An Insider’s Guide to the Perfect Week on 30A
By Erin Oden
While most visitors are drawn to the stunning white sand and emerald water along Scenic Highway 30A, they quickly realize that there is much more fun and adventure to enjoy beyond a day at the beach. You might like biking the entire 19 miles of this coastal route or paddle boarding on the rare dune lakes. Use our guide to jam-pack each day with activities offered by the communities of 30A
Where to Eat
From classic Southern cuisine to rooftop bars, the restaurants in 30A communities are nothing short of delicious and unique. George’s in Alys Beach has a stellar lunch menu. All dishes are locally sourced and organically produced to provide the freshest fares and most native seafood available. For a dazzling, fine dining, sunset dinner, Bud and Alley’s in Seaside offers a perfect setting and fabulous seafood selection. Directly overlooking the Gulf, Bud and Alley’s famous rooftop bar is the best place on all of 30A to sip a drink and watch the sunset. It’s a veteran hot spot. If you are looking for a quick grab, Seaside’s Airstream Row has a multitude of trendy, laid-back options from which to choose. It’s especially popular for families; adults eat outside as kids play. Of course, you must end any meal with a snow cone from Frost Bites! The Hub, just by WaterSound Beach, has nearly every variety of food imaginable and is the perfect outdoor hangout where you can listen to live music, watch football, and let the kids run around. Grayton Beach’s Chiringo will take you to a Spanish-inspired whirlwind of fresh Gulf seafood, grass-fed organic beef, and locally-infused recipes from around the world. Also in Grayton Beach, the infamous Red Bar is one of South Walton’s oldest hot spots known for great food and live music. Whether it is a drink at Havana Bar at the luxurious five-star Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach, or a bike ride to pick up morning donuts from Charlie’s Donut Truck in Alys Beach, 30A’s food scene will take you from fun, bathing suit, right-off-the beach options to swanky, adult, evening-out settings.
What to Do
Besides spending the day lounging around at the beach, 30A is full of activities. Rent bikes from the Seaside Transit Authority or the Alys Beach Bike Shop and travel in the fresh air of the 19-mile scenic highway. There is no shortage of bike rental options along 30A, and you will want to have your bikes ready on day one! Parking your car and enjoying a full week “by bike” is part of our coastal culture. For golf enthusiasts, Camp Creek Golf Club, Origins, and Shark’s Tooth Golf Club offer fantastic fairways and gorgeous greens. We are fortunate to have coastal dune lakes, which are extremely rare and found in only a few other locations in the entire world. Fishing, kayaking, or paddle boarding are perfect ways to embrace the dune lakes’ wonderful wetland settings. South Walton’s Gulf of Mexico is notorious for its gentle waves, making it the ideal location for stand-up paddle boarding. You can rent paddleboards from several locations.
Where to Shop
The many boutiques along 30A offer exceptional apparel and gifts. For fun, trendy, stylish beachwear and high-end swimwear, Ophelia is the place to go. Shop one of two prime 30A locations in Seacrest and Seaside, or the third that’s opening soon, and you’ll step onto the beach with a gorgeous new look. Willow Boutique has multiple locations. With their street style inspired finds, each of their stores has something distinctive to offer. Outpost, located at 30Avenue in Inlet Beach, is one of the most fashionable boutiques on 30A. Inside the Outpost shop, customers delight in a hip wine and coffee bar. Outpost is a full lifestyle boutique with clothing, art, accessories, furniture, jewelry, books, and more. Sundog Books’ iconic building in Seaside is the most splendid place to grab a novel, read on the balcony, and enjoy Seaside’s special atmosphere. If you are traveling with little ones, be sure to stop at Gigi’s Toy Shop in Rosemary Beach. Their selection of toys is something that children will remember forever.
From Rosemary Beach to Grayton Beach, 30A’s charming accommodations, local food options, diverse shopping, family-friendly activities, and incomparable beach water views will inspire you. If you’re able to experience just some of what is listed above, you’re sure to have the best vacation of your life.