Welcome to the 12 best beaches in 30A, Florida

The gorgeous Florida panhandle has the best beaches in the entire state

30A is a county road between Destin and Panama City Beach on the Florida panhandle. You’ll find massive high rises in those beach communities, but not 30A. Instead, you’ll discover quaint beach towns with their unique flair. Follow along for the best 12 beaches in 30A, Florida. 

This area is part of South Walton County, so that you may see references to the beaches of South Walton. 30A runs along the beaches. As you research where to stay, you ideally want a vacation rental on the south side of the road for the proximity to the water. 

The Emerald Coast in Florida

North of 30A is ok, too, but look at the map and ensure easy access to the water. Some resorts run shuttles while many walk, bike, or use a golf cart. Look into this before you book. 

30A communities are all designed with their style, and some center around a town while others are more spread out. A handful are wildly popular, like Rosemary and Seaside, so expect price variations. Others are more laid back, such as Grayton Beach. There’s a beach for every type of tourist. There’s also an abundance of amazing state parks to explore in the region.

🚨🚨Short on time? Book my favorite 30A condo directly on the beach by clicking HERE!🚨🚨

Beach Packing List

best beaches on 30A

12 Best Beaches

The beaches sit on the turquoise water of the Gulf of Mexico. Usually calm with sandy white beaches, you’ll fall in love if you are a first-time visitor. Spring break and summer months are peak seasons, so beware of crowds. I prefer the shoulder season of late spring and fall. Our family regularly goes every fall when our kids are on break. Visiting the beach in the fall is ideal due to low crowds and temps.

My beach summary will start in the east, closer to PCB, and move west to Destin. 

1. Inlet Beach

Inlet Beach is a community that straddles 30A and Highway 98, a divided highway across the panhandle. Some rental houses are within walking distance of Rosemary, which can drive up the lodging prices, but some are still affordable. Check out this adorable condo close to the beach!

🏖️Book your Inlet vacation rental by clicking HERE!

2. Rosemary Beach

Rosemary is among the most popular, as the architecture is beautiful and has a European feel. We stayed here once, and I loved it. I enjoyed hopping on my bike and exploring with my kids. My youngest was still small enough to ride in a carrier, and we would bike leisurely to admire the stunning homes. 

Rosemary Beach is a favorite beach on 30a

You could easily come here and never leave the community as there are delicious restaurants such as Pescado and Havana Beach Bar. There’s a large green area for kids to run around and play and several gated pools and tennis courts. On the weekends, there’s a farmer’s market to enjoy.  Our kids love picking out candy or ice cream at Sugar Shak.

This area is pricer but has lots of restaurants and is bike friendly. The community is divided by 30A and is walkable but keep in mind the closer to the beach, the more you will spend on a rental. Some houses have carriage houses that you can rent that would put you closer to the beach at a lower price point. 

There’s also the beautiful Pearl Hotel in the heart of Rosemary if you prefer a hotel. Rosemary is a fantastic option.

The Pearl Hotel

🏖️Book your Rosemary vacation rental by clicking HERE!

3. Seacrest Beach

Seacrest is right next to Rosemary on the west side. Seacrest’s biggest perk is the proximity to Rosemary but usually at a cheaper rate. You’ll be able to walk or ride to the attractions at Rosemary but can’t access their pools or beach access. We’ve stayed here multiple times, and my kids loved riding their bikes to buy ice cream and candy at Sugar Shak.

Similar to Rosemary, you can rent properties on either side of 30A. If you are in the actual neighborhood of Seacrest, they run a shuttle to beach access during the busy season. You can walk or ride bikes too, but it’s a bit of a distance if you are in the back of the neighborhood with kids. The neighborhood has houses and condos on both sides of the street. There are also a handful of restaurants here too. 

We preferred the condos directly on the beach, especially when the kids were little and babies. If you are on a tighter budget, you will find more options in Seacrest north of 30A and within walking distance of the beach, shops, and restaurants. My husband and I stayed in one of these smaller condos for a short weekend once and it was perfect for the two of us!

Seacrest Beach

This is a popular location for families traveling with teens during school breaks, so keep that in mind. If you want to avoid large groups of teens, consider shoulder season and avoid summer and spring break. 

🏖️Book your Seacrest vacation rental by clicking HERE!

4. Alys Beach

Alys is the next beach town and is beautiful with stunning white homes. It’s probably the most expensive in the area. You must rent through their official website, as they don’t do Airbnb or VRBO. 

Alys has a large green area to play in and an accessible community to explore on a bike. When we stay in Rosemary or Seacrest, I love to bike through the streets, admiring the homes. 

Alys Beach

The Citizen and George’s are two popular spots for local cuisine. 

Once you leave Alys, there’s a less-developed area with plenty of affordable options. Sometimes the homes are labeled Seacrest, so check their location on the map. It is an excellent place to stay, but if you want the activity of restaurants, you’ll need to drive. We’ve stayed here, too, in a community called Magnolia Cottages by the Sea, and I like the quietness.

George's in Alys Beach is an excellent choice for dinner

Looking for an exciting day trip while in 30A? Check out my favorite 30A Tours!

5. Watersound Beach

Watersound is an adorable neighborhood south of 30A.  It is gated and hard to see from the road, so they have a private beach. You won’t find as many visitors exploring as in other communities. If you are biking on 30A, you can ride through the neighborhood. 

Watersound is one of the best beaches on 30a

We’ve stayed here many times, and I like how quiet it is, but it’s gotten very popular, driving up rates. I love the feel of the streets, walkways between houses, and expansive beachfront. The houses are gorgeous too. If you want the buzz of people and restaurants, you may not appreciate the serene community at Watersound. 

Beware of homes labeling themselves as in Watersound on rental sites. There’s a neighborhood near a mixed-use space called the Big Chill (formerly The Hub)on 30A that is very popular and more affordable. Many homes are labeled as Watersound and have a gorgeous pool but no direct access to the beach. You would have to drive every day to a public beach point and not be allowed to enter Watersound unless you were a member of their club. 

walking paths in Watersound

🏖️Book your Watersound vacation rental by clicking HERE!

6. Seagrove Beach

Seagrove is more spread out along 30A and doesn’t have a town center but don’t let that turn you away from staying here.   I like this area because you are close to the Seaside community without the traffic. You can bike, walk or drive your golf cart to Seaside. We rented a house here once with friends, and I thought the beaches were not as busy, and our kids enjoyed riding bikes around the area. 

Seagrove has a little something at every price point. There are condos on both sides of the road, and the ones north of 30A can be very reasonable. Seagrove has many walkways that offer free public access to the beach, which isn’t common in all communities as some are gated. 

If you want a larger house, check out this fantastic house close to beach access. We rented it one summer with friends and had the best time!

🏖️Click HERE to book the Seagrove House!

🏖️Click HERE to book the Seagrove Condo!

sand dunes in 30a

Another winning point of Seagrove is that you are close to a grocery store (Publix) and several neighborhoods. You can quickly get to other communities. Seagrove also has excellent dining options, such as Cafe 30A or pick up fresh seafood at Goatfeather’s to make for dinner.

🏖️Book your Seagrove vacation rental by clicking HERE!

7. Seaside

Seaside was one of the first planned communities in South Walton. If it looks familiar, it was the site of the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show. 

Seaside is one of the best beaches on 30a

The beautiful houses are close together but in a quaint design, and there’s a town center in the heart of the community filled with local shops and restaurants. Food Trucks line 30A so you can grab a casual dinner, ice cream and let the kids run loose in their amphitheater. Besides food trucks, Seaside is home to some delicious restaurants like the Great Southern Cafe and Bud & Alley’s, which has an awesome rooftop bar. 

Check out my detailed review of Seaside vs. Watercolor, Florida.

Seaside is one of the most popular destinations in this area, so expect large crowds if traveling during a busy time. Parking can be chaotic, too, so avoid it at peak times. If you are staying in Seagrove or Watercolor, you can walk depending on your location.

Seaside church

🏖️Book your Seaside vacation rental by clicking HERE!

8. Watercolor

Watercolor is directly to the west of Seaside. It is just one street over. This is a large community of condos, rental homes, and hotels like the Watercolor Inn. This area has a beautiful pool directly on the water with majestic views, or you can walk on their nature paths or kayak. 

One nice perk of Watercolor is that you are within walking distance of Seaside and don’t have to mess with large crowds in your community. 

I recently stayed here in a 2 bedroom condo, and I absolutely loved the community. The amenities are top-notched, with several pools, free towels at the Beach Club pool, walking trails, and other outdoor activities.

In the town center, I love their restaurant Fish out of Water, which sits directly on the beach. I also enjoy walking the community, which is shaded with beautiful homes.

Check out my Watercolor Guide!

Watercolor Resort

🏖️Book your Watercolor vacation rental by clicking HERE!

9. Grayton Beach

Of all the little communities, Grayton is one of the most laid back with old Florida houses. It has grown in popularity in recent years, and guests are seeing more modern large homes overtaking the area’s charm.

We recently discovered Black Bear Bread on the north side of 30A for breakfast. This is a great and easy stop for a quick breakfast. Be sure to grab a meal at the Red Bar; if you are lucky, there will be live music and excellent food. Expect large crowds on the weekends and during busy times. 

Also, explore Grayton Beach State Park, a real gem on the coast. 

The Red Bar is a fun atmosphere in Grayton

🏖️Book your Grayton Vacation Rental by clicking HERE!

10. Blue Mountain Beach

Blue Mountain Beach is just west of Grayton and our favorite community these days. My husband loves that there are fewer crowds, and I find the prices to be a bit more reasonable. There are a handful of restaurants, public beach access for the houses not directly on the water, and a great ice cream joint, the Blue Mountain Creamery

We’ve spent several fall breaks here in the same condo complex, the Adagio. I highly recommend this community for several reasons. Half of the condos sit directly on the water; everyone has access to the two pools. One is very large, and the other grants guests beautiful beach views. Also, we usually travel with family or friends, and this complex has large condos with three or four bedrooms.

We stayed at this complex four times, and this is a great condo. We love this complex and immediately book it for the next break as soon as return home.

Adagio Resort in Blue Mountain Beach

🏖️Ready to Book the Adagio? Click HERE! 🏖️

11. Santa Rosa Beach

Santa Rosa is one of the busier areas on the west side of 30A but not as crowded as Seaside and Rosemary. Gulf Place is in the heart of town with numerous shops and restaurants. We always order pizza from Pizza by the Sea at Gulf Place when we are in town for an easy dinner one night. There’s also another Goatfeather’s with fresh seafood too. 

If you stay in Blue Mountain, you can bike to Santa Rosa for a bite or a sweet treat.

🏖️Book your Santa Rosa vacation rental by clicking HERE!

12. Dune Allen Beach

Dune Allen is one of the last beaches on the county road as it winds to Hwy 98 and Destin. It is quiet here with easy access to the beach if you are on the north side of 30A. You are also close to another location of Donut Hole, which is one of our family’s favorite donut places. Make sure to go early because there will be a line! They also have a tasty breakfast.

🏖️Book your Dune Allen vacation rental by clicking HERE!

FAQ: Visiting 30A 

gorgeous sunsets on the best beaches in 30a

🏖️When is peak season?

Shoulder season is the best time. Late spring or fall in 30a are ideal times to visit. I would avoid spring break and the summer months when schools are out of session due to large crowds and higher prices. 

🏖️Do you need a golf cart? 

It all depends on your location. Golf carts are more common in Seagrove, Watercolor, Seaside, Grayton, Santa Rosa, and Blue Mountain. 

best beaches in 30A, Florida

🏖️What are the top local restaurants

George’s, The Citizen, Pescado, Bud & Alley’s, Great Southern Cafe, Fish out of Water, The Bay, Stinky’s, Donut Hole and Red Bar to name a few.

There are some fantastic places to grab breakfast or brunch too.

🏖️What are the best activities in the area?

biking, kayaking, swimming, paddle boarding, beach bonfires at night, exploring local state parks, grabbing ice cream, shopping and dining.

Christmas is also a magical time to visit as the communities are decked out in holiday decor.

🏖️What is the closest airport?

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport or Destin-Fort Walton Beach airport are two options. NW Florida Beaches in Panama City is the closet airport to 30a.

🏖️What are the best state parks to visit?

Deer Lake State Park, Point Washington State Forest, Camp Helen State Park or Topsail Hill Preserve State Park 

Camp Helen State Park

In conclusion: Welcome to the 12 best beaches in 30A, Florida

In my mid 20’s, my husband and I started visiting 30A after I read an article in Southern Living about the new developments around Seaside, which already existed. I had seen Seaside in my teens but never the rest of the area. After that visit over 15 years ago, we have returned numerous times because it is truly beautiful. My guide to the best beaches in 30A, Florida, helps you plan your next great beach adventure.

30A Resources
Best 30A Beaches
Best 30A Tours
Breakfast in 30A
Ice cream in 30A
Best Seafood on 30A
30A State Parks
30A Winter
30A Fall
Christmas in 30A
Spring Break on 30A
How to Vacation at 30A on a Budget
Vacation Rentals on 30A for Families
Beach Packing List for Families
The Best Review of Seaside vs Watercolor, Florida
Ultimate Guide to Watercolor, Florida
Is Watercolor, Florida, Worth it? 12 Reasons why I love it

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