A Budget Weekend Trip to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
We rounded up a $500 weekend full of sunny escapades in Florida's picturesque Santa Rosa Beach.
Get the beach cottage feel for a steal at the area's best-kept secret: the cabins at Grayton Beach State Park (floridastateparks.org/graytonbeach) with screened porches and full kitchens. (Bill: $260 for two nights; sleeps six.) Then immerse yourself in the culture of 30-A (the coastal highway that became the area's de facto nickname) with dinner at The Red Bar (theredbar.com). Adorned with movie posters and disco balls, this institution serves fresh blackened grouper and beachy cocktails in a colorful spot beloved equally by locals and tourists. The nightly jazz band doesn't hurt either. (Bill: $60 for two, including drinks; cash or check only.)
Head down the road to Yellowfin Ocean Sports (yellowfinoceansports.com) to rent beach cruisers. (Bill: $30 for two all-day rentals.) Then pedal 2 scenic, hill-free miles along a paved bike path to the white picket fences of Seaside. Grab a healthy breakfast of fruit-topped oatmeal and Breakfast Blend juice (orange, lemon, and grapefruit) from Raw & Juicy (850/231-0043), one of the five Airstream food trucks perma-parked by Seaside's post office. (Bill: $24 for two.) After browsing the open-air market and admiring the iconic Seaside Chapel, return your bikes and swing by the Grayton General Store (850/534-0372) for chips, drinks, and made-to-order cold cut sandwiches. (Bill: $20 for two).
Then spend a lazy afternoon by (and in!) the water at the state park's private beach, where the sand is as white and the water as blue as anywhere on Florida's Emerald Coast. (Don't tell the crowds elsewhere!)
Have a laid-back dinner of fish tacos and a Salty Dog (vodka and grapefruit juice in a salt-rimmed glass) at Local Catch Bar & Grill (localcatch30a.com). (Bill: $46 for two.)
Stroll around the state park's 1-mile walking loop through a coastal forest of sand scrub oaks and pine flatwoods. Then make your way to Café Hibiscus (hibiscusflorida.com) for from-scratch seasonal dishes served buffet-style on the breezy back patio. Don't miss the donation-only mimosas, which raise money for local nonprofits. (Bill: $34 for two, including two mimosas at $2 per glass).
Then tour the sprawling Greek Revival Wesley House (floridastateparks.org/edengardens) below the majestic moss-swathed oak trees of Eden Gardens State Park. (Bill: $12 for park admission and tours.)
Grand Total: $486