Looking for the perfect beach vacation within the U.S.? 30A is it! 30A is a collection of small, unique, beautiful Florida beach towns. You may have heard of some of the popular towns including Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Grayton Beach, and Alys Beach. It’s the perfect destination for all types of crowds including families, couples, bachelorette parties, etc.
It quickly became one my family’s favorite travel destinations after our first trip in 2019. If you want to read more about our first trip to 30A, click here. Incredible places to rent, unique charm of each town, and beautiful crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico! What more could you ask for?! If that has you hooked, keep reading to hear about all the 30A must-do activities!
Each town along the coast has its unique style and vibe. The architecture is incredible, the beach is gorgeous, food is awesome, and the shopping is great! 30A is a must-visit if you are considering traveling to Florida. We have only traveled to the area in September to avoid the peak summer rush. Labor Day marks the end of the high season so we choose to visit around then. The water was still warm as were the temps – so we definitely could not complain! Here is a map and a little rundown of each popular spot along 30A…
Grayton Beach: This small historic beach offers white powdery sand, amazing views, and a playground for nature enthusiasts. It’s an eclectic beach town that offers anything from hiking and biking to fishing and funky finds. My favorite Grayton Beach stops are Black Bear Bread Co. and Tribe Kelley Surf Post.
WaterColor: A master-planned community that features beautiful scenery and multiple amenities. This spot offers a bit of everything for the 30A visitor and is my personal favorite. It feels like home away from home! The WaterColor Beach Club is absolutely divine. While you’re here, make sure to step into Beach Happy Cafe to shop and eat!
Seaside: You have probably heard of this iconic beach town with coastal charm and inspired design. Known for the pastel beach houses and airstream row, this is a must see! With everything from multiple unique shops and restaurants, there is something for everyone. Don’t forget to grab an iconic Seaside tee at Seaside Style while you’re there!
Seagrove: This area offers a laid-back classic beach vacation vibe. Not only can you hit up the beach but you can explore multiple trails and state parks. After a little bit of adventure, don’t forget to grab a donut or dine at Café Thirty-A.
WaterSound: The Emerald Coast’s own all-American style with colors and shapes of an Eastern seaboard town. Stay in a maritime-inspired cottage home or a modern condo with beachfront views. You will not want to miss the WaterSound Beach Club with a 7,000-square-foot pool!
Alys Beach: (Pronounced Alice) The most picturesque spot in 30A! You will feel like you have been transported to Europe with the stunning architecture and stark white facades. If you’re looking for luxury, it doesn’t get much better than this! Grab a drink at Neat, dine at George’s, and most importantly, soak up the scenery! If you are looking for the next perfect Instagram spot – this is it!
Seacrest: This spot is close to everything making it another great spot to stay! Seacrest features The Village of South Walton Beach which includes several shops and restaurants. In my opinion, this is a great spot for families as it has close access to pretty much everything,
Rosemary Beach: Cobblestone streets, winding paths, and romance. This is a wonderful spot for couples as there are many places to dine and relax. It is so beautiful! If you’re there on a weekend, be sure to stop by the Farmer’s Market. Want the absolute best date night? Reserve a spot at the iconic rooftop restaurant, Pescado (18+).
Traveling to 30A:
If you live in any of the southern states, it is easy to drive to. It is only 5 hours from our home in Northeast Florida so we chose to drive. Plus, driving along the entire strip of 30A as you arrive is quite fun! If you are farther away or looking for a quicker trip, there are two airports close by. The most convenient airport is Northwest Florida Beach International Airport (ECP). Another option is Destin Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS). Both airports are under an hour away making any travel day a breeze.
WHERE TO STAY:
There are numerous spots along 30A to stay including hotels, resort-style condos, homes, and more. Whether you are looking for budget-friendly or luxury, there is something for everyone. If you are traveling with a large group, WaterColor is probably the best place to stay. If you stay in WaterColor, you have access to multiple amenities. WaterColor offers a beach club, multiple community pools, a town center, parks and gardens, BoatHouse and Marina Park, tennis courts, trails and docks, and even a gym. It’s definitely paradise!
What I enjoyed most about staying in WaterColor was the easy access to all the amenities. We rented this beautiful home through Exclusive 30A that includes 6 bikes and even a golf cart! I sprung out of bed each morning ecstatic to take a quick drive in the golf cart to grab coffee. Therefore, you will notice that most visitors in the area are either riding bikes or trekking along in golf carts. What a beautiful way to experience the outdoors…it was also extremely fun for the littles with us! If you’re looking for the ultimate luxurious stay, I highly recommend the home we chose.
WaterColor Inn was where we stayed for our first visit. I highly recommend booking a stay here as you have quick access to all the local amenities. It is even a great spot to stay if you plan on visiting Seaside often. There is even a dedicated treat room on each floor. Yup, you heard that right! Enjoy coffee, snacks, ice cream, etc. right outside your room. However, the WaterColor Inn is actually going through a major expansion until 2022. Undoubtedly, I am sure it will be fabulous when it is done!
Another area I would recommend staying is Rosemary Beach. The Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach is located in the heart of town allowing quick access to shops, food, and the beach. There is a pool, beach access, spa, bike rentals, and awesome dine-in options! Additionally, there are multiple rentals dotted along the town. I have also heard great things about The Pointe On 30A!
WHAT TO DO:
- Beach: The beach is a must! Experiencing the light sand and clear water is a luxury in itself. Most of the rentals or hotels along the strip have designated beach access where you can rent chairs and umbrellas. We were able to reserve enough chairs for our family each day. It was such a treat being able to walk to the beach and have your area set up already! This is one of the big reasons why we enjoy WaterColor.
- Pool: There were so many pools around the area where we stayed. Many hotels have their own pools so finding one won’t be an issue. Swimming is a must to cool down from the heat!
- Bike: I really enjoyed biking around 30A. There are bike racks everywhere so transporting this way is super easy! We even rented electric bikes from Pedego last time we visited. It was so much fun having a little boost while riding. We took our electric bikes around Seaside, through WaterColor, and over to Grayton Beach. The sidewalks to Grayton Beach were open enough for us to let loose on the electric bikes and go pretty fast! Biking is a must if you visit 30A, it is so easy to get around!
- Farmer’s Market: Seaside has a Farmer’s Market on Saturdays while Rosemary Beach has one every Sunday. Before your trip, confirm which dates and times these markets are because they are fun to browse! It’s an awesome way to give back to the community and find special souvenirs. This time we stopped at the Rosemary Beach Farmer’s Market to pick up fresh produce.
- Explore! You can explore by car, bike, golf cart, kayak, paddle-board, boat, etc. This area really has lots to do for lovers of the outdoors. Not to mention, everywhere along 30A is beautiful so why not explore?!
- Shop: This is one of my favorite hobbies regardless if I am on vacation so of course I had to! There are plenty of shops up and down 30A. A few favorites of mine that I will always step in to browse are Indigo WaterColor, Shop WaterColor, Seaside Style, Fiddle Haus, Disco 30A, Patchouli’s, and Beach Happy.
- The Hub 30A: The Hub is a new spot filled with restaurants, shopping, and events. There is always something happening here! Make sure to check out their schedule to see what they have planned for the week. Fitness classes, football games, live music…you name it!
- Grab the Camera: What the older generations in our party did not understand was the need for so many photos! Haha…we couldn’t keep the cameras away with beautiful scenery at every head turn. If you are in need of new family/friend photos, this is the spot to do it! I love taking photos in stunning Alys Beach. If you are by the beach around sunset, you will not miss a family in matching outfits grabbing their latest group photo!
WHERE TO EAT:
Due to the crowds rolling in at 30A monthly, I highly recommend making reservations before your trip. Meal times get a little hectic during the peak months. Here are some of our favorite stops…
- Scratch Biscuit Kitchen: Add this to your must-try list for breakfast! This new spot was decorated adorable with super delicious bites. I ended up ordering their traditional biscuits and gravy along with their french toast. Everyone loved their meals, including our vegan family member! Go early as this spot tends to get long lines.
- Beach Happy Cafe: There wasn’t a day that went by where we didn’t stop in here for coffee or a quick bite. Coffee was great and their breakfast wraps were yummy.
- Bud & Alley’s: This is one of the top recommendations for Seaside. We got seated at the window during sunset which was absolutely gorgeous. If you can, snag a seat on the top level deck because people say it’s incredible! We even hit up their Pizza Bar which was quick and super delicious. Next time, I want to try their Taco Bar which looked amazing.
- Black Bear Bread Company: I am obsessed with this place! It’s a must if you are a coffee or pastry lover. My typical order is their avocado toast and tan line speciality latte with mocha and vanilla. They have a case full of fresh bread and pastries. You MUST get a cookie if you stop by – they are probably the best I’ve ever had!
- La Crema: Although we didn’t end up eating here, this place was adorable! We stopped to look at this little spot when we were in Rosemary Beach. It is small but I have heard the food is amazing! It will definitely be a stop next time I am there!
- Frost Bites: Along Seaside there are some airstreams with food like BBQ, grilled cheese, crepes and then frostie treats! This stop was perfect on a hot day. One of the employees recommended mango and vanilla shave ice and it was SO good!
- Perfect Pig: This multiple location spot is raved about by many. In fact, we hit this spot both times we visited and it didn’t disappoint. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- The Hub 30A: Need a space that satisfies everyone? Hit up the new Hub 30A with options for everyone! Duos was great!
- George’s at Alys Beach: We hit this spot both times we visited 30A. Everything here is made with fresh, local produce. The food and atmosphere is great.
Other good dining spots include Surfing Deer, Cowgirl Kitchen, Chiringo, The Red Bar, and Seaside Square food trucks. When I visit again, I definitely want to check out Pescado, Neat, La Crema, and The Citizen.
To sum up, 30A is undoubtedly a place I will visit again and again. There are enough activities to do and spots to hit in order to make each vacation different. In the future, I would like to do a girls trip (Bachelorette maybe?!) in the area. In conclusion, this is a spot for anyone who wants to escape to the beach. Whether it’s a family reunion or anniversary trip, you are certain to find activities to meet your ultimate vacation goals.