Best of 30A Florida: Travel Guide to South Walton – Florida’s Best-Kept Secret (2022)


Most individuals have by no means heard of South Walton, however Florida’s Best-Kept Secret is among the state’s most charming, adventurous and distinctive seashore locations.

Located on the Florida Panhandle simply off the Gulf of Mexico, South Walton (affectionately referred to as 30A by locals), has 26 miles of sugary white sand seashores, crystal clear emerald waters, and the added enjoyable of 16 distinct neighbourhoods all with their very own personalities.

South Walton is situated alongside the scenic Highway 30A (therefore the nickname), and is situated solely 40 minutes from the extra well-known coastal vacation spot of Panama City Beach.

South Walton’s official motto is “Find your Perfect Beach”, which refers back to the numerous seashore communities that make this location interesting to each type of traveler.

In this 30A journey information I cowl the place to eat, keep, and play within the Sunshine State’s best-kept secret.

the villages of south walton beach florida
South Walton seashore Florida hidden gem

Disclaimer: My journey was sponsored by Visit Florida and Visit South Walton. As all the time, all phrases and opinions are my very own.

Whilst in Florida, you may additionally like to take a look at:

Why Visit 30A?

Nestled quietly between Panama City Beach and Destin, 30A doesn’t have any huge motels or excessive rises, there’s extra of a household really feel than pupil hotspot and boutique native retailers trump chain shops in each means.

In the US it is called the “Hamptons of the South” because it attracts celebrities and the rich.

best south walton beach towns along 30a towns on 30a visit 30a
Beautiful villages of South Walton

Why is 30A so Popular?

30A is standard for its completely pristine seashores, relaxed vacation vibe, and entry to 4 state parks and numerous coastal dune lakes.

hotel effie florida rooftop bar
South Walton county Florida

Why do they name it 30A?

The title 30A comes from the precise highway in South Walton County (County Road 30A) that spans the Florida Panhandle shoreline.

beaches of south walton florida
Public seashores on 30A

Where is 30A? How do you get to 30A?

Located alongside the Florida Panhandle between Destin and Panama City Beach, the closest airport is Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), which is 35 miles from South Walton.

You can catch a direct flight to ECP on considered one of these 4 airways: Delta, American, Southwest and United Airlines, from the next US airports:

  • Atlanta GA
  • Dallas TX
  • Houston TX
  • Nashville TN
  • St Louis MO
  • Washington DC

Other close by airports are Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS), and Pensacola International Airport (PNS) which is round 2 hours drive away.

From overseas, the simplest route is to fly to Atlanta (ATL) after which fly 1 hour on to ECP.

When is the Best Time to Visit 30A?

June to August is the busiest time of yr to go to 30A, with Memorial Day kicking-off the summer season season.

However there are quieter (and extra reasonably priced instances to go to) reminiscent of April/May.

In reality I visited in late April, and we had excellent climate the complete time, at a fraction of the summer season costs.

September and October are additionally cheaper instances to go to however they do coincide with hurricane season.

However it’s throughout this time that the Monarch butterflies migrate via the Panhandle of their approach to Mexico.

How many Beach Towns are in 30A?

There are 16 charming seashore communities in South Walton county.

From East to West: Inlet Beach, Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach, Seacrest Beach, WaterSound, Seagrove, Seaside, WaterColoration, Grayton Beach, Blue Mountain Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Gulf Place, Dune Allen, Sandestin, Seascape and Miramar Beach.

the beaches of south walton vacations
Beaches of South Walton FL

The Beach Communities of 30A

The seashore communities throughout 30A all have their personal personalities, that is seen to guests via the structure and the general vibe.

Below is a lowdown of the 6 hottest seashore cities in South Walton, so you possibly can choose which one resonates essentially the most with you:

beach 30a santa rosa panhandle beaches florida
30A Santa Rosa Beach – South Walton seashore FL – greatest seashores in santa rosa seashore – greatest santa rosa seashore seashores

Santa Rosa Beach

Great for: Adventure seekers

The largest seashore neighborhood in 30A is Santa Rosa Beach.

It is extra of a laid-back, golf cart-friendly, a part of South Walton.

There are some beautiful public seashores (with free parking), and it felt like a hidden gem on it’s personal.

It is excellent spot for adventurers, as there are many watersports, climbing alternatives in Point Washington State Forest, and biking alongside the Timpoochee Trail.

One of essentially the most distinctive issues to do in Santa Rosa Beach is go to The Underwater Museum of Art.

It is a everlasting sculpture park situated within the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, inside a mile of the shore at a depth of 58 toes.

Snorkelers can view the museum from a comfy depth above the installations, however licensed scuba divers can observe the sculptures at depth.

The museum is free however you do have to pay for entrance to Grayton Beach State Park.

santa rosa beach sunset florida
Stunning South Walton seashores

Grayton Beach

Great for: Creatives

The oldest seashore neighborhood within the space is Grayton Beach.

It is an eclectic and quirky place with loads of artwork galleries.

It can also be one of many most pet pleasant locations in 30A, because it’s unofficial motto is “Nice Dogs, Strange People” which you’ll discover depicted on the street artwork.

Unique issues to do in Grayton Beach embody driving a Jeep on the sand (with the correct permits) and exploring the uncommon coastal dune lakes on a SUP board or a kayak.

stand up paddle boarding on western lake in grayton beach state park
Unique 30a Florida seashores


Great for: Coastal allure

The pastel-coloured homes and distinctive white picket fences of this quaint city have been made well-known by the film “The Truman Show”.

Chosen for its image excellent appears to be like, this deliberate metropolis was designed with New Urbanism in thoughts.

Meaning this can be very walkable, buying and facilities are in shut proximity and it has accessible public areas.

In the case of Seaside, there are three inexperienced areas value visiting, Ruskin Place, the Amphitheater and the Lyceum.

MUST VISIT: For road meals be sure to head over to the airstream trailers that function meals vans simply exterior the Central Square.

public beaches on 30a florida seaside 30a beach towns
30A seashore cities

Alys Beach

Great for: Luxury keep

map of beaches of south walton villages at south walton best of 30a route 30a
Alys Beach South Walton 30A

Alys seashore (pronounced Alice seashore) is an Bermuda impressed architectural gem and an Instagram scorching spot.

The all white exteriors will remind you of the Mediterranean, and while you possibly can discover its completely pristine streets, there’s a “members only” vibe to this city.

It is so unique that you may’t entry the seashore right here except you’re a resident or a visitor of the realm, however the streets are nonetheless nice for biking, and there loads of fascinating artwork sculptures dotted round.

The greatest time of yr to go to Alys Beach is for the annual Digital Graffiti Festival in May.

The white partitions of the buildings present a large-scale clean canvas for artists to venture their vibrant work onto the partitions.

Festival goers get to expertise an immersive and interactive artwork present underneath the celebs at this distinctive exhibition in Florida.

Rosemary Beach

Great for: Couples break

Rosemary Beach is called considered one of America’s most romantic small cities.

It is full of artisan boutiques, eating places, and unbiased shops.

The greatest approach to get round is by bike, or just strolling, as there are many parks with public artwork, fountains, and playgrounds, that you’d in any other case miss out within the automotive.

rosemary beach florida south walton
30A Rosemary seashore


Great for: Family trip

This seashore is the proper alternative for massive teams or households as all the things you want is inside strolling distance. 

The seashores listed below are impeccable and the very best place to eat needs to be the well-known FOOW (Fish Out Of Water) situated on the Watercolor Inn.

best 30a beach for families beaches of south walton vacations vrbo south walton beaches of south walton map
Beautiful seashores South Walton – greatest 30a seashores for households

Where to Stay in 30A

One of the very best locations to remain in 30A is Osprey Point at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort.

It is made up of spacious 2, 3, and 4 bed room flats with a full kitchen, front room and balcony space.

It is situated within the coronary heart of the resort, the place you possibly can simply entry the seashore, however you might be nonetheless solely a 15 minute stroll (or an excellent shorter bike or tram journey) from The Village of Baytowne Wharf.

The Village, homes loads of eating places, retailers and leisure amenities. It jogged my memory of a ski village within the Alps. All the facilities underneath one roof, however with out the snow!

Tips for Visiting 30A

Getting round 30A

One of the very best methods to discover 30A is by golf cart or bicycle.

There are loads of biking trails and if the warmth places you off, rent an e-bike from Pedago, it would take all of the sweat out of the journey, so all you’ll really feel is the cool breeze in your pores and skin.

Note: The majority of the 30A seashore communities permit golf carts however Alys Beach, Seaside and Rosemary Beach don’t.

hwy 30a hwy 30a florida route 30a florida seaside rosemary beach
Rosemary seashore 30A FL

Explore the Beach Communities

Regardless of the seashore city you select to remain in, be sure to go to as most of the different areas as you possibly can, they differ a lot and also you may discover the proper place so that you can keep in your subsequent go to to South Walton.

alys beach 30a
Best 30A seashores

Follow the Beach Rules

  • Drinks are welcome, however glass containers will not be allowed.
  • Leave no hint – the seashores listed below are the cleanest I’ve seen wherever on the planet, and guests are anticipated to maintain it that means.
  • Respect the sea turtles and their nests, it’s towards the legislation to hurt or disturb them in any means.
  • Beach bonfires are allowed with correct permits, however essentially the most stress free approach to expertise that is with 30A Blaze.
30a beaches best
The Beaches of South Walton Florida

Best Things to do in 30A

Beyond the seashore journeys, South Walton is bursting with out of doors experiences, from bicycle routes to face up paddle boarding.

There are additionally loads of actions for tradition vultures, like artwork galleries and distilleries.

grayton beach state park paddle boarding
Grayton Beach State Park – Best seashore on 30A

Soak up the Art Scene

Address: Justin Gaffrey Gallery, 21 Blue Gulf Dr, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459


Visit the artwork studio of Tik-Tok well-known Justin Gaffrey.

Located at Blue Mountain Beach, Justin makes use of a method of portray with heavy acrylics to create dreamy landscapes and enjoyable distinctive work.

I used to be fortunate sufficient to fulfill the person himself and expertise an artwork demonstration the place I acquired to expertise portray with a palette knife myself (I’ve to say, it’s more durable than it appears to be like!).

florida 30a south walton county florida 30a communities where to stay on 30a beaches near seaside fl
Things to do 30A

Explore the Unique Coastal Dune Lakes on a Paddle Board

stand up paddle boarding on western lake in grayton beach state park
Best seashores in 30A

30A is among the few locations on the planet (alongside Madagascar and New Zealand) that has coastal dune lakes (there are literally 15 of those freshwater lakes that dot the shoreline right here).

The greatest approach to expertise this uncommon ecological gem is to get out onto the water and see it for your self on a kayak or a get up paddle board. 

Head all the way down to Grayton Beach State Park, and discover the backwaters of their distinctive 100-acre Western Lake.

The lake water is calm and tranquil so is appropriate for all talent ranges, however you’ll discover it’s a darkish, wealthy tannin-colour, which is attributable to water seepage from the close by sea.

This ensures Western Lake is among the most biodiverse locations in Florida.

paddle boarding western lake grayton beach state park
Best South Walton seashore

Jump within the Sea

It’s so simple as that!

I’ve all the time most well-liked a swimming pool to the ocean, however the water at Grayton Beach was calling to us all and we couldn’t assist however soar into the waves.

beaches south walton 30a map what is 30a
Best 30A seashore

Art Bicycle Tour

Hire an e-bike and cycle alongside the Highway 30A.

Cruise via Alys Beach and take a look at their everlasting out of doors sculptures then discover the WaterSound Monarch Art Trail and the Timpoochee path.

Then end up at Rosemary Beach by the sculpture exhibition.

The route is simply 3 miles lengthy, so is manageable by all age teams and health ranges.

Visit a Distillery and a Brewery

best 30a beach towns south walton rentals things to do 30a south walton beach access best beaches in 30a
Thing to do within the villages at South Walton

Just steps away from one another in Santa Rosa Beach, is Distillery 98 and Idyll Hounds.

Distillery 98 produces small batches of handmade vodka constructed from domestically sourced substances and household farmed crops.

They use a oyster shell filtration course of to distill their distinctive Dune Laker vodka. They additionally present excursions, tastings, and cocktail lessons for guests, that I can extremely advocate!

Next door is, Idyll Hounds Brewery, a microbrewery that options artistic flavours and new takes on beer, ciders and arduous seltzer drinks.

cute florida beach towns 30a things to do on 30a 30a things to do
Distillery near seashores of South Walton

Luxury Beach Picnic and Bonfire

the bay south walton 30a towns best places to stay on 30a seaside florida 30a
30a Santa Rosa seashore FL – florida panhandle 30a

The seashores of the Florida Panhandle are among the finest locations to expertise a luxurious picnic and bonfire.

The setup is catered to your group, however count on a handcrafted desk, lounging pillows, blankets, flowers, and candles, alongside essentially the most stunning charcuterie boards and even a guitar participant or two to serenade you into the night.

picnic 30a florida
Picnic in Florida 30A

Pictures don’t do that expertise justice however belief me, when you’ve tried it, you’ll be too spoilt to return to a easy picnic within the park.

beach picnic florida panhandle beaches 30a
Beautiful seashore cities on 30A

After the two hour seashore picnic you may as well go for a bonfire, totally outfitted with tiki lights, a fireplace pit, and all of the substances to make the proper s’mores, while you take in the sundown.

florida panhandle bonfire 30a
Santa Rosa Beach – Best 30A city
beach bonfire 30a south walton 30a blaze
Beach bonfire 30A

Where to Eat in 30A

There are numerous locations to eat in 30A, however right here a group of locations I’ve visited first hand.

Charlie’s Café

There are a number of branches of Charlie’s Café situated round South Walton together with Rosemary Beach and Inlet Beach.

It is such an amazing place for fast and engaging meals, that I visited twice in 3 days!

You can choose up breakfast (I cherished their 1920’s type donuts and breakfast burrito), or seize lunch to go (I went for the basic grilled cheese with crimson pepper gouda soup).


Address: 34 Goldenrod Circle Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459


Price: $$

beaches on 30a fl
FOOW is a should go to on South Walton holidays

FOOW- Fish Out of Water, is situated within the WaterColoration Inn, and is among the few household eating places in 30A that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico.

It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu focuses on contemporary seafood, however there are many selections to swimsuit everybody, and I can completely advocate the “Georgia Peach at the Beach” drink.

best 30a beach for families beaches of south walton vacations vrbo south walton beaches of south walton map
The Beach at Watercolor Inn, cocktail in hand

Airstream Row

As already talked about, Airstream Row in Seaside is among the greatest locations for road meals in South Walton.

You can take pleasure in high quality barbecue, scorching canine, grilled cheeses, donuts, snow cones, and crêpes — all ready from customized retrofitted Airstreams.

public beaches on 30a florida seaside 30a beach towns
Street meals on Highway 30A Florida panhandle


Located in Hotel Effie in Sandestin, Ovide is a should go to if you’re on the lookout for high-quality eating.

The delicacies showcases Gulf Coast flavours and basic French methods.

Highlights included, Effie’s biscuits with bacon jam, and the pasta primavera pictured under.

Ara Rooftop Bar

Hotel Effie Sandestin, is the solely resort with a rooftop pool on Florida’s Emerald Coast.

It additionally occurs to be the greatest place for sundown cocktails.

beaches of 30a
Best of 30A

Whether you fancy a dip within the heated pool, a comfortable night in one of many cabanas or a sport of life-size Connect 4, Ara rooftop bar is most stylish house to spend a night in 30A.

best south walton beach towns along 30a towns on 30a visit 30a
Sunset views of 30A

Hibiscus Coffee & Guesthouse

where to eat 30a
Hidden gem on 30A highway journey

Located in Grayton Beach, this hidden gem is the proper breakfast cafe.

It has loads of veggie choices like vegan biscuits and gravy subsequent to staples like smoothies, granola, waffles, cinnamon rolls and natural drinks.

There is proscribed seating inside however loads of out of doors house the place you possibly can sit underneath the oak bushes and revel in your breakfast in nature.

seaside rosemary beach south walton county south walton florida map map of south walton florida vrbo south walton beach
The Waffle Wonderful at Hibiscus

Where to Visit After South Walton?

After taking within the ambiance of South Walton, you possibly can drive simply 40 minutes to Panama City Beach for a extra laidback seashore trip or drive 2 hours in the wrong way to Pensacola, the place you possibly can soak in additional of the historical past and wildlife of the Florida Panhandle.

Planning a Trip to Florida?

If you need to learn extra, take a look at a few of my hottest associated posts under or the Visit Florida web site for extra particulars:

Save Guide to 30A South Walton Florida to Pinterest for Later

best 30a beaches map beaches of south walton fl
Best Beaches of 30A panhandle florida


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here