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The Short Version: Couples who want to experience a romantic beach getaway often book a stay at Henderson Park Inn, a picturesque resort in the heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast. The establishment, which offers a luxury experience, was recently named the most romantic inn in the United States by TripAdvisor. Couples reserve more than just guest rooms when they stay at Henderson Park Inn. Its packages include breakfast, lunch, snacks, and even beachside amenities like chairs and umbrellas. For its commitment to providing couples with pampered beach experiences, Henderson Park Inn has earned our Editor’s Choice Award.
When couples decide to take a much-needed getaway, they often choose to stay at Henderson Park Inn on the Emerald Coast of Florida, and they frequent the inn because of its romantic location on a mile of private beachfront in Henderson Beach State Park.
“You feel like you’re in your own world, and, because of that tranquillity, our inn became a popular destination,” said Janie Schmidt, Henderson Park Inn’s Marketing Director.
When guests arrive at the inn, they’re greeted by friendly staff members, who make them feel welcome before leading them to their suite. The rooms are decorated in peaceful neutral colors, and most overlook the Gulf of Mexico. Guests can open the balcony doors to sit outside and enjoy the ocean breeze and the soft sound of the Gulf waters.
Each morning, chefs prepare a buffet filled with options, including stations for making fresh-to-order waffles. After eating their fill, couples can take one of the inn’s bicycles for a spin down scenic Highway 98. When they return, they can claim two reserved beach chairs in front of the inn.
At 5 p.m., couples typically head back to the inn for happy hour to sip a few cocktails and meet their fellow guests. Best of all, couples don’t have to pull out their wallets for any of these amenities. The inn includes everything in the price of the room.
“You get breakfast, lunch, beach chairs, bikes, happy hour every day — anything you can think of. It’s a pretty incredible package. Our room prices are comparable to other rooms in our area, plus you get everything you could want,” said Janie.
Henderson Park Inn is located in the Florida Panhandle next to Henderson Beach State Park, one of the state’s greatest natural assets. The inn’s spectacular vistas afford guests a firsthand experience of the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Guests walking on the beach may spot a sea turtle or a dolphin in the Gulf.
Those views and the oceanside experience are cornerstones of the property, which is situated on a mile of private beach next to the state park’s 30-foot white sandy dunes.
Couples can set up a private Toes in the Sand dining experience at a table for two on the beach where the wait staff tends to their every need.
“You can get to know each other even more and enjoy each other’s company,” Janie said.
Guests have voiced their appreciation on review sites for the inn’s amenities and alluring location, which allow them the opportunity to relax and reflect.
“We had a large king room on the top floor of the smaller building on the beach, and it was better than awesome. We couldn’t have asked for a more comfortable room, better surroundings, view, staff, you name it,” wrote one guest on TripAdvisor.
Another satisfied guest agreed, writing, “Beautiful location, lovely rooms, amazing food. This was the perfect romantic weekend at the beach. The chefs at breakfast made the start of the day something to look forward to. The dinner we had at the BeachWalk restaurant was fantastic. Happy hour at the Tiki bar in the afternoon was the perfect break after being on the beach all day.”
Couples are often drawn to Henderson Park Inn for its all-inclusive packages. If couples don’t want to drive a car for their entire stay, they don’t need to. They have plenty of options with which to entertain or pamper themselves at the inn or other places within walking distance.
In addition to having meals, snacks, and other amenities covered, couples can also access the resort features at the inn’s sister establishment, the Henderson, located across the street. A larger resort, Henderson Park Inn offers a large pool, fitness center, lazy river, and spa.
While it’s not included as part of the dining package, the Beach Walk Cafe is an award-winning, full-service restaurant on the inn’s grounds. The restaurant specializes in seafood, including grouper, shrimp, and tuna, and offers rotating catches from the nearby Gulf. For dessert, diners can indulge in timeless classics like Key lime pie and crème brûlée.
At the end of a long day, guests also enjoy watching the ocean from the veranda of the restaurant.
“We have a beautiful veranda where guests can watch the sun set into the Gulf, and couples get engaged there all the time,” Janie said.
The city of Destin is a short walk or bike ride from the inn. Couples can explore the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, and watch scores of boats sail in with their daily catches, or the Destin History and Fishing Museum. Guests seeking some thrills can spend an afternoon at Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park.
The area also offers plenty of opportunities to get out on the water, including scuba diving outings and glass-bottom boat rides.
Many couples find that Henderson Park Inn has so many amenities they don’t even need to leave the property. That means they can simplify their itineraries and spend their vacation focusing on each other.
“People know that they’re going to have a romantic stay here and enjoy their time with us. We offer a full experience, and most people just stay at the inn the whole time because there’s so much to enjoy,” Janie said.
Henderson Park Inn is also an adults-only destination, and that gives the establishment a more serene feel.
“I don’t believe we ever said, ‘We’re a romantic inn,’ but we found our place in the market that way,” shares Janie.
Couples at different stages of their relationships have chosen Henderson Park Inn to celebrate special occasions. Many couples say their vows at the inn, while others book a room for their honeymoons. Other guests often return each year to mark milestone anniversaries there.
Perhaps these repeat visitors are the reason that people who stay at the inn feel so connected to it. Janie tells us about how some guests send Christmas cards to the inn, while others add staff members as friends on Facebook.
“When you get here, we greet you so warmly, and our chefs are adorable and talk to everyone. Once you stay here, you become part of the family,” Janie said.