Florida Scenic Highway 30A

Scenic Highway 30A, known simply as 30A, hugs the coastline between Panama City Beach and Destin Florida. It’s a two-lane road built in the 1970s that connects what were then small beach communities that were at the ends of dead-end roads. 

Map of 30AAbove: Map of Scenic Highway 30A.

30A connects 12 unique communities with Grayton Beach being the oldest and most laid back. It was founded in 1890 by two Army Generals William Miller and William Wilson who visited the area and was named for Army Major Charles T. Gray, who was already living in the area having built a homestead in 1885.

Downtown Grayton Beach FloridaAbove left: Beach entrance for yearly permit holders. / Above right: The ultimate beach vehicle.

Grayton has a more Old Florida small town feel.

Community Art Wall Grayton Beach FloridaAbove: Graytwall: Community art wall on Garfield Street. 

Seaside seems to have been the catalyst for the explosion of growth in the area. Robert Davis took his family’s 80 acres near Seagrove Beach and created a new plan for all new Florida towns. He wanted to create a community with a small-town feel where people walked to stores, and the post office and sat on their porches and chatted with neighbors as they walked by. Seaside started taking shape in the 1980s and was a huge hit. It received lots of media attention and became the new must-see destination along the Florida Gulf Coast.

Seaside CommunityAbove left: Pathway leading behind homes in Seaside. / Above right: Dwarf Palmetto.

Seaside umbrellasAbove: Umbrellas ready for the day at Seaside.

The success of Seaside spawned other unique communities, many still under construction.

Alys Beach is a New Urban community that combines Bermudan architecture with an emphasis on courtyard living. The stark white color palette and soft curves contrast beautifully with the tropical surroundings and emerald green waters of the Gulf. It’s a must-see when you’re in the area.

Alys Beach FloridaAbove left: New construction in Alys Beach / Above right: Entryway to a home in Alys Beach.

Rosemary Beach is another example of New Urbanism, where everything is designed to be a short walk to the town square. West Indies-inspired, it’s family friendly with winding paths and cobblestone streets to take you to the beach, restaurants, and back again.

Rosemary Beach Post OfficeAbove left: Driving through Rosemary. / Above right: Post office in Rosemary with a bench for eating ice cream, or reading mail. 

We had an ice cream from Sugar Shack, which is right across the street, on this bench and it was delicious. 

Rosemary BeachAbove left: Alfresco dining is popular on Mainstreet in Rosemary. / Above right: Pathway leading to the beach.

Bike trails connect each community and this became our main mode of travel. The area is very bike and pedestrian-friendly with bike racks located at most all destinations.

Watercolor Resort FloridaAbove left: Lily pads hug the shore behind the boathouse at Watercolor, on Western Lake. / Above right: A huge YOLO paddle board.

Grayton Beach State Park, located in the center of 30A, is one of two state parks along 30A, with Topsail State Park located on the western end near Highway 98. 

Western LakeAbove: Western Lake, 1 of 15 coastal dune lakes.

The park borders Western Lake, one of 15 Coastal Dune Lakes found within the 30A corridor. Coastal dune lakes are around 10,000 years old and are only found in a few places in the world, including New Zealand, Australia, Madagascar, and South Walton, Florida.

Sand washing station Grayton Beach FloridaAbove left: Love these sand washing stations. / Above right: The Gulf of Mexico, Grayton Beach State Park.

There are plenty of activities around the state park and many people find successful surf fishing here. I enjoyed watching this gentleman tend to his lines.

FishermanAbove left: Shorebirds /Above right: Fisherman surf casting.

To be among such pristine beaches and protected areas while a bike ride takes you to world-class dining and views of award-winning architecture is an incredible opportunity and 30A provides it all.

Trolling for fish

Above left: Hunting for fish. / Above right: Wild Lupine growing on the dunes in Grayton Beach.

You can shop the 30A Collection here.