Oh beautiful 30A – it’s been the backdrop for a couple of our favorite family beach vacations. So I thought I’d put together a little primer on some of our favorite finds along the pretty Emerald Coast. Feel free to add your faves in the comments.
We’ve stayed in Rosemary Beach and in Watersound; both were fantastic but very different experiences. And with so many different options to choose from it can be a little bit overwhelming to make a decision.
WHERE TO STAY
If you love …
Hustle & bustle, bright townhouses and tons of restaurants and shops to peruse, stay in SEASIDE.
Cool white Moorish-inspired architecture and not a ton of other people around, stay in ALYS BEACH.
Hunkering down in a multimillion dollar home with your closest friends and cooking in a fab kitchen, stay in WATERSOUND.
Biking to the cafe in the morning, hitting the beach and one of the town pools in the afternoon followed by dinner on a patio in the town square, stay in ROSEMARY BEACH.
Feeling like you’re in an unpretentious beach town that’s pretty chill and artsy, stay in GRAYTON BEACH.
Getting in touch with your woodsy side (i.e., glamping) and you don’t necessarily care about being on the beach 24/7, stay in WATERCOLOR.
(All these pics are from Watersound – some serious real estate stalking to be had!)
How do you find a house? There are a ton of different ways to track down a rental property. There aren’t many hotels to speak of; the vacation rental home or condo is the way to go. Go for VRBO, Home Away, Airbnb, 30a LuxuryVacations, Cottage Rental Agency of Seaside, 360 Blue Properties, 30A Escapes, 30 A Vacation Rentals — the list goes on and on.
WHAT TO DO
Rent a bike for the week and enjoy all the little towns along Hwy 30a thanks to the wide sidewalks that double as bike paths. There’s plenty of cute shops, delish restaurants, and pools to keep everyone more than happy for a week. And yes – definitely stay for a week. Because anything less is going to leave you wishing you’d stayed for longer. The beach is perfection – plenty of white powdery sand and pretty water. If you’re planning on going daily and you don’t own your own chairs or umbrellas, rent a few from one of the various companies set up along the beach. They’re put up for you daily and are reserved strictly for your party. Pretty handy and a great way to escape the sun.
We also booked a snorkeling excursion one afternoon to Shell Island, off Panama City Beach. All 9 of us went – even Archer! – and it was one of the best things we did together.
WHERE TO EAT
The Perfect Pig – the best meal we had all week.
La Crema in Rosemary Beach – go for chocolate, cheese, and wine
Food Trucks in Seaside – always crazy busy
Amavida Coffee – my brother swears their coffee is better than anything else, anywhere
The Great Southern – one of my favorites
Caliza Pool – haven’t been, but dying to try it for drinks or appetizers. Mostly for the dreamy atmosphere.
Charlie’s Donut Truck – go before they run out in the morning
NEAT Alys Beach
WHAT TO SKIP:
I put out a request for photogs on Instagram and got SO MANY amazing responses. I think getting family photos while in such a beautiful locale is definitely the best souvenir you can get. We ended up booking Marla & Shane but all of these are stellar.
WHERE TO SHOP
Beau Home Interiors – our house in Watersound was completely furnished by this lovely shop. Tons of eye candy.
BUT MOST OF ALL, RELAX!
We laughed until we cried before we left at M. Blazoned’s article on Vacation or Trip?: A Helpful Guide for Parents. And then the subsequent follow-up, Vacation Daddy. This photo of my brother below sums up Vacation Dad perfectly.