Miramar Beach and 30A
Located between Panama City Beach and Pensacola, the perfectly planned communities of South Walton, Florida, deliver southern hospitality at the beach. Here's everything you need to know to make a vacation in the "Hamptons of the South".
“Shhh! This Picture-Perfect Beach Community Is Florida's Best-Kept Secret”
Excerpts By Rachel Kurlander for Fathom. Sept1, 2018
South Walton is made up of sixteen planned towns built less than 30 years ago, affording regional planners and architects an opportunity most can only dream of: to construct entire towns from the ground up. South Walton’s blessing, and what makes it worth visiting, is that these charming, idealized, perfect towns (and they really are perfect: think white picket fences, building codes that require each home to have a courtyard, and beautiful, tanned residents with impeccable Southern manners) manage to retain a genuine spirit. Located between Panama City Beach and Pensacola, in the northwest part of the state, it serves as a popular vacation destination for visitors from neighboring Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. The main draw is the 26-mile stretch of white-sand beach along the Emerald Coast, named for the calm, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico that lap South Walton’s shores. But that’s not all the area has to offer: You’ll find exceptional design, a variety of restaurants and shops, outdoor recreation, a thriving art scene, and daily events year-round, drawing families with children of all ages, couples young and old, honeymooners, and bachelorette parties alike.
From east to west, the sixteen coastal towns of South Walton are Inlet Beach, Rosemary Beach, Seacrest, Alys Beach, Watersound, Seagrove, Seaside, WaterColor, Grayton Beach, Blue Mountain, Santa Rosa Beach, Gulf Place, Dune Allen, Sandestin, Miramar Beach, and Seascape. The neighborhoods are connected by two highways, Country Road 30a (CR 30a), a scenic route that goes directly through several town centers (with adjacent bike and pedestrian paths), and Highway 98, the faster, more direct way to get from point A to point B. Every town has something different to offer, and I’d highly recommend learning more about each before settling on a home base. But in general, the main points of interest are Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach, Seaside, Santa Rosa Beach, WaterColor, Grayton Beach, Blue Mountain, and Gulf Place.
You’ll also see incredibly rare bodies of water — likely without realizing it. Coastal dune lakes are shallow lakes located less than two miles from a shoreline, and they’re only found in Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Northwest, and here. In fact, South Walton is home to fifteen of them, making it the area with the largest concentration of coastal dune lakes in the world. During periods of heavy rainfall, freshwater outfalls, or currents of lake water, breach sand barriers and flow out into the gulf, while salt water flows in until salinity levels stabilize. The lakes, therefore, are unique ecosystems that support both freshwater and saltwater marine life.