The Scenic 30-A corridor includes 12 distinct beach communities, each with their own history, culture, and featured resources. Visiting one, or all, of these unique communities is just another way to enjoy Scenic 30-A!
Santa Rosa Beach
Santa Rosa Beach is one of the oldest beach towns along Scenic 30-A between Choctawhatchee Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and the Bay County line. The town of Santa Rosa Beach encompasses the largest tract of land of all the beach communities. Santa Rosa Beach is characterized by coastal residential enclaves, thriving commercial enterprises and miles of white, sandy beaches. It offers shopping galleries, restaurants, four county-maintained beach accesses, and Cessna Landing Park, a public boat launch with a children’s playground and picnic area. Topsail Hill State Preserve, located in Santa Rosa Beach, could be the state’s most pristine piece of property; it’s beach, dunes, coastal lake, and cypress swamp remain nearly untouched for the past five centuries. Santa Rosa offers several entrances to Point Washington State Forest, a 15,000-acre preserve with miles of trails. The Santa Rosa area includes the historic town of Point Washington, where Eden State Gardens incorporates the old Wesley mansion on Tucker Bayou, once a thriving sawmill.
A pristine and beautiful respite, Gulf Place is known for its vibrant artist colony, three beach walkways, amphitheater with manicured lawns, and sidewalks lined with lush native plants and towering palm trees.
Gulf Place is quickly making a name for itself as a complete vacation experience. With more than 200 options for vacation rentals, you’re almost guaranteed a unique view of the clear Gulf waters, tranquil ponds or several wonderful swimming pools.
Dune Allen Beach
Dune Allen is the western-most beach town along Scenic 30-A. It is also home to The Santa Rosa Beach Club (the area’s first gulf front golf course), Butler Elementary School, and Kindness Pet Hospital (Scenic 30-A’s first veterinary clinic). Dune Allen includes residential and beachfront vacation homes in the dunes lining both sides of the road. The town is built around Stallworth Lake, Dune Allen Lake, and Oyster Lake, three of the 11 coastal dune lakes along Scenic 30-A.
Blue Mountain Beach
According to local legend, Blue Mountain Beach got its name from the blue haze seen at dawn on the hills and dunes created by the blankets of blue Lupine, which to the Native Americans and sailors resembled “blue mountains” along the beach. The town remains relatively undeveloped except for a bike shop, bank, and the only health food store on Scenic 30-A. Blue Mountain Beach is one of the highest geological points along the Florida Gulf Coast. Blue Mountain Beach marks the beginning of the Eastern Lake Hike/Bike Trail, which ambles through all of South Walton’s beach communities. Draper Lake, a large expansive body of water, boasts the area’s only covered bridge. Alligator Lake and Big Red Fish Lakes, two smaller dune lakes in the area, teem with abundant wildlife throughout the year as they gently flow back and forth between the Gulf of Mexico and the fresh water lake system.
Grayton Beach, the first community in South Walton, was established during the late 19th century. Grayton Beach celebrated its 100th anniversary on July 4th, 1990. Grayton Beach is known for its artists’ community evolving from its “hippie” days. Nearby Grayton Beach State Park was named America’s Best Beach by coastal geomorphologist Stephen Leatherman (a.k.a. Dr. Beach) in 1994. The park also includes Western Lake, a coastal dune lake with a public boat ramp and short nature trail. Other area parks include Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, named for its towering dune, and Deer Lake State Park. Grayton Beach is also known for the colorful visitors who stop by every fall en route to Mexico – Monarch Butterflies.
WaterColor is one of the two master-planned communities currently being developed by Arvida, a St. Joe company, along Scenic 30-A. The 449-acre resort was designed by architect Jaque Robertson on land help by the St. Joe Company since 1927. The WaterColor Inn and Resort is a resort and residential community located between Seaside and Grayton Beach State Recreation Area. Western Lake is a 220-acre coastal dune lake located adjacent to WaterColor. There are numerous foot and bicycle paths around the lake. Visitors can also explore the lake by renting a canoe or kayak. Cerulean Park, linking the Gulf to the lake, is WaterColor’s central gathering space or Town Center and has a collection of retail shops, offices, and the WaterColor Market. Hiking and biking paths unfold in an extensive woodland trail system within WaterColor. Nearby State Parks offer differing perspectives of coastal dune lakes, sand pine scrub, longleaf pine flatwoods, cypress ponds, wet prairies, and titi swamps.
Conceived, planned, and developed by Robert and Daryl Davis, (Robert Davis inherited the 80-acre property in the 1970s) Seaside is a pedestrian-friendly community to cottages with picket fences and elevated porches to watch the sun set on the Gulf. New- Urbanism, an architectural movement born with the creation of Seaside, has played an important role in contributing to today’s awareness of the designing and planning of the traditional town along Scenic 30-A. The town center was inspired by the squares found in traditional cities like Charleston, South Carolina, Florence, Italy, and Savannah, Georgia. Pedestrian pathways crisscross the town, many of them leading to the beach. Seaside is designed so that people can reach every shop, restaurant, art gallery, and more by foot or bicycle. The town center contains a market, art galleries, a florist, an ice cream store, a post office, and other small boutiques. Many homes in Seaside can be rented on a daily or weekly basis. There is also a motor court and a bed and breakfast. The town was the stage set for the movie The Truman Show. Seaside is the heart of Scenic 30-A. Since its grand beginning, it has attracted world wide attention. Time magazine quoted it as “the most astounding design achievements of its era.” It has won many prestigious architectural awards over the years.
WaterSound is the second master-planned community (the other is WaterColor) by Arvida, a St. Joe company, along Scenic 30-A. Although still in the early stages of development, the 256-acre site promises to be one of the most beautiful and unique beach towns along Scenic 30-A. WaterSound is being planned as a secluded, seaside village on more than one mile of white sand beach along Scenic 30-A. The town plan, designed by Robert A.M. Stern, features walking paths, dune walkovers, parks, a beach club, and recreational facilities blended into a quiet community of single-family home sites, townhomes, and multi-family residences. The architecture and programming at WaterSound are based on the area’s rich maritime history. There are also nature trails along an 80-acre coastal dune lake.
Seagrove is perfect for nature lovers seeking an unspoiled retreat and crowd free environment. Eastern and Deer Lakes are wonderful spots for quiet reflection or launching a canoe or kayak for a day of exploration. Recently, Seagrove has experienced an increasing amount of attention. Residences, condominiums, shops, and restaurants are springing up in the area, and it is becoming a popular destination for tourists.
In the tradition of nearby Seaside and Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach will be a model resort town – a place where the best practices in town planning are applied. Alys Beach is located on a 158-acre site, the last piece of beachfront property in the Florida Panhandle. Approximately 20 acres of jurisdictional wetlands lie to the north. Within this configuration, the urban-to-rural transect distribute the denser, more urban concentrations near the beach and Scenic 30-A (which crosses the southern half of the site) and the sparser, more rural elements toward the wetlands. All streets will lead to the beach, with views of the water kept clear for as great a distance as possible. The main street will lead to a waterfront plaza that will serve as the primary gathering place in the community. Three-story, mixed-use buildings will line the plaza, featuring arcades and cafes at ground level and apartment level and apartments above. The northern edge will be framed by an open air auditorium and the distinctive silhouette of a flatiron building with a viewing deck.
Seacrest begins after the big bend in the road on CR 30-A. The road still follows the Gulf here, and passes through areas of wild and dense coastal scrubs. Seacrest is a quiet residential community with some of the highest sand dunes on Scenic 30-A. Camp Creek is one outstanding feature of the Seacrest area. One of the least developed and most scenic of the dune lakes, Camp Creek is located on the western edge of the community and extends north and south of Scenic 30-A. The area gold club features marshlands (perfect for wading birds), plantings of more than 200 live oaks, and a challenging landscape. Seacrest is one of the quietest beach communities along Scenic 30-A because there is virtually no commercial development.
Rosemary Beach was established in 1995 and named after the dune rosemary. It has a town center that continues to grow with new shops and restaurants. Rosemary Beach follows the same successful blueprint developed by Seaside but, instead of Seaside’s look, Rosemary Beach has gone with a blend of colonial St. Augustine, New Orleans, and West Indian styles by using natural tones. Like Seaside, it offers vacation rentals to short-term visitors. Footpaths and boardwalks in Rosemary Beach lead to large decks over the dunes and, of course, to the beach below.
Inlet Beach is located at the eastern edge of Scenic 30-A’s 12 beach communities. It is the easternmost town directly accessible from Scenic 30-A. Inlet Beach is located at the intersection of Scenic 30-A and US 98. Inlet Beach is a well-established neighborhood defined by modest homes inland, newer multi-storied homes (on the Gulf Side), and large lots north of Emerald Coast parkway where rolling hills define the terrain. Lake Powell is located adjacent to the town. The Mccaskill Investment Company of DeFuniak Springs first introduced the town to the buying public during the 1920s. Development began in earnest when young veterans from World War II returned to the area and applied for land offered through a latter-day version of the Homestead Act. In 1947, the Birmingham News ran an article about the Bureau of Land Development giving veterans first choice in a lottery. Because so many veterans built in the area, it was referred to as “Soldiers Beach.” Eventually the name was changed to Inlet Beach, after Philips Inlet which separates Walton and Bay Counties.