If you have never been to the beaches in the Florida panhandle, you are missing out! The beaches of South Walton (30A) in particular are some of the most beautiful in Florida and some of the best destinations for family vacation with kids in the US.
The 30A is an insider’s secret that few have discovered. With a family-friendly atmosphere and communities that offer everything you need, it is the perfect place for a beach vacation.
It is tucked in between two popular Spring Break destinations – Destin and Panama City Beach, but it is a haven for families.
Wide, white sand beaches with calm surf, the 30A highway is bike friendly and sheltered from all the big hotel and casino developments that are the hallmark of its party neighbors.
Because it’s fairly undiscovered, there are many affordable options for lodging and many real estate development happening in the area.
We rented a house just a few feet from the beach which was amazing! Being so close to the ocean, allowed us to fully enjoy it during different times of the day.
Although we had bad luck with the weather – it was in the 70s the week before and after our stay and it was in the 40s when we were there – I am already dreaming of the incredible sunsets, and our next vacation in the 30A!
The Best Beaches in South Walton (30A) Florida
Seaside was designed from the ground up to be a community like no other. Because it was privately owned, the architects and planning developers were able to create their own building codes.
It resulted in a beautifully designed community with porches, white picket fences, a neighborly feel with highly walkability.
It is so perfect that at times, if feels like you are in an another world.
Seaside was named the “Best Beach on Earth” for families by Travel + Leisure magazine and “Top 10 Best Beach Towns in Florida” by USA Today’s. It was also featured in Emeril Lagasse’s show and in the movie Truman’s Show.
Seagrove, Watercolor and Santa Rosa Beach
Tucked in between Seaside and Ally’s Beach, these areas are mainly residential and your best bet for affordable lodging.
There aren’t many amenities in these beaches, but they are a perfect place for a quiet spot on the beach.
The first thing you will notice when driving into Alys Beach is the huge white pillars and palm tree lined streets. The first word that comes to mind is luxury.
Most of the buildings in Alys are white and the streets paved in cobblestone. Inspired by the architecture of the Caribbean and Central America, it is stunning and definitely makes you feel like you are in a faraway island.
While Seaside has a established town center, Alys’ is still developing, but there are already beautiful shops and restaurants. George’s is a great option for lunch. During low season it was full, so you might need a reservation during high season (May – August).
Rosemary Beach makes you feel like you stepped out of the United States into Europe. Its covered walkaways that are lantern lit are charming and inviting. Cozy cafes and romantic restaurants, this is the perfect place for a couple’s getaway.
It is a beach town, but if you didn’t see the ocean, it could make you think you are in a small town in France.
What to do in the 30A
- Spend some time exploring each of these towns as they are only miles away from each other and yet have very distinct offerings and architecture.
- There is a bike path alongside the 30A highway and bikes are available for rent everywhere. It might even be included in your rental like ours were. If that is the case, you can bike all of these beaches very easily.
- If you like farmer’s markets, Seaside has one every Saturday.
- In Seaside and Alys Beach, upscale food trucks are a permanent fixture. Stop by them for a quick lunch or afternoon snack.
- Enjoy the calm waters and white sand of the beaches and don’t forget to watch at least one sunset!
- Grayton Beach State Park has a historic mansion in its property in addition to a beautiful beach.
If you are looking for more family friendly travel guides, check out my recent posts on:
- Toddler Beach Packing Essentials
- Best Beaches in Oahu
- Best Beaches in Southern California
- How to Spend a Day in Malibu
- Whale Watching in California
Have you been to the 30A? Which one of these places would you like to visit?