If you’ve ever been to 30A, you understand what all the fuss is about! It’s always been an upscale area of the Florida panhandle, but it’s really gained steam in recent years in being a highly sought after travel destination. It’s a unique area, lots to explore, incredible restaurants, extremely clean, and best of all, the water is always beautiful and crystal clear! It’s everything you’d ever want in a beach vacation. Below, I’m sharing about our most recent experience and what to include on your own trip if you visit 30A.
Where to Stay:
If you visit 30A, you won’t be able to stay in a chain hotel…because there aren’t any. There are plenty of chains in the bookend cities, in either SanDestin or Panama City, but in the actual 30A stretch, you are out of luck staying at a Hampton or something of the sort. Personally, we opted for a condo rental in Seagrove. Seagrove is a great location because it’s smack in the middle of all the 30A beaches, so it makes getting around on 30A super convenient. Since we were traveling with a large group, we rented out a condo right on the beach that could sleep up to 12. Condos are limited in the area and there are no high rises right on the beach (our condo was only 4 stories) however, there are hundreds of precious little beach bungalows and houses that are available to rent through either a rental company or AirBNB. Although not all of the properties are not right on the beach, the beach is still easily accessible at just about any point. In a previous trip to 30A, I stayed at a little house rental in Seacrest and at that house, while it was actually several miles from the beaches, they gave us wrist bands that would give us access to a private beach that was available to only that particular community. There are some hotels in the area, but they will run you an average of $530/night. For example, the well-known Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach is going to run you $693/night. Yikes. 30A is known for being upscale and pricey, so if budget is an issue, I would recommend staying a little ways off the beach in a house rental. You will still be able to get in plenty of beach time even though the sand isn’t at your doorstep.
What to Do:
THE BEACH!! Besides the Caribbean, this was the clearest water I had ever been in. You can walk out really far and still be able to touch and see the bottom, which is really nice and personally, puts me at ease. I don’t like not being able to see what’s going on down there! This also makes it great for snorkeling. We saw tons of people out snorkeling, and you can actually find some pretty neat wildlife. We found a jellyfish with no stingers, a blue crab, some larger fish, and one time, we even spotted a sea turtle swimming into the waves. (Side note: Dolphins are also common to spot out in the deeper waters, and are so fun to watch from the shore!)
The gulf has relatively calm waters and small waves that only break near the shore, so this makes it perfect for water sports. There are lots of places to rent kayaks and paddle boards, or of course, you can bring your own! While we didn’t do this ourselves, we saw numerous people out exploring the deeper water in one of these ways!
The best way to see all of 30A is on a bike! There are bikes everywhere and a bike rental spot every few feet it seemed. 30A has really nice, wide sidewalks, and if you wanted to ride your bike from one side of 30A to another, it would make for a really nice day. Bikes also come in handy to get around having to fight traffic! You can rent a bike for a half day for anywhere around $20 and the whole day will run you about $30. It’s a must-do! It’s a great way to see the personality of each little beach, and there are several state parks where you can stop, hike around, and enjoy the scenery.
There is also great shopping in 30A. Of course, you’ve seen t-shirts and car stickers with the 30A logo, but most of the touristy shops are a little more upscale than what you see at most beaches. The best place for shopping is in the Seaside square. Here, you’ll find lots of super cute little boutiques, clothing stores, and gift shops.
Where to Eat:
Oh my goodness, where do I even begin? There are tons and tons of original restaurants (again, no chains) in the area and so many of them are nothing short of amazing. I’m giving you a list below of all the restaurants we ate at and what we ordered. I was only going to share the top ones with you, but once I made out a list, I decided to share them all because they were all winners. Well, all except for one…Steamboat Grill in Seagrove left us a little underwhelmed and the service wasn’t that great. Everything else, I highly, HIGHLY recommend.
Chanticleer Eatery in Grayton Beach: my personal favorite. I had the southwest salad and it was delicious. Others at our table had the summer fruit salad, pork plate, and steak. Everyone LOVED the meals they ordered. I plan to go back here on my next trip to 30A! I want to try the whole menu!
Goat Feathers in Blue Mountain Beach: came highly recommended by others and it did not disappoint. I had the fish and chips and my husband had the Mahi BLT. If you’re searching for typical, fried, seafood fare at the beach, this is where you need to go.
Old Florida Fish House in Seagrove: this was a little pricier and fancier than some of the other places but it was my second favorite. I had the Mahi-Mahi served over saffron rice and asparagus. Light, but very filling and super delicious. I felt like it really helped balance out the fried fish from earlier in the day 😉
Bayou Bill’s in Santa Rosa: this is technically not in 30A but we ate here since we were meeting friends staying in Destin. This ended up my husband’s favorite meal of the trip. I had the grilled chicken dinner and my husband had the Filet Imperial Steak, which was a filet topped with crabmeat and a spicy sauce. It was on the pricier side of restaurants, but it was still casual dining and a laid-back vibe despite the prices.
Brozinni’s Pizza in Seagrove: this is a tiny, little pizza joint right off the beach. They sell whole pizzas or pizza by the slice. They are huge slices and really good as far as pizza goes, and because of the location, it makes a great place for a quick lunch. A single slice is $5.99 and one slice is definitely plenty for one hungry person!
Local Catch in Blue Mountain Beach (Right next to Goat Feathers): This restaurant was a happenin’ spot when we were there! I was surprised to see that the menu was mostly gourmet, although they still incorporated plenty of fish options (For some reason, I was thinking this spot would be more like Goat Feathers.) The food was very good (I had the Chimichurri steak tacos-pictured below) and they had interesting sides (I had cheese grits.) However, the service was below par, and it’s also extremely loud and hard to converse with your table. Overall, though, it’s still worth your time if you’re looking for a new place to try out!
Five Daughters Bakery Food Truck in Seaside: While I didn’t get the chance to try many of the food trucks in Seaside (which they all look amazing, by the way,) I did make it a point to stop by the Five Daughters Bakery food truck and try out their Paleo doughnuts…and full confession, I also got a yeast doughnut to compare! 😉 And yes, I ate all 3 doughnuts in one day. I think my favorite was the strawberry yeast doughnut, but the Paleo doughnut was surprisingly good. As always, the texture is a little different with Paleo treats, but tasty, nonetheless.
Donut Hut in Seagrove: We may have gone a little doughnut crazy on this beach trip. The Donut Hut was right next to our condo and my husband took his nieces there each morning to buy doughnuts for everyone. They also have beignets and breakfast tacos/burritos, etc. We all enjoyed the doughnuts, and the beignets were good, but not as good as the ones that you get in Gulf Shores…if you know, you KNOW! Overall, worth a shot if you’re looking for a sweet treat in the morning!
That just about wraps up my 30A recommendations for this time! I can’t wait to return to 30A soon—what other places do I need to know about for next time? Are there any fun things/hidden gems that we need to explore on our next trip? Let me know in the comments!