One afternoon scroll on Instagram years ago I came across one of the most beautiful beaches someone was vacationing at. After I did a little investigative reading I discovered this place called 30A in Florida. When our Spring trip to Greece got cancelled I decided we were still going to do a getaway. I knew I wanted to stay in the U.S and the little name 30A I tucked back in my mind years ago popped up.
We stayed in a VRBO right along 30A, which is a scenic highway along the Emerald Coast in Florida. Technically we were in Seacrest Beach, but if you walked out and turned right, we were in Alys beach… which is like staying in Greece. 😉
We rented a car, which I recommend. But 30a is made for bikes! We planned on renting bikes and doing our exploring along 30A‘s 19-mile paved bike path (sometimes referred to the “Timpoochee Trail”) It parallels the entire length of the scenic road and passes through all of its famous beach communities. But due to the severe weather we opted to skip this, which I was super bummed about!
All the beach towns along 30A are SO unique and full of their own personality. Rosemary Beach influences from the West Indies, New Orleans, Charleston and St. Augustine, among others. Alys Beach is filled with white and stunning design. Seaside is bright and festive and full of life! It was fun to drive through and stop and enjoy each town’s personality.
Okay, so beaches were interesting to us coming from the west coast. The emerald color colliding with the sugar-white sand is stunning… the sand is actually quartz! But the strange part is, you had to wear wrist bands to access your specific beach… they aren’t freely open which was new to us. There are security guards that block access if you don’t have the correct color wrist band. We did walk down to our assigned beach some mornings but I didn’t like I couldn’t hop down any beach access while on a walk. So many times we just paid a small fee to go visit a public beach. 3 of our favorite beaches we stopped at were: Grayton Beach, Deer Lake, and Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. (see below for more on Topsail)
I spent the mornings on the balcony (when it wasn’t raining) overlooking the ocean and Alys Beach.
I’ve always known that I need beauty in my life– but this trip just filled my creative heart in more ways than I could express. Driving around soaking in the architecture, textures and colors brought life to my heart!
One of the rainy days we drove to Eden State Park… I felt like I was visiting an Oregon park rather than Florida. It was so lush and green. Beautiful blooming ornamental gardens are the main attraction for many of the winter and spring months.
Food: I think this is so personal, so I will just share our thoughts 🙂 I didn’t want to spend my time indoors! Coming from the Pacific Northwest, I wanted to be outside! We loved the food trucks in Seaside, so stopped there a few times to grab dinner to go and then eat our dinner on the beach watching the Sunset. One of the nights we were eating dinner, dolphins were jumping out in front us. This $9 Grilled cheese dinner experience was better than any fine-dinning indoors could give me.
We also stumbled on this place called the Hub, which is very Family friendly. It is a food vendor/market along the edges and then they have a center grass where movies and live music play… it just had a fun, laid back atmosphere! We stopped here a few times and grabbed dinner and ate by the fireplace. I loved all the LIFE! The first evening I got teary-eyed… just seeing all the smiles and joy and life was so refreshing!
Black Bear Bread Co. was a fun little coffee shop that serves Stumptown coffee and yummy treats! We enjoyed a date afternoon spending time in this little coffee shop.
BEACH LIFE: Though the surf was rough most of the days we were there ( double red flags… which means don’t get in) we still spent as much time as we could on the shores. Branden enjoyed a lot of metal detecting while I read. The beaches have amazing seashells so I enjoyed walking the beaches finding unique shells to bring home.
The Sunrises and Sunsets are pretty spectacular … when its not stormy, ha! If you know me, I am a sunset-chaser. I am known to drive around town or stop whatever I am doing to watch a sunset. Well the first night in Florida we misjudged the time of the sunset and we couldn’t find an access point to the beach so I started just running down cobblestone streets trying to chase the sunset… while Branden is watching me like I am a crazy person and definitely not his wife haha! Sadly I never made it down to see the sunset that first night and I never missed a sunset the rest of the week. (unless it was pouring) But truly some of my favorite moments were the early sunrises watching the pink hues hit the emerald coast or the orange colors burst across the white sand as it fell across the ocean.
SHELL ISLAND: One afternoon we did a little boat tour to Shell Island… which is worth the trip! We saw many dolphins on the way over. The colors and unspoiled beaches are beautiful. Shell Island is an undeveloped barrier island almost 7 miles long. I wish we actually spent more time on the Island that day. There aren’t any bathrooms or food so you have to plan accordingly 😉
TOPSAIL: Topsail Hill was by far my favorite that we went there two different days! These public beaches are SO well done… clean, nice restrooms… Topsail had a trolly to get you to the beach even. I loved Topsail because it seemed more local and less touristy. It was pretty quiet the days we were there, even though it is connected to a large RV Park. The first time we visited Topsail we rented bikes for the day and biked to different lakes and explored the beauty of the Preserve. The second visit we utilized the free trolly.