By Kristy Gustafson
The orange glow of a late-day sun casts over a sign that reads “Nice Dogs. Strange People.” But ask any local and they’ll tell you the Grayton Beach story goes far beyond that.
Its tale begins with Army Major Charles T. Gray for whom this small beach town is named. In 1885, he built his homestead on the shores that were deemed too sandy for farming, and with no nearby bridges or highways making it easily accessible, it would be a long time before it became the Grayton we know today.
In the 1920s, a lumber boat wrecked offshore, giving a lucky few some free material to build homesteads of their own. About a decade later is when most of the original houses of Old Grayton were built, some of which you may recognize today! Arguably, the most famous of these is the Wash-Away house. As you can probably guess, it got its name when the late-1920s hurricane swept away its foundation.
Fast-forward to today and Grayton’s unique history can be felt from the rickety, wooden houses, dirt roads, and shady trees, down to its white sandy shores.
DID YOU KNOW? Grayton is the only beach on which permitted cars can drive up and park on water’s edge for sunset, a beach day with loved ones, or to launch fishing charters right offshore.
During the warm months, there’s a good chance you’ll also see a string of volleyball nets set up courtesy of the folks behind Grayton Volleyball. Go say hi when you see them and ask about jumping in for a pickup game or two.
Another group that meets nearby is Gulf Therapy. On the first and third Friday of the month, you can meet them at the Western Lake boat launch for an early morning paddle that kicks off at 7 AM. Don’t worry about your skill level, it’s open for anyone looking to connect with the community and “embrace the healing qualities of the Gulf.” No board? No problem. You can rent one through their website. Or join them afterwards at Black Bear Bread Co. and get to know some awesome 30A locals fresh off the water.
Art lovers, walk down to Grayton Beach’s latest landmark, the Grayt Wall, an enjoy the community’s collective artistic expression!
For some underwater awesomeness, check out the Underwater Museum of Art, the first of its kind in North America. Located in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Grayton Beach, Florida, it was included in Time Magazine’s list of World’s Greatest Places in the Visit category.
Start your day right at Black Bear Bread Co. with a hot cup of joe, a draft of CBD Kombucha, or your favorite homemade pastry. (Pro tip: their biscuits and chocolate chip cookies are to die for. Pro tip #2: everything there is to die for…)
If bottomless is more your brunch style, check out Grayton Seafood on the weekends for the cheapest mimosas in town and a Crab Cake Benedict that might just change your life. Ask for their dinner menu while you’re there and head back on a Tuesday night for some live music and date night. The Red Bar is quintessential 30A, known for its fun and funky bohemian beach shack feel, crowd-pleasing grub, authentic local vibe, and live entertainment.
For lunch, some of our top picks include Chanticleer for their fresh salads, sandwiches (made with homemade bread), and their famous Tomato Basil Soup; Chiringo for tacos, burgers, and bowls, and one of their deliciously colorful cocktails; or Hurricane’s for oysters and a laid-back vibe. If you’re looking to switch up your usual, hit up Nanbu Noodle Bar for some seriously good ramen, poke, sushi and dumplings.
Stroll down to Lululemon or the Shops at Grayton for some shopping in between meals.
Got kids in tow? Stop in the Sea Life Discovery Center, a non-profit organization developed to connect kids to the ocean through hands-on discovery programs. Grayton Beach State Park is another great option with year-round camping and more family fun.
For dinner spots, Grayton Beer Brewpub has a little something for everyone, plus handcrafted beer made right here in town.
If Thai food and pizza is your thing, the eclectic Pickle Factory is right up your alley. Looking to class it up? Treat yourself to some yummy Italian at Borago or visit Roux 30a for coastal dining at its literal finest, with unique dinner series like their 12 Dinner and Around the World Dinner. If you’re still chugging along, we applaud you. Now applaud yourself with some late-night sips and live music at AJs!