There is something about travel that gets me so excited. I love to research my destination, plan my top spots and anticipate the trip for weeks to come. Which is why I launched my new Travel Blend series! Last week, I shared my Charleston Travel Guide and this week I am sharing the 30A Travel Guide and what to do on 30A.
30A is a small stretch of beaches and beach towns located on the Panhandle of Northwest Florida in between Panama City and Destin. Each town has a unique vibe with a ton of family-friendly activities – both indoor and outdoor.
How to get there? Fly into the Northwest Florida Regional Airport (ECP) via Southwest, Delta or United and then rent a car or book a shuttle for the 25-30 minute trip to 30A.
30A Travel Blend (What to Do on 30A)
For the past three years, my family has stayed in WaterColor – a community known for it’s large, colorful homes and natural, coastal vibe – located directly next to Seaside (which you may recognize from The Truman Show).
Since we have a big group, we rent a beach home through VRBO or 360 Blue. Last year, we stayed in this beautiful, spacious home that was centrally located and even had a plunge pool on the back patio.
If you are traveling as a couple or smaller group, the WaterColor Inn & Resort is a wonderful option. Situated next to the ocean and the Beach Club (or adults only pool which is amazing), this is the perfect location to enjoy all of the town’s amenities. You are a quick bike ride or walk to Seaside Square.
Staying further west on 30A? Check into The Pearl in Rosemary Beach for a luxe, stylish stay steps away from shops, restaurants and the beach.
Great Southern Café is a staple to the Seaside community and a must for any vacationers. If the line is too long, walk to the Seaside market for waffles and a large iced tea; drive to Rosemary Beach for the breakfast tacos at Cowgirl Kitchen or grab donuts from Charlie’s Donuts food truck parked in Alys Beach (get there early as they sell out!).
Last year, I headed from the airport straight to George’s in Alys Beach per a recommendation from my friend Rachel and you should do the same. Sit on the large, umbrella-covered patio and order the Watermelon Tuna Poke and the Dab Salad, a dab of each of their daily chalkboard salads.
Also try a lobster roll from Shrimp Shack, pizza from Bud & Alley’s, tacos and margaritas from the Taco Stand, a burger from Pickles and a visit to the food trucks for a grilled cheese from the Melt Down and BBQ from Barefoot Bar-b-que – all located in Seaside.
If you prefer to eat at home, visit the WaterColor Farmer’s Market on Sundays and buy as many crab cakes as you can. They sell out so make sure to arrive early.
Since days are spent mostly in the sun, a cold treat will provide you with a relief from the heat. Downtown Seaside offers plenty of options based on your flavor profile – a sno-cone from Frost Bites food truck, ice cream from Heavenly Shortcakes, or a healthy dessert from Raw & Juicy.
Walk to Bud & Alley’s for a casual, beachfront bar serving up cold beers and cocktails alongside amazing sunset views. Oenophiles may prefer the Wine Bar at Wine World in WaterColor or Havana located atop The Pearl in Rosemary Beach.
Sit poolside at Caliza in Alys Beach and enjoy delicious “Queen Bee” cocktails, an extensive wine list and contemporary American fare. Open Tuesday through Saturday, this restaurant is perfect for a date night without the little ones.
Looking for a family-friendly option? I recommend The HUB, located in Watersound, which offers an open-air dining experience featuring Crave Roadside Burgers, Mile 15 (tacos & tequila) and Red’s Chicken Shack.
Everyone can get what they want and there is plenty of parking. Plus, they have live entertainment!
Wake up early for a sunrise walk on the beach, then grab an iced coffee at Amavida Coffee. Not a coffee drinker? Head across the street to the Raw & Juicy food truck for your daily dose of fruits and vegetables.
Even though the white, sandy beaches of 30A are the number one reason why people keep flocking to the area each year, there are many other activities to keep you busy in case you tire of the salt air. Sounds crazy, I know but it can happen.
Biking is the preferred method of transportation on 30A and is the fastest way to get from your house to the beach to the pool and to Seaside Square. Bike rentals are available through Salt Air 30A and Big Daddy Bikes and even include delivery and a bike basket — which I always opt for.
Want to burn a few more calories? Ride over to The Boathouse, located just off WaterColor Way, where they offer SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board), a RUN/SUP class, and YOGA/SUP class along with kayaking, canoeing and more.
Want to burn a few less calories? Take a 1.5 hour sunset cruise on Lake Powell with Motorboatin’ 30A and make sure to stock your cooler with rosé and snacks!
When you need to cool off from the sun and beach, retail therapy is just the ticket. I was having trouble picking just one shop to recommend, so I didn’t!
Here are my favorite 30A shops starting from the “top” of 30A and moving down.
- The Shops at Grayton Beach – Summer House Lifestyle for home decor and beach chic wares
- WaterColor – Barefoot Princess for Lilly Pulitzer and Vineyard Vines attire, the WaterColor Store for resort-themed gifts and Little Red for children’s clothing
- Seaside – The Seaside Style for beach-chic accessories and Seaside-themed gifts, The Art of Simple for gifts and home decor, Ophelia Swimwear for L-Space and Mara Hoffman swimsuits and coverups, Mason for southern and gentleman-style including Krewe sunglasses which Michael had is eye on, Raw & Juicy for natural and organic beauty and home products ( (I am obsessed with this After Sun Spray I purchased), Snap for tween clothing and accessories and Duckies for toys (my niece saves her money all year for this!)
- Alys Beach – Alys Shoppe is a modern boutique for your chic beach needs.
- Rosemary Beach – Willow Boutique (also one in Seaside) for Calypso, Tory Burch, Joie and more designers and Pish Posh Patchouli’s for beauty, fragrances, hair products like Mermaid Hair and travel sizes which I think is genius for a vacation community.
Try this 30A Travel Blend for a mix of beach days, family fun in the sun, and a summer vacation you will never forget!
And as always, please let me know if you have any favorites to add to my list for What to do on 30A!