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Jake and I took a vacation to the 30A area in Florida (near Destin) for our 5th wedding anniversary/his 29th birthday. Living in Birmingham, we’re only 4 hours from this area and had been dying to go to the beach. We feel so blessed that we’re that close to a beach. The water was totally gorgeous and there was so much to do. We were very impressed, and we plan to go on many more trips to 30A.
What is 30A:
Before looking into our 30A vacation, I was a little confused on what it was, so I wanted to explain what the area is. 30A is the scenic highway in South Walton county that stretches along the Emerald Coast.
The highway runs along the following beaches: Dune Allen, Gulf Place, Blue Mountain Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Watercolor, Grayton Beach, Seaside, Seagrove Beach, Watersound, Alys Beach, Inlet, Seacrest and Rosemary Beaches.
Where To Stay:
Originally we were going to stay at The Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach, but they had a 3 night minimum. After all of the taxes and fees, we decided it was way over our budget. We ended up doing an Airbnb in between Rosemary Beach and Seagrove. It was perfect because we had access to Seagrove Beach and it was just a quick walk to the Rosemary Beach area where we mostly hung out. It was a lot more cost effective and we had a fully remodeled 1 bedroom apartment to ourselves. I would suggest staying at an Airbnb or VRBO with great reviews. For a larger group, VRBO sounds like the way to go (you can rent entire homes). Someday we do want to stay at The Pearl Hotel. Note: they don’t allow kids in their pool, so it’s more for a romantic couples getaway or a girls trip. The Watercolor Inn is also supposed to be nice.
- You must try Grayton 30A Beach Blonde. Seriously, it’s the best beer I’ve ever had.
- The summer months fill up fast, so book far in advance. We had to stay at two separate Airbnbs in the same building since we booked late. Luckily the owner owned both and was accommodating with our checkout time.
- A lot of the restaurants don’t take reservations, so we would either have a snack first or head to dinner before we were super hungry.
- June was very hot and one of the more crowded months. Next time, we want to go in the spring or early fall.
- To save money, we bought our own drinks and snacks. We stopped at Publix as we headed in and stocked up on our favorites. We hardly bought any drinks out at restaurants.
- You have to rent beach chairs unless you’re at a resort, so bring your own or bring a beach blanket.
- A lot of people ride bikes in this area, so I recommend reserving one if you like bike riding.
Where To Eat:
- La Crema: This is where we had our anniversary dinner and it was the best meal of the trip. I kept hearing to only go for dessert, but the food was probably even better than the dessert. We had several dishes, including cheese fondue, chocolate fondue, chocolate covered bacon, lobster-stuffed mushrooms, and more. It was excellent!
- La Cocina: This was in our Airbnb’s area and was a great casual Mexican food spot.
- The Hub: The Hub is a neat entertainment district with food trucks and restaurants. We loved that there were many options and we could get food from different vendors. Next time we want to go at night, since they have a stage set up for entertainment.
- The Pearl Havana Lounge: We got a cocktail there for our anniversary and it’s right by the beautiful pool. I would love to eat there next time.
- Edwards: This is right by The Pearl Hotel and is a nice restaurant. We loved the scallops and pork chops.
- Bud and Aly’s: Bud and Aly’s is a restaurant that kept coming up over and over when people shared their recommendations. It absolutely lived up to the hype. We went for lunch and didn’t have to wait. The shrimp o’boys were outstanding. There is also a gorgeous beach view.
- The Airstream Food Trucks in Seaside: When in 30A, you must visit the vintage Airstream food trucks in Seaside. We loved Frost Bites (shaved ice) and they have a 5 Daughters’ Bakery (one of my favorite spots from Nashville) location too. They have a BBQ truck, a grilled cheese truck, and more.
- Great Southern (I hear their brunch is amazing)
- The Pancakery
- Grayton Beer Company’s Taproom: We loved this beer so much that we bought 2 cases at Public. I want to see their taproom next.
- 723 Whiskey Bravo: It was a little too far from our Airbnb, but sounds amazing
- Pescado’s: You need reservations far in advance
- Eat at The Pearl Hotel
- Neat Bottle Shop: Craft cocktails
- Beach and Brews
What To Do:
- Ride Bikes: Although Jake and I don’t really ride bikes, we noticed a lot of people doing this. It’s the perfect way to see this gorgeous area.
- Visit The Beaches: Visiting the beach is a given, but we were so impressed by the breathing turquoise waters.
- Explore Seaside: Visiting Seaside is a must! This little beach town features the cutest historic post office I’ve ever seen, Airstream row, and a lot of cute shops/restaurants.
- Visit The Pearl: I suggest grabbing a drink at The Pearl and dining at the restaurants around the hotel. This is one of our favorite areas.
- Visit The Hub: They have a lot of entertainment and a variety of delicious food vendors.
- Live Music at The Village of South Walton: This is actually where our Airbnb was and we loved coming down each night and listening to live music/entertainment.
Have you been to 30A? If so, what are your favorite spots to visit?