Most humans don’t live in the water, but we sure love crossing it. For whatever reason, when the land runs out, we just keep going. Rather than stay put, we build ships and set sail. And for shorter spans, well, we build bridges.
Of course, Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A is famous for its miles of white sandy beaches, quaint seaside villages, and for jaw-dropping sunsets across the Gulf of Mexico. But while it may be hard to take notice of much else amidst all this stunning beauty, Scenic 30A is also home to some really beautiful bridges. Each bridge along 30A has a unique look and feel, often reflecting the character of the beach communities they serve. They’re functional of course – helping to get us from one place to another. But our bridges also inspire professional photographers, artists, and young influencers in search of that surreal selfie.
Here are a few of our favorite bridges that span 30A’s rare coastal dune lakes, bayous, bays, and waterways.
The Draper Lake pedestrian bridge that runs right alongside Scenic 30A is one of the more unique bridges you’ll traverse along the 19-mile Timpoochee bike and pedestrian path. The developer of the Draper Lake Coastal Community collaborated with Walton County to add character and architectural interest to this pedestrian bridge. The covered bridge and cedar shake roof make this one of the most picturesque spots to take in the natural beauty of a rare coastal dune lake. There’s a second pedestrian bridge spanning Draper Lake within this private neighborhood, which is visible from the covered bridge.
Certainly, no stranger to Instagram, WaterColor’s pedestrian bridge connects the neighborhood’s Phase 1 and Phase 3 developments. Spanning some 500 feet, this footbridge is subdivided into three distinct experiences. The initial wetland crossing takes you over and through the native grasses and reeds found along this freshwater lake. The walking surface is made of an open metal grate, which allows sunlight to reach the marshy plants below.
At night, lighting is provided by fiber optic fixtures designed to mimic the cattails that flank the bridge. Hand-blown glass orbs are mounted on stainless steel tubes, allowing the fixtures to softly glow and gently wave in the coastal breeze.
Once you’re beyond the wetlands and out over the lake, the walking surface transitions to wood, where a cable railing system adorned with copper leaves makes for a uniquely visceral experience. What to see the bridge from a different perspective? Rent a kayak, paddleboard, or e-foil at the adjacent boathouse and glide underneath.
County Road 30A was completed in 1960, including a small bridge that runs across Oyster Lake’s outfall into the Gulf of Mexico. For many years, the bridge was supported by pilings, which allowed for a natural ebb and flow between the lake and the Gulf. A culvert eventually replaced those pilings in 2014, which was intended to help restore more salinity to Oyster Lake. From as far back as most locals can remember, lake residents traversed the outfall back and forth to the Gulf, passing right under the old bridge to reach this popular swimming hole and warmer, shallow brackish waters. A road named Oyster Lake Causeway was later built across the eastern side of Oyster Lake. However the road was often flooded and unusable, so the road was eventually removed and replaced by a footbridge to help pedestrians reach the beach.
Just north of Scenic Highway 30A in Alys Beach, the stark white Somerset Bridge hugs a man-made body of water named Lake Marilyn. This hourglass-shaped lake was named after another heavenly figure, the famous Marilyn Monroe. Somerset Bridge features a sundial, and with forest to the north, and rows of stately homes to the south, it’s the stuff of architectural dreams.
One of this area’s first bridges was a log-board bridge that crossed the slough (pronounced slew) Hogtown Bayou between 13th Street and County Road 393 North. Once a major steamboat landing, the town of Santa Rosa became a major bay community in the early 1900s, home to some 850 to 1,200 people at its height. The original bridge connected locals to the post office, hotel, and town warehouses in the area. Unfortunately, the old bridge was recently removed and locals doubt it will be rebuilt – almost certainly not with the same pioneering charm.
But, just around the corner, the Cessna Landing bridge crosses Hogtown Bayou. The public park – complete with a boat launch, fishing docks, picnic pavilions, and even a basketball court – is named for Charles E. Cessna of Chicago, who began marketing this land in the early 1900s as an agricultural town. While fishing isn’t allowed from this bridge, locals know it’s one of the best places to soak in a Walton County sunset.
Numerous beautiful pedestrian bridges are enclosed in the private Watersound Beach community, but at least one can still be seen in the distance from the road and bike path. These bridges span Camp Creek Lake, another one of 30A’s rare coastal dune lakes.
The first bridge over Choctawhatchee Bay was a drawbridge, built in the 1930s. It withstood numerous major storms over the decades, and since it wasn’t a very tall bridge, it even offered local fishermen the opportunity to cast from her ramparts.
But in 1974, a tragic accident occurred when a renegade barge struck the drawbridge supports. A portion of the bridge collapsed, taking the drawbridge operator’s shack, and the life of operator W.C. McCarter, with it. With no more bridge, a ferry helped transport vehicles across Choctawhatchee Bay, but each ferry only held six to eight cars, and if you missed it, you had to wait at least an hour for it to return.
Eventually, the Clyde B. Wells Bridge replaced the ferry and old drawbridge, and in 2017, a second 12,000-foot two-lane northbound bridge was added. Under the bridge, you’ll find an excellent public park, with a 400-foot fishing pier, boat ramps, and picnic pavilions with panoramic views of bay life.
Western Lake is arguably the most photographed of 30A’s many vistas, with tall spindly Slash Pines serving as an iconic separator between southern skies and this expansive coastal dune lake. On a calm, good-weather day, you’ll see families crossing under the bridge by kayak, canoe, or YOLO board, all of which can be rented at the Boathouse in WaterColor.
This all-wooden-covered bridge welcomes residents and visitors alike to the quiet neighborhood sanctuary known as NatureWalk at Seagrove. While it’s too new to pack much history, nonetheless, at the time of construction, this was the longest drivable wooden bridge in the entire state of Florida.
Just past the far east end of Scenic Highway 30A and Camp Helen State Park, Philips Inlet Bridge connects Walton County with Bay County, Panama City Beach, and beyond. Also known as Lake Powell Bridge, it was first constructed in 1934 as a toll bridge with the assistance of federal Public Works Administration funds. Lake Powell is the largest coastal dune lake in the region and is popular with boaters and paddlers alike.
Last but not least on our list, Eastern Lake Bridge was one of the few bridges that actually existed before the construction of County Road 30A. Longtime local Bob Swinford recalled traveling across this bridge – or at least, her predecessor – all the way back in 1938 on his way to court his future bride, Mickey Wesley, the ninth and youngest child of William and Katie Wesley. Their home was the Wesley House, built in 1897 in nearby Point Washington; now the historic centerpiece of Eden Gardens State Park.
The bridges of 30A are more than just a transportation system. Built to stand the test of time, they act as cultural corridors of our Southern coastal heritage. Not only are the bridges of 30A stunning landmarks—but they’re also a symbol of community, connectivity, and art. In many ways, bridges are like the people who cross them. They have stories to tell and they can make you smile. Bridges connect. They unite us with what’s beyond our sight. And Sometimes, we have to cross them before we arrive at the places or people we love… and it’s all about embracing them along the way.