Anytime is a great time to visit the beautiful, pristine beaches and unique seaside communities of 30A, but certain months have their own set of benefits and reasons to plan your stay.
Check out our handy month-by-month guide to the PROS and CONS of each time of year on 30A:
— In January, you have the beach pretty much to yourself. With long stretches of white, undisturbed sand as far as the eye can see, it’s a perfect time for reflection on the beautiful, natural wonders of the Gulf Coast.
Because of fewer crowds, there are no long waits anywhere.
— The 30A Songwriters Festival! This incredible three-day event over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend draws world-class performers from across the country to intimate venues all along Scenic Highway 30A. It’s a unique concert-going experience and shouldn’t be missed.
— Rental rates are low and many places offer deep discounts this time of year.
— The weather can be hard to count on. Temperatures can vary from the blissful 70s down to the bitter cold.
— Some restaurants, but not many, close up for the winter season. Others keep shorter or unpredictable hours.
You have the beach pretty much to yourself, still, for brisk, secluded walks in the sand.
— Rental rates are are still low, and it’s easy to find deals.
— 30A is a romantic spot for a Valentine’s Day getaway, with perfect cuddling weather and plenty of restaurants offering special dinners just for two.
— The popular Sandestin Gumbo Festival is held on Presidents’ Day weekend.
— While it’s perfect for cuddling, February is usually the coldest month on 30A. Swimming is pretty much out of the question during this month, unless you have a wet suit.
— Some businesses keep irregular hours in the off-season, and a few even close for the month.
— Scenic Highway 30A roars back to life with the beginning of the Spring Break season.
While nearby Destin and Panama City Beach tend to draw crazier college crowds, South Walton is a decidedly family affair. The area hosts an abundance of activities this month, many of them free.
— The month kicks off with the Seaside Half Marathon and 5K, which draws thousands of runners from across the country. Even if you’re not athletically inclined, the weekend includes plenty of special events, and cheering the racers across the finish line is always fun.
— The 30A Wine Festival, an intimate affair held at beautiful Alys Beach, is a perfect event to plan a weekend around.
— Spring Break is fun, but it also brings big crowds. So, expect more traffic and longer waits at some of your favorite restaurants.
— Consistent warm weather is finally here!
In early April, some Spring Breakers are still in town, but the end of the month is an ideal time to visit.
— The Sandestin Wine Festival is a great excuse for a weekend getaway.
— Ummm…. frankly, we were hard pressed to come up with one. If you can get away, April really is one of the most perfect times of year to visit 30A.
May is the calm before the summer storm. School hasn’t let out yet so the area is not crowded, and the weather is truly fantastic this month.
— Digital Graffiti is an amazing experience to plan a summer getaway around. There is nothing else like it in the world. Alys Beach comes alive at night with dozens of digital artists projecting original pieces on the unique architecture of this Gulf-side town.
— ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival is held this month at Grand Boulevard. This two-and-a-half day free festival features more than 130 hand-selected artists, live music, public art demonstrations and tons of activities for adults and families.
— At the end of the month, Memorial Day officially kicks off the summer season with barbecues, beach parties and tons of free events all along 30A.
— The weather is beautiful this month, but sometimes those pesky yellow flies show up this time of year.
— Summer is officially here. This is what the beach is all about. Sunshine and sand. Cool, clear water. The good stuff.
30A is at its high season. With school out, the area has tons of free, family-friendly events every day of the week, all summer long.
— The Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin draws teams from around the globe for a mad dash into the Gulf of Mexico for a few days of serious sport fishing. If you’re not a fisherman, line up at the Baytowne marina to ooh and ahh as the fleet returns, one-by-one, with their impressive trophies.
— Sometimes the infamous “June Grass” shows up this time of year. While some find this green algae unpleasant — it can show up in the most remote parts of one’s swimsuit — this organism is an important part of our beach ecosystem and keeps the water and wildlife healthy and happy. Locals find ways to have fun with the stuff; it makes a snazzy decoration for those sand castles and is perfect for June grass “snowball” fights.
The Fourth of July is one of the biggest — if not the biggest — day of the year on 30A. Seaside and Grayton Beach come alive with festive parades and fireworks shows and the beach is one big party all day long.
— The peak season along 30A continues throughout July with free, fun, family-friendly events every day and night of the week.
— July is the busiest month of the summer, which means rates are highest this time of year, certain areas are crowded and traffic is often congested. Park your car and walk or ride a bike. It’s not only fun, but it’s also a whole lot easier to get around.
— July is a hot one. And humid. It can be tough for people who are particularly sensitive to the heat. Sunscreen is always a must.
With school starting back, the crowds begin to thin and the beach calms down. A visit this time of year is a perfect end cap to the summer.
— The Sandestin Triathlon is held in August. Hundreds of athletes compete from across the country, and it’s fun to cheer them along the route.
— The Gulf of Mexico is like bathwater. Hop in and stay in — all day long.
— The Gulf of Mexico is like bathwater. You’re not likely to find a cool respite here.
— August is the hottest month of the year, and it’s humid to boot.
September is a fantastic month to visit 30A. Labor Day marks the end of the high season, the crowds have gone home.
— Rates start to drop this month.
— The weather is still warm.
— The weather can still be hot.
— Often this time of year, the black flies come down from the north and can be a pesky, though not unmanageable, nuisance on the beach. Many local swear that cactus juice keeps these pests at bay.
— Hurricane season peaks in September, so there’s an off-chance that your vacation plans will be disrupted by some threat of weather. But, with that comes another PRO: hurricane parties! That includes the Children’s Volunteer Health Network‘s party, which has become one of the best on 30A and the non-profit’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
— Locally, October is considered the best month here on 30A. The crowds are gone, the weather is amazing and the Gulf is still warm enough from the summer heat for swimming.
October sunsets over the Gulf are truly a 30A treasure, offering spectacular vistas almost every evening.
— Most homeowners associations hold their annual meetings this month with plenty of family-friendly activities.
— The Noche de los Muertos party at Caliza Pool at Alys Beach is one of the biggest and best adult costume parties in the region. Attendees go all out with their costumes and the dancing goes on until the wee hours.
— Hurricane season wraps up this month, but really there’s not really a bad thing to say about October on 30A. It’s often regarded as the “locals secret.”
Dozens of South Walton restaurants offer special and delicious holiday dinners for those visiting at Thanksgiving.
— Speaking of restaurants, this is the time of year many of them roll out special fall and winter seasonal menus, giving local chefs a chance to flex their culinary muscle and experiment with unique farm-to-table offerings.
— Black Friday at Silver Sands Premium Outlets! The outdoor mall stays open for more than 24 hours with retailers offering special deals starting Thanksgiving Day and through the night.
— Black Friday at Silver Sands Premium Outlets. While the sales are amazing, with it comes a boatload of traffic congestion.
— Gulf temps drop dramatically this month and water activities decline a bit. Swimming tends to drop off, though plenty of people still head out for stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and surfing.
South Walton comes alive in the holiday season with beautiful decorations and thousands of lights. It’s easy to get in the holiday spirit here, and it’s a magical place to spend Christmas with loved ones.
— Tons of events are planned for New Year’s Eve on 30A, including spectacular fireworks shows, outdoor concerts, fancy dinners and all-night parties.
— At the beginning of the month, you have the beach all to yourself.
— The weather can still be quite warm in December, while the rest of the country is well into a deep freeze.
— It’s usually too cold to swim or to enjoy some traditional water activities.
— Christmas can get busy along 30A with some traffic congestion and waits at your favorite restaurants. But those waits are always worth it!