Want to take a guess where my absolute favorite place in the world is? You may already know that I love the beach but the specific beach is anywhere on 30A! I’ve been going to this little slice of heaven for over 15 years….way before it got so popular! I’ve travelled there so many times over the years and I get asked tons and tons of questions about it so I thought I would put it all in a blog post! So if you are looking for a great place to vacation keep reading because I’m sharing all the tea on the prettiest little beach in Florida!!
For anyone who hasn’t heard of 30A, its a little highway located between Panama City and Destin, Florida and is home to some of the cutest beach neighborhoods you will ever see. Thirty-A is home to Rosemary Beach, Seacrest, Alys Beach, Seagrove, Seaside, Watercolor and Grayton Beach just to name a few. The entire highways is stretches 28.5 miles so you could see a little or all of it in one trip. And let me tell you…ALL of it is worth a visit!!
Let’s start with my favorite neighborhoods…
Rosemary Beach – Rosemary is a quaint neighborhood at the eastern end of 30a. The architecture reminds me of a mix between American cities like New Orleans and small European cities. The houses are super close together but they are all gorgeous and range in size from small carriage houses to big mansions.
The town center is marked with beautiful shops, a post office and the gorgeous Pearl Hotel. The Pearl overlooks a gorgeous green space where visitors gather to play ball, hang out or visit the ocean.
Where to Stay: Renting a house or condo (or flat as they are often referred to in Rosemary) is the best bang for your buck in this gorgeous town. Whether you are going with a large family or a small romantic getaway, you can find a house to rent in Rosemary through many rental agencies such as VRBO, Airbnb and more.
In addition to houses, The Pearl Hotel in Rosemary is also a great option. Right in the center of town, it has amazing views of both the ocean and the town. The Pearl also has a wonderful spa and great restuarant.
Where to Shop: Rosemary is home to many of my favorite shops on 30a. From clothing boutiques to gift shops and everything in between, you will find something great to purchase and remember your trip.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Disco – This boutique is super cute and lots of fun, I mean the name is Disco after all! And you really feel like you going into a fun club with super cute clothes and shoes! I really love their cute dresses, hats and shoes!
Willow – This shop is one of my all time favorites! The owner has three different shops throughout 30a and you really need to hit them all as they all have a different vibe and different clothing options. The other two are located in Seaside and Hwy 98.
Huck and Harlowe – This shop is the cutest little dog shop you will ever visit! We took our dog Henry with us on vacation so of course we had to get him a souvenir from the trip. They have dog collars, beds, toys and more!
Bombora Sun and Surf – This shop is the perfect little surf shop complete with cute bathing suits, sunglasses and more! It even has a super cute VW van with surfboards parked out front!
Where to Eat: I am somewhat of a foodie and I love to eat on vacation! And there are so many great restaurants in Rosemary! Here are a few of my favorites:
La Crema – This is hands down my favorite because of the delicious chocolate desserts! This restaurant is part tapas and part dessert bar. From chocolate covered bacon to my personal favorite – the molten lava chocolate cake with peanut butter in the middle – you will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth here!!
Cowgirl Kitchen – This is a fun casual restaurants with everything from pizza to tacos. But the best part is the margaritas (well if you are over 21!). And I’ve been known to run into a celebrity or two while dining here. (Luke Bryan and Shea McGee from McGee and Co)
Pescado – For amazing views, this is where you want to go. It is a rooftop bar and restaurant but be warned they do not take reservations and it is popular!
Alys Beach – Alys Beach is the prettiest of all the neighborhoods but it can also be a bit shall I say…snobby. This is not the casual, flip flop, tshirt, surfboard type neighborhood but rather the fancier, quieter neighborhood of 30a. It basically knows its the prettiest and acts that way! ha! But it is absolutely worth visiting because it is so pretty. Just use your inside voice and dress up a little more. ha!
The architecture of Alys reminds me of Greece or somewhere equally amazing! The white houses and buildings are amazing and you really do feel like you are in another country when inside this neighborhood!
Where to Stay: Again renting a house from VRBO or directly from the Alys Beach website is your best bet! The houses are truly amazing and anyone of them would be great to stay in!! There is no hotel in this neighborhood so you will have to stay in a house or a condo to be in Alys Beach.
Where to Shop: There are a few great shops in Alys to visit while in 30a and here are my faves…
Mast – This shop has beautiful clothing as well as linens. The shop itself is magazine worthy and everything inside is beautiful.
Alys Shoppe – This shop has clothing for women, men and kids! They have super cute dresses for women and lots of great accessories to go with those dresses. They also carry Alys Beach tshirts so if you want a souvenir this is the best place to get it!
Where to Eat: There are some yummy restaurants to try while visiting Alys and here are my favorites…
George’s – This restaurant is great for lunch or dinner and is very popular so make sure you go at the right time. The line seems to start forming around 5 p.m. for dinner. They have great salads, seafood and more.
Raw & Juicy – This is the neighborhood coffee shop, acai bowl spot and breakfast place all rolled into one. They serve breakfast and lunch and is definitely the place for anyone health-conscious.
Charlie’s Donut Truck – This cute little truck is parked right beside Alys Shoppe and has the best donuts on 30a! From red velvet to apple fritters to Reece’s to Coconut Kreme to Key Lime Pie, there are tons of options so you might as well get a dozen! But get there early because they do run out and a line will definitely be formed by 9 am!
Watersound – Watersound is a great neighborhood that is newer than most but also a little quieter than the popular Rosemary and Seaside! It is in the middle, between Rosemary and Seaside, making it a great place to stay if you want to see it all!
This neighborhood is made up of a few sections – Peninsula, Hub30a, Bridges – and has beautiful views of the ocean.
Where to Stay – Watersound again has many houses to rent as well as condos that range in size to fit your needs. Watersound also has The Watersound Inn if you are looking for a hotel.
Where to Shop & Where to Eat: This time I combining these two categories because in Watersound there is one place that has both shopping and dining…Hub 30A!
This is a great indoor, outdoor experience that has a big screen television for family movies nights and even church services, a stage for concerts and live entertainment, a grassy area to sit and watch the events and people as well as shops and restaurants all in one spot. You can’t go wrong with anything here. Be sure to visit the yummiest little smoothie stand called Pineapple 30A for a real fruit smoothie served right in your very own pineapple.
Seaside – This is the neighborhood that kind of started it all! Its the oldest one on 30a and its also the most popular!! The neighborhood was started in the 80’s and is the location of the movie The Truman Show. You can rent that house or any of the other ones available in Seaside through VRBO, Cottage Rental Agency, Airbnb or any of the rental companies that specialize in 30A vacations.
The town of Seaside has cute cottage type houses as well as a quaint (well when not crowded!) town center that is anchored by the cutest post office you will ever see and surrounded by shops, restaurants and a line of airstreams that have some of the best food on 30a.
This is where I stayed the very first time I visited 30a and it is still near and dear to my heart! With several neighborhood pools and great beach access, Seaside has a ton to offer.
Where to Shop: There are super cute shops in Seaside and here are a few of my favorites:
The Seaside Store – There are three of these – the biggest one is in the town center which is across the street from the beach and has clothing, gifts and more. The other two are on the same side as the beach, one specializes in kids and the other is the second clothing store that offers adult tee shirts, sweatshirts, bathing suits and more. If you are looking for the iconic Seaside Tee, this is the store. Be sure to check out all the stores because they have different colors of the Seaside tee offered at each.
Willow & Woods – As mentioned earlier, Willow has a few locations and this is the Seaside location. It has women’s and men’s clothing and tends to be a little more casual than the Hwy 98 and Rosemary Beach stores.
Art of Simple – This store has super cute gifts, jewelry and home accents! I have several pieces from this store throughout my house! A must visit for the perfect fun gift to give a girlfriend or yourself!!
Cabana By The Seaside – This is an open air market type shop that is full of several booths, all with different clothing, accessories and more. If you are looking for a cute hat to wear to the beach, a beach bag or some fun jewelry, this is the place to go.
Where to Eat: There are lots of restaurants to choose from in Seaside, ranging from nice sit down restaurants to walk up bar type restaurants to airstreams turned restaurants. Its fun to go and let everyone get what they want and sit at one of the outdoor tables to enjoy together.
The Meltdown on 30A – This is one of the airstreams that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches. They are melt in your mouth good.
FrostBites – This airstream started the trend and hasn’t stopped sense. They have the best snowcones with so many flavors its hard to choose. My advice…mix a few flavors to get the best combination of good!
Bud and Alley’s – A great restaurant for sit down dining complete with a beautiful view of the ocean!
The Taco Bar – A walk up restaurant with outdoor seating and the best burritos in town! Be sure to get the carnitas!
The Shrimp Shack – For fresh shrimp, lobster, oysters and more, the Shrimp Shack is the perfect beach restaurant!
The Great Southern Cafe – This restaurant not only has breakfast, lunch and dinner but it also has a great walk up bar with amazing frozen drinks. Try the Frose (if you are over 21!)…it’s delicious.
Watercolor – This is one of my personal favorites and where I love to stay because of its proximity to Seaside (where all the action is) but where its a little quieter. The walking and bike trails are a great bonus and there is a lake if you like to fish!
The houses are beautiful and remind me of southern beach homes. With their clapboard siding and grand exteriors, they are a perfect place to spend a week or more!
Where to Stay: The Watercolor Inn is beautiful if you are looking for a hotel. Otherwise a house or a condo is still your best bet for accommodations anywhere on 30a! VRBO, 30A Escapes, Airbnb or other rental agencies have a ton of options to rent for vacation in Watercolor or anywhere on 30a!
Where to Shop: The shops have changed over the years in Watercolor but my absolute favorite is…
The Watercolor Store – For all your souvenirs, tee shirts and more this is the store to visit.
Where to Eat: There are several great restaurants in Watercolor and here are my favorites…
Scratch – This is a newer restaurant that I just tried for the first time this past week and it was so good. As a southern women, I am always on the hunt for the best biscuit and these were pretty good! The toppings actually made the biscuits even better. From sweet to savory, there is a biscuit to suit any pallette!
Fish Out of Water – This is for the night you want to get dressed up and have a fancier meal or a date night! This restaurant is located inside the Watercolor Inn and is more on the expensive side! The food is worth it!
There are so many amazing places to visit on 30a and a lot of great things to do. Visit the beach, rent bikes and ride along the trail that runs down 30a, drool over the amazing houses and dream about living there (I mean that is what I do), relax, shop, and eat! No matter what you do or which neighborhood you visit (I recommend all of them), 30A is the best place to vacation!! And if you need a tour guide or travel buddy, call me! I am always up for a trip to 30a!
Leslie’s Travel Guide – 30A
April 15, 2021