Whether you’re into fishing (gulf, bay, river or lake), skiing or wakeboarding, sailing, sunset dinner cruises, or just gliding over to The Village of Baytowne Wharf, Crab Island, Shell Island or Destin Harbor for a full day of fun in the sun, there’s just nothing quite like being on a boat.
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.
Kids of all ages love the beach. Hey, swimming, sandcastles, skim-boarding, wake boarding, snorkeling, surfing, fishing, shell collecting… what’s not to love? But let’s admit it, eventually sand fatigue sets in, and sun-weary kids and parents alike look for alternative family-friendly activities to enjoy.
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.
Justin Gaffrey Studio / Gallery
Over the years, Justin Gaffrey has become 30A’s signature artist, with his unique “sculpting with paint” technique.
Justin’s style of work is instantly recognizable. His Studio / Gallery in Blue Mountain Beach has also become a “must see” local attraction.
Once a renowned chef and South Walton restaurant owner, Justin left the daily grind of the restaurant business in 2001 to instead pursue the full-time creative lifestyle of a visual artist. With a palette knife and pure acrylic paints, Justin sculpts vibrant, deeply textured and multi-dimensional works of art. And although many of his works are wildly colorful, Justin also works with softer palettes, and even occasionally sculpts entirely in white.
One of the most authentic ways to enjoy South Walton’s stunning architecture and natural beauty is to do like the locals do — hop on a beach cruiser and take in the sights at the slower pace that life prefers here.
30A‘s 19-mile paved bike path (sometimes referred to the “Timpoochee Trail”) parallels the entire length of the scenic road and passes through all of its famous beach communities, from Dune Allen in the West to Seacrest and Alys Beach in the East. Enjoy the thrill of biking over rare coastal dune lakes and discovering a side of South Walton that’s difficult to see from a car.
For the slightly more adventurous, there’s Eastern Lake Trail, located within Point Washington State Forest. The trail system has 3-mile, 5-mile and 10-mile trail loops.
Bike rental and repair shops can be found throughout South Walton.
The 30A Cruiser (pictured above) is available for rent at 30ACruiser.com or call 888-750-7606.
Although South Walton’s Gulf waters are often as smooth as glass, on many days of the year, the waves are ideal for surfing (particularly when there’s a tropical storm brewing somewhere down in the tropics).
Professionals and amateur surfers alike patiently bide their time, waiting for red flag beach conditions or a tropical surge that might create the perfect moment. When surf conditions are right, business calls suddenly go un-returned, and some offices abruptly close in the middle of the day. Facebook chatter pauses until nightfall, when tired surfers finally come home, with tales of epic proportions.
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.