The Ultimate Guide to Florida’s Highway 30A
At first, beachgoers landed on Scenic Highway 30A the same way sand settles on the seashore: slowly and without much fanfare. But then a wave began to build and—bam!—all of a sudden, this unassuming stretch of roadway, just 24 miles long, was one of the most popular destinations in the South.
Perched on the northwest Gulf Coast of Florida, the beaches along 30A can be accessed with an easy trip over a bay bridge. These picture-perfect towns are welcome sights for weary travelers, some of whom have been driving for hours amid crumpled potato chip bags, empty sippy cups, and restless children in car seats. A greeting of powdery-white sand, clear cerulean water, and a decidedly sunny disposition kicks off your stay. From there, the salt-whipped streets teeming with flip-flopped bike riders instantly shift you into vacation mode.
These tiny towns fit together like members of a family, each with its own personality. Grayton Beach, the oldest of the bunch, is like that cool uncle who once followed Phish around the country, selling roadside tacos for gas money. Seaside sticks closer to the straight and narrow, more akin to a khakis-wearing dad. Alys Beach is as chic as that jet-setting aunt who visits during the holidays, freshly tanned from a trip to the Caribbean, while Rosemary Beach is the quiet one who enjoys the simpler things, like reading while sunbathing—responsibly, of course, under a wide-brimmed hat.
Wander from one town to the next, and your view of this Southern coast will constantly change. Sure, there’s a little sibling rivalry, but family is family. The beaches of 30A just want to show everybody a good time.
Get to Know The Beaches of Florida's 30A
Grayton Beach: The Relaxed Village with Nowhere to Be
If a typical beach town is laid-back, then Grayton Beach is fully reclining—in a hammock, with an ice-cold margarita in hand. In fact, this beach village even comes with an unofficial slogan: “Nice dogs, strange people.”
Seaside: The Happy Town with an Old Soul
The 1998 cult-classic film The Truman Show, shot in Seaside, features a town so idyllic that it could exist in a movie. This place, however, is absolutely real—from the pristine amphitheater lawn to a charming string of food trucks to the crisp white, Instagrammable Seaside Post Office.
Alys Beach: The Worldly Sophisticate
Four gleaming minaret-style towers welcome visitors to Alys Beach and a stretch of the scenic highway flanked by towering palm trees. In case the sophisticated surroundings tempt you to put on airs, remember that this beach town was named after its original developer’s wife. That’s like naming your firstborn after your mama, and we all know it doesn’t get more relatable—or Southern—than that.
Rosemary Beach: The Charming Spot with a Quiet Side
With the same sugar-white sand and thoughtfully planned layout as its due-west counterparts, Rosemary Beach makes a play for the distinction of “most quietly charming.” In between boogie boarding and bike rides, don’t be surprised if you stumble upon a nicely shaded, secluded bench. In fact, you might find yourself sitting a spell. This place has that kind of effect.
More Beach Towns to Visit
But wait: Highway 30A is much more than just these four favorites. Take a drive and explore in-between beaches, from Blue Mountain Beach to Seagrove Beach to WaterSound Beach. With plenty of cottages to rent and seafood dives to hit, you won’t dare miss out on everything that Florida’s Highway 30A has to offer.