Last minute holidays are the best. A few days before Christmas 2015, we learned that we had more days off for the winter holidays than we were expecting, so we quickly looked for cheap trips, and found that Florida had great deals happening. Great deals; as long as we were flexible and not too picky.
First, we flew at an undesirable time on Christmas morning. We got up before sunrise for a flight leaving in the early morning hours. As kids across America were waking up to see what Santa had left them, we were having coffee in the United Airlines Lounge in LAX. We were able to purchase first class tickets on the cheap. Admittedly, flying first class domestic on an older plane, isn't nearly as snazzy as flying first class international, but it was still a treat. We had champagne.
The other way we saved money? We were willing to fly into Miami and do a long drive to our destinations of Cocoa Beach and Orlando.
I was a little sad that we didn't decide to spend a few days in Miami. It's a city that I've always wanted to visit. We considered it, but the hotels were outrageously expensive, so it wasn't in the budget for this trip.
Dunkin' Donuts was in the budget.
Here we are In line for coffee and donuts after a long morning. What do we need? Coffee. When do we need it? NOW!
We were surprised to find a very long queue of fellow Christmas Day travelers. Everyone was grabbing coffee. This was the first of two, Dunkin' Donuts stops to keep us fueled on our drive to Cocoa Beach.
Warm chocolate chip cookies and a slightly lackluster Christmas tree were waiting for us in reception at the Double Tree by Hilton in Cocoa Beach. Yummy cookies.
Our room was clean and comfortable. The sun was already starting to set, so we couldn't see the real reason people book this hotel = the beach. It has direct beach access. The beaches are gorgeous.
We asked reception for recommendations for a nice Christmas dinner, and they ( of course) recommended the restaurant right in the hotel. It looked okay, nothing fancy or even offering a special holiday menu, but they had pizza and we were hungry. Doesn't pizza always seem to work? After about thirty minutes, we gave up. The restaurant was approximately 1/3 full, but nearly all of the tables were dirty. We had our drink order taken after fifteen minutes of waiting and the server never came back. They didn't appear to be understaffed, just not very quick with the customer service. We saw them standing around, chatting. The general vibe was bad.
Driving around, we saw that Cocoa Beach was a ghost town. We kept driving until we found Captain J's, glowing with an open sign.
Truthfully, Captain J's was a bit of a dive. But they had fried gatortail and wooden pelicans. Nothing says Christmas dinner like....
The decor inside didn't disappoint. Water features, more pelicans, and a billion Christmas tree lights.
Captain J's was awesome. We feasted on gator, calamari, crab, and lobster; washing it down with delicious tiki drinks. Sorry mom, I loved your turkey dinners that we ate every-single-Christmas...but my meal at Captain J's was honestly the best holiday meal ever. And our food came on metal platters shaped like shells. It's called "Cocoa Beach Classy". Loved it.
The next morning, we woke up at sunrise and walked to the beach. So beautiful and warm. Wearing shorts on December 26th made me ridiculously happy.
Dan had his first Waffle House meal for breakfast. It was a hit.
Here are a few more Cocoa Beach snaps that we took on our way out of town, heading towards Kennedy Space Center.
Our time in Cocoa Beach was brief, but it's definitely a town that I'd love to visit again. The beaches were clean with soft sand, perfect for a beach holiday.