Nestled between the popular tourist destinations of Panama City and Destin, Florida, lies a stretch of Gulf Coast beach along scenic Highway 30A in Walton County Florida.
This area, known popularly as “30A,” features beautiful white sandy beaches, picture perfect beach villages, rare coastal dune lakes and some great eating.
Though much smaller than either Destin or Panama City, there are still a wealth of great things to do in 30A.
30A makes a wonderful family vacation destination.
It also makes a great romantic getaway destination for couples.
Need help planning your trip to beautiful 30A? Check out our list of the essential travel planning resources.
Plan your 30A vacation with this FREE printable travel planner.
Not sure what to do on your trip to 30A? Check out these recommendations.
Spend at a day at one of the beautiful beaches on 30A
The beautiful white sugary beaches along 30A are not to be missed.
So, pack your sunglasses, sunscreen, snacks and other beach day essentials and enjoy an afternoon or even a full day at the beach.
Depending on where you stay in 30A, a great beach spot might be just steps away or you may have to go a little out of your way.
You can certainly save money at 30A by renting accommodations away from the beach side of the highway.
Your hosts will be able to direct you to the closest public beach access.
But you don’t have to stick to the nearest beach.
You can find public beach access in many places along 30A.
Take walk along the beach at sunset
Don’t miss sunset on the beach at 30A. The light is magical.
In fact, you’ll probably see couples and little families out on the beach in their coordinating outfits getting pictures taken for their Christmas cards.
Seriously. Practically every night.
Grab your sweetie, a beach blanket and a cup of coffee and make it an evening date.
Head to Panama City, Florida, for some adventure
Panama City Beach is just a 30-minute drive from the 30A area. It’s a great place to try a bit of adventure.
You could try scuba diving (no experience needed).
Or try the scream machine thrill ride out on the water.
End your day with a sunset catamaran sail.
Rent a paddleboard or kayak and get out on the lake
Yup. In addition to beautiful Gulf coastline, 30A features some lovely coastal dune lakes.
Coastal dune lakes are a pretty rare geological feature that occur in only a few places in the world, including Walton County Florida.
Western Lake can be found between Grayton Beach and WaterColor.
Small motorboats are allowed on Western Lake, and paddle boarding and kayaking rentals are popular.
There are several equipment rental places along 30A, including those that offer free delivery.
Western Lake is partly surrounded by Grayton Beach State Park where you can also find trails and picnic areas.
Spend an evening at The Big Chill (formerly The Hub)
Head down 30A to Watersound and spend an evening at The Big Chill which used to be called The Hub.
You’ll find a wide variety of great eats like burgers, BBQ, seafood, ice cream, smoothies, etc.
There are also some fun shops to look through.
You might find the perfect 30A souvenir to take home as a remembrance of your trip.
Check the events calendar to keep up with fun events like family movie nights, live music and more.
Bike the Timpoochee Trail
Bike rentals in 30A are quite popular.
Because the highway is so narrow, traffic can get rather congested around the most popular spots like Seaside’s Central Square especially during peak travel season
Instead of dealing with traffic in your car, explore 30A on a bike.
You can follow the 18-mile Timpoochee Trail to explore all of the lovely beach neighborhoods along Highway 30A.
Head to Seaside for some shopping
Seaside’s Central Square is a popular spot along 30A.
Full of great shops and wonderful lunch spots (see below for our favorite), it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.
We recommend stopping in at:
- Central Square Records—Audiophiles will enjoy browsing through the bins at this independent record store. Who knows? You might find that copy of Queen II on vinyl you’ve been wanting.
- Sundog Books—Just downstairs from Central Square Records you’ll find the family-owned Sundog Books. A great place to pick up your next beach read.
- The Seaside Style—Great shop to pick up Seaside logo merch and even items referencing the Jim Carrey film The Truman Show which was filmed in Seaside.
- Art of Simple—fun gifts and home décor items.
Parking can be difficult to find near the popular Central Square.
Convenient paid parking is available on Smolian Circle.
Or you can drive outside of Seaside and park at the free lot on Highway 283 in Grayton Beach and ride the free shuttle.
Shuttles run every 10 to 15 minutes until quite late in the evening.
Grab lunch at The Meltdown on 30A
As long as you’re in Seaside, why not grab the best grilled cheese of your life.
You’ll find The Meltdown on 30A food truck along “Airstream Row” at Central Square facing Highway 30A.
The picture doesn’t do it justice. Bad lighting. My apologies.
But this sandwich (French Onion is my Jam) was so amazing that I had to go back later in the week and get it again.
I dream about this sandwich.
Okay, not really, but you get the idea.
My family also recommends the Cuban McConnell and This Little Figgy.
And you can get any sandwich on the menu with gluten-free bread.
Take a day trip to Destin
Explore more of the Gulf Coast by heading over to Destin for a day trip.
There are some really fun things to do there. For example, you could try a banana boat experience.
Or go on a large jet ski boat ride dolphin tour.
You could also try a tiki sunset cruise.
Stroll through Rosemary Beach
Toward the Eastern end of Highway 30A, you’ll find the lovely Rosemary Beach community.
The cobblestone streets and architecture put one in mind of old European towns.
It’s a great place to just walk around and enjoy looking in the shops.
There’s limited parking around Barrett Square, but if you can find a spot definitely grab it quick!
You’ll find great Rosemary Beach souvenirs at Rosemary Beach Trading Company in the center of town.
If you’re a book lover like me, you’ll love wandering through The Hidden Lantern.
It’s a beautiful store with a great selection of books.
Enjoy dessert at La Crema Tapas & Chocolate
Oh hey. And as long as you’re at Rosemary Beach, stop by La Crema Tapas & Chocolate for a wonderful dessert.
We highly recommend the chocolate fondue (delicious!), the salted caramel ice cream and the fruit tarte.
There is a gluten-free option for the fondue, and you can choose either dark or milk chocolate. Adding peanut butter is available for an upcharge.
While I enjoyed trying the sipping chocolate, I didn’t think it was worth anything close to the $6 I paid for it.
Pick up some donuts at Khave & Cream
For a delicious morning treat, head to Khave & Cream in Seagrove Beach for some wonderful donuts.
You can purchase individually or splurge on a box.
Or put your life in the hands of the staff and let them choose a variety of donuts for you.
I highly recommend the apple filled bear claw. It’s enormous and delicious!
Plan to get there early especially during peak summer travel season or you might miss out.
Though we didn’t try the coffee or ice cream (kicking myself), I have heard good things.
Splurge on a romantic sunset dinner at Surfing Deer
If you’re looking for some fine dining for a splurge-y date night dinner out, then I recommend you give Surfing Deer a try.
The food is excellent, and they have a good selection of vegetarian and gluten-free options for diners with special dietary needs.
Everything we ordered was EXCELLENT.
We had the basil pesto pappardelle, the filet, and shared the coffee roasted heirloom carrots.
Hubby also ordered the s’mores brownie sundae for dessert and I managed to grab a few bites before it was gone.
You can eat in the beautiful main dining room or enjoy a meal out on the patio.
We chose the patio when we made our reservation so we could enjoy the sunset.
I made our reservation for just at right about sunset, and I kind of wish now I had made it for 15 to 30 minutes earlier.
The light on 30A in the 20 minutes or so before sunset is just beautiful.
Final thoughts on what to do in 30A
No matter how you like to spend a beach vacation, you’ll find a lot of wonderful things to do at 30A.
From outdoor adventures on one of the coastal dune lakes to shopping in Seaside and wonderful dining in Seagrove, you’ll never be bored.
And if what you crave is a relaxing day in the sand listening to the waves roll against the shore while you get lost in a great beach read…well you most certainly can do that too.
What’s your favorite thing to do at 30A? Leave a note in the comments below and share it with us!
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