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Welcome to 30A, Florida. Crystal blue waters, white sandy beaches, and a vast array of things to do and see; 30A should be your next choice when visiting Florida.
30A is really a category for many beaches located on highway 30-A in the Florida Panhandle. Last summer I went with my husband’s family to Seagrove Beach, which is part of 30A. When I tell you that Seagrove is magical, I really do mean magical. Not only is the beach gorgeous, clean, and not so jammed-pack that you can’t find a spot to sunbathe, but it’s also located near so many amazing shops and restaurants. There’s plenty to see and do while you’re there!
Where We Stayed
We rented a house that was about a 10 minute walk from the beach. It was located in a community full of beautiful beach houses, cobblestone roads, and swimming pools. Our house had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a large living area that opened up into the kitchen. We were traveling with his parents, his brother, and his brother’s wife and baby, so the house was suited perfectly for our party. It had a screened in porch that included floats and beach chairs that we could use, and we were even able to rent bikes for sightseeing around the community and shops.
I highly recommend renting a house when visiting 30A because you get so many great benefits. It also helps to save you money because you can cook meals there and not have to eat out as much, which is what we did a lot for breakfast and lunch. You know how my husband and I like to budget! We allocated money for suppers and occasional treats by spending money wisely on breakfast and lunch food that we could eat during the week. Also, it was really nice to have a comfy place that was secluded from other travelers. Our car was right out in the driveway so we could quickly go explore when we wanted to.
Ah, Seagrove Beach. The beach is always a great place to stay, but when you visit a 30A beach, you’ll know what I mean. The blue-green waters sparkle as if diamonds have been thrown in. The sand is so creamy white and soft. You don’t have to fight for a spot to place your chair because the beach isn’t overcrowded. There’s plenty of room to enjoy the beach, and you don’t feel like you’re constantly having to move for someone. I’ve been to beaches before that have felt that way, and it sort of ruins the relaxing experience I hope to get.
Like I mentioned before, the beach was a 10 minute walk from our house. We had to cross a road and go down a dock, with a few steps, and then we were on the beach. The best part was that our dock had an area that a car could park to drop someone off and a water station to rinse sand off. This was really handy for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law since they had a lot to bring for the baby. So sometimes they would bring the car, which took about 5 minutes, drop off their things and then walk back.
There were umbrellas and chairs that you could rent for the day, but we brought a large canopy and our own beach chairs to save money. If you don’t have a canopy, and you have kids, I highly recommend getting one. Honestly, even if you don’t have kids, I highly recommend getting one! The other times that I had been to the beach, we would just use an umbrella or nothing. So when we got too hot or burnt, we would jump in the water to cool off or we would have to leave the beach early. Trust me, neither option is fun.
1. A Large Canopy
The canopy we used was an ABCCANOPY Pop up Tent. It comes in a roller bag that zips at the top for easy travel. The legs fold out easily, and pins were included for strong anchoring. Even when the wind would pick up, the tent didn’t blow over and pull in on itself. It was perfect! We could all fit under it easily when needed to, and it was perfect for my nephew. His parents put a kiddie pool filled with water under it so that he would have a cool place to play without getting sunburned. I highly recommend this canopy for your trip!
2. A Perfect Beach Chair
Before we went on our trip, I knew I needed a great beach chair. I was tired of getting the cheap rubber ones that would burn your skin after being in the sun for 5 minutes. I chose an Ostrich Beach Lounge Chaise, and I’m so glad that I did!
The back raises up different levels for your comfort, or it can also lay completely flat for sunbathing. It includes holes to put your arms through, and (my favorite part!) has a hole for your face! The hole is padded around the edges so it feels like you’re laying on a pillow. A flap covers it comfortably when you lay on your back. It’s perfect because you don’t have to deal with where you put your face or arms while you’re on your belly. It’s perfect for reading a book or checking your phone. Plus, it has a strap on the side so it’s easy to carry on your shoulder when you fold it. You need this chair!
Ostrich also makes a lounge chaise for ladies that aren’t quite comfortable laying on their stomachs. The Ostrich Ladies Comfort Lounge‘s design includes the great benefits of the original chaise lounge while making it easier for those with bigger busts. Both chaises come in different colors besides blue as well!
3. Tanning Lotion
Once upon a time I was, regrettably, one of those girls that went to the tanning bed way too much. These days I only work on a tan in the summer and only in small amounts. I’m much more careful now that I’ve realized the dangers of skin cancer, and I don’t want anything to go too far.
Maui Babe Browning Lotion is a great lotion for a quick tan so that you don’t have to be out in the sun too much. Typically, I put on this lotion and tan for about 30 minutes per side. Then, I rinse off in the ocean and put on sunscreen. It builds a nice tan quickly over a few days. Two cons- it does kind of smell like barbecue sauce, and it can stain your suit. The smell really isn’t that bad (Come on, barbecue sauce is pretty good, right?), but make sure you apply it carefully!
My mother-in-law introduced me to NO-AD sunscreen, which is a sunscreen that truly does the job. I’ve been burned when using other sunscreens because they didn’t last long enough. The NO-AD Continuous Spray SPF 45 Sunscreen lasts up to 80 minutes even if you have been in the water or sweating from tanning or playing on the beach. It’s paraben free, non-greasy, and quick drying. I also love the continuous spray because it’s so easy to apply. They do have lotion bottles though if you prefer that, and it comes in various SPF ranges. This is a must for me!
Local Shops and Eateries
The beach, and our house, was very close to a great shopping/entertainment area. All of the shops, food trucks, and restaurants were circled around a grass amphitheater where bands performed some nights. You could sit or lay on the grass and listen to music while you ate your meal, or you could stroll around the shops and restaurants while still listening to the music. It was all close together but in a quaint way.
There were tons of small shops to stop at that had just about anything you could imagine. There were many shops with different styles of clothes. Some were beachy, some had clothes that represented 30A and Seagrove, and others had clothes that could be worn anywhere. There was also a cozy bookstore, art galleries, an ice cream/candy shop, and gift shops with really beautiful items.
Living in a small city, I don’t get to experience food trucks. There were so many great ones by the shopping area in Seagrove that had such amazing food!
One night my husband and I chose to get grilled cheese sandwiches from The Melt Down on 30A. I got the Meatloaf Melt and my husband got the Cuban McConnell. We both tried some of each other’s sandwich, and they were both amazing! We both got so excited trying out gourmet grilled cheeses, and they were definitely worth getting.
Five Daughter’s Bakery is a vintage airstream that my husband and I got doughnuts from for breakfast one morning. Actually, they’re cronuts. A cronut is a doughnut made from croissant-like dough. Their doughnuts are so light, crispy, and full of flavor. They’re also really fun to eat! I got a King Kong while my husband got a sugar dusted original. We also picked up some other flavors for our family, like Maple Glaze, Strawberry Shortcake, and Chocolate. Check out my full review here!
One night we ate at the Great Southern Cafe, and man-oh-man was it delicious. The restaurant itself is built like a house inside with different rooms you can eat in. You eat at big tables covered in paper that you can even color on! (I know, I’m such a kid.)
But the food. Oh the food. I got the grilled local-caught grouper with fried green tomatoes, mashed potatoes, and hush puppies. It was both beautiful and delicious. My husband got a grilled pork chop, sautéed green beans, sweet potato fries, and coleslaw. Afterwards, we both got dessert. I got key lime pie and he got chocolate crème brûlée. To say the least, we were stuffed and very satisfied.
Another restaurant we loved was Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant. We were seated outside under a large canopy-like structure that gave you a view of the ocean while you ate. It was beautiful, and the subtle ocean breeze was wonderful while enjoying our meal. I ordered the Seared Diver Scallops that came with creamy grits, crimini mushrooms, and a veal reduction, and my husband ordered Bud & Alley’s Crab Cakes. Both of our meals were amazing! I will warn you though, this was a pricey place, so please know that in advance.
One Last Tip
This may seem arbitrary, but don’t forget to take a sunset stroll on the beach. We witnessed the most amazing and colorful sunsets while we were there, and I wouldn’t give anything for that experience. God truly does paint masterpieces when we just take the time to notice and enjoy them.