30A South Walton Sandestin Golf Sandestin

Golfing in Sandestin, Florida

A massive (2,400-acre) golf and beach resort located just a few miles west of Scenic Highway 30A, Sandestin is home to 30 distinct neighborhoods, including pockets of beautiful villas, town homes, condos, resort homes and hotels. The lushly landscaped resort boasts seven miles of Gulf beaches and bay-front property, four championship golf courses, 15 tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a 98-slip marina, shops, restaurants, nightclubs, fitness centers, a spa and 65,000 square feet of convention space. It’s big.

And yet, Sandestin somehow retains an authentic aura of community, with each of its beautiful neighborhoods possessing a unique charm.

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30A South Walton rosemary gulf lawn2 Rosemary Beach

Rosemary Beach, Florida

One of 30A’s planned New Urbanist communities, Rosemary Beach is an architectural treasure trove, boasting influences from the West Indies, New Orleans, Charleston and St. Augustine, among others.

The grand homes (many with adjoining carriage houses that are just as extraordinary) are interconnected by a discreet network of pedestrian paths and boardwalks, which become even more charming at night, basked in the soft flicker of gas-lit lanterns.

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30A South Walton blue mountain lupine 580x480 300x248 Blue Mountain Beach

Blue Lupines likely gave Blue Mountain Beach its name.

Said to be the highest point anywhere on the Gulf of Mexico (at a whopping elevation of 64 feet), “Blue Mountain Beach” is hardly a mountain… but at least they got the beach part right. As for the blue? Folks say it likely originated from the blue lupine flowers that still flourish between the homes here. At one time, they blanketed these Gulf-side hills.

Today, Blue Mountain Beach consists mostly of private residences, but like the lupines, there are also a few funky local businesses sprinkled in for good measure. Don’t miss a chance to marvel at Justin Gaffrey’s Art Gallery (look for the colorful paintings that are frequently on display on dusty road on the north side of 30A).

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30A South Walton grayton beach jeep 300x257 Grayton Beach

“Sunday Fundays” are a popular local tradition

If Seaside is the heart of Scenic Highway 30A, then Grayton Beach is her soul. In fact, in these parts, Grayton is where vacationing first began, with early travelers arriving by horse and buggy to these sugar-white shores.

Populated with historic cottages, twisting oak trees, quaint shops and galleries, and fun and quirky residents.

The community’s unofficial slogan is “Nice Dogs, Strange People”

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30A South Walton Alys Beach Architecture Alys Beach

Alys Beach, Florida

Scenic Highway 30A’s most visually striking community features architecture influenced by the brilliant-white, traditional homes of Bermuda. When complete, the 158-acre resort town of Alys Beach will be twice the size of nearby Seaside and will consist of some 900 custom villas and courtyard homes.

As you enter Alys Beach, the first architectural features you’ll notice are the white “butteries” that stand like centurions at the property’s edge. Before refrigeration (and even before ice was manufactured), homeowners in Bermuda’s hot island climate often maintained butteries, which were unattached minaret-shaped structures designed to make, store and preserve butter, milk and other perishable foods.

But the four white butteries perched along 30A in Alys Beach preserve something quite different: Sixteen unique mosaic murals depicting scenes of the region’s history and heritage. Concetta Rothwell Morales, a highly talented and well-recognized mosaic muralist, created the murals. The butteries are open to the public.

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30A South Walton 09 Seacrest Beach

Photo: Jack Gardner Photography

Tucked between Camp Creek Lake, Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach is a colorful and thriving beach community called Seacrest. Close to everything, and yet somehow quite relaxed, Seacrest is an ideal place to reconnect with friends and family. Bikes and flip-flops are the transportation of choice here, except for the occasional golf cart loaded up with kids, coolers, umbrellas and sand buckets.

The “town center” of Seacrest is arguably The Village of South Walton Beach, featuring several cute shops and restaurants, as well as a convenience store.

The bubbling fountains out front are a persistent hit with bare-footed kids and weary parents seeking a momentary diversion.

Known as Peddlers Pavilion, this is a fun spot where kids can splash around, vacationers can rent bikes, and all can enjoy a unique selection of food and shopping experiences – including Peddlers Pub, 30A Bagels & Coffee, The Sweet Peddler candy and ice cream, and more.

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30A South Walton canp helen inlet 300x257 Inlet Beach

On Old Pier, Just East of Inlet Beach

Inlet Beach is just about as authentic ‘Old Florida’ as you’ll find in South Walton, and perhaps anywhere. Quite quiet and bordered by 13-acres of protected dunes, this pristine beach neighborhood feels as if time somehow forgot it.

Most homes here are classic Florida cottages.

Think A-Frame with a front porch, concrete block cottages and homes raised high on stilts.

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30A South Walton seagrove bike Seagrove Beach

Seagrove

Families have been making the pilgrimage to Seagrove Beach’s soothing shores since the 1940s, and the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of those early pioneers still return to relax in some of the very same cinder-block cottages of their youth.

That could be because, when you’re in Seagrove Beach, you’re arguably “in the middle of it all.” Seaside, WaterColor and Grayton are just a mile or two to the west, while the newer planned communities of WaterSound, SeacrestAlys Beach and Rosemary Beach are just a few miles east.

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