Come along as we take a leisurely drive down the Florida Panhandle’s Scenic Highway 30A, bordered by Santa Rosa Beach and Destin to the West and Panama City to the East. This picturesque two-lane road stretches 24 miles along the unspoiled beaches and charming towns of the Emerald Coast.
Dune Allen is nestled in Santa Rosa Beach at the far-western reach of Scenic Highway 30A. This historic haven is home to unique coastal dune lakes including Lake Allen and Oyster Lake. These are just a couple of the rare dune lakes, the only in North America, that make South Walton County so special.
Dune Allen Dining & Entertainment
For lunch or dinner check out Stinky’s Bait Shack (5960 West County Highway 30A). This casual hot spot offers fresh local seafood, tacos, and New Orleans-inspired dishes. Stinky’s is also known for its live music and waterfront location.
Dune Allen Beach Access
Access the beach from the Dune Allen Regional Beach Access (5999 W Highway 30A) just off Highway 393 then right on Scenic 30A. This newer beach access point is ADA accessible. It offers parking, restrooms, and picnic areas just steps from the shore.
Stay or Live in Dune Allen
Dune Allen has a small residential area off of the Allen Loop. If you blink, you’ll miss it! However, the homes range in size from humble to huge! The Golf Club Drive neighborhood features homes with easy access to the links.
Gulf Place is a 25-acre planned community just blocks from the Gulf shore (Corner of Highway 30A and 393). Stroll the palm-lined sidewalks and enjoy the laid-back vibe of this charming, colorful town. Keep an eye out for Gulf Place’s resident “turtles” created by local artists.
Gulf Place Shopping
Take a break from the sun and sand to indulge in some retail therapy. The shops at Gulf Place have something for everyone from resort wear to bikes and paddleboards (for rent or sale). There’s even a dedicated 30A Store where you can stock up on souvenirs relating to the famed roadway or enjoy a cold 30A brand beer! Or you can relax the day away with a treatment from the nail salon or day spa.
Gulf Place Dining & Entertainment
When it’s time to eat, Gulf Place doesn’t disappoint. With offerings like Pizza by the Sea, La Playa Coastal Cantina (featuring a Caribbean Twist and a Gulf View), or The Perfect Pig Gourmet Market, there’s something for everyone at this bustling center.
Enjoy sweet treats from Sunrise Coffee or Sunrise Ice Cream, Candy, and Arcade. Don’t miss the monthly “Wine Walk” every third Thursday 5:00.
Follow the music to the Gulley Amphitheater. This outdoor venue, at the heart of Gulf Place, features a variety of local and national music acts for music lovers of all varieties. The space also hosts family-friendly events, or in the off-season makes a great spot to lounge or even start-up a game of frisbee or kickball!
Gulf Place Beach Access
Just opposite Gulf Place is one of 30A’s largest public beach access points. The Ed Walline Regional Beach Access (4447 West Highway 30A) is ADA accessible. You’ll find ample parking, picnic areas, covered pavilions, rest rooms, and seasonal lifeguards here.
Stay or Live in Gulf Place
Enjoy all the amenities of private beach living without the commitment. South Walton County is home to a number of rental condos such as Gulf Place Caribbean. Find your permanent place at BellaMar. This gated sub-division on Seawinds Drive provides access to the community’s private beach. Golfers will enjoy the Santa Rosa Beach and Golf Club. Plan for the future with your own custom home along the Gulf at the future Gulf Place Residences and condos.
Blue Mountain Beach
This beautiful town is nestled between Grayton Beach to the east and Santa Rosa to the west. This beautiful town gets its name from the majestic view of the dunes from the Gulf.
Blue Mountain Beach Dining & Entertainment
Stop by Sally’s by the Sea Store (2320 Highway30A) for all of your beach provisions including lunch from the grill. After the beach stop by Johnny McTighes Irish Pub (2298 West Highway 30A) for a cool beverage and a snack. Local favorites include their beer-battered onion rings and hand-made soft pretzels with your choice of dipping sauce.
Switch-things-up with healthy eats at For the Health of It (2217 Highway 30A).This one stop health emporium, grocery, and juice bar has everything you need to recharge. The offer organic foods, supplements, and smoothies. You can even get a massage therapy session (by appointment)!
Enjoy a change of pace with fresh local flavors fused with Asian fare, including sushi, at Basmati’s Asian Cuisine (3295 Highway 30A).
Blue Mountain Shopping
Indulge your artistic senses at the Justin Gaffrey Art Studio (21 Blue Gulf Drive). The gallery features one-of-a-kind works by this self-taught fine artist.
Blue Mountain Beach Access
Head just past the intersection of Highways 83 and 30A you’ll find Blue Mountain Beach Access (2365 South Scenic Highway 83). This location offers parking, restrooms, a dune crossover, and outdoor showers. Lifeguards are on duty at peak times.
Blue Mountain Activities
Blue Mountain is home to three coastal dune lakes which offer fishing and kayaking. Take a break from the sand and surf and head just a few blocks from the public beach to Point Washington State Forest.
Stay or Live in Blue Mountain Beach
Take a quiet break from your travels at the Inn at Blue Mountain, Sunseekers or at Thirty Blu. These rental condo units offer beach access and serene views. Considering your own condo in paradise? check out Adagio at Village of White Cliff for breathtaking Gulf and Dune views.
There’s nothing scary about the community of Seahaunts. Cruise down Spooky Lane and become enchanted by the beachfront views and beautiful waterfront homes.
Seek out your own sanctuary at one of two gated communities, Sanctuary Redfish and Sanctuary by the Sea. Boaters will love these waterfront communities for their access to the rare dune lakes and the emerald Gulf waters.
Go back in time to Old Florida as you stroll the tree-lined oyster-shell roads of historic Grayton Beach. This cozy oasis nestled between the Gulf and Point Washington State Forest retains the charm of yesteryear but doesn’t skimp on modern features.
Grayton Beach Dining & Entertainment
Start the day with breakfast at Crackings (51 Uptown Grayton Circle). Indulge in a variety of gourmet grits and maybe even a mimosa or two.
As the day winds-down head to The Red Bar (70 Hotz Avenue). This local institution set inside an old general store offers an eclectic vibe, live music, a full bar, and good food.
Grayton Beach Activities
Book a true Gulf adventure with a charter fishing or sightseeing trip with one of the many boats of the local “Mosquito Fleet.”
Grayton Beach Access
Access Grayton’s public beach via the new a new pavilion with restrooms and showers (10 Whitesands Drive). The ADA accessible boardwalk extends to the nearby state park.
Grayton Beach State Park (357 Main Park Rd) provides a unique beach experience. In addition to the sugary-white sand and emerald water don’t be surprised to see some uncommon additions to the seascape. Walton County residents can obtain permits to bring their vehicles and their canine family members on the beach here! It’s also a great park to explore. There are over four miles of hiking trails throughout the 2,000-acres. Adventurous visitors can enjoy the paddling and fishing options from the park’s Western Lake.
Stay or Live in Grayton Beach
Relax among nature at Grayton Beach State Park’s Campground. Choose from 30 cabins or 61 campsites (RV or tent options) at this 2,000-acre oasis. Sites are located next to one of the regions famed dune lakes.
Settle in to the Hibiscus Coffee & Guest House for an old Florida vibe with all modern amenities. The property offers updated cottages and even a rooms in a converted barn! Or check out The Great Escape by Real Joy Homes. This vacation home has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and both a patio and balcony with sea views.
Find your forever home as you stroll the unique architecture of historic Defuniak Street. Or imagine your new dream home on one of the generous-sized lots along Garfield Street and the Gulf.
Click here for additional Grayton Beach vacation home listings.
Experience the ultimate in luxury in the charming community of WaterColor. This resort town brings world-class experiences for residents and visitors alike.
WaterColor Dining & Entertainment
WaterColor’s bustling Town Center surrounds Scenic 30A. The Center has something for the whole family including art shows, free concerts, and wine tastings. Check out the event schedule here.
Enjoy outdoor entertainment at WaterColor Marina Park (238 WaterColor Boulevard). This lively outdoor oasis along Western Lake hosts live music, plays, and movies. It’s also a departure point for boat rentals.
Relax at the waterfront FOOW (formerly Fish out of Water) at the WaterColor Inn (34 Goldenrod Circle). This upscale eatery features southern-inspired fresh seafood and amazing views of the Gulf.
Wind-down at Wine World (1735 County Highway 30A). Their outstanding wine selection and gourmet menu make for a memorable meal amidst wonderful ambience.
WaterColor Beach Access
For public parking and beach access head to the north side of Highway 30A (at Western Lake Drive). Insider tip: This is also a good spot to park if you’re heading to town for events, shopping, or dining.
Stay or Live in WaterColor
Relax the day away at the WaterColor Inn (34 Goldenrod Circle). This upscale beachfront resort offers direct beach access for their guests. Indulge in one of their fine dining eateries or a day at the spa.
Seeking a home of your own? Take a picture perfect stroll along residential Western Lake Drive near Viridian Park. Enjoy the best of both worlds from homes along the Gulf and along the Western Lake Park waterfront.
This charming community was planned as a “New Urban” town with pedestrians and bicyclists in mind. This beautiful coastal town a small-town America vibe. If things look familiar Seaside’s unique design earned it a leading role in the hit 1997 film “The Truman Show!”
Seaside Dining & Entertainment
Mingle with the locals at Bud & Alleys Waterfront Restaurant & Bar (2236 E W Highway 30A). This iconic venue has been serving lunch and dinner for nearly 30 years. Enjoy a meal overlooking the Gulf from the dining room or a cool beverage and the spectacular view from the rooftop deck.
Indulge in new-fashioned southern fare at Great Southern Café (83 Central Square). This hot spot has been serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 20 years. Don’t miss the house-made corned beef hash or “The Carson” sandwich.
Stroll north from Central Square to Ruskin Place. This lovely park is surrounded by art galleries, Sundog Books (89 Central Square), and charming boutiques. On the north side of the Plaza you’ll find the Fairy Forest – look closely for fairies made out of clay and stashed in the trees by local kiddos!
Enjoy the arts with a performance at the Repertory Theatre Company. This regional, professional theater has been entertaining audiences for 19 years. They offer a variety of performances in various locations. Check the schedule here.
Learn about design, art, and sustainable communities at the Seaside Institute (168 Smolian Circle). This education center was founded in 1982 by the developers of Seaside to educate designers and the general public about healthy, environmentally conscious ways of building and living. The Institute hosts art shows, concerts, lectures, and other cultural events.
Seaside Beach Access
Dune walkovers and pavilions are at the end of each street. Arriving by car? Park at the Van Ness Butler, Jr. Regional Beach Access (1931 East Highway 30A). This access point is ADA accessible, and has seasonal lifeguards.
Stay or Live in Seaside
Seaside is a true Floridian dream. While rentals in-town are limited, it’s an ideal place to call home. This well-planned and appointed community has something for everyone. Tennis anyone? Western Lake Drive offers ten courts for residents of Seaside’s Camp WaterColor community.
Seagrove Beach has been beckoning generations of vacationing families since the 1940s. The community’s blend of historic homes and modern cottages make for a one-of-a-kind laid back, yet well-appointed, experience.
Seagrove Dining & Entertainment
Swing by the Cowgirl Kitchen Market & Café (3005 East Highway 30A) for grab-n-go gourmet treats or linger over lunch on the patio with a Bloody Mary.
Head over to 723 Whisky Bravo (3031 E Highway 30A) for the ultra-modern, sleek vibe and coastal inspired fare. Head up to the roof for the spectacular view and delicious craft cocktails.
Take in the scenery of Eastern Lake while you enjoy a memorable meal at the Old Florida Fish House (33 Heron’s Watch Way). Favorites at this family-friendly spot include crab bisque and fresh grouper. Don’t forget to save room for the deep dish key lime pie.
Seagrove Beach Access
Seagrove Beach offers more public access beachfront than any other 30A community. Head to the Santa Clara Regional Beach Access (3468 East Highway 30A) for parking and ADA accessible restrooms. This beach also has seasonal lifeguards.
Explore the rare coastal dune lake at Deer Lake State Park (6350 East Highwway 30A). This pristine 1,920-acre state park also has a walking trail that leads to a pedestrian beach access point. There is ample parking, restrooms, and picnic pavilions here.
Stay or Live in Seagrove Beach
Relax in comfort at Lisbeth’s Bed and Breakfast (3501 East Highway 30A) just steps from the beach. Enjoy Gulf views from your veranda.
Enjoy the quaint old Florida feel of the Beachfront 2 Condos. This friendly community is just 200 yards from the beach. Nearby Beachfront 1 townhome development offers views of the Gulf.
Click here for additional Seagrove Beach vacation home listings.
Step back to a simpler time at WaterSound. This charming modern community takes its inspiration from historic U.S. coastal towns. Enjoy the quiet relaxation of this unique Gulf enclave knowing that every amenity is close at hand.
WaterSound Dining & Entertainment
There’s plenty to do and eat at the aptly named The Hub in the center of town (24 Hub Lane). Regular events and activities include big screen sports broadcasts, family-friendly movies, DJ dance parties, and live music. Check out the schedule here.
When it’s time to eat there are a variety of restaurants to choose from. Head over to Macho Taco for Mexican street fare such as tacos and Frito Pie. Meat lovers will enjoy Local Smoke for a variety of delicious barbecue offerings including sandwiches and platters.
Think outside the box with Bruno’s Pizza (6652 East Highway 30A). This casual spot at the WaterSound Inn offers classic pizzas and sandwiches and a pizza lunch buffet on weekdays.
Walk-off your pizza with a round of family-friendly golf at Puttering Park in the WaterSound community.
Stay or Live in WaterSound
Explore the new WaterSound developments including Compass Point Way. Residents of this coastal community can enjoy the benefits of the WaterSound DuneSider Community Pool overlooking the Gulf.
Seacrest is a picturesque community situated on the Gulf just after the big bend of Scenic Highway 30A. East and West Seacrest border Alys Beach. These relaxing havens are all at once welcoming and upscale.
Seacrest Dining & Entertainment
Sip your cares away at Beach and Brew (10343 E Highway 30A). This local brewery serves-up local craft beer, wine, and soft drinks. Everyone is welcome including the kiddos and well behaved leashed canine pals.
Relax and unwind at La Cocina (10343 East Highway 30A). This local hot spot features Latin fare, fresh seafood, and delicious margaritas that will wash your cares away.
Recreation is at the heart of every Seacrest experience. Whether you enjoy sticking your toes in the warm Gulf sands or you prefer avoiding the sand traps of the Camp Creek Golf Club Seacrest has something for you.
Get going on a beach cruiser from Peddler’s Pavilion (10343 East Highway 30A). Rent a ride for the day, or even a kayak, and explore the beauty of Seacrest from every angle!
Seacrest Beach Access
Walk or ride your bike to the beautiful neighborhood beach (8514 East Highway 30A). You’ll find bike racks and a freshwater shower. There’s no parking at Seacrest Beach, so leave the car behind.
Stay or Live in Seacrest
After a day of fun in the sun relax at the Sand Cliff Condos (9064 East Highway 30A). Enjoy amenities of this gated community including two tennis courts, and a Gulf-front pool.
Considering making Seacrest your own? Check out the unique architecture of the condos at Andante (8334 East Highway 30A). This exclusive ten unit property even offers underground parking. The Villages of South Walton (10343 East Highway 30A) offer two community pools and beach access.
Old world charm meets the 21st Century at Alys Beach. Explore this delightful blend of nature and unique architecture with a laid-back vibe.
Alys Beach Dining & Entertainment
Enter Caliza Restaurant (23 Nonesuch Way) and experience a feast for the senses. The al fresco poolside setting is ideal for happy hour (at the outdoor bar) or a memorable meal. The menu features fresh seasonal and local American fare with an upscale twist.
Stroll over to George’s (30 Castle Harbor Drive) for lunch or dinner al fresco on the patio. This upscale, casual eatery offers global flavors and coastal favorites. George’s does not accept reservations, but they make the wait worthwhile. Enjoy a drink from the lounge on their upstairs viewing deck.
Unwind with sips from the NEAT Tasting Room (11 North Castle Harbour Drive). Enjoy daily happy hour featuring beverage specials and live music. This upscale tasting room also offers a seasonal full dinner menu.
Alys Beach Activities
Head to the Alys Beach Amphitheater (Somerset Street) for live music, outdoor movies, and other community events. The town also hosts several annual events including a 5K Fun Run and the Highway 30A Alys Beach Wine Festival each February. Get all the details including the event calendar here.
Check out the beautiful views of the Gulf and the Town Center skyline from Kelly Green. This park is the largest open space south of Highway 30A. It’s a great spot for unwinding with friends. It’s also a popular spot for tying-the-knot, as weddings are frequently held in this picture-perfect green space.
Kids of all ages, including the young-at-heart, will enjoy the Alys Beach Playground (147 West la Garza Lane). Grab a shady spot on the patio while the kiddos explore the rock wall, tunnels, and sea serpent sculptures. Enjoy a healthy treat or fresh-squeezed juice from the park’s Raw & Juicy Snack Bar.
Stay or Live in Alys Beach
Indulge your senses a Santulan the Kaiya Beach Resort’s newest retreat property. These well-appointed designer homes offer large loggias, some overlooking Lake Marilyn.
Explore the quaint, narrow streets of Rosemary Beach on foot or by bike. Wander among the charming Dutch West Indies-inspired architecture and Caribbean features of this friendly community.
Rosemary Beach Dining & Entertainment
Start your day with a cup of locally-roasted java at family-owned Amavida Coffee (104 N. Barrett Square). Get yours to go or enjoy the scenery and people watching from their open-air patio.
For homey comfort food with an upscale twist visit the Summer Kitchen Café (78 Main Street). This eatery has been serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner for over 20 years. After lunch service the vibe turns to fine dining with a unique and seasonally-changing menu.
Indulge in the spectacular views and award-winning New American fare of Havana Beach Bar & Grill (63 Main Street). This rooftop veranda lounge atop the Pearl Hotel offers stunning Gulf views, small bites, and a full liquor bar. Head downstairs to the Havana Grill for their full menu offering Caribbean-influenced dishes. This relaxing, upscale restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Rosemary Beach Activities
Rosemary Beach offers lovely public green spaces including a playground park and an interactive children’s fountain at St. Augustine Park (North Barrett Square). Residents and their guests can enjoy four community swimming pools. Each features unique architectural features, changing rooms, and shade areas for lounging.
Visit the seasonal weekend 30A Farmers Market (28 North Barrett Square) with local vendors and artisans.
Stay or live in Rosemary Beach
Find a gem of lodging at The Pearl Hotel (63 Main Street). This boutique property offers upscale amenities, including access to a private beach, golf, and tennis.
Stroll along charming Water Street. Enjoy the green spaces and swaying palms. Imagine coming home to Gulf views and amenities like luxurious community pools.
Click here for a listing of vacation homes in Rosemary Beach.
The town of Inlet Beach has been welcoming visitors since 1920. The friendly community offers a glimpse into the charm of old Florida with all the modern amenities residents and visitors can dream of.
Inlet Beach Shopping & Entertainment
For one stop shopping, dining, entertainment, and more visit 30Avenue (12805 Highway 98E). Check out the boutiques, housewares, and dining options of this pedestrian-friendly shopping and entertainment district. Take a look at their event and entertainment calendar here.
Get artsy at The Blue Giraffe (13121 E. Emerald Coast Pkwy) for locally crafted artwork and gift items. You can even get creative yourself at one of their art classes.
Inlet Beach Access
Inlet beach is the largest public access beach in Walton County with over 13 acres (438 South Orange Street). There is ample parking and three dune walkways. The center walkway is ADA accessible.
This beach is a favorite of scuba divers and snorkelers who come to explore the artificial reef just off-shore. It’s also a popular photo shoot location. Don’t be surprised to see a bride or two getting their wedding portraits taken along this picture-perfect beach!
Inlet Beach Dining
After a day of exploring 30A enjoy the delights of Shaka Sushi and Noodle Bar (13625 US Highway 98 East). Favorites here include sake cocktails and the “surfing soldier” ramen. Don’t forget to save room for one of their creative desserts.
Head to Shades Bar & Grill (10952 East Highway 30A) to catch a game on one of their 17 TVs. This family-friendly spot serves up bar food classics along with crab cakes, and creative salads. The full liquor bar features local beers on tap.
Wrap-up your Highway 30A adventures with a sweet treat from the Donut Hole (12983 US98 East, Rosemary Beach). This restaurant and bakery has been serving delicious home-cooking and desserts to locals for generations. They’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week so there’s no excuse to not indulge!
Stay or Live in Inlet Beach
Embrace the luxury of the new designer homes at the Grand Inlet community. Thoughtfully planned exclusive properties offer views of the Gulf and access to any amenity you can imagine.
Enjoy the Ride
Embrace the slower pace and easy vibe of Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A. No matter where you stop along the way, you’re sure to encounter great experiences and create wonderful new memories.
And if you’re looking to purchase a vacation home along Highway 30A or in the Santa Rosa Beach region, reach out to our preferred LGBTQ-friendly Florida Panhandle realtor, Brandon Jordan.
Also make sure to check out our Gay Florida Panhandle Road Trip Guide and our Panhandle Regional Travel Page.
***Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).
Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.