Scenic Highway 30A: Your Ultimate Guide to Dining, Shops, and More

The so-called Scenic Highway 30A is a beautiful stretch of roadway that runs along a portion of Northwest Florida’s coastline. Here, the road meanders sometimes as a two-lane, sometimes as a larger four-lane, along the coastal marshes, across bluffs overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, and through charming beach communities. It’s a good stretch of pavement for the adventurous to follow, offering plenty of beauty and fun possibilities along its length.

Of course, that’s a pretty short (but accurate!) description of Scenic Highway 30A, and you might have plenty more questions, especially if you’ve never traveled to this part of Florida before. The following guide is designed to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we get about 30A and the communities it cuts through. 

How long is Scenic Highway 30A and Where is it?

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The coastal highway that is called Scenic Highway 30A stretches for about 24 miles in the Florida Panhandle, starting and ending in Destin and Panama City. 

What is the nicest beach along Scenic Highway 30A?

Grayton Beach

Nice is pretty subjective, with what one person thinks is more beautiful differing from another. That said, Santa Rosa Beach is pretty amazing thanks to its pure white sand and proximity to the popular planned community of Seaside, where The Truman Show was filmed. Blue Mountain Beach is also quite gorgeous with its border of blue lupine flowers and tall sand dunes. Or, if you’re looking for a beautiful beach with a nearby nightlife scene, then none better than Grayton Beach!

Why is it called 30A?

This is an easy one! The name 30A comes from it being called State Road 30A. The “A” signifies it is an alternate route as State Road 30 continues as Front Beach Road over a section of its run and State Road 30A is the alternate route that cuts apart from it. 

Alys Beach

Why 30A is so popular is a bit less straightforward as there are, after all, plenty of county roads that run along the Florida coastlines, but few sections have earned such popularity as 30A has. Certainly, having so many beautiful beaches is a big part of it. But we think that the reason 30A has truly grown so popular is that, for a long time, it wasn’t!

What we mean by that is that for many decades, people vacationing in Florida flocked to Orlando, Daytona, Miami, and the Florida Keys (especially Key West). Those were the big ticket areas, but not everyone wanted to pay the big ticket prices for a vacation in the Florida sun and sand. The Florida Panhandle thus started becoming popular among college kids (especially those in the greater “Foridabama” region) and fishing enthusiasts who wanted a Gulfshore experience at a low price. Then more people who saw the area’s beauty started coming and building homes and businesses as they likewise enjoyed the lower beachfront prices and cost of living. Locals invested in their community, creating a desirable culture that mixed ocean fun with onshore amenities and activities. And before long, the secret about just how good the 30A area is was out! 

Discovering the Area 30A

Vue on 30A

Today, the communities along 30A remain affordable places to vacation with plenty of outstanding natural landscapes to explore. Only now, there are a lot more modern amenities and activities to likewise partake in, making this a great place for just about anyone to travel to. 

Best restaurants along Scenic Highway 30A

Some of those excellent local restaurants that have built up the area as a culinary hotspot include:

Vue on 30A
Fine New American dining with a waterfront location.

Cafe Thirty-A
All-day fine dining where flip-flops meet white tablecloths. 

NEAT Tasting Room and Bottle Shop
Cocktails and other drinks are sourced from local producers. 

Canopy Road Cafe
Serves breakfast and lunch with an innovative twist. 

Where to shop along Scenic Highway 30A

Some of the great local businesses that make this part of Florida unique include:

Sundog Books
This independent Santa Rosa Beach bookshop is the perfect spot to grab a unique beach read. 

Fusion Art Glass
This artist spot is a great place to go for a unique, one-of-a-kind Florida souvenir. 

Shimmering Seas Jewelry and Gifts
Also a great souvenir spot, this shop features beautiful pieces sourced from around the world. 

What to do around 30A

Some of the most popular things to do along 30A include:

Grayton Beach State Park
Popular for hiking and for beaching it up. They also have fully outfitted campground facilities for those who want a full outdoor vacationing experience. 

Visit the Truman Show House
Really, we recommend spending a whole day in Seaside, the cute and very unique town where the movie was filmed. 

Paddle and Snorkel Tour with Adventure 30A:
The best way to see the Gulf of Mexico is to go out and get in it. A snorkel tour offers a great active way to see her underwater side. 

Grayton Beach
This small historic beach village is home to the popular Grayton Beach State Park.

This is a very purpose-built community whose unique late 20th-century New Urbanist design is what inspired filmmakers to shoot The Truman Show here. 

Alys Beach
Alys Beach also features gorgeous architecture, but here it’s more reminiscent of the Greek Isles. Here, you will find pretty green spaces, white sand beaches, and premier businesses like the NEAT Tasting Room & Bottle Shop. 

Rosemary Beach
Rosemary Beach is big on dining. Head to their cobblestone Main Street and town square to enjoy a true small-town feel with delicious upscale courtyard dining. 

This is a newer community that lies between Seaside and Western Lake and is currently best known for its merging of human landscapes with natural ones. 

Where to Stay in 30A

Choosing accommodation in 30A is a delightful task, with options from charming beachfront cottages to upscale resorts. Whether you prefer the tranquil atmosphere of a seaside shack that won’t break the bank or a luxury villa with all of the essentials, 30A offers a diverse array of choices that don’t disappoint.

Open Air at Waterhouse 304

Sleeps 8, 3 Bedrooms, 3 Bathrooms, No Pets Allowed

Waterhouse 304 is a charming condo located across from Seacrest Beach with gorgeous Gulf views, a gourmet kitchen, a rooftop pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and the list goes on. This rental is sure to please.

Check Pricing and Availability Here

Calypso Resort 1-2109E

Sleeps 8, 2 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms, No Pets Allowed

This beachfront condo is located in Calypso Resort and Towers just steps away from the private beach. It is the largest 2-bedroom unit available and has a large wrap-around balcony. What better than resort amenities and endless gulf views from the 21st floor? Not much!

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Octopus’s Garden

Sleeps 10, 4 Bedrooms, 3 Bathrooms, No Pets Allowed

Enjoy your time breathing in the salty beach air as you ride around town on the complimentary bikes and quick and easy rides to the beach or the community pool in the golf cart. This 30A vacation rental is spacious and perfect for a family getaway.

Check Pricing and Availability Here

Learn More About the Beauty of the Greater 30A Area

We hope this guide has helped you get a better idea about the Scenic Highway 30A. If you find yourself looking for more information on the specifics of what to see here, make sure to visit our other pages!