Wonderful restaurants and numerous boutiques, including the first-ever 30A Store, there’s something for just about everyone at the colorful Gulf Place development.

With a sparkling beach just across Scenic Highway 30A, stop in at the 30A Store to load up on gear, but also grab a cold beer or cup of coffee and a treat from Sunrise Coffee, hang out at the hand-crafted bar or lounge in one of the beach chairs out front to enjoy that Gulf breeze.

The nearby beach also offers plenty of inspiration for The Artists at Gulf Place, a collection of colorful huts here that showcase a variety of local talents.

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Alys Beach Architecture

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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Miramar Beach Tiki Bar

A Tiki Bar in Miramar Beach

With towering penthouse condos that offer the highest perspectives in all of South Walton, Seascape Resort offers a dramatically different experience than the sleepier beach towns along Scenic Highway 30A, just a few miles to the east.

In addition to its bustling beachfront (an idyllic spot for people-watching), Seascape has over 300 acres of lush greens and lakes, an 18-hole championship golf course (as well as a sister course nearby), eight lit tennis courts, several swimming pools, bike rentals, water sports, and the Whale’s Tail, a fun beach bar and grill that’s directly on the sand.

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Seaside Florida Girls and House

Photo: Ocean Jewel’s Images

Hailed by Time magazine as perhaps “the most astounding design achievement of its era,” Seaside is credited with founding a global town-planning movement known as New Urbanism.

Founded by Robert and Daryl Davis in 1979, Seaside’s innovative “small town” design was carefully planned by architects Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. With its nine unique beach pavilions, cobblestone streets, quaint cottages, white picket fences, and picture-perfect parks and storefronts, it’s no wonder that The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey was filmed here. Indeed, as Newsweek once proclaimed:

“with its cozy, narrow streets and its jumble of pastel-colored homes, Seaside is probably the most influential resort community since Versailles.”

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Seagrove Villas Motel

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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Camp Helen Inlet Beach Pier

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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Grayton Beach Jeep

“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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Sandestin Golf

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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