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Branching off U.S. Highway 98, Highway 30-A runs through some of the most stunning scenery in Northwest Florida. It’s a land of contrasts, with the white-sand beaches and emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, wetlands and marshes teeming with wildlife, and forests of pine and century-old live oaks. Collectively called theBeaches of South Walton, the area is made up of 15 communities with personalities as diverse as the landscape.
There’s Alys Beach, a new resort town whose architecture was inspired by that of Bermuda, Antigua, and Guatemala. Its shops, restaurants, and art galleries are easy to explore on foot or by bicycle.
Unspoiled Blue Mountain Beach is a tiny community that draws hikers and other nature lovers to its coastal dune lakes, dense woodlands, and towering sand dunes.
Lake meets beach at Dune Allen, a historic community built around another of the area’s 17 coastal dune lakes.
Another community brimming with Old Florida charm is Grayton Beach. Founded in the 19th century, it still retains its cozy, small-town feel, with oyster-shell roads and wooden houses surrounded by mature pines and oaks.
Inlet Beach became a haven for World War II veterans after the Bureau of Land Management offered returning soldiers the opportunity to acquire land in the area. Today, this quiet town is the ideal beachside getaway.
Shopping is among the most popular pastimes at Miramar Beach, a resort town that’s home to the largest designer outlet center in the country.
Established in 1995, Rosemary Beach is a growing community of homes, shops, and restaurants overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
Visitors to Sandestin can enjoy both bay and beach, plus all the shopping, golfing, and dining amenities you’d expect to find in a much larger community.
Santa Rosa Beach takes its name from the Santa Rosa Plantation, which had its heyday in the late 1800s. Today, the area is also a tourist mecca, with high-end condominiums, upscale restaurants, and plenty of places to shop.
The quiet, mostly residential community of Seacrest Beach boasts some of the highest sand dunes along Highway 30-A. It’s also home to Deer Lake State Park, which offers unspoiled beach and lake areas for nature lovers.
Once a sleepy little hamlet with a few cottages and one hotel, Seagrove Beach has taken off in recent years, with new restaurants, shops, homes, and condos making it a popular tourist destination.
A 300-acre resort is the centerpiece of Seascape, which offers facilities for golf, tennis, hiking, swimming, and other water sports.
Seaside made a splash in the architectural world when it was developed some thirty years ago as the perfect small town, planned to encourage walking and a community spirit. Today, it still boasts a pedestrian-friendly design, with shops, restaurants, and services all just a short walk or bike ride away.
Another new beachside community is WaterSound, a spot offering both a peaceful atmosphere and proximity to shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
No matter what you’re looking for in a beachside getaway – a sunny spot to relax and rejuvenate, or the opportunity to get up close and personal with dolphins and other sea creatures – the chances are good that you’ll find it in the Beaches of South Walton.