The Florida Gulf Coast is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The particular section of the coastline in the panhandle of Florida is 30A. So, you may ask What is 30a Florida? So, I wanted to provide you with a quick little guide on it.
30a is a beach lover’s paradise. Being part of the Emerald coast of Florida, it has white powdery sand beaches with emerald blue waters! People from all over the USA and the world visit it!
Living just 4 hours away from this beautiful beach paradise, we took a weekend trip to Florida 30 A. In this Post, read everything that you need to know to plan the perfect vacation in this gorgeous area of Florida.
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- 1 What is 30A Florida? Where is 30A Florida?
- 2 Beach communities within 30A Florida
- 3 Beach Towns on 30A Florida
- 4 How to Get to 30A Florida
- 5 How to Get Around While in 30A Florida
- 6 What to Do and Where to Go in 30a?
- 7 30A Community Events and Festivals
- 8 What are those Lakes all Along 30A?
- 9 Where to stay in 30A
- 10 Besides the beach what else is there to do on 30A?
- 11 Things to Know When You Plan 30A Florida Trip
- 12 Frequently Asked Questions about 30A Florida
- 12.1 What is so special about 30A?
- 12.2 What are the Beaches like on 30A Florida?
- 12.3 Why is 30A Florida so popular and like so much?
- 12.4 Is 30A the same as Destin?
- 12.5 Is 30A worth it?
- 12.6 Is 30A nicer than Destin?
- 12.7 What city is closest to 30A?
- 12.8 What is the best walkable town in 30A?
- 12.9 Where do you fly into to go to 30A?
What is 30A Florida? Where is 30A Florida?
If you put it simply, 30A is a Scenic Road. Yes, 30a Florida is a Scenic highway that runs along the Gulf Coast between Destin and Panama City Beach. Popularly known as “emerald Coast”, it’s a collection of beautiful Florida beach towns between Panama City and Destin along Florida 30A.
Like the Pacific Coastal Highway in California, Scenic Highway 30A takes you along the coast, with sights of beautiful beach towns, white sand beaches, dune lakes, coastal water, and a laid-back atmosphere.
Scenic Highway 30A runs near the coast in South Walton County. A variety of beach communities are located along this 28.5-mile Florida panhandle coastline. The entire stretch is known as Florida 30a by locals as well as tourists.
But when people refer to 30A, they mostly talk about the area shown in this map starting at the intersection of HWY 98 and 30A, between Dune Allen and Rosemary Beach/Inlet Beach.
The area is also home to many art galleries, boutique shops, and restaurants that serve fresh seafood and other local specialties. In addition, the highway is lined with beautiful beachfront homes and resorts, making it a popular destination for people USA and around the world.
Beach communities within 30A Florida
When people visit Florida 30a, they’ll name a specific community to give directions or to tell you where on 30A they are staying! Now, these small communities along 30A provide you with unique experiences than the busy cities along its east and west sides.
In Destin and Panama City Beach, you will find high rises, shopping malls, big touristy restaurants, amusement parks, marinas, and world-famous beaches 30a beaches.
Of course, the beautiful emerald green water and white sand beaches are present along 30A, but it’s quiet, perfect for a relaxing vacation trip to Florida.
Beach Towns on 30A Florida
I am going to list out the communities from west to east because that is how we visited them! Here are all of the best communities on 30A Florida:
- Dune Allen Beach
- Santa Rosa Beach
- Blue Mountain Beach
- Grayton Beach
- Watercolor, Seaside
- Seagrove Beach
- WaterSound Beach
- Seacrest Beach
- Alys Beach
- Rosemary Beach
- Inlet Beach
Some people also include Sandestin on the west in the list, so the parameters of 30A may depend a bit on who you ask.
Aside from a specific town name, here’s the very important thing to know about 30A: Each community has its own very distinct personality and feel. Each of these little communities is so different from one another!
I’ve often heard people say things like, “We are going to the seaside” or “Rosemary Beach is by far the best part of 30A.”
While there aren’t extremely distinct geographical areas on Florida 30a, there are different vibes, layouts, architecture, and price points in different communities.
How to Get to 30A Florida
Florida 30a is very close to most of the southern cities. People from Alabama and Georgia often flock around during weekends just like us!
But 30a is gaining popularity and few airlines are flying into one of the nearby airports and more people are choosing to fly. Allegiant has direct flights during the summer months from many smaller city airports.
Here are the airports near 30A Florida that you might want to consider.
- The closest airport to 30A is in Panama City. It is called the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP). This airport is approximately a 40-minute drive from Seaside, Florida on 30A. It’s a small, modern airport that’s easy to get in and out of without hassle.
- The Destin/Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) is another excellent option. It is about 50 minutes from the center of 30A.
- The larger Pensacola International Airport is another viable option as it is about 2 hours from 30A.
Regardless of which airport you choose, you’ll likely want to rent a car to explore the area at your convenience.
How to Get Around While in 30A Florida
Once in 30A, you can get around by car, bike, or on foot.
If you plan to stay in your community and base yourself near the ocean, a bike will suffice. This is a very bike-friendly area and there are many places to rent a bike for a week. But if you want to explore other nearby areas, you may need a car.
30A also has a shuttle service called the 30A Trolley, which runs daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day(March to October). The trolley makes stops in all of the towns along 30A, and you can purchase a day pass for unlimited rides.
I had seen many people driving golf carts on 30A for transportation. However, I would only suggest this option if you plan to spend all or most of your time in your community.
Biking and walking are popular options, as many of the towns along 30A are small and pedestrian-friendly.
What to Do and Where to Go in 30a?
Santa Rosa Beach
One of the most popular beach communities near Destin, Santa Rosa Beach is laid laid-back, mostly golf cart-friendly, architecturally diverse part of 30A. It is the largest beach neighborhood in South Walton County. Travel + Leisure named Santa Rosa Beach as one of its top five favorite towns in America.
There are public beaches in Santa Rosa with free parking, bike paths, and plenty of street-ready golf carts available for rent.
Whether you want to shop, eat, lounge on the beach, or paddle board and bike, stay in this beach neighborhood for an amazing experience.
While you’re here check out the Grayton Beer Company and Idyll Hounds Brewing Company for a truly local taste of South Walton.
From this area of 30A, you can easily access the Point Washington State Forest which has 15,000 acres of Florida wilderness with trails for off-road biking and hiking.
Don’t forget to eat seafood at Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar. Directly across from Gulf Place is a fantastic public beach access point called Ed Walline for beach visits.
Blue Mountain Beach
There is not a mountain at Blue Mountain Beach!! It is home to what is said to be the highest point on the Gulf of Mexico, whopping 65 feet.
Blue Mountain Beach was named for the flowering blue lupine which once covered the dunes. Pockets of the flower can still be found blooming on the dunes at certain times of the year.
One of the most interesting stops in Blue Mountain Beach is the gallery of local artist Justin Gaffery. His colorful work has become a signature look for 30A. You can even sign up for an art class at the gallery.
The South Walton sun can be warm, so be sure to cool down at the Blue Mountain Creamery which is perhaps the most popular ice cream shop on 30A. Grab your morning coffee and pastry at Blue Mountain Bakery.
Grayton Beach is one of the oldest communities of the 30A Florida. Considered ‘South Walton’s original beach neighborhood’, Grayton Beach is a favorite place among people from Florida and Alabama. It has been attracting tourists for over 100 years!
Grayton Beach is also considered to be one of the funkiest and most unique of the beach towns. The residents of Grayton Beach consider their town to be the heart and soul of South Walton County. Their unofficial slogan is “Nice Dogs, Strange People.”
In Grayton Beach, you will find funky art, including lots of peace signs, as well as art galleries, interesting shops, and historic cottages.
One of the best things about Grayton Beach is that it is almost surrounded by Grayton Beach State Park. You can camp, stay in a cabin, fish, paddle in a coastal dune lake, bike, and hike, and enjoy the pristine beaches.
Don’t forget to get some house-made pastries at Black Bear Bread Company to kick off your day. You can try some local brews at the Grayton Beer Company or enjoy some drinks, bar food, and music at the Red Bar.
Also Read: Charming Historical Town of St Augustine, Florida
Seaside, Florida is the most famous and iconic of the 30A beach towns! If you’ve ever seen “The Truman Show,” starring Jim Carrey, you’ve seen at least some part of Seaside. It’s a picturesque town so well-planned and photogenic in every sense!
It’s slightly more upscale than Santa Rosa Beach, but it’s still a pretty approachable and extremely walkable community on Florida 30a.
The town began in the 1980s using the concept of a “new old town” — the town to be built as they were in the past; walkable, with shopping and public spaces near homes. It was meant to be a place where people sat on their front porches and greeted their neighbors.
You can’t miss Seaside’s main beach access under a tall gray structure that is a cross between a pyramid and a lighthouse! There are plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance as the town is very small and easily walkable.
One of the best places to eat in Seaside is at the adorable Airstream row with a variety of restaurants in Airstream trailers. Airstream trailers serve the role of food trucks here with plenty of places to sit outside and enjoy your food.
Bud and Alleys is a beachfront restaurant which is a perfect place to go to have a drink and a meal and watch the sunset.
One of my favorite beach towns on Florida 30A is Alys Beach. It’s simply fascinating! When you enter Alys Beach, you’ll pass Greek-style white minaret towers and rows of gorgeous palm trees towering on either side of scenic Route 30A.
Alys Beach is one of the most unique and arguably the most expensive of the 30A beach towns. Alys Beach is truly a luxurious escape from everyday living.
The architecture here is very captivating. All of the buildings are painted white which gives the place a feeling of Santorini/Mykonos or white towns in the south of Spain. However, it is all mixed with Bermuda or courtyards inspired by homes in Antigua, Guatemala.
This is a beautiful place for a bike ride or a stroll. Spend a more typical day in Alys Beach enjoying an active lifestyle, soaking up beautiful views along the Timpoochee Trail, or enjoying a stroll through the neighborhood nature preserve.
Try a bowl or a smoothie at Raw and Juicy. Also, don’t forget to eat at George’s at Alys Beach, considered to be one of the best restaurants on 30A. Don’t miss Coffee at Fonville Press Market & Cafe, it’s so delicious. While you are in the area, stop for a wine tasting at NEAT.
Rental cottages in Alys are insanely beautiful, but stay here starting at about $1,000 per night and more! So, it’s quite an expensive and luxurious destination in Florida 30A!
Rosemary Beach: Best place to visit on Florida 30A
Rosemary Beach is one of the most beautiful beach towns on Florida 30A. It resembles European architecture! It has also been named by CNN as one of the “Most Romantic Towns in America.
Rosemary Beach is gorgeous! It is is kind of mix between Alys Beach and Seaside. The tree-lined cobblestone streets with welcoming patios and courtyards give it old-world charm mixed with modern-world amenities.
You can walk or bike in the town as it’s a very bike-friendly town.
When you walk around, don’t miss the beautiful hotel The Pearl on the main street in Rosemary Beach, considered the best beachfront hotel on Florida 30A.
You’ll find lots of boutiques, shops, and award-winning charming restaurants in Rosemary Beach. La Crema is a great place to have tapas and chocolate. For an unbeatable view, try the Pescado Grill & Rooftop Bar.
Although access to much of the beach here is limited to residents and guests, nearby beaches are easily accessible to the public. You can visit Inlet Beach or Dune Allen Regional Beach for beach access.
30A Community Events and Festivals
Florida 30A is a tight-knit community that values local traditions and events. You can participate in several community events throughout the year, including the annual 30A Songwriters Festival, which brings together songwriters and musicians from around the country.
Other popular events include the Seaside Farmers Market, which takes place every Saturday and features local produce and artisanal goods. The South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival is another must-attend event, featuring over 800 wines and a variety of culinary offerings.
Overall, the culture and lifestyle of Florida 30A are defined by its vibrant arts and music scene, diverse culinary offerings, and tight-knit community spirit.
What are those Lakes all Along 30A?
The lakes that you will see as you travel between the beach communities along 30A are called coastal dune lakes. This is a natural phenomenon found in only a few places in the world. Besides South Walton County Florida they are found in New Zealand, Australia, and Madagascar.
The coastal dune lakes are unique to this area. Some are available for visitors to kayak and paddle board.
Where to stay in 30A
Deciding where to stay on 30A depends on your preferences and priorities. There are so many options from Hotels, vacation homes, and townhomes to condos.
Hotels: 30A has several boutique hotels with charming atmospheres and resort-like amenities. The Pearl in Rosemary Beach and WaterColor Inn are luxurious options, while The Lodge 30A and Gulf Blue Haven of Grayton Beach offer cozy vibes.
It’s very popular to rent condos as it offers diverse choices like quaint cottages, family-friendly condos, and luxurious beachfront houses. You can book them via Airbnb and, VRBO. You can also check reputable rental companies like 30A Escapes or local vacation rental companies and book through them.
Many of the vacation rentals will give you access to pools or tennis courts. Some provide bikes or baby gear and a few even provide a golf cart for you to use during your stay.
Some rentals boast direct beach access, while others require a short walk or bike ride. Decide how important beachfront proximity is! If you prefer beachfront property, read the fine print before you book. Your vacation will be much easier if you do not have to drive to the beach. Also, be prepared to pay more for it!
Besides the beach what else is there to do on 30A?
You can bike, kayak, hike, shop, eat amazing food, visit one of the amazing state parks, and so much more.
Things to Know When You Plan 30A Florida Trip
- 30A is the best place to visit as a couple as well as with family.
- Book your stay in advance during the peak summer season, especially during weekends.
- As you are driving along most of 30A you typically cannot see the ocean. Either the road is too far from the beach or it is too built up to see past the homes!
- There will be lots of traffic during high season, so pack your patience!
- Dogs are not allowed on most of the beaches unless you have a permit.
- 30A is not an inexpensive beach destination for visitors. Restaurants and lodging tend to be pricy, especially during the high season.
- The attire along 30A is very casual. You will not have to dress up even at the nicer restaurants.
Frequently Asked Questions about 30A Florida
What is so special about 30A?
One of the most special things about Florida 30A is its incredible pristine beaches. The area boasts some of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world, with powdery white sand and emerald-green waters. You can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as swimming, fishing, kayaking, and hiking along different towns. The area also boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene, with numerous galleries and live music venues. This is perfect for a relaxing vacation trip to Florida.
What are the Beaches like on 30A Florida?
The beaches on 30A Florida are simply Stunning. The sand is pure white. So white that it rarely gets hot under your feet even in the heat of the day. The water is almost always a stunning clear blue/green color.
Why is 30A Florida so popular and like so much?
30A is like nowhere else in the world! It has picture-perfect white sandy beaches with emerald green waters, coastal forests and coastal dune lakes, state parks, festivals, and cultural events that attract people from all over the world!
Is 30A the same as Destin?
Florida 30A is a scenic highway and there is a collection of charming towns and communities along with it which forms 30A. Whereas Destin is part of the 30A located on the west side.
Is 30A worth it?
Yes, it’s worth visiting Florida 30A. 30A goes through multiple pristine beach towns, comprised of mainly Alys, Rosemary, and Seaside. Each of these small towns is beautiful & each community has its unique aesthetic character. 30A area has managed to maintain its small-town charm and unspoiled natural environment that is perfect for your trip.
Is 30A nicer than Destin?
Florida 30A and Destin both have the same clear water with emerald green waters. But Destin is a busy town with lots of action, shopping and food options. Whereas communities along 30A beach towns offer more quiet experiences. If you love busy action-packed beach days, Destin is good for your visit.
What city is closest to 30A?
Panama City is Closed to 30A. It’s roughly 20 miles from the center of 30A. You can choose to fly to Panama City the closest airport.
What is the best walkable town in 30A?
Rosemary Beach is one of the best charming and walkable towns in 30a Florida. There are Stunning homes, walkable footpaths, and beautiful boardwalks with stunning beaches.
Where do you fly into to go to 30A?
Located in Panama City Beach, Florida, Northwest Florida Beaches Airport, ECP, is overall the best airport to fly into when visiting 30A.
30A Florida is truly a wonderful place to visit. I hope that you enjoy your trip there! Pin this post to plan your trip to Florida 30a.