Need to find a beautiful beach and feel the sand between your toes? The Florida Panhandle is “Beach Central”, because of its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico along the scenic Highway 30A, a 24-mile stretch of pristine beachfront coastline. The Panhandle offers more than 200 miles of bright white beaches and relaxing, family-friendly activities and places to stay. If your looking for a relaxed, family-friendly beach vacation, consider exploring some of the amazing beaches along Highway 30A. Here you will find more than high-rise hotels or amusement parks; Highway 30A is known for a string of charming small towns, each with its own character and backstory. The following are some of the best beaches to explore:
If you are looking for outdoor adventure, Grayton Beach is the best place for you to visit. Located south of US 98, approximately halfway between Panama City Beach and Destin, Grayton Beach State Park offers almost 2,000 acres for you to explore Western Lake for both freshwater and saltwater fishing, canoeing, paddle boarding, or kayaking. Nature trails are abundant where you can bike or hike on more than four miles of trails through the pine flatwoods. Most of Grayton Beach is protected as a state park so it is wild and unmarred by touristy developments.
The best part of Grayton Beach is the beach, of course. This little beach town nestles up to the Gulf of Mexico so that you can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing in water so clear and blue that you can see the grains of sand on the bottom. It’s actually one of the oldest little beach towns in the Southeast Florida region. It is a great place to relax with quaint historic cottages next to modern beach homes, which makes it a quintessential little beach town.
Seaside is a particularly special place along Highway 30A. You are literally steps away from the beautiful white beaches, a 5-minute walk out your front door. It has a perfect, casual beach town atmosphere that all of the family can enjoy — it is very walkable and bikeable, so there is no need to use your car or worry about parking while here. There is also a tremendous sense of community that you experience as a resident or a guest at one of Seaside’s vacation rental cottages. Enjoy the free concerts and art galleries available in this compact, planned community that hosts music, plays, and other events in the Seaside Amphitheater.
One of the best reasons to stay in Seaside is that it has the largest private beachfront along the entire Highway 30A corridor. Step out your front door and experience the beach in minutes. You can swim, kayak, boogie board, or paddle board on the beautiful blue water or simply set up a beach chair and watch the waves come and go.
Seaside’s town square also features a perfect blend of gorgeous cottages, delicious restaurants, and delightful shops where local shopkeepers live above their stores. With the lively arts, shops, and water activities available in Seaside, you will have a fabulous time visiting the heart of Highway 30A.
Another quaint place to visit is Rosemary Beach, which is located on northwest Florida’s gulf coast at the eastern end of Highway 30A. This lovely place was named for the native species of rosemary that lines each path and can be found throughout the planned community. The fragrance of rosemary permeates the air everywhere you go!
The local Town Center provides everything you will need for your stay, with shops and dining galore. Cottage and beach house rentals are available here as well, so you can enjoy all of the amenities of a personal vacation home during your stay. Rosemary Beach’s neighborhoods are all interconnected by pedestrian-friendly paths that lead to all public areas including the sparking white beach, the bustling Town Center, the tennis courts, swimming pools, and other community amenities.
Rosemary Beach has also committed to protect the environment by not building beyond the coastal buffer zone. Because of this, nine dune walkovers have been built to provide beach access and protect the fragile dune system and prevent erosion. These walkovers were designed to be unobtrusive, simple and functional while also containing convenient showers for hot, sandy beachgoers.
Whichever beach you choose, be assured that it will be the perfect beach vacation!