enjoy a more leisurely meal as a family. We have curated a collection of our most functional tabletop and entertaining essentials to keep at the beach house. A few notables that get used most often for our large crew:  
Entertaining Essentials:   
Some nights get more casual with paper plates (our favorite go-to's are Chinet Classic White Dinner Plates for a basic solution that's easy to buy in bulk, made from recycled materials, and fully compostable.) and sitting about the house wherever you’re comfortable. Alligator Point is a unique community to many of our lifelong friends, so it’s no rarity that our dinner crowd may double on any given night, and we just roll with it by making a little more of a recipe than we think we need. If anything, there ends up being more leftovers to snack on or sneak for breakfast the next day! 


A typical Alligator Point gathering includes a variety of cooking methods (grill, griddle, fryer, oven, or serving room temperature or cold) to divide and conquer a whole meal. We entertain and eat outside as much as we can, weather allowing, and make sure the flavors of the menu are fit for the season.

As you may know about us by now, gathering together is one of our favorite things to do as a family, so our beach weekends, which are basically just an extension of the same are so very meaningful to us. Alligator Point is a place very near and dear to our hearts due to its quaint setting, relaxed atmosphere, special history, and the memories it already holds for our family... as well as the future memories we look forward to making together with the next generation of sweet little ones!

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