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Experience the best of Florida’s Emerald Coast with this complete guide for things to do on 30A!
There’s nothing quite like cruising down Florida’s most beautiful highway on a bright sunny day with expansive views of the emerald-green ocean.
And that’s exactly what awaits you on a trip down Scenic Highway 30A!
With plenty of sunshine, palm trees, and family-friendly attractions, what more could you ask for?
In this post, we’re giving you the full scoop on the best things to do on 30A, including things to do on 30A when it rains.
Whether you tour the entire coastline or only have time for a stop or two, you can plan an amazing vacation filled with beach days, tasty eats, local shops, and more.
What is Scenic Highway 30A?
Scenic Highway 30A is a historic Florida highway that’s located along the Gulf of Mexico.
Often referred to as the Emerald Coast after its clear, blue-green waters, 30A is home to incredible beaches, picturesque beach towns, and tons of fun outdoor activities.
A lesser-known vacation spot unless you’re an avid traveler or from the South, the communities along 30A each have a huge fan base of vacation-goers who tend to return to the same place year after year.
You won’t find any huge condos, chain restaurants, or major retailers along 30A, however.
Instead, you’ll find a much calmer approach to life with cottage rentals, quaint shops, and locally-owned restaurants.
Traveling this coast is a popular tourist activity because of its natural beauty, soft, white sand beaches, and charming towns that greet you along the way.
Not sure what to wear when vacationing in Florida? Check out my favorite, affordable vacation looks to help inspire your Florida outfits!
Map of 30A
Scenic Highway 30A is located on Florida’s Panhandle between Destin and Panama City Beach.
It is a 20-mile stretch of roadway that passes through several small beach communities – some located only a few hundred yards from one another.
From west to east along road 30A, you’ll find: Santa Rosa Beach, Dune Allen, Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton Beach, Watercolor, Seaside, Seagrove Beach, WaterSound Beach, Seacrest Beach, Alys Beach, Rosemary Beach, and Inlet Beach.
If you’re traveling to Florida’s 30A area from out of state, the closest airports are Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) in Panama City Beach, and Destin – Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS).
Many visitors find great value in flying into these airports on a variety of airlines including Delta, United, American, and Allegiant.
Plus, because they are smaller airports, you can usually avoid heavy airport crowds and secure car rentals with ease.
When should you visit 30A?
I usually recommend that travelers visit the Emerald Coast in the spring and early summer, preferably in the months of April through June.
Florida is sunny and comfortable from April through June, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s-80s.
This weather is ideal for the beach and swimming in the ocean – with the right Florida beach gear of course!
The summer season is incredibly busy, and you’ll likely experience heavy traffic, crowded beaches, limited parking, and longer wait times at restaurants.
In the winter months up through the middle of March, temperatures are cool making it less desirable to spend time on the beach.
Oh, and psst…if you’re taking a trip to the Emerald Coast, we have plenty more posts to help you plan your trip!
- 23 Iconic & Fun Things To Do in Seaside, Florida
- 33 Best Things to Do in Destin with Kids While on Vacation
- Best Breakfast in Destin, Florida: 13 Must-Try Spots!
- Destin Florida Beaches: The 8 BEST Spots to Enjoy
- Destin Harbor Boardwalk (Best Things to Do + FAQs)
Fun Things to Do on 30A Florida
There is no shortage of incredible activities to experience on your trip down scenic Highway 30A.
Grab our Florida packing list, and let’s get exploring!
1. Head to the beach!
With sugar-white sand and clean, emerald-colored water, a trip to the beach is a 30A must-do.
Whether you’re looking to lay out in the sun, enjoy water sports, or have a bonfire on the beach, there’s something for everyone when exploring the Emerald Coast.
Some of the very best beaches on 30A include:
- Santa Rosa beach – Family-friendly, turquoise waters, swimming, and hiking.
- Blue Mountain Beach – Private beach, shallow waters, surfing, and boat rentals.
- Crystal Beach – Drop-in yoga, paddle boarding, and bike baths.
- Seagrove Beach – Laid back, shading trees, and sugary sands.
- Dune Allen Beach – Towering sand dunes, campgrounds, and tranquil coastal lakes.
When planning your 30A beach day, be sure to look over our list of things to bring to the beach for the ultimate day of convenience and relaxation!
2. Visit the state parks
Highway 30A also gives you full access to some of the most amazing state parks that the country has to offer.
Florida state parks are wonderful to explore under sunny weather, with shading tree tops, outdoor activities, and plenty of fascinating wildlife.
Whether you’re camping, hiking, or enjoying a relaxing picnic, visiting a state park is a great way to immerse yourself in nature.
Some of the best state parks near Highway 30A include:
- Grayton Beach State Park – Hiking, birdwatching, snorkeling Sea Turtle Reef, swimming, paddle-boarding, and biking.
- Camp Helen State Park – Lounging, swimming, hiking, fishing, picnicking, and visiting their historic site.
- Deer Lake State Park – Picnicking, fly fishing, wildlife sighting, hiking, & swimming.
- Eden Gardens State Park – Visiting Wesley House, hiking, kayaking, paddling, saltwater fishing, & canoeing.
- Point Washington State Forest – Bicycling, hiking, and birdwatching.
3. Explore the beach towns
Part of what makes a trip down Highway 30A so appealing is the charming beach towns along the way.
All of these towns have a relaxed, small-town feel that perfectly fits the vacation vibe.
Try to peel yourself away from the beach for at least a few hours to head into town and get exploring!
Seek local artisans, photo opportunities, delicious food, and more.
Some of the best towns to visit, with their unique draws and some of the best shopping on 30A, include:
- Seaside – Visit Sundog Books, the Seaside Post Office, and the “Truman House.”
- Santa Rosa Beach – Explore art galleries, local breweries, and art workshops.
- Inlet Beach – Shop for fun souvenirs at The Blue Giraffe and eat at Cafe Thirty-A.
- Seacrest – Visit Colorfield Gallery, tour the Peddlers Pavilion, and explore the town by bike.
- Grayton Beach – Take an art class and go souvenir shopping around town before watching the sunset at the beach.
- Rosemary Beach – Check out the adorable cobblestone streets, Barret Square, and The Hidden Lantern
4. Grab a bite
Florida is well-known for its food diversity and 30A is no exception.
It focuses on fresh seafood from the coast, Southern specialties, and Latin & Spanish influence.
Plus, there are dozens of unique and tasty food trucks along the coast, making food trucking one of the best things on 30A!
(Be sure to check out The Meltdown for the best grilled cheese in your life – located in Seaside’s Airstream Row.)
With no chain food restaurants in sight, sample as much local cuisine as you can while exploring 30A!
Best Restaurants on 30A Florida
Here are some of the best restaurants in 30A for you to enjoy:
- Best seafood on 30A – Old Florida Fish House & LaPlaya
- Best dinner on 30a – Sandbar
- Best happy hour on 30A – Havana Beach Bar & Grill
- Best sushi on 30a – Shaka Sushi
- Best pizza on 30a – Nick’s Slice of Brooklyn
- Best Italian food on 30 A – Angelina’s Pizzeria & Pasta
- Best bars on 30A – The Wine Bar & The Red Bar
- Best brunch on 30A – Donut Hut
- Best Mexican food on 30 A – La Cocina
- Best beer on 30A – Beach and Brew 30A
- Best donuts on 30A – Khave & Cream in Seagrove Beach
- Best dessert on 30A – La Crema Tapas & Chocolate in Rosemary Beach
5. Take a sightseeing bike ride
Biking your way through 30A is one of the things that 30A is most known for.
After all, biking allows you and your group to experience the unique shops and charming attractions that you might otherwise miss if you were driving by in a car – and all without having to find a parking spot!
One of the most popular bike trails along scenic Highway 30A is the Timpoochee Trail.
This 18.6-mile trail (you can do all, or only parts of it) parallels the entire length of Scenic Highway 30A from Dune Allen to Inlet Beach and is safe, wide, and relatively flat.
Luckily, there are plenty of bike rental shops available along the coast to complement its popularity.
Where you are staying overnight, or which area you plan to spend the most time in will likely determine where you choose to rent bikes from.
6. Meet the wildlife
The wildlife of Florida’s coast is too special not to see.
While you won’t want to get up close and personal with an alligator, there are some wonderful and safe wildlife encounters that you can experience.
Popular wildlife experiences on 30A include:
- Watching the butterflies in the butterfly gardens at Cerulean Park in Watercolor, Florida.
- Go on a dolphin cruise in the Gulf of Mexico (we recommend Destin, FL for this).
- Snorkel at Sea Turtle Reef located off the beach in Grayton Beach State Park.
- Take a tour of Shell Island (in Panama City) to feed the birds and watch the dolphins
- Go wildlife spotting in a state park and see deer, birds, squirrels, and more.
Things to Do in 30A When It Rains
While Florida vacations are usually all about fun in the sun, rain does happen once in a while.
But don’t fret!
There are tons of rainy-day activities to enjoy along 30A.
Try these weather-friendly attractions when hiding from the rain or trying to beat the Florida heat:
- Visit a museum like Wonderworks Museum located in Panama City Beach.
- Visit the multiple indoor shows and attractions at the Destin Harbor Boardwalk.
- Take an art class at The Shard Shop located in Santa Rosa Beach.
- See a live show from Emerald Coast Theater Company in Miramar Beach.
- Go bowling at Rock’it Lanes in Panama City Beach.
Best Places to Stay on 30A Florida
When you’re visiting the Emerald Coast, you have plenty of options for where to rest your head.
And some of them are pretty darn cool!
Here are the best places to stay in 30A:
Beach house rentals on 30A
If you want to stay right on the beach, it’s possible!
There are plenty of beach houses, Airbnbs, and condos on 30A for rent.
This option is ideal for families or large groups, giving you the option to make yourself right at home.
I love having a full kitchen when I’m traveling so that we can pack beach lunches and eat-in when we’re sick of restaurant food.
Camping on 30A
For nature lovers, camping along the Emerald Coast is a real treat.
This is the best choice for wanderers with a real sense of adventure!
Camp your way up the coast stopping in campgrounds including Grayton Beach State Park, Henderson Beach State Park, and Point Washington State Park.
Best hotels on 30A
After a long drive, sometimes we just need some air conditioning, room service, and neatly tucked sheets.
Great, family-friendly options include:
- Hyatt Place Panama City Beach – Ocean views, live music, & a pool with a lazy river!
- The Sandpiper Beacon Beach Resort – Family-friendly, water-slides, suites, condos, & townhouses.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Panama City – Beachfront Gulf views, great location, & beach access.
- Edgewater Beach & Golf Resort – Golf course, tennis courts, 11 pools, & several more amenities!
- Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort – Beautiful grounds and rooms, 4 pools, 4 golf courses.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Destin – Free breakfast, huge outdoor pool, close to the beach and Harborwalk Village.
Final Thoughts: Things to Do on 30A
That wraps up all you need to know to fully experience scenic Highway 30A.
We hope this advice helps you plan an incredible, sun-filled vacation!
If you’re a local or have visited before, let me know if we missed any fun activities in the comments down below.
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find our exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*