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29 Jun 2022
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There’s more to 30A than foodies, fine art, and fun (but that’s all really nice, too). Read on to learn 30 things that you didn’t know about 30A.

1. Highway 30A is 24 Miles

The stretch of scenic coastal highway that comprises 30A is 24 miles, just a couple of miles (2.6) shy of a marathon.

2. There are 12 Unique Communities Along 30A

The communities of 30A from west to east are:

  • Dune Allen
  • Gulf Place
  • Blue Mountain Beach
  • Grayton Beach
  • WaterColor
  • Seaside
  • Seagrove
  • WaterSound
  • Seacrest
  • Alys Beach
  • Rosemary Beach
  • Inlet Beach

Each community has a unique flavor in terms of architecture, vibe, natural splendor, and to-dos.

3. The First Community of 30A is Grayton Beach

Founded in 1890, Grayton Beach lays claim as the oldest 30A community.

4. The Oldest Restaurant is in Seagrove Beach

Seagrove lays claim to the oldest establishment on 30A with the Seagrove Village Market, which opened as a burger joint in 1949.

5. 30A is One of Four Places Where There are Coastal Dune Lakes

Coastal dune lakes are unique formations of brackish salt and fresh water. Water flows in from the oceans and from area rainfall. When it rains, the narrow sand berms are overwhelmed, and freshwater spills into the Gulf with salty Gulf water backflowing into the lakes. The result is the brackish composition, which enables both salt and fresh water marine life to live in the lakes. Impressively, the only other area on the planet where coastal dune lakes are only found in New Zealand, Australia, and Madagascar.

There are 15 lakes total in South Walton. Two thirds are on 30A. The lakes on 30A are:

  • Stallworth Lake
  • Allen Lake
  • Oyster Lake
  • Draper Lake
  • Big Redfish Lake
  • Little Redfish Lake
  • Western Lake
  • Eastern Lake
  • Deer Lake
  • Camp Creek Lake

6. Jim Carrey Filmed a Movie in Seaside

Seaside’s new urban setting served as the backdrop for Jim Carrey’s 1998 movie, The Truman Show, which told the story of a man whose life had been unwittingly broadcast on television since his birth. The movie was a huge success. The house where Truman (Carrey) lived is at 31 Natchez Street in Seaside.

7. You Can Run a Half Marathon on 30A Twice a Year

Earlier it was noted that 30A is almost the length of a marathon. Running enthusiasts may want to know that there are two half marathons hosted each year on 30A. One is the Seaside Half Marathon, which takes place in early (February or March). The other is the 30A Half Marathon, which occurs in the fall. Both races take place on 30A and provide a great perspective of the various communities.

8. Sea Turtles Nest on 30A and are Protected

Sea turtles nest on the sugar white sand beaches of 30A’s Emerald Coast line. These aquatic reptiles are considered endangered and are thus protected. The South Walton Turtle Watch organization has information about nesting and hatching and how to help the sea turtles (never touch them or disrupt their nests).

9. Rosemary Beach’s Rosemary Isn’t Real Rosemary

Rosemary Beach and much of 30A is decorated with beautiful rosemary bushes, but many are surprised to learn that the rosemary isn’t “real” rosemary—at least not the cooking kind. It’s actually a plant from the mint family that’s indigenous to Florida called Conradina canescens, which is commonly known as “false rosemary”. This rosemary flowers and has a sweet mint scent…vastly different from the fragrant cooking herb we typically associate with rosemary.

10. Rosemary Beach’s Architecture Wasn’t Inspired by New Orleans

Rosemary Beach is often called a “mini New Orleans” by visitors, but the architecture is actually inspired by that of the French West Indies and of St. Augustine, Florida. Of course, the reason people make the New Orleans association is because both the French West Indies and St. Augustine were settled by the same entities.

11. The Oysters Weren’t the Only Things That Were Nude on the Beach

Long before the establishment of the various communities along 30A, the beaches now known as Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach (and others in between) were nude. People used to park at areas like the flagpole in Rosemary and head out to the Emerald Coast for lineless tanning.

12. YOLO Boards Originated in South Walton Beach

YOLO is an acronym for “you only live once”, and it gained a lot of prominence in the early 2000s. This inspired the formation of the YOLO Board® company. The originator, Jeff Archer, was an avid paddleboarder who found the experience of paddleboarding to be exhilaratingly transformative and felt others would, too. The company has grown widely, and YOLO Boards now traverse waters all across the world.

13. Seaside Originated the “New Urbanism” Movement

New Urbanism is an architectural design model founded by Robert and Daryl Davis where in which everything a person needs for residing in a community is within walking distance. Seaside has everything from restaurants to shops to a bookstore to a school to a post office to a pavilion and amphitheater.

14. There are Over 200 Miles of Biking and Hiking Trails

While 30A is only 24 miles long, there are a plethora of hiking and biking trails that wind around the South Walton area. There’s the 19-mile 30A Bike Path (the Timpoochee Trail), which follows the coastal dune lakes, the deer Lake State Park trails, Grayton Beach State Park, the Point Washington State Forest, and much more.

15. 30A is Dog Friendly, but Dogs Aren’t Allowed on the Beach

30A has lots of restaurants, walking trails, parks, and more that are dog friendly, but only dog owners with proof of residence and a permit are allowed to take their dogs on the beach for certain hours of the day.

16. The Palm Trees Aren’t From 30A

30A is a tropical paradise in Florida, so it’s reasonable to assume the scene-setting palms towering over the communities sprouted from the earth in which they stand. Not so. The 30A palms were actually imported from a few hours southeast of 30A.

17. There’s Almost No Crime on 30A

While the palm trees might be fake, the crime stats aren’t. 30A really is paradise; there’s almost no criminal activity on 30A…presumably because everyone is too busy being happy, doing asanas on the beach, and watching the sunset.

18. There Are Fewer Than 20,000 Full-Time Residents

Everybody knows everybody on 30A. It’s the communal equivalent to Cheers. The small populous makes 30A a wonderful place to live. Many celebrities like Vera Bradley and Emeril Lagasse live on or have lived on 30A. Likewise, it’s a popular place for famous people to visit because even if everyone knows your name, they’re cool enough to respect your privacy.

19. Beach Yoga is a Big Thing

Yoga is a great way to stay fit and to relax, both of which are important when you’re living your best life at the beach. Because 30A is so seasonally warm, beach yoga is a great way to spend time on 30A.

20. Two Wheels is the Best Way to Get Around

As noted above, staying fit is a matter of priority on 30A; biking is the best way to do that. It doesn’t take much effort to roll from community to community and wile away the days on a bike. If you don’t bring you own, no worries…there are plenty of bike rental options (and rental discounts with your rental management agency).

21. There are Two Local Breweries to Try

30A locals and guests alike love fine cocktails. You’ll find no shortage of places to taste local and nearby craft beer creations (such as the award-winning Growler Garage), but to be sure, the source is always the place to start. Grayton Beer Company and Idyll Hounds Brewing Company are two breweries where you can taste the brews, have a bite, and kill an afternoon living your best life.

22. There are Many Places to Dine on Rooftops

You’re at the beach, so why not have a great view during mealtime? Clearly others agreed this was a great idea as there are several places to dine on rooftops on 30A.

23. You Can Catch Surf on 30A

The beaches of 30A aren’t just for sunbathing. You can also catch great surf waves on the Emerald Coast. The further east, the better. Check out Alys Beach and beyond for surfing.

24. There are Multiple Public Beach Access Points Along 30A

While there is a lot of private beach space, there are plenty of places to park and head down to the sand and surf on 30A. The Ed Walline access by Gulf Place is a great one. There’s also access at Grayton Beach and beyond.

25. Mornings are the Best Time to YOLO Board® on the Coast

While you can stand up paddle board on coastal dune lakes any time, the waters of the Gulf Coast are generally only placid enough for SUP or YOLO boarding in the early morning.

26. Look East or West for Sunrise or Sunset

Because of where 30A is in proximity to east and west, you have to face down the beach, not straight across the ocean, to catch the majestic sunrises and sunsets on 30A.

27. Beach Bonfires are a Service You Can Order

Bonfires on the beach are a romantic and fun way to spend a cool evening on the beach, but you can’t (legally) set your own fire; however, there are plenty of companies that will do it for you. Let someone else set up the fire and assume responsibly for the flame. As you have to do is show up and relax!

28. Get Beach Reads and Meet Authors at Sundog Books

Sundog Books is located in Seaside and is beneath a local record store (making it even cooler). The two entities are the perfect location to pick up a beach read, meet authors (they often have signing events), and buy an album or two.

29. Off Season is the Best Season to Visit

Most people plan beach vacations for spring break or summer, which is great—come then, too, but the secret-sauce best time of year to visit is during the “off” season like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mardi Gras, etc. It’s not as crowded, and the weather is still fantastic.

30. There’s Always Something to Do on 30A

Whether it’s an event, a music festival, a movie on the lawn, a yoga class, or just live music at a cool bar, there is always something to do on 30A. It’s one of the only places you’ll never get bored. Maybe that’s why everyone smiles so much and is so friendly!

30A is the place to be. If you’re looking for a perfect beach getaway to a great place where there’s always more to discover, then contact us at My Vacation Haven, and let us help you find the 30A community and beach rental for you!

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