If you’ve spent an extended period of time in the South over the years, you’ve probably heard about 30A—or, at the very least, you’ve seen the bumper stickers decorating every SUV on I-95.
30A is actually a county road on the Emerald Coast of the Florida Panhandle, which boasts a series of small, unique beach towns, including Seaside, Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach. Think of 30A is the Southeast’s answer to the Hamptons—folks come from surrounding states (and sometimes elsewhere in the country; there’s a direct flight from Newark, FYI) to visit these charming beach towns that are scattered across the South Walton road.
If you’re contemplating a visit to one of these adorably southern beach towns on the quaint county road that is 30A this spring or summer, here’s everything you’ll need to know about where to stay, eat, drink and shop during your getaway.
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Where to stay
215 Quincy Cir, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
While plenty of people who visit 30A opt for vacation home rentals, if you’re looking for an elegant hotel experience, you must check out this freshly renovated Seaside property. Longtime visitors might remember the Court from back when it was the Motorcourt or the “No Tell Motel.” Now, however, it’s been updated and reborn as an intimate boutique hotel in the new urbanist town, with cozy rooms featuring coastal Serena & Lily furniture and lush landscaping. The hotel is mere steps from Seaside’s private beach, and the popular local cafe Black Bear Bread Co. is located right on the premises.
63 Main St, Rosemary Beach, FL 32461
This supremely Instagrammable Rosemary Beach hotel is right in the heart of town; it’s famous for its pointed turrets and black-and-white striped awnings. Even if you don’t stay here, it’s worth stopping by the Havana Beach rooftop bar, where you can enjoy sunset views over the Gulf of Mexico.
Where to shop
45 Central Square Suite CC2, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Back in the day, Cabana was known as Perspicacity, an open air market with a European influence. Now, the beachy boutique is all grown up, with an actual brick-and-mortar shop offering bold sundresses, kitschy T-shirts and comfortably cute sandals you’ll want to wear all vacation long. You can also take a bit of the beach home with you, thanks to the store’s preppy home decor wares. If you want a classic Seaside T-shirt (you’re guaranteed to see many during your 30A adventure), head next door to the Seaside Yacht Club, or across the street to The Seaside Style.
46 N Barrett Square #102, Rosemary Beach, FL 32461
This bright and cheerful boutique is filled with pastel sundresses and plenty of pink. Stop by to check out pieces from emerging designers and make sure to pick up a playful, patterned frock for your trip. The same folks own Mercantile in Seaside, if you’re looking for more of a boho vibe.
89 Central Square, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
This is one of the best bookstores in the South, and it’s right in Seaside. Whether you’re craving a beach read or want to check out some Southern lit (there’s an entire section dedicated to the genre), Sundog’s got you covered. Upstairs, you’ll find Central Square Records, where you can pick up the latest Taylor Swift album (signed, if you’re lucky), or grab merch from your favorite band.
29 Hub Lane, Watersound, FL 32461
This European-inspired boutique offers truly beautiful jewels. Stop by the Big Chill to pose outside the store by the lush plant wall, and then head inside and peruse the tasteful home decor, including candles and elegant trays. If you’re ready for a splurge, you could also opt for a bigger purchase, like dazzling diamond earrings.
99 Hotz Ave, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Florida Georgia Line member Brian Kelley’s wife, Brittney Kelley, opened this lifestyle store, which has a definite “country western by the beach” feel. Pick up a pair of buttery soft sweatpants, a colorful workout set or a unique vintage t-shirt that’s peak Nashville, before you head to the beach right across the street.
Where to dine
Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant and Rooftop Bar
2236 E W County Hwy 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
This Seaside eatery is a total classic and a must-visit for anyone vacationing on 30A. Bud & Alley’s (it’s named after a local dog and cat) has been open since 1987, but has been thoroughly renovated and modernized over the years. It’s one of the best spots to watch the picturesque sunset over the Gulf Coast, all while dining on amazing fresh seafood. Grab a cocktail and make sure you get a table overlooking the water.
85 DeFuniak Street, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
This breakfast cafe serves breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. daily, and not just for people staying in the guesthouse. Sit in the garden, nicknamed the “Backyard of Love,” while you sip coffee and enjoy fresh fruit and a frittata from this mostly vegetarian eatery. The gorgeous garden is underneath an old oak canopy, but inside is just as enjoyable, with kitschy vintage maps of Florida plastered all over the walls. Keep an eye on the cafe’s events schedule, because they also host yoga in the morning and concerts at night.
55 Clayton Ln, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Chanticleer Eatery is perfect when you want a quick bite for lunch; stop by for a salad or grab a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. Definitely save room for dessert, because this eatery, which has indoor and outdoor seating, serves up the best chocolate chip cookies in town.
20 Mark Twain Lane, Alys Beach, FL 32461
This elegant restaurant is right in the heart of Alys Beach, and offers mouthwatering coastal cuisine in a chic setting. It’s stylish, Instagram-worthy and the meal is truly memorable. Sit at the intimate 12-seat raw bar for happy hour, or join friends in the dining room for brunch or dinner. If you’re visiting 30A for a bachelorette party, you’ll definitely want to add The Citizen to your list.
Where to drink
70 Hotz Ave, Grayton Beach, FL 32459
This Grayton Beach hot spot, which was previously a general store, is famous for its eclectic decor. Enjoy a martini at the bar while listening to the live music that plays seven nights a week, and ranges from country to jazz. If this bar is a bit too crowded and you won’t to experience the same vibe, visit their sister restaurant, Louis Louis, which is a bit further off the beaten path.
63 Hotz Ave, Grayton Beach, FL 32459
If you’re looking for another spot right by Red Bar, head to Chiringo for a drink. This laid-back, surf-inspired beachside bar restaurant is famous for its Billy Ocean cocktail, made with spiced rum and fresh ginger, pineapple and mango. The food is equally delicious, if you’re in search of a late night bite.
2236 E County Hwy 30A Unit 4 & 5, Seaside, FL 32459
Seaside is opening a tropical bar this spring, with an elevated take on tiki drinks. Chef Nikhil Abuvala, who’s behind Roux 30a and Nanbu Noodle Bar, is set to helm the Polynesian-influenced establishment.