Inlet Beach: Just past the eastern edge of Scenic Highway 30A, Inlet Beach is named after Phillips Inlet, a body of water that separates Walton and Bay Counties. This quiet residential community is bordered by Rosemary Beach to the west and Camp Helen State Park to the east. The Gulf-side Camp Helen also borders Lake Powell, one of the largest coastal dune lakes.
Rosemary Beach: One of 30A’s several planned “New Urbanist” communities, Rosemary Beach is an architectural treasure trove, boasting influences from the West Indies, New Orleans, Charleston and St. Augustine, among others. The homes (most with adjoining carriage houses) are interconnected by a discreet network of pedestrian paths and boardwalks, which become even more charming at night, basked in the soft flicker of gas-lit lanterns.
Seacrest: Seacrest is a quiet lingering community comprised of a few large neighborhoods to the east and sprinkled with private coastal homes further west.
WaterSound: WaterSound is a large gated community featuring some of the region’s most beautiful homes, resort amenities and pristine beaches.
Seagrove: A South Walton original and favorite, Seagrove still retains much of its authentic “Old Florida” flair, with an eclectic assortment of beach houses and small businesses, many of which have proudly withstood the flotsam and jetsam of tourism and time.
Point Washington: “Where typically the locals” reside, Point Washington is really a heavily wooded non commercial area somewhere between Highway 98 and the tranquil Choctawhatchee Bay. Eden Gardens State Park is an charming prize holding out to be found by means of those who endeavor off the beaten route.
Seaside: Praised by Time magazine for the reason that probably “the the majority of incredible style and design accomplishment of its times,” Seaside is acknowledged along with beginning a global town-planning movements known as “New Urbanism.” Founded by Robert Davis in 1979, Seaside’s revolutionary “small town” design and style has been carefully planned through designers Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. With its 9 distinctive seaside pavilions, cobblestone roads, stylish bungalows, white-colored picket fencing, and picture-perfect recreational areas and storefronts, it’s no wonder that The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey ended up being shot right here. Indeed, seeing that Newsweek once published, “with its cozy, narrow streets and its jumble of pastel-colored homes, Seaside is probably the most influential resort community since Versailles.”
WaterColor: One of the Gulf of mexico Coast’s many deluxe major resorts, WaterColor can be a wonderland involving things to do intended for families, including expansive nature preserves, bike trails, lakes, shops, fitness facilities, a spa, award-winning restaurants and nearby award-winning golf courses. (And, of course, the Gulf of Mexico’s sugar-white beaches.) Hailed as Northwest Florida’s Only Four-Diamond AAA Hotel, the resort’s “WaterColor Inn” was also recently honored with a “World’s Best” award from Travel+Leisure magazine. A short stroll or bike ride to the west, and you’ll cross 30A’s stunning Western Lake into Grayton Beach State Park. Take a few steps to the east, and you’ll enter Seaside-sometimes jokingly and affectionately referred to by residents as WaterColor’s “Historic District.”
Grayton Beach: One of 30A’s oldest and most beloved communities, Grayton Beach is a true Gulf Coast original. Populated with historic cottages, twisting oak trees, quaint shops and galleries, and fun and quirky residents (the community’s unofficial slogan is “Nice dogs, strange people”), Grayton Beach is also the only place in the region where you can drive a 4WD vehicle directly out onto the sand (but only with a proper permit!).
Blue Mountain Beach: Hardly a mountain by any standard, at 60-something feet above sea level, Blue Mountain Beach is still the highest point found anywhere along the Gulf of Mexico. (The highest point in all of Florida is only 345 feet above sea level, about an hour’s drive due north.) The area’s name is likely derived from the blue Gulf Coast lupine flowers that sometimes blanket area dunes. Blue Mountain Beach is a rambling roll of nature preserves, serene coastal dune lakes, residential neighborhoods, curious shops, art galleries and restaurants.
Gulf Place: A colorful collection of shops, restaurants, galleries and private residences, Gulf Place is arguably the “town center” of Scenic Highway 30A’s quieter west-end.
Santa Rosa Beach: Santa Rosa Beach actually encompasses most of South Walton county, spanning from its stunning sugar-sand beaches to Choctawhatchee Bay just a few miles north. Santa Rosa Beach includes Point Washington State Forest, a 15,000-acre preserve that’s criss-crossed with miles and miles of hiking and biking trails. Also located in Santa Rosa Beach, Topsail Hill State Preserve is one of Florida’s most treasured parks, with its beaches, majestic dunes and tranquil coastal dune lakes remaining virtually untouched throughout the centuries.
Dune Allen: Mostly comprised of time-tested beach homes, Dune Allen also features several of 30A’s rare coastal dune lakes, Stallworth Lake and Oyster Lake (which is shaped like an oyster shell, but was also reportedly once teeming with fresh oysters).
TOPS’L: Routinely honored as one of the “Top Tennis Resorts” in the nation, this 52-acre beachside resort features rubicon clay tennis courts, daily clinics and a squad of USPTA-certified professionals. TOPS’L is just a hop away from world-class shopping and dining.
Village of Baytowne Wharf: A family-friendly pedestrian-only village, Baytowne Wharf’s cobblestone streets are home to shops, playgrounds, restaurants and New Orleans-influenced bars. Partly because of the nearby convention facilities, Baytowne Wharf is almost always bustling with events and activities, from fireworks to free outdoor concerts to street performers to kid-friendly “Mini-Gras” parades.
Miramar Beach: At the far Western edge of South Walton County, Miramar Beach’s bustling shores and condo tower complexes are seemingly a world away from the quieter New Urbanist villages of Scenic 30A. Miramar Beach is home to Silver Sands Factory Stores, the largest designer outlet center in the United States, boasting over 100 designer outlet shops.