There are so many places and things to see and do when on vacation in our area. Here we made a list of 10 of our favourite things to do for both adults and children.
The Beach…..of course!
This is our beach dune walkover at Seagrove Beach! As we have mentioned before, the Beaches of 30A including our own Seagrove Beach, are renowned for natural scenic beauty, turquoise crystal clear water, and sugar-white sand. Our beach is along the 30A corridor, and perfect for lounging in the sun, searching for shells or reading a book.
Look out to the Gulf from anywhere along Scenic Highway 30-A and your heart will jump at the stunning contrast of emerald-green water and dazzling white sand. Step onto the beach and you’ll feel stress slip away, the smooth sand warming your feet. This is the healing calm of the beautiful beaches along 30-A. A walk on the white sands quickly reveals why these are rated as the finest beaches in the world. It’s because the sand not only looks different, but it actually feels different under your feet. You’ll notice a faint squeak with every step: that’s because the granules are round in shape, composed of almost 100 percent quartz.
2. Timpoochee: Walking, Biking and Running trail
There’s no better way to get “up close and personal” with 30A than a bike ride along the Timpoochee Trail. The 18.6-mile trail, named after an Euchee Indian Chief, winds past dune lakes, state parks and through several charming beach neighborhoods. It’s a perfect day trip for the family, an ideal way to get exercise and a lot of fun.
The trail parallels the entire length of 30A from Dune Allen to Inlet Beach and is safe and relatively flat. Sea-esta has four adult beach cruiser bikes and extra bikes can be rented from several shops along 30A. You can rent bikes by the day, but you might want to rent them for the entire week. After one ride along the Timpoochee, your bike probably will become the preferred mode of transportation at the beach.
3. Coastal Dune Lakes
Coastal Dune Lakes are a very rare natural phenomena that only occur in a handful of locations around the globe, including New Zealand, Australia, Madagascar and South Walton, Florida. South Walton’s coastal dune lakes are said to be as much as 10,000 years old and were formed by winds that redistributed sand and created the shallow basins (with most lakes averaging only about 5 feet deep).
But what makes these lakes truly unique is that their mostly fresh water content sits within just a few feet of the Gulf’s salt water, separated only by a natural berm of sand. Following a heavy rain , the sand berms can be breached, causing a flood of fresh water to pour openly into the Gulf. This event is known as an “outfall,” when salty seawater can also flood back into the dune lake until the levels stabilize. The result is a rare brackish ecosystem that’s home to both fresh and salt water species. To truly experience the splendor of 30A coastal dune lakes, rent a kayak or standup paddleboard and explore the lake. Most noteworthy, Eastern Lake is only a few minute walk away from Sea-esta!!
For more information on these beautiful natural treasures, visit www.coastaldunelakes.org.
4. Point Washington State Forest for hiking and biking
Over 40 percent of South Walton’s land is protected and most of that is part of Point Washington State Forest. A popular access point is the Eastern Lake Trail System, located along S. County Road 395. This particular trail system offers 3.5, 5 and 10-mile loops, ideal for both hikers and bicyclists.
Point Washington State Forest 15,000-acre forest is home to miles of trails to challenge bikers, hikers and nature lovers. One of the most popular is the route from Eastern Lake to Cassine Garden, where visitors to Point Washington may spot an endangered red-cockaded woodpecker or a gopher tortoise, a species of special concern to environmentalists. The majority of the area consists of: sandhill, basin swamps/Titi drains, wet flatwoods, wet prairie and cypress swamps. Point Washington State Forest has 10 natural communities that can be found throughout the forest.
Several plants and animals that are listed as threatened or endangered exist in Point Washington State Forest. Some of these rare species include: gopher tortoise, flatwoods salamander, white-topped pitcher plant and the world’s largest population of Curtiss sandgrass.
Download Point Washington State Forest Map.
5. Quaint Beach Communities to Explore
This 19-mile stretch of panhandle road, tucked between Destin and Panama City, is actually a string of small beach towns. Deliberately arranged fixtures — from a grove of live oaks to a promontory overlooking the Gulf of Mexico — are what set 30A apart.
It entails designing traditional enclaves intended to create an enhanced sense of place. Sidewalks, bike paths and old-fashioned white picket fences (no two patterns are alike) make 30A beach towns a walkable and architecturally compelling. Seaside fostered an innovative impulse that is the germ of 30A’s identity. Planned communities modeled after Seaside quickly sprouted. Stroll the shaded boardwalks of Rosemary Beach and you’ll think you’ve strayed into Charleston. Just down the road lies the bleach-white enclave of the Mediterranean Alys Beach. WaterColor is a wonderland of parks and Old Florida-style homes. Spectacular architecture embodies the 30A lifestyle as much as the emerald-green water. Traditional designs in muted pastels are reminiscent of The Truman Show (the film was shot in Seaside).
When you’re in Seagrove Beach, you’re arguably in “the middle of it all.” Seaside, Watercolor and Grayton are just a mile or two to the west, while the newer planned communities of Watersound, Seacrest, Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach are just a few miles to the east. Not that you need to go anywhere as Seagrove is home to a wonderfully diverse assortment of restaurants, shops and other local businesses, all of which just a short stroll or bike ride away. Most homes in Seagrove are either tucked away beneath stately oak trees or overlook the Gulf of Mexico.
6. Kayak and Paddleboarding
You see them everywhere – at the beach, in the bay and on the coastal dune lakes. Stand Up Paddleboards have boomed in popularity in just a few short years, becoming a popular way for people to have fun and explore the water in a unique way. 30A has certainly seen Paddleboarding grow and flourish right here on our own coast.
This relatively new watersport is, in many ways, tailored to the 30A lifestyle. Paddleboarding is perfect for the Gulf on a calm day, exploring the natural wonders of our many dune lakes, going on a fishing trip in the bay or surfing the rolling Gulf waves. In many ways, Paddleboarding and the Emerald Coast are a perfect match.
Wanting to explore the lakes and estuaries along 30a? Maybe spending a day paddling around in the surf of the gulf with a kayak is a great way to explore any waterway! This is the perfect recreation for the family who enjoys exploring the gulf, lakes, and bay.
7. Amazing Restaurants
The area around Scenic Highway 30A has quickly become known for its amazing selection of high-end restaurants. Restaurants on 30a in Florida offer visitors an authentic taste of coastal cuisine. The restaurants in and around Walton County range from AAA-rated fine dining establishments, like Cafe 30-A to your family outdoor dining with unforgettable views at Bud & Alleys.
30-A restaurants have developed menus that reflect the mood or style of the beach neighborhood they are located in. And it’s because of these unique locations that vacationers get to enjoy such a variety of delectable delights. As a result, 30-A’s restaurants will become cemented into your future vacation plans.
8. Beach Bonfires
When you combine the fun of a campﬁre (s’mores, cuddling, and shared laughter) with the dramatic beauty of the beach at night, it becomes an experience that is hard to top. Cool sand between your toes, the warmth of a roaring ﬁre, the sound of waves crashing in front of you— it really is an extraordinary experience.
Of course, the only thing better than enjoying a beach bonﬁre is not having to haul all the chairs and coolers down to the beach, setting up the fire pit, and then cleaning up the ensuing mess in the dark. Fortunately, there are many local companies providing just such a service.
9. Farmers Markets
Whether in Seaside (Saturday’s) or Rosemary Beach (Sunday’s), the farmers markets on 30A are a “can’t be missed” event. Fresh from the farm produce, dairy, honey, eggs, grass-fed beef, beef jerky, pork products and sausages. They even have fresh local seafood, crabcakes, tuna and shrimp dips. There is homemade pita, hummus, veggie dips, hot sauces, salsa’s, guacamole and homemade tortilla chips. Jams, preserves, pickled veggies, BBQ sauces, marinades, mustards, flavored and smoked salts, cheeses, homemade pastas and sauces, along with foods, artisan breads and desserts (some organic and gluten free) from around the world. Also find cold pressed organic juices in a multitude of delicious combinations and teas in many flavors. Don’t forget to pick up some fresh cut flowers and even have organic pet treats for your furry friends! So, see you at the market!
Set along 30-A in Florida, the 30A Songwriters Festival every January draws together the best folk, country, and rock music. Expect to see big names like Graham Nash, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne and Ani DiFranco, along with songsmiths whose lyrics may move you as much, even if they are just off your radar. Think Drew Holcomb, Grace Potter, or Jerry Salley, who have all mesmerized audiences through stories in songs.
Digital Graffiti is the world’s first projection art festival and takes place in June. It’s also quite possibly the coolest thing you’ve ever seen. Basically, you start with the iconic white walls of an entire town, Alys Beach. Okay, so it’s an entire town-in-progress, but it’s an entire town nonetheless. You then invite digital and video artists from around the globe to submit extraordinary, surreal, algorithmic, kaleidoscopic, and moving works of art. Then, you turn out all the lights and wait for darkness. The result is a stunning larger-than-life explosion of colors and compelling visuals, projected 2 and 3 stories tall onto the white homes and businesses of an entire beach resort community.
Celebrating its 27th anniversary, the Seaside Seeing Red Wine Festival has grown to be a sell-out event, attracting wine connoisseurs and novices alike. Attendees are encouraged to reserve their tickets well in advance. The Seeing Red Wine Festival is recognized as one of the “Top 10 Can’t-Miss Fall Wine Festivals,” by Fodor’s. The four days of festivities include wine tastings, winemaker dinners and a Sunday brunch. Seaside’s well-known restaurants showcase how their farm and gulf to table offerings pair beautifully with featured wines.
You may also want to see our Top Ten Restaurants on 30A!