Guide to Hotels & Activities in 30A, Florida's Scenic Highway
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Florida's scenic highway 30A has long been one of the best-kept secrets in the panhandle. Its sugar-white sand beaches and emerald water make it a very sought-after destination that is like being in the Caribbean without having to leave the states. The area has been coined the "Hamptons of the South" for its beautiful homes on an exclusive 16-mile stretch of a two-lane highway road with some of the best shops and restaurants around.
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Where to stay in 30A, Florida
Between the Gulf of Mexico and a dune lake, this beachfront resort is a playground for families and seclusion seekers alike.
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The Pearl Hotel
Mid-century modern boutique hotel with an oyster-shaped pool and lush flora in Loma.
Henderson Beach Resort
Relaxed hotel along a white-sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico with polished rooms and suites.
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Things to do in 30A, Florida
Highway 30A is unique because it offers a variety of activities for all different groups, but one thing that's for sure is that everyone comes for the sugar white sand beach! Most accommodations will provide a number for beach setups where you can easily walk down to the beach to find your umbrella and chairs waiting with your name on them. But before you get comfy, you can start the day with a walk or jog on a portion of the 16-mile pedestrian-friendly path where early risers are seen sweating out the cocktails that were enjoyed the night before.
This part of Florida is also home to 15 Coastal Dune Lakes, which are very rare and seen only in other parts of the world such as New Zealand, Australia and Madagascar. They are the perfect setting to rent a paddleboard and take it out for a spin.
If you have seen The Truman Show, which actually was filmed in Seaside, one of the New Urbanism developments that are situated on 30A. You can stop in Seaside for a stroll around the idyllic town and enjoy many shops, restaurants and novelty stores. Along with Seaside, there is the ultra-charming town of Rosemary Beach, and the super chic, alluring town of Alys Beach (pronounced "Alice"). These are also New Urbanism Developments, meant to embrace a walkable and village-like town.
You can also enjoy great shopping at 30 Avenue, which is right across from Rosemary beach. Every Thursday night they have live music on the lawn that is meant for family enjoyment.
Bike rentals are also provided with most accommodations or can be easily rented from numerous vendors in the area who are happy to deliver them to wherever you are staying. Since it's only a 16-mile stretch, it's really fun to ditch the car and bike to most places that you are wanting to go within your community or to neighboring communities.
If you are feeling extra adventurous, you can book boat charters for bay fishing, deep sea fishing, snorkel and scuba excursions, or just a fun sunset cruise.
If you have a golf lover, there are several top-rated courses around, but you might need to find a friend of a friend who is a member and can get you access.
Places to eat & drink in 30A, Florida
Blackbear Bread Co.: A charming little breakfast spot in Grayton Beach, but another location was just added in Seaside as well. They have the BEST pastries and my favorite, Portland-based Stumptown coffee.
Big Bad Breakfast: Located at the Point in Inlet Beach; A go-to for your eggs, bacon and coffee kinda breaky with freshly squeezed juice and Bloody Marys to nurse away any ailment ;).
Raw and Juicy: A hip and plant-based focused juice and smoothie bar in Alys Beach. They also have acai bowls and tofu scrambles, if that's your thing.
Georges at Alys Beach is an ABSOLUTE MUST. Whether you are with your girlfriends and want some sparkling rose or with the whole family, it's the perfect lunch spot! Fedoras are not required but should be.
Shunk Gulley: A fun, sports bar with an open-air kinda vibe. Great fresh oysters and fun to go watch football with the awesome ocean views across the street.
La Crema Tapas and Chocolate: A Rosemary Beach favorite. Super fun for lunch nibbles or even an after-dinner nightcap and a bite of something sweet.
Cafe Thirty-A: A long-standing staple that's been serving delicious food for over 30 years. The truffled lobster mac n cheese is a MUST.
The Citizen: A new, buzzy restaurant in Alys Beach. Great raw bar menu and beautiful design.
Pescado: THE spot for rooftop sunsets with the best cocktails and a great seafood-centric menu in Rosemary Beach. Just make sure to go early and get your name on the list!
Paradis: A sophisticated place for a fabulous filet or delicious, fresh piece of snapper. Quite possibly the best martini on Hwy 30A.
The Red Bar: Located in the eclectic community of Grayton Beach, it actually just burned down and was rebuilt to look exactly the same - like a dive bar with tchotchkes; loved by locals and visitors and has amazing bloody marys.
Neat: A little tasting room with a bar and small plates that sits right on Hwy 30A in Alys Beach with some of the best, most creatively crafted cocktails.
Bud and Alleys: A waterfront watering hole staple in Seaside. Great place to grab a margarita and stare out at the mesmerizing emerald blue water.
Need to Know
This area is easy to access from Panama City Beach airport or from Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport. It's the best-kept secret of the south. There are also fabulous festivals and events that go on throughout the year- 30A Wine Fest, 30A Songwriters Festival, Digital Grafiti, Rosemary Beach Uncorked and Seaside Seeing Red Wine Festival.
More travel tips, check out my guide to Utah: The Ultimate Winter Getaway to Park City & Deer Valley.
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