Most people are familiar with the beaches at Destin and Panama City, Florida. Known for its emerald green, clear water and white sand, the area’s beauty is a rarity among American beaches.
You may not be familiar with the equally-gorgeous beaches between Panama City and Destin. Along Highway 30A in South Walton, Florida, there are 12 distinct beach communities. My family chose quiet Seagrove Beach for our summer vacation last year and it was among my favorite vacations.
The first thing that I would recommend for a vacation along scenic Highway 30A is a bicycle, and fortunately, there are several places where you can rent bikes for the week. Biking is the primary mode of transportation in this area because of the 18-mile bike path that connects all of the beaches. Along the trail, you will discover coastal dune lakes, greenways and other natural wonders. You’ll also ride through some of the communities. While the beaches themselves are fairly similar, the beach communities each have a unique vibe.
Here is a little information about a few of the communities found in South Walton, Florida.
Seaside was my favorite of all the beaches we visited. You may recognize Seaside Beach if you’ve seen the movie “The Truman Show,” where it was depicted as the perfect town. A walk or ride through and you can see why. The planned community is full of beautifully colored homes. In its center are the food trucks and shops. These aren’t just any food trucks though. Each is housed in a vintage Airstream trailer, and the food ranges from barbecue and hot dogs to a juice bar. While you are in town, be sure to stop for a cup of coffee at Amavida Coffee & Tea. The whole town makes you feel as though you’ve stepped into a simpler time — from the cool vintage record store, Central Square Records, to the quaint little bookstore, Sun Dog Books. If you are in Seaside on Sunday, there is an outdoor service in the chapel.
Of all the area beaches, Alys Beach has the most upscale feel. Everything is black and white and offers a simple elegance. If you are looking for a luxurious escape, Alys is the perfect place to visit. One of its most recognized amenities is the Caliza Pool. Pool is actually a bit of a misnomer, because there are four different pools including the centerpiece, a 100-foot, zero-entry salt water pool.
The community also includes tennis courts and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Looking for a little peace and quiet? Head to the 20-acre nature trail. It includes one of the area’s rare coastal dune lakes. Wednesday nights, experience music in the square.
The candy-colored carriage houses are a unique feature at Rosemary Beach. Like nearby Seaside, Rosemary has a bit of a retro feel, but with a West Indies vibe. Wood plank pathways take you through playgrounds, tennis courts, pools and fountains.
In the center of town, a large grassy area hosts outdoor concerts and the “West Indies Market” where you can find all kinds of handmade goods. Around the green are the Merchants of Rosemary Beach — a set of quaint boutiques and restaurants. Don’t miss Wednesday’s Farmers Market for fresh produce and homemade treats.
Whether you are looking for a fun, family getaway, or a few nights away with your spouse, you will find what you seek at the beaches of 30A.