I’ve got several posts on my blog ALL about 30a (where to stay, eating, shopping, etc.–read them all here), but this post is a roundup of MY personal favorite things and spots on 30a.
I’ll update it whenever I try new things or find fun stuff to share, but for now enjoy my 30a travel guide:
30a Travel Guide
Where I Like to Stay
Location wise, I like to stay within walking distance of either Seaside or Rosemary Beach. They’re the two big hubs on 30a with the most dining and shopping options and they also get pretty crowded with limited parking so being able to walk (or bike) is important. 30a is a pretty long stretch of road and I don’t like having to load up in the car and drive (traffic!) to find food or anything.
If it’s an adults only trip, I love the Pearl at Rosemary Beach. Read my full review here. And I can’t wait to stay at the newly renovated Court in Seaside. I stayed there years ago back when it was the old motor court, but it looks really cool since the redo. And the WaterColor Inn is undergoing a pretty big renovation right now and is by far the most “resort” feel you’ll find on 30a. Will definitely stay there once all the construction is done.
If you’re going with kids (or extended family), a house/vacation rental is the way to go. Anything in Seaside, WaterColor, or Rosemary Beach is going to be a good location. Alys Beach is the ultimate dream, but unless you have a small fortune (multiple $10Ks) to drop on a weekly house rental, look elsewhere.
If those areas are too pricey, look for something on the edges of Seagrove (borders Seaside) or Seacrest (borders Rosemary Beach), but be careful because Seagrove and Seacrest are pretty big so you could end up a mile or two from the town center.
I’ve stayed in a couple of places in Seacrest (very walkable to Rosemary Beach) that I really liked.
I’ve stayed at “The Village” which is right behind Peddlers Pavilion (our condo/unit actually looked out over 30a) and the place was really nice (3 bedrooms/3 bathrooms – I would call it a luxury rental). There’s a pretty big pool area and hot tub and a golf cart shuttle that will run you to the private beach entrance (maybe a 10 minute walk) across 30a.
I’ve also stayed at the Villas at Sunset Beach which is a small/luxury condo complex right on the beach with a pool. It’s actually the spot where The Village has beach access too. Super nice place and would stay again. Very close to Rosemary Beach.
Also the High Pointe Resort right in that area looks really nice.
I would also consider staying at the far west end of 30a in Santa Rosa Beach (less of a town and more just a stretch of vacation homes and rentals right on the beach) or Grayton. But you’d probably want a golf cart or at least bikes for running around.
Read more about where to stay on 30a here.
What I Like to Do
Beach, eat, sleep, repeat. That’s basically it ; ) I come to 30a for the beach and a bit of puttering around the cute little beach towns. It’s not a big “go go go” trip with a lot of activities. But there are certain things I like to do…
Beach: Find out the company that manages chair rentals at your beach entrance and make reservations in advance. If it’s high season (basically when it’s warm), they set up multiple lines of chairs and if you wait until you show up, the “front line” is usually already reserved through the whole week. Prices vary but it’s usually about $60/day for two chairs, an umbrella, and a little table and they often give a discount after so many days.
Tennis: Rosemary Beach, Seaside, and WaterColor all have great tennis centers that run open drills most days of the week. Make reservations in advance because they cap the numbers per instructor. Read more about tennis on 30a here. Read more about where to play tennis on 30a here.
Browse the bookstores: The beach and books go together like pb&j (for me anyways) so a visit (multiple visits really) to Sundog Books is a Seaside and Hidden Lantern Bookstore in Rosemary Beach are musts for me.
Alys Beach architecture: All of the little communities along 30a are special in their own way, but I think Alys Beach has the most stunning architecture. It’s a blend of Santorini, Morocco, and Bermuda and it’s pretty stunning. Grab coffee or a smoothie from Raw and Juicy and wander around or stop by George’s for dinner. Read more about things to do in Alys Beach here.
Shopping!: I’ve got a full post about my favorite shopping on 30a here, but a few definite don’t miss places are The Mercantile in Seaside, Disco in Rosemary Beach, Ophelia’s in Seacrest, and BEACH by the Seaside Style in Seaside. Also there’s a full Lilly Pulitzer store in Sandestin at the Grand Boulevard. Read more about my favorite shopping on 30a here.
Go for a Walk: I’m not much of a bike rider, but I love to get up early and walk in the mornings. Also, because the 30a gets pretty crowded in the summer, it’s nice to be out and about early before everybody else is. Take a walk through Seaside to see all the colorful cottages or the beach pavilions (each named after a different southern town and designed by a different architect) or stroll through Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach (they’re within walking distance of each other).
Where I Like to Eat
Charlie’s Donuts: Are you even on 30a if you’re not lining up for donuts at sunrise? ; ) Charlie’s is king and they have a truck in Alys Beach, a stand in Seacrest, and a shop in Rosemary Beach. If you want a full breakfast with your donuts, go to the Donut Hole in Inlet Beach.
Strawberry Shortcake at Heavenly: There are a couple of ice cream shops in Seaside, but the best kept secret in town is the strawberry shortcake at Heavenly. It’s made with actual shortcakes, not angel food cake.
Airstream Row in Seaside: Seaside is famous for its row of food trucks fronting the beach. For a healthy pick me up (and a lot of Vegan options) try anything at Raw and Juicy. They specialize in cold pressed organic, raw, and vegan juices and smoothies and acai bowls. The Meltdown on 30a is my favorite place to grab lunch and they can make your grilled cheese any way you like it. There’s also BBQ, hot dogs, crepes, of course Frost Bites, the best place in town for shaved ice and frozen custard.
The Hub on 30a: Near Watersound (about halfway between Seaside and Rosemary Beach) is a great little hangout spot called the Hub. It’s a collection of food vendors and shops with communal seating and lounge areas. There’s a large lawn and a stage with an LED screen. There’s some kind of entertainment every night whether it’s a band, movie, or streaming the big game.
Sunset at Bud and Alley’s: The best views on 30a
The Great Southern: A Seaside institution. Famous for the Grits a Ya-Ya, but don’t sleep on the pecan crusted catch of the day. No reservations and always expect a wait.
Breakfast at Havana Beach Club: This spot at the Pearl in Rosemary Beach serves up a consistently good breakfast and the views out on the terrace are hard to beat.
Cowgirl Kitchen: Going for tacos at the Cowgirl Kitchen in Rosemary Beach has become a tradition. They also have an amazing grouper sandwich.
Red Bar: The best nightlife you’ll find on 30a (after dinner). It’s got a homey, neighborhood feel and great live music. Plus their drinks are top notch. Try the gumbo or crab cakes.
Pescado: Make reservations for the dining room or take your chances at the bar. Great rooftop views over Rosemary Beach. More high end than casual.
Read more about where to eat on 30a here.
More posts about the 30a area:
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