The best way to get a top-notch experience of 30A is to ask the locals. 30A natives and those who have lived here for years know all of the important spots you must hit and the activities that you don’t want to miss. The best advice I can give is to take a trip down 30A. It would be a shame not to venture out away from your condo or beach house. To say that 30A is a “scenic highway” is a major understatement. These seven things are the top things to do here but don’t hesitate to “stop and smell the roses,” as they say. Embrace the slow-pace lifestyle. Starting from the West end, here are the top seven things to do on your 30A vacation.
1. Visit the Artists at Gulf Place
Approximately three miles down 30A, you will find the town center of Gulf Place. Here you will see boutiques, cafés, a superb pizza place, and the Artist Colony. The boardwalk nestled in the center of Gulf Place houses the artwork of several local artists. The unique array of styles ranges from tie dye to license plate art to pieces made from beach glass found on the seashore. One quality that most of the artists share is a great variety of fun colors. The artists are super friendly, and they often offer little projects to get the kids involved. This is an excellent opportunity to buy some one-of-a-kind artwork and support the local artists. Art is a huge part of the 30A culture, and this is just one of the places that you can catch a glimpse of the creative style.
2. Eat dinner and catch some live music at Red Bar
Five miles down the road from Gulf Place is Grayton Beach. Grayton is not only a popular spot for tourists, and it is a favorite of the locals. Red Bar is a Bohemian style restaurant on the beach in Grayton. This place is the best dinner spot on 30A if you’re looking to experience a high-energy, fun atmosphere and some live music from local artists. It’s pretty hard to go to Red Bar and not have a great time! The beach here in Grayton is worth noting because this is the only beach on 30A where driving on the beach (with a permit, of course) is legal. It is a sight to see with all of the Jeeps and 4-wheel-drive vehicles pulled up to the Gulf. These people aren’t messing around with their beach set-ups! After a long day on the beach, Red Bar is a perfect spot to have some first-rate seafood, and a bottle of 30A Beach Blonde beer brewed right here in Grayton Beach.
3. Get a Frostbites snow cone
The third thing you must do on 30A is stop at Frostbites in Seaside, less than three miles from Grayton Beach. Seaside is the most well-known town on 30A for good reason. This town is like none other, whimsical, patriotic, and almost like a scene from a movie. Actually it is the exact scene from a movie. The Truman Show featuring Jim Carrey was filmed in Seaside in 1998 among other films. Probably the most iconic feature of Seaside is the row of airstream food trucks and among the most popular, the friendly people at Frostbites will make you a snow cone that is to die for. If you’re indecisive about flavors, this could be a challenge because there are hundreds of flavors and combinations to choose from. My personal favorite is strawberry orange with cream on top… yum! You might also notice all of the people sporting Frostbites t-shirts and tank tops. These are quite popular, and they offer new styles every summer. If you’re the type of vacationer that likes to get a t-shirt to remember your trip by, this might be the one! Frostbites is a staple of 30A and how can you say you’ve vacationed on 30A and not gotten a Frostbites snow cone?
Surely at this point on your drive down County Road 30A, you will have noticed the amount of people biking along the scenic bike paths. You might also notice that the majority of the bike paths on 30A are in better condition than the actual roads. There is a reason for this! Another large aspect of the community is being active and not just tanning and building sand castles. 30A is the perfect place for a bike ride on a beautiful day, which is most days! Biking is an ideal method of transportation, especially around the Watercolor-Seaside-Seagrove areas. Drivers know this good and well, and we do our best to keep out of the way! Rent Gear Here is a bike rental company conveniently located in Seagrove, a neighboring town to Seaside. There you can rent bikes for the family, beach equipment, kayaks, Yolo boards, and even baby necessities. Rent Gear Here will also host a bonfire on the beach for you, and what better place to have a bonfire than on the beaches of 30A? Make sure you try one of their popsicles as well (the key lime pie flavor is exceptional)!
5. Experience the natural side at Deer Lake State Park
One of the most unique habitats of the 30A community are the dune lakes. These coastal dune lakes are only found here in Walton County and four other places in the entire world. The Florida dune lakes are also home to several rare and endangered species of plants and wildlife. Needless to say, the lakes are very rare and highly protected. Deer Lake State Park is located 2 miles from Rent Gear Here, a 10-15 minute bike ride or a 4-minute drive. A great spot for nature-lovers, the state park, offers miles of trails with beautiful views of the various natural habitats. Bring a picnic lunch, a swimsuit, and some hiking shoes and take in the serene landscapes. Floridians like to call this “the real Florida” because most people have the assumption that Florida is just a pretty beach. The Panhandle of Florida is much more than a beach, and Deer Lake State Park will give you a glimpse of its nature while still being close to the Gulf.
6. Stroll down Main Street in Rosemary Beach
Rosemary Beach is a very unique community at the East end of 30A that you will not want to miss. Rosemary has a special atmosphere with a European flair. The architectural style and cobblestone streets make this place different from any other town on 30A. When you walk down Main Street, you will feel just as if you’re walking down an old street in France. The street is lined with quaint little shops, cafés, and restaurants. Pish Posh Patchouli’s, Gigi’s toy store (the kids will love this!), and La Crema Tapas and Pastries are a few favorites. Rosemary Beach has an air of romanticism that is hard to explain to those who have not experienced it. A recent article by CNN named Rosemary Beach, FL one of America’s most romantic small towns. Rosemary is one of the Panhandle’s best kept secrets yet it appears that national news is taking notice!
7. Beach hop!
Clearly, the main draw to 30A is the beautiful beach with its sugar white sands and turquoise waters. While there is so much culture to take in on 30A, the Gulf of Mexico lies at the heart of this community. There is not a bad beach to visit here, and they are all breathtaking. While it may be easiest to stick to the beach closest to your condo or beach house, I would challenge you to switch it up and find a new beach every day. On one day, you might want to go to a quiet beach and spend quality time with your family or significant other. On this day, you might want to find the Stallworth beach access. Another day might be the perfect day to experience a lively beach, meet some people, and take advantage of the area’s amenities. Grayton and Seaside Beach are sure to meet these expectations! Regardless of the public access you choose, the chances are pretty good that you’re in for a wonderful day at the beach (so long as you remember the sunscreen)!