By Jessie Taylor
30A South Walton unnamed2 Cruisin Through the Good Life Aboard SunQuest Cruises SOLARIS

SunQuest Cruises’ Solaris

Want to be wined and dined in style on your next beach vacation? Be sure to book a trip aboard SunQuest Cruises’ SOLARIS. This beautiful ship stays docked at Sandestin’s Baytowne Marina and is readily available to host large events or just a special occasion for two.

I recently went to Baytowne to tour the Solaris. When I was walking down the dock, I paused to call for directions to the yacht.

The man on the phone had to be questioning my eyesight, considering that you literally can’t miss the Solaris.

Little did I know she’s the biggest boat docked at the marina.

I toured the entire vessel with owner, James Murray, and I have to say it is pretty awesome. Not only does the boat have a full bar (I’m talking everything), but they have a very nice wine list as well. The Solaris hosts everything from weddings, class reunions, and corporate dinners to public dinner cruises.

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30A South Walton 10390019 578150238949048 4158902442775107702 n YOLO Board Relay Series Continues at The Bay on Aug 7Standup paddle boarders and fans are loving the 7th Annual YOLO Board Relay Series, presented by Sandcastle Escapes Vacation Rentals and Sales.

Remaining scheduled races (weather permitting) are set for Thursday, July 17th and August 7th at The Bay, located at the foot of the 331 bridge in Santa Rosa Beach.


4:30 PM - Special Olympics Florida Athletes Relay
5:30 PM - Women’s Relay
6:00 PM - Men’s Relay
6:30 PM - CoEd Relay

Please arrive early to check-in. Carpooling is recommended, and The Bay will have valet parking available as well as overflow parking across the street. A deputy will be on hand to assist anyone crossing Highway 331. The Bay will of course serve up great food and Grayton Beer will be on-hand with beverages.

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30A South Walton Copy Copeland Cody Copeland Coming to Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet

Photo: Andy Still Photography

Local fav Cody Copeland will perform at Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet in Grayton Beach this Thursday, July 24th from 6:30-8:30 PM.

Copeland’s acclaimed “alternative acoustic pop” sound will be accompanied by a small acoustic combo, and Grayt Grounds will feature food specials. Copeland’s Alt-Pop originals employ a wide span of instruments, ranging from thick slabs of vintage synthesizers, to both analog and electronic drums, glockenspiel, acoustic guitar, and occasionally accordion — all of which he plays, records and produces himself. These textural elements back a bright smoky vocal delivery, which Copeland says is influenced by a childhood favorite crooner, Roy Orbison.

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30A South Walton Jessie Taylor 175 Chef Giovanni Pairs Southern and Seafood with a Spectacular VueBy Jessie Taylor
30A South Walton Vue on 30a with Gio Chef Giovanni Pairs Southern and Seafood with a Spectacular Vue

Chef Gio, Jessie Taylor & Manager Shawn Biesel

I recently had the opportunity to chat and dine with Scenic 30A’s very own celebrity, Chef Giovanni Filipponi of Vue on 30a. For anyone who doesn’t know, “Chef Gio” starred on season 5 of Hell’s Kitchen. I’ve watched the popular show a few times, and to me, it seems as if Hell’s Kitchen is the Chef version of going into the Marines. After serving his time under the famously temperamental Chef Gordon Ramsey — and then serving as Executive Chef at several restaurants — Chef Gio finally found his home at Vue on 30a.

While I was waiting on Chef Gio to bring out a few of his masterpieces, I spoke with Membership and Marketing Director, Sarah Brazwell. She let me in on the number one thing that wins over their customers (aside from Chef Gio’s delicious entrees, of course). It’s instantly apparent.

Walking into Vue on 30a, you cannot help but be mesmerized by the flawless panorama that is the Gulf of Mexico.

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30A South Walton 5k Register Now For Alys Beachs 3rd Annual 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run

The 3rd Annual 5k & 1 Mile Fun Run will be held in Alys Beach on Sunday, August 31st.

Located along Scenic Highway 30A, the course winds through the streets of Alys Beach and into their nature trail. The event also features an oversized obstacle course for kids of all ages and will end with live music by Shane from Rock the House, food, beverages, and the award ceremony in Alys Beach’s Amphitheatre.

The price to participate in this certified 5K is $35. The 1 Mile Fun Run is $15 (kids 12 and younger only, please). Event proceeds will benefit the Autism Society. The 5K Race begins at 7:00 AM and the 1 Mile Fun Run begins at 8:30 AM in the Amphitheatre. Please arrive 30 minutes early upon the day of the race.

Click here now to register!

30A South Walton Book Cover 740 x 480 NEW BOOK! Meet Me on 30A by Susan Vallee

Cover Photo by Brandon Babineaux

We are super-excited to announce that our very first 30A book is now hitting local shelves! The book — published by Southwestern Publishing Group — is entitled Meet Me on 30A and it’s written by long-time local resident and author Susan Vallee. 

In the book, Susan delicately blends together Old Florida village life with New Urbanism’s resorts and towns, protected habitats and pristine beaches, as only someone who enjoys it every day could do. But Susan’s certainly not the only local who helped pull together this gorgeous 128-page book.

“The book features stunning images by so many world-class photographers,” said 30A’s Mike Ragsdale, who wrote the book’s foreword. “The book also features over two dozen recipes from 30A’s top chefs and restaurants.”

The book features photography by Lauren Alsobrook, Brandon Babineaux, Jamie Conley, Tommy Crow, Amanda FaganJack Gardner, Sheila Goode, Paul Johnson, Shelly Swanger, Jay Thomas, Jacqueline Ward and Dawn Chapman Whitty among others. The dozens of images found throughout the book perfectly capture the unique beauty of 30A’s communities, rare coastal dune lakes, state parks, local restaurants and shops, signature annual events, and of course, Scenic 30A’s pristine white-sand beaches.

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30A South Walton web cdl 0420 EPISODE 4 of New Documentary About 30As Coastal Dune Lakes Released

The outfall of Western Lake, the coastal dune lake found within Grayton Beach State Park.

Over the past few months, conservationist and documentary filmmakers Elam Stoltzfus and his son Nic Stoltzfus – who comprise the core team at Live Oak Production Group – have been extremely busy taking photos, shooting videos, and posting online updates about their latest documentary project.

30A South Walton Web Elam Med CDL 3690 Timmed EPISODE 4 of New Documentary About 30As Coastal Dune Lakes Released

Elam Stoltzfus

They recently received funding for the project from the St. Joe Community Foundation, and are now in full production mode — researching, scripting and filming educational videos that reveal fascinating new details about South Walton‘s rare coastal dune lakes.

The documentary is being created to address public awareness and educational needs that surround these natural treasures. Powerful images are being expertly captured to showcase the natural, cultural, recreational, scientific and educational uniqueness of this coastal dune lake region, and then they’re coupled with fascinating stories that include facts about the rich and colorful history of pre-development here.

The team’s blog features numerous related articles and photo essays, as well as video glimpses of the new project. The first video is a basic and beautiful introduction to our local lakes, while the second video delves deeper and features interviews with experts and locals such as Dr. Sarah Schindele, Ginger Sinton, Clarire Bannerman, Edmond Alexander and Jacquee Markel. The third video installment introduces the Coastal Dune Lakes Advisory Board, comprised of volunteers and professionals who care for these precious natural resources. In the newly released 4th video, various locals describe just how much these natural “jewels” mean to them.

Here are 4 video previews of this exciting project-in-progress:

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Ever dream of moving to the beach? Before you do, there’s a ‘secret code’ that permeates our laid-back flip-flop culture. After you’ve been around for a while, you’ll gradually figure some of these things out on your own. But for anyone who wants to study-up in advance, here are 30 tips from 30A locals that will help you ease right in…

30A South Walton Beach Dune Allen Life guard 300x257 30 Tips from 30A Locals

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Heed our beach flag system!

1. “Always pay attention our beach flag system, and swim near one of the nine lifeguard towers stationed at our public beach accesses.”

– Rick Talbert, South Walton Fire District

2. “Don’t text and drive any time, but especially not on 30A. There are simply too many pedestrians and cyclists.”

– Dave Rauschkolb, Bud & Alley’s

3. “Pack healthy snacks for your beach days! At 91% water, watermelon is a perfect snack to keep you hydrated and satisfied.”

– Joe & Crissy Thibodeau, ThiBod Fitness

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