30A South Walton Cultural Arts Alliance ArtsQuest Seaside 3 Cultural Arts Alliance

Photo: Shelly Swanger Photography

The very first “Grayton Beach Fine Arts Festival” was held in 1989, and because of the event’s ever-increasing popularity, the Cultural Arts Alliance (CAA) was founded to help organize and promote this unique artistic celebration throughout South Walton.

Today, over 20 years later, that event is known as ArtsQuest, and this non-profit organization of artists and art lovers not only organizes other amazing annual events (such as 30A Songwriters Festival and Flutterby Children’s Art Festival), but it also provides grants and scholarships to aspiring and established talents in our community.

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30A South Walton Laurie Hood Alaqua Animal Refuge Alaqua Animal Refuge

Alaqua Animal Refuge’s Laurie Hood

A source of great local pride (and for great reason), Alaqua Animal Refuge and founder Laurie Hood have won the hearts of everyone that learns of their saintly mission.

The refuge was founded on a 10-acre farm in Freeport in 2007, after Laurie learned that countless animals were being euthanized every month due to the fact that a “no-kill” shelter didn’t exist in our area.

Today, animals that were once homeless, lost and abused can instead “run and play in sun-soaked pastures, swim in cool, clean ponds, relax on breezy screened porches and graze in lush, green fields.”

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30A South Walton southwalton.com modus photo archives 4 of 7 300x257 Eco Tours

Photo: Modus Photography

From the pristine emerald waters of our Gulf of Mexico to rare coastal dune lakes to the beautiful Choctawhatchee Bay and river system, South Walton is one of the most eco-diverse places you’ll ever find.

A great way to explore and learn more about South Walton’s rare coastal dune lakes is by joining Murray Balkcom of WalCo Eco Tours for a kayak or YOLO Board cruise across Western Lake. Murray takes both groups and individuals, explaining local plant and wildlife as you explore.

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30A South Walton Miramar Beach YOLO YOLO Boarding

YOLO Boarding in Miramar Beach

Y.O.L.O…. You Only Live Once. It’s more than a hollow cliché here in South Walton.

For many locals, it’s become a battle cry.

The South Walton-based YOLO Board team might not have invented the Standup Paddle Board (SUP) phenomena, but they’ve certainly captured and inspired the SUP lifestyle in a way that no one else has.

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30A South Walton Camping on the Beach 300x257 Camping

Photo: Jeff Rogers

Whether you’re in a $1 million RV with flat-screen TVs and granite kitchen counter tops, or a 2-person pup-tent with a gas lantern and mosquito net, South Walton is truly a camper’s paradise.

Routinely voted one of the best campgrounds in America, the Gregory E. Moore RV Resort at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park has gorgeous shaded lots, full hook-ups, cabins, exceptional amenities, vast miles of hiking and biking trails to explore and access to over 3 miles of state-protected beaches.

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30A South Walton bay sunrise2 Choctawhatchee Bay

Choctawhatchee Bay is a wonderful place to catch a sunrise…

Stretching some 30 miles from end-to-end and spanning 4 to 6 miles across at any given point, Choctawhatchee Bay is home to a teeming abundance of redfish, speckled trout, shrimp, oysters, gulf menhaden, blue crab, flounder, striped mullet, white mullet, and of course, the ever-delightful dolphins.

Choctawhatchee Bay’s also home to endangered species, including the giant gulf sturgeon (think huge alligator-looking fish), which seasonally migrate through the bay up into the Choctawhatchee River system to spawn.

The bay and its adjoining bayous and rivers are ideal for boating, fishing, YOLO boarding, kayaking and eco tours. For deep-sea excursions, the Gulf can easily be accessed through the pass in Destin, or using the gorgeous Intercoastal Canal to travel east to the pass in Panama City Beach. Both Destin and PCB have lively harbors lined with fun restaurants and bars for boaters to enjoy.

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30A South Walton Rosemary Beach Tennis 300x257 Tennis

Rosemary Beach, Florida

Tennis fanatics won’t have any problem feeding their addiction here in South Walton. In fact, Rosemary Beach is well-known for facilities and annual tennis tournaments that lure players and pros alike from all over the U.S.

WaterColor also has a beautiful tennis facility, and it’s connected via a sandy path with Seaside‘s courts. Sandestin and Seascape also boast great amenities, but it’s Tops’l Beach and Racquet Club between 30A and Miramar Beach that takes the match, having been named the “10th Best Tennis Resort in the World,” with 12 Rubico Clay Courts and other world-class tennis amenities.

30A South Walton 1782088 728107897213190 470053258 n Furry Fest 2014: A Day of Furry Friendly Fun at Gulf Place

Furry Fest 2014 will take place at the Gulf Place Amphitheater and Lawn today, February 22nd, from 11 am to 3 pm.

The event’s goal is to raise funds for Alaqua Animal Refuge and H.E.A.R.T Animal Rescue, which will be used to help shelter pets throughout Florida’s panhandle.

The event will feature a silent auction and live music by KC Phelps, Kristen Barkulou, Andy Durand, Gary Clark and others. Pug Rescue of Florida will be also be there with pugs needing their FOREVER homes.

For more info, contact April Madr or call 850-685-6776.

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