Isn’t this the best beach town name, ever?
Only it’s not really a town. It does have its own sign though, which makes it look official. But Summer Haven, Florida, is just a tiny community of fixed-up old fisherman’s shacks, quaint cottages and yes, some big-ass rich-people vacation homes, but not so many that you make a face – one that looks like sour grapes, like you are secretly jealous. Because you are so NOT.
Summer Haven is a place where time slows down like in the olden days, when you whiled the day away riding the waves and taking breaks for mom’s sandy peanut butter and jelly. When evenings were dad’s grilled cheese dogs and ice cream, and the grownups sat around with their beers and their Tom Collins’, their laughter whipping up and down the row of cottages in the ocean wind. We would take baths then roll around in the dry, warm sand, or hide under a stilt house and pretend we were runaways. (Or later, make out with the boy who was vacationing next door!) Board games, toasted marshmallows, soggy paperback novels, sleeping in.
Summer Haven is a place where all of this happens. It’s a giant step back in time, when life was simpler, and you could ride your bike everywhere and not have to worry about some mustached stranger trolling around in a white van waiting to grab you and keep you in his basement for the rest of your life.
“Summer,” and “Haven.” Peace. Sleep. Food. Memories. Sanctuary. Refuge.
We didn’t “Triple-B” it here because there is no mom-and-pop motel. But there are quite a number of the-stuff-of-dreams cottages and bungalows to rent. Vacation rentals often require a booking of a week minimum, but some offer shorter stays. One such rental is actually kind of famous – The Hut. One of the original cottages, built in 1892, The Hut looks a little creaky from the outside…
The Hut, historic (but updated) vacation rental, more info here
…but so warm and inviting in the photo below, via vacationrentalpros.com. Click and look around; The Hut is so unique and adorable and has an interesting history.
The Hut was also featured in Coastal Living, here.
Only one restaurant is within walking distance, but it’s all you need. The Matanzas Inlet Restaurant is a welcoming, quirky place with great food and amazing views.
Some might call it a hole in the wall but we loved the fun, friendly atmosphere, and the outside seating right on the water.
The food was delicious, and I was pleasantly surprised at the wine selection. They have all the yummy kinds of beach bar food we seek out – coconut shrimp, wings – but also unique dishes such as andouille gator sausage with honey mustard sauce. Burgers, wraps, tacos, quesadillas, steamed seafood as well as “big ass baskets” and various pasta entrees. They also have gluten-free options. And live music! Our kind of place, for sure, and we WILL go back.
And maybe rent The Hut, or The Artist’s Retreat-
The Artist’s Retreat vacation rental, more info here
…or The Blue Parrot…
The Blue Parrot vacation rental, more info here
Modest from the outside, but wow – look at the inside –
Photo via vacationrentals.com
And here are some more photos of this throwback to the good old days “town,” Summer Haven.
This oceanfront beauty is for sale, as of this writing, read about it here
Feel free to contest my superlative and let me know what beach town name YOU think is best!
Summer Haven is on Florida’s east coast, 15 miles south of St. Augustine and 40 miles north of Daytona Beach.