Travel Guide: 30A, Florida

I have been dreaming of a beautiful beach holiday for many many months and finally, I got to go on one.🌊 I felt so blessed that I was able to take some time away from the hecticness of life and travel with my boyfriend, Anthony. We both needed a getaway and this was how I wanted to spend my 25th birthday trip this year. He was the best travel partner I could ask for because he indulged in all of the things I wanted to do but also kept reassuring me how much he too was enjoying each leg of the trip. Anyways, as a couple traveling from several states away, flying made the most sense to us. While it would’ve been nice to drive one of our cars down to have and be able to bring beach gear with us, it wasn’t worth the over 20hr drive. Instead, we opted to fly into ECP, rented a car down there and rented an AirBnB that had beach gear included in the rental. At the very bottom of this blog post, I rounded up food/drinks all into a list format so if you are using this as a reference blog, you can easily get names and locations quickly.

Day 1: Travel Day and Settling In ✈️

Okay y’all, I haven’t been on a plane in over a year and with all of the news stories about delays and cancellations, I was a little nervous to fly to Florida. However, I knew I wasn’t going to survive driving from VA to FL so I went ahead and made the arrangements to fly several months prior. Our flight was early early, like 6am early which meant getting to the airport by 4:30am and waking up to get to the airport around 2:45am. Thankfully there were no issues with our flights or luggage getting into Florida. Luckily grabbed Whataburger as well during our brief connecting stop in Dallas, TX. We arrived to Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) on time and around 11am which gave us the rest of the day to get sorted and explore the area a bit. We rented a Jeep through Turo for this trip and it was one of the best decisions we made. Not only did both my boyfriend and I take turns to drive in a new vehicle we had never tested before, we also had free reign to go wherever we needed. Okay getting back to the actual travel days… after getting into the Jeep at the airport, we still had the rest of the day to get our bearings. I am a big believer in getting as early a flight as possible to maximize the time I have in the new location. We drove around Panama City Beach (PCB) for awhile to explore a bit since we weren’t going to be staying in that area for the rest of the week. There were a couple of toiletries that we needed to get so we found a Target and picked up what was needed. After that it was around 2pm and we couldn’t check into the airbnb unit until 4pm so we decided to have a late lunch in PCB. I genuinely didn’t make many plans on this trip other than visiting various beach towns along the Gulf. All I knew was that I wanted to be on the beach with a margarita in my hand. With that in mind, I looked at some local reviews and I picked Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant in PCB. The name is all I needed, beachfront? Sign me up. Waltzed right into the restaurant and dined right on the Panama City Beachfront. I had the no chilli nachos, the Hawaiian chicken sandwich, and a ‘Sharkarita’ their version of a jumbo margarita. They even gave their speciality drinks out in their signature cup which was a bonus because it automatically made my first souveniour easy.

It only took about 30 minutes from the restaurant to get into 30A and the whole ride over, I was so giddy. I had seen pictures of the beautiful landscaping of the beaches on 30A but I was finally going to see it in person. Just entering into the strip was amazing and I was driving super slow to take it all in (and to be careful of the pedestrians because pedestrians/bicyclists run the town). We stayed inside the Village at Seacrest Beach which was an amazing location for us. Seacrest beach is nestled right in between Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach which were the two beaches I was most excited to visit. There was a wristband that went along with our rooms and it provided a free trolley service from our front steps to the private beach access walkway. This was such a lifesaver so we didn’t have to lug all of our beach equipment. Additionally, it gave us access to the pool and grills within the village. After settling into our rental condo, I ~naturally~ wanted to go to the beach and dip my feet into the water. The timing worked out perfectly because by the time we walked down to the private beach area, it was sunset and the water looked absolutely spectacular. The scenery was breathtaking and at that moment, I knew that this trip was everything I needed. 30A is a very family friendly beach area which has definitely driven the tourist numbers up in addition to the small town beach charm of the area. With that small town charm also comes early closing hours so many restaurants were closed around 9:30pm and if you don’t have reservations, there isn’t usually a lot of room to accommodate large parties towards the end of the evening. We like to do pizza on the first travel day because it’s usually the easiest to find before getting groceries. Again, basing my decision off reviews, I found Angelina’s Pizzeria & Pasta located in Seagrove Beach. They closed at 9:30 so we were able to be seated around 8. I am a big fan of Italian food so this was very exciting to me. We split a cheese pizza and a gorgeous antipasta salad. After a lovely but very long travel day, we were happy to go back to our rental and relax before making our plan of action for the rest of the week.

Day 2: Beach Day… FINALLY 🏝

I woke up our first full day in Florida to the realization that I could finally go down to the beach and sit in the sun. The smile that was on the my face the whole day was massive. There are many beaches along the 30A coastline so I wanted to see as many as we could while we were visiting. First stop was Blue Mountain Bakery to go get coffee and pastries. We drove over to Blue Mountain Bakery early in the morning before getting on with the day. I had heard about huge cinnamon rolls but you must get there before 10am to be able to grab some, they were sold out by the time we arrived. However, I had some other great bakery items and there were even gluten-free options available which is why I wanted to go there. While I was there, I ordered the bacon and gouda breakfast roll, a gluten-free apple cinnamon muffin, and a peach green tea. They were all so yummy. The bakery is just a couple quick blocks away from Blue Mountain Beach so if you would like to grab some pastries and take them over to the beach to enjoy in the morning, it would be the perfect morning. The bakery was on the way to the grocery store which was the best scenario because I wanted to go get a few groceries at Publix before we went to the beach. Nothing compares to a good ole-fashioned sandwich while sitting in the sand and looking out at the water. After picking up a grocery-cart full of items from Publix, we drove back to our apartment to get ourselves ready for the beach. Thankfully we had chairs, an umbrella, and a cooler all in our Airbnb to be able to take our fruit and sandwiches in to enjoy lunch at the beach. The whole afternoon we spent at the beach in the water and in the sand and it was truly amazing. Feeling the warm water, jumping through the waves, reading under the umbrella, and laying out in the sand was exactly what I was there to do and I did it all week long. After getting washed off, we decided to stay local to our beach town for dinner. Our apartment was in the building above La Co so it seemed like the best option for us. A wonderful mango margarita and a chicken taco salad later, our first full day in 30A was complete.

Day 3: ANOTHER BEACH DAY πŸ–

Another beach day today! That is all I wanted out of this trip so of course I was going to make sure we made the most of our time on the beach. Before our big beach day, we had to grab some breakfast but again, didn’t want to go too far so we walked down in The Village and saw this cute creperie right down the block. Creative Crepes had so many different options available and it seemed very popular. We got there in the knick of time because as soon as we got in line, more and more people lined up behind us all the way out the door and into the street. When there is a long line like that, you know it’s a good place that’s worth the wait. I am not a big sweets person so I decided to try one of the savoury crepes. I ordered the Pesto Turkey one (pictured) and it was so delicious and filling. Plus the creperie is right next door to the Starbucks so if you need a quick caffeine jolt in the morning, it’v available. After the creperie, we didn’t want to waste any time in getting to the beach this day. We packed up a few drinks and snacks and headed out to the beach for the rest of the day. It was of course amazing, just hanging out in the sun together and wading through the warm waves. After a long day at the beach, we had made dinner reservations the night before for Cafe Thirty-A. It is an upscale casual beach restaurant so we decided to dress up a bit and go with our beachiest upscale look. This restaurant was one of the best ones we went to during our stay in 30A. It gives off the James Bond old school beach vibe which was so fun to experience. The service was great, the food was remarkable, and the drinks were strong… everything we wanted for a fun evening out. I was very interested in their martini and cocktail menu so I tried the Hendricks Tini which was so good. We started with the Beef Carpaccio, I had the Grilled 12oz Prime NY Strip (AMAZING), and ended the meal with Warm Rum Raisin Apple Bread Pudding which was worth every rich bite. We were thoroughly impressed with this restaurant and still talk about the food today.

Day 4: Rosemary and of course, another Beach Day 🌊

Saturday morning at the beach? That means brunch, of course. Before we got down there, I had done a good amount of research on the places to stay and best restaurants to eat at. If I was only there for a couple of days and wanted to stay at a top hotel, it would’ve been at The Pearl hotel in Rosemary Beach. We decided to go anyway though for brunch so that we could see the hotel and try the food. We had a wonderful brunch on the outside terrace which was a great start to the morning. They even served freshly-squeezed orange and apple juice which was a big win for both Anthony and I. After brunch, we walked around Rosemary Beach shops a bit and it was so cute. It’s one of the smaller beach towns but it is definitely geared towards more adult couples than little kids. Shortly after walking around Rosemary, we decided to quickly get our swimsuits on and head down to the beach for a few hours. Enjoying the sun and the crash of the waves everyday was one of the best highlights from the trip. We weren’t able to stay for too long on Saturday because we had to get ready to go to Destin that night. It just so happened that some of my cousins from Texas were in Destin which was only 45 minutes away from where were staying so we all decided to get together. This was the perfect opportunity for Anthony and I to drive over to the Destin area and look around a bit. We all met at Captain Daves on the Gulf right in Destin and it was amazing. The food was pretty okay but the view is what pushed the experience to the next level. The restaurant was right on the beach and since we were seated by the window, we were able to look out and enjoy the blue water view right from where we were sitting. After dinner, we snuck away to the beach to see if it was much different than 30A beaches and other than a bit more crowded, it was still beautiful white sand and clear blue water with a breathtaking sunset. Lastly, we hadn’t had any dessert so when we made it back to the Seacrest area, we stopped into the cupcake shop right across from our Airbnb, Smallcakes 30A. I even splurged and got a gluten-free chocolate cupcake with pink frosting because duh, of course I had to. It was a jam-packed Saturday but a great one for sure.

Day 5: Alys, Seaside and Blue Mountain Beach 🀍

Did I wake up at 6:30am to go get donuts? Yes i did! I had read so many good reviews about Charlie’s Donut Truck but many of those good reviews said that they were the best in the area unfortunately they are sold out by 9am. Beach donuts just hit differently, I couldn’t not try these amazing donuts for myself. Originally, the truck was located in Alys Beach so I headed on over there to look for it. Unfortunately, there was a sign that said it is currently under construction so the donuts are actually being sold at different locations, one being a hut right in front of out Airbnb. By this point, it was already 8am and I was nervous about the sell-out potential so we both ran back over to Seacrest Beach and found the hut. Thank goodness because nothing had sold out yet. The chocolate rainbow sprinkles, maple bacon, and blueberry are absolute musts! These donuts were amazing, so amazing that we went back each morning after this one. This was the day we decided to give the beach a break at least from laying out in the sun to save Anthony’s sunburn. After we enjoyed the donuts, we got ready and drove over to Seaside. Throughout the week, I knew I wanted to visit Seaside but I wasn’t sure when, it turned out Seaside Sunday was the best way to go. We spent a few hours walking around looking through all the shops and people-watching. It was such a relaxing way to spend time together that wasn’t directly right on the beach. If you go, you have to try the food trucks! They are so good, unlike any other food trucks I’ve had before. We ate at Barefoot BBQ but the meltdown (grilled cheese-centered menu) definitely caught my eye but I knew it would’ve caused a stomach ache. A sad part of my reality but if you have the chance, you gotta try it. For lunch time dessert, we stopped by Dawson’s Yogurt and Fudgeworks to grab a milkshake and a scoop, wow did it impress. Such a refreshing dessert on a very hot day in the sun. Before we left for the afternoon, I made sure to stop into the the bookstore, Sundog Books and picked up a very cute beach read to take home with me. All of the boutiques in the area have such cute items, very worth stopping into. Once we exhausted ourselves in the heat, we went back to our Airbnb and showered to get ready for our dinner reservations. A few days earlier, I had made a reservation at Blue Mable Smokehouse and Provisions for the evening of and since it was located in Blue Mountain Beach, we decided to go to the area again and walk along the beach during the sunset before our dinner time. The restaurant was so delicious, we enjoyed everything we had from the menu. It also seemed to be a local favourite because it was completely packed the whole night we were there. The drink I tried was Heart of Pearl but I’ll admit the Pardon Me Dolly definitely caught my eye. As an appetizer, we shared the brisket nachos and WOW some of the best nachos I’ve had (and that says a lot). Instead of having a main, I ordered a wedge salad and a side of fries because that’s what I do best….mix greens and fries. A very gluten-friendly menu was very much appreciated. Sunday was filled with amazing food, funny conversations, and beautiful scenery making it such a treasured day of the trip.

Day 6: Last Day in ParadiseπŸŒ…

Our last full day in 30A was intended to be a full beach day which is exactly what we planned for. First, we wanted to make sure to grab a couple of last minute souveniours so we walked over to Rosemary to do our shopping. Since many boutiques did not open until 10am, we decided to go to Charlie’s Cafe at Rosemary and thankfully, they had the donuts from the truck! We grabbed donuts, breakfast wraps and a couple of morning drinks to pass the time. Once the boutiques opened, we grabbed a few sweatshirts for me (my vice) and then headed back to our place to get our swimsuits on and headed to Seacrest beach. I tried to maximize the time I had on the beach today because I knew the next day I would be headed home on a plane. The views were absolutely incredible, minimal junegrass, and bright sun rays that put me in the best mood. I think we stayed about 5-6 hours on our last day, I had lots of time to read my book. After our fun at the beach, we got cleaned up and embarked on our last dinner out. For our last date night dinner, we drove to Watercolor Beach to dine at Fish Out of Water (FOOW). We didn’t get seated until about 9pm but while we waited, we walked around the area and it was such a nice area that if we go back, I had thought about booking there. FOOW was amazing food and a great ambience as well. I ordered the Filet medallions for dinner and we ate the “Dirt Road Anthem” for dessert. The name sold me on it for the most part. Whenever we go on a holiday, we make sure that our last dinner conversation consists of what our favourites restaurants and activities that we did there so of course that was a priority we talked about. After, finishing at FOOW we had to head back to Seacrest to pack the last few things up in our suitcases to get ready for our next travel day.

Food/Drinks Places:

  • Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant (Panama City Beach)
  • Angelina’s Pizzeria & Pasta (Seagrove Beach)
  • Blue Mountain Bakery (Blue Mountain Beach)
  • La Co Latin Coastal Kitchen (The Village at Seacrest Beach)
  • Creative Crepes (Seacrest Beach)
  • Cafe Thirty-A (Seagrove Beach)
  • The Pearl Hotel (Rosemary Beach)
  • Captain Daves on the Gulf (Destin)
  • Smallcakes 30A (The Village at Seacrest Beach)
  • Charlies Donut Truck (Alys Beach)
  • Seaside Food Trucks
  • Dawson’s Yogurt and Fudgeworks (Seaside Beach)
  • Blue Mabel Smokehouse and Provisions
  • Charlie’s Cafe at Rosemary
  • Fish Out Of Water- FOOW (Watercolor Beach)

The last day was just a travel day back to Virginia so I didn’t feel the need to go into great day breakdown detail. 🧳 All in all, this trip was so well-needed and well-timed. It was more than I could ask for to have some uninterrupted time with Anthony away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. 30A was truly a little slice of paradise and if you are looking for a relaxing beach area with amazing views and cute beach towns, then this is the trip for you to take. I would love to continue to visit the area and make it an annual or bi-annual tradition, I loved it that much. For those of you who have known me for awhile, you know I’m a big traveller. I travelled a lot growing up and still have a long list of places I want to visit. I believe traveling is one of the best ways to spend your time so I really put a lot of intention into this trip to ensure it would be memorable. I hope you liked reading along with this post and hopefully by now, you’ll be on the flight with me next time I visit 30A. If you have any other questions about the trip, let me know! I’m happy to answer any and all. Have a great week and enjoy the last bit of summer left.✨

XOXO

–Sara πŸ’‹

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All thoughts and opinions are my own. I own the rights of all pictures in this blog post. I do not make any commission from links provided.

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