If you’ve never heard of 30A, I was also once that person. I lived in Florida for two years and didn’t know what it was or where it was until a few people had mentioned it. 30A is an area in the panhandle of Florida known by the route that goes through it, road 30A. It’s the area between Panama City and Destin and has incredibly beautiful beaches and towns along the route including Rosemary, Seacrest, Alys Beach, Seaside, Watercolor, and a few others.
I was able to spend about a week visiting this area back in February of 2020 and loved my trip. It was relaxing, fun, and beautiful. I took a lot of books and spent a good amount of time reading, with the other time exploring. This area is great for family beach trips, solo trips, a couple’s getaway, or a friend’s trip. Each town has its own personality and it’s fun to explore each one as you have time. Some of my favorite things in the area are listed below. If you have additional recommendations please leave those in the comments so others can keep them in mind when planning their trip!
Where to Stay:
There’s so many options on where to stay in the area. I’d first recommend determining your budget and then what type of area you’re looking for. Inlet Beach is where I stayed at a beautiful Airbnb, and there’s not much of a “downtown” here like there is in Rosemary or Alys Beach. If you want something off the beaten path and potentially better on the budget, Inlet Beach is a great option. Next over is Rosemary. This is probably my favorite of all of the little towns because it has a beautiful downtown, great restaurants, boardwalks between the condos and houses to walk around, and is just so tastefully done. Alys Beach is over from Rosemary and has more of a white washed greek feel to it. It felt a little like I was in another country when I was in town as it looks so incredibly different from the other areas. This one is probably the most expensive to stay but also one of the most beautiful. There’s a little town area to get food and drinks but I thought there were more options in Rosemary. Seaside is to the west further and this one seemed the most affordably family oriented. There is a cute post office and bookstore near the beach as well as food trucks and a lawn area. There’s various shops and it just seemed a little more approachable than Alys. Watercolor is the area I spent only a bit of time in, but this one seemed more like an area for condos and house rentals, and less focused on a “town” vibe. But that’s not a big issue since you can walk or drive a town over for more amenities.
Whichever option you chose, there’s a ton of rental units, either houses or condos, in the area. Airbnb has a lot of options as does VRBO. There’s also some hotels in the area, but it’s more suited for rentals. I loved where I stayed since I had a porch overlooking the ocean, a great kitchen to cook in, and could walk right to the beach.
What to Do:
Go to the Beach – The most obvious thing to do here is go to the beach. Each town has their own beach area and some beaches have closed access to the public unless you have a gate code from staying in the area. You can walk down the beach, but may not be able to access it easily from the road. This I know to be the case in Rosemary and potentially in some others as well. I’d recommend researching this prior to booking your stay somewhere.
State Parks – Cape Helen State Park, Deer Lake State Park, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, and Eden Gardens state park are the most popular. Cape Helen has fishing opportunities and sand dune hiking paths. Deer Lake has a long boardwalk and is a great spot for family photos. Topsail Hill Preserve is great to view wildlife or to take the bike out for a spin. Eden Gardens has an old mansion, beautiful gardens, and a pier on its 160+ acres.
Shopping – Many of the towns along 30A have some type of downtown area that include bookstores, clothing stores, and other retail. I visited the bookstore in Rosemary called Hidden Lantern Bookstore and one in Seaside called Sundog Books. I also visited Rosemary Beach Trading Co that has both clothing and gifts.
Outdoor Activities – Other activities in the area include fishing, golfing, biking, yoga, and tennis. Depending on where you’re staying, there may be some opportunities for biking, yoga, tennis, and swimming included in your condo or house rental. Otherwise, there’s other local opportunities for those including nearby golf courses.
Where to Eat / Drink:
There’s a lot of options on where to eat and drink in the area. I barely scratched the surface during my visit but really enjoyed everywhere I went. I look up places on Yelp before going, so chances they’ll be good are pretty high before I go since I try to go to places with 4 stars and above.
- Cowgirl Kitchen in Rosemary Beach – I walked here on the beach from my Airbnb and got the tacos which I adored. I would have gone here every night if I didn’t want to explore other options. It’s also right in downtown Rosemary.
- Donut Hole in Rosemary Beach – I stopped here for dinner one morning and got an omelette
- Perfect Pig Grill and Fishhouse – I ate at both their Seagrove and their Santa Rosa locations. The food was incredible both times. I also loved how each location was decorated. My first visit was for lunch and I got a sandwich and soup on a rainy day that hit the spot and on my second visit for a late dinner, I ordered the pretzel mac and cheese.
- Charlie’s Donut Truck in Alys Beach – When out on a walk one morning, I grabbed a donut from here which seems to be a very popular spot in Alys Beach.
- Grits and Grind in Rosemary Beach – I got the eggs benedict here and thought it was great. I love breakfast food in general so not a surprise.
- Amavida Coffee Roasters in Rosemary – I grabbed a latte here and then sat outside with my book and read for a while and people watched since it’s right in town.
- Black Bear Bread Co in Santa Rosa Beach – I stopped in here to grab a coffee and breakfast sandwich and adored them both. I also really liked the decor in this one and so I sat and read for a while while enjoying my breakfast.
Overall, I highly recommend visiting the 30A area. It can be great for a long weekend, or a weeklong stay. I plan to come back in the future and explore even more that the area has to offer.