Hernando Beach is where we shall begin our new blog series: Travel Tuesday. It seems like travel is slowly coming back, and I am excited to start sharing our adventures again. This past weekend, we made a drive to Hernando Beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
About Hernando Beach, Florida
Hernando Beach is located on the west coast of Florida, north of Tampa and south of Crystal River. It’s known for its canals and scalloping, and is next to the famous Weeki Wachee Springs (home of the mermaids). A small coastal town, with a population of 2,500, its’s the perfect weekend getaway. From St. Augustine, Hernando Beach is about a three hour drive, making it a manageable destination.
Where To Stay
Our lodging of choice was the Hernando Beach Motel. The Motel boasts a total of six efficiencies of varying sizes. Half face the “porch” or parking lot/street side, while the other half face the water. Our group took the Cayman and St. Marten rooms, which were next to each other on the dockside of the property. Between the two rooms, we had plenty of space for four adults, and four teenagers (we added a small camping mattress to the floor to give a little extra room).
Each room had a full kitchen (no dishwashers). We had a giant grill and plenty of seating outside, and this was perfect for While the property was a little on the older and rustic side, it was absolutely SPOTLESS, and the hospitality was on point.
Where To Dine in Hernando Beach
From our quick trips out of the motel, we saw that Hernando Beach is full of local dining establishments. There is also a grocery store (Publix) about 15 minutes away (you could find fast food and some chains not too far from there as well). We bought groceries to make breakfast at the motel, and Pub subs and snacks to bring in the cooler on our boat trip.
For quick breakfasts, drinks and snacks, the gas station neibhoriinw the Hernando Beach Motel was the place to go. They had plenty of coffee, energry drinks, protein bars, and junk food. The employees also made egg, cheese, and sausage or bacon croissants fresh in house. They were hot and delicious, and super easy to snag.
To catch the sunset, we tried out the Sunset Grille. There was a small bar and indoor dining area with pool table, which opened up to a patio and picnic area out back. Heads up: the lighting is poor and the little stinging bugs are relentless, but the view is second to none. Our server, Red, was amazing, bringing out buckets of beer, and huge portions of really good seafood and sandwiches. There was also a DJ on duty for Country Night, but he mixed up the tunes, and we all danced on the outdoor stage.
For our “fine dining” night, we went to Brian’s Place. This restaurant also came recommended, and served up Italian and Latin cuisine. Yes, it was an interesting mix, but it was pretty delicious, too. We had cocktails and wine on a canal-front terrace, plus warm garlic rolls with our dinners. I think we all tried something different. The server brought out creme brûlée for the birthday celebration, and everyone said it was some of the best they’ve had (I don’t love creme brûlée, so I will take their word for it).
What To Do In Hernando Beach
Hernando Beach is a water town. Most activities will revolve around the canals, rivers, and Gulf of Mexico. Plan on taking advantage of fishing, scalloping, kayaking, boating, or paddle boarding. We chose to explore the Weeki Wachee Preserve, rent a pontoon boat for a day, and visit Weeki Wachee Springs (I will cover this next week).
The Weeki Wachee Preserve is a network of limestone trails that cut through the canals of Hernando Beach. One trailhead was a few blocks from the motel, so we walked over. The trails were wide and flat and the scenery exquisite. We watched the sun rise, and saw two huge owls, a bounding deer, several sets of prints, and a variety of birds and plants.
On Saturday, we rented a pontoon boat from the motel. The boat was right outside our room and on Saturday morning, we were free to load it up with food, drinks, and fishing gear. Our friend signed off the paperwork, and the proprietor went over the safety checks and directions with us. She gave all the directions we needed to some local boating spots, and out we went. After an accidental grounding on an oyster bed, we decided to anchor at the nearby sand bar. We cranked up the music, and enjoyed cocktails in the water, surrounded by dolphins. It was heaven on earth.
Where To Run in Hernando Beach?
The Hernando Beach area is fabulous for running. As I mentioned, the Weeki Wachee Preserve is comprised of miles of limestone trails that lend themselves to walking and running, both. Please be aware that the preserve puts athletes in the heart of nature, so take the necessary precautions to stay safe.
We loved the easy, unassuming pace of the Hernando Beach area. Prices were more than reasonable, especially considering that we visited after “scallop season.” This is a bathing suit and flip flop kind of trip, which can be so great, and in the moment, exactly what our family needed. We would absolutely return, and enjoy the natural beauty the area has to offer.
Have you visited Hernando Beach, Florida?
Do you prefer casual, laid back vacations, or more formal, structured ones?