30A ~ The Southern Scoop’s Featured Locale of the Month

Thanks for reading 30A ~ The Southern Scoop’s Featured Locale of the Month! Whether you’re a new visitor to the area or a returning friend, keep reading to discover new things about 30A. If you haven’t already secured your spot on the sand, book direct to save money because you want to avoid call queues and get unparalleled Southern hospitality!

…Did you know?

Walton County has 15 named coastal dune lakes along 26 miles of coastline making South Walton one of the premier ecotourism locations in all of Florida! Coastal dune lakes are a unique geographical feature and are only found in Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, Oregon, and here in Walton County! (p.1, https://www.co.walton.fl.us/97/Coastal-Dune-Lakes) Northwest Florida and Coastal Alabama have the more coastal dune lakes than anywhere else in the world except for Australia! Salinity, flora, and fauna also vary between the dune lakes which are fed by groundwater seepage, streams, storm surges, and rainfall. The connection with the Gulf, called an outfall, is a flood control and pours lake water into the Gulf as needed. (p.2, https://www.co.walton.fl.us/97/Coastal-Dune-Lakes)

Walton County constantly monitors the water quality of the dune lakes and the wildlife therein in an effort to conserve the incredible, diverse ecosystems and biological contributions they are. Walton County currently partners with Chocawhatchee Basin Alliance and provides data to state and federal agencies to manage and regulate the lakes. (p.3, https://www.co.walton.fl.us/97/Coastal-Dune-Lakes)

What is “Ecotourism”?

Locations

Seaside

Perusing the local boutiques or enjoy delicious food from the Airstream food trucks. Appreciate the brightly decorated locale with friendly people and jaw-dropping architecture. Seaside rose to global fame as the primary filming location of The Truman Show. Robert S. Davis’ grandfather conceptualized Seaside, and as a privately owned area, developers were able to write their own zoning codes. Make sure you check out the Seaside Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings!

Dune Allen

Home to Stinky’s Fish Camp and nestled in between Sandestin and Gulf Place, Dune Allen also encompasses Topsail Hill Preserve State Park! Fishing, camping, kayaking, paddle boarding, and hiking are just a few of the attractions. Cycling, Horseback Riding, Birding, there’re so many ecotourism opportunities here, you’ve gotta check it out while you’re in the area!

Gulf Place

East of Dune Allen, Gulf Place is always buzzing with local and tourist activities! Home to “The Perfect Pig” and a YOLO board shop, there’s never a shortage of activities and exquisite dining to enjoy in Gulf Place. While you’re on your dream vacation, stop by the Artists at Gulf Place and bring home a piece of the beach!

Santa Rosa Beach

Recently named as one of Travel & Leisure’s Top 5 Favorite Towns in America, Santa Rosa Beach is home to delectable dining, local boutiques, and Point Washington State Forest! With over 15,000+ acres of natural beauty, miles of hiking and dozens more activities are at your fingertips!

Blue Mountain Beach

Named after the Blue Lupine flower found throughout the area, Blue Mountain is an apropos destination location for ecotourism. With vacation homes, condos, cottages, and everything in between, Blue Mountain’s central location cannot be beat! Home to Blue Mountain Creamery, here you can discover Artisinal Ice Cream! Draper and Big Redfish Lakes provide some of the most scenic paddle board and kayak experiences along 30A.

Grayton Beach

Circa 1880, Army Major Charles T. Gray founded Grayton Beach. Known for the world-class music and dining dive, The Red Bar, many locals and tourists have come here for that experience alone! Known for having an “Old-Florida” feel as a result of being surrounded by Grayton Beach State Park and Beach Bungalows built in the 30’s and 40’s, Grayton Beach is one of the very special places even Floridians who grow up on the beach know as a true gem, seemingly frozen in time when things were much simpler and traditional.

WaterColor

Starting at Western Lake and Grayton Beach State Park, WaterColor is bordered on the East by Seagrove Beach. Jaw dropping Western Lake fades into the Gulf of Mexico. Quaint homes, condos, and everything in between dot the gorgeous landscape. Known for being more secluded, WaterColor is the perfect getaway to enjoy serenity, tranquility, and relaxation.

Seacrest Beach

Known for the lively Peddler’s Pavilion bonfires, live music, local boutiques, and fresh Gulf seafood are never more than a few steps away.  Nestled around Alys and Rosemary Beaches, Seacrest is always abuzz with people enjoying the ambiance, dining, and shops.

Seagrove Beach

East of Highway 395 through Eastern Lake to Deer Lake, lies Seagrove Beach. Home to yet another Perfect Pig, and the Old Florida Fish House, exquisite dining is around every corner. Beautiful natural flora sprouts between the gorgeous spots of sugar white sand  and dune grass. Upscale boutiques and two of the most prominent coastal dune lakes set Seagrove Beach apart from the rest!

Alys Beach

Once you enter Alys Beach, you’ll know you’ve arrived because you’ll see imposing stucco craftsmanship and brilliant designs. Carefully manicured palm trees and unique architecture distinguish Alys Beach from the other beautiful beach communities of 30A. Additionally, enjoy upscale American cuisine at George’s at Alys Beach or stroll about miles and miles of paths meandering about this breathtaking community.

Rosemary Beach

Shop handpicked books at the Hidden Lantern, or on Sundays and Thursdays peruse the Rosemary Beach 30A Farmer’s Market. If the little ones are behaving, take them by the Sugar Shak, dubbed “The Sweetest Place on Earth”. The ambiance of Rosemary Beach has long been the standard by which the definitive “beach experience” has been measured. Experience it for yourself!

Inlet Beach

Bordering South Walton and Bay Counties, Inlet Beach is the last stop before 30A resurfaces on US Highway 98. Home to the largest beach access point in South Walton, Inlet Beach has long been a destination for beach lovers. Bordering Camp Helen State Park, fishing, kayaking, camping, birding, and many more activities are always easily accessible.

Things to do

It’s important to point out that you can always check our Southern Perks program for exclusive discounts and access to activities and dining for the whole family. Parasailing, horseback riding, dolphin tours, evening cruises, fishing charters, exquisite Gulf seafood, the possibilities are endless! Home to hundreds of artists, musicians, vintners, brewers, and all other walks of creatively-focused entrepreneurs, annual festivals such as the 30A Songwriter’s Festival, Art Week South Walton, 30A Wine Festival,  among many others, draw thousands of visitors each year. Finally make sure you also check our local events and add some local flavor during your stay to your dream vacation plans!