Hey girl hey, grab your best girlfriends and plan your 30a getaway!
Visitors from all over the country are flocking to Beautiful Scenic Highway 30A to discover what the hype is all about. With so many choices, how do you possibly fit the best into one girls’ epic trip?
Here are our tips and tricks to having the best girls’ reunion, bachelorette party, birthday trip or just time away from the kids.
WHERE TO STAY ON 30A
We have several high en d luxury homes perfectly equipped to host your trip. Homes with ensuite, private heated pools, decks overlooking the golf, kitchens set up for a private chef… call us with your specific needs and we will connect you with the perfect house.
WHAT TO DO ON 30A
Not only will it be pants-wetting hilarious when you or your besties fall off the board, but you can burn some calories. Our favorite place to rent is at the Watercolor Boat House because you can paddle around and get your bearings. Visit 30A Paddleboard Yoga for an added experience of yoga right on the board.
For first-time yogis or dedicated followers, try Otium Studios, a hip, tudio based out of Savannah. Try a private class for up to 14 people, or take a drop-in class. A few others include: Balance Health Studio, and 30-A Yoga. Check with local studios to see if you can book a private class for your girls’ weekend, or have an instructor come to you. We have several we can recommend for private classes in your vacation rental or on the beach.
BEER TASTING AT LOCAL BREWERIES
Craft beer isn’t just for the boys. Here on 30A, we have the well-respected Grayton Beer Company, with namesake paying homage to 30A’s Grayton Beach. Visit the Tap Room to see the beer making up-close. Their Brew Pub in Grayton Beach offers beer flights and food. Idyll Hounds Brewing Company also has a tap room to try favorites like Divide and Conch’r and seasonal selections. Drive a little farther into Destin for McGuire’s Irish Puband Destin Brewery, or head right over the bridge to Fort Walton Beach for Props Brewery & Grill.
Use those creative juices and take home a souvenir. Most of the classes offer a beach-inspired landscape, or sea-life painting such as starfish, shells and palm trees. Try The shard shop. Check with us for artist trips we hold them in the off months, all inclusive with chef meals, yoga, bike trips and more to get your creative juices flowing!
WINE TASTING AT NEAT BOTTLE SHOP
One of the things I love most about 30A are the quaint well-decorated rooms hiding behind every corner, and Neat is one of these. Head inside the tasting room for shareable bites, creative cocktails and wine tasting galore. Great pre-dinner bites and sips for the night ahead.
Self care? Vacations are the perfect time to start! 30A is home to multiple places for facials, massages and other luxurious treatments. The Spa Pearlin Rosemary Beach has treatment rooms poolside, and after a treatment, the pool is all yours for the day. Other choices include the Watercolor Inn Spa, or take a short drive to Destin, and visit two more inclusive spa experiences (think lavender steam room, sauna and Himalayan salt room) at The Henderson and Hilton Sandestin.
We love to shop and 30a is home to some amazing boutiques!! Start at Willow at the 30a Ave shoppes. You won’t be disappointed from Golden Goose to Veronica Beard and other sought after designer pieces.
The biggest draw to the Emerald Coast are the beaches, which stretch for miles of white and every shade of cyan blue. If you are not staying close to the beach, don’t fret! Check out this list of public beach accesses along 30A.
The easiest way to soak in all the area has to offer is to ride bikes (And, no, I wouldn’t suggest tackling the entire stretch of 30A in one day). Pick the area closest to where you are staying, or drive and rent bikes in one of the communities. If you rent a beach house, it may even come with a few beach cruisers. My favorite stretch is Seagrove, Seaside and Watercolor, but you could also do the stretch between Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach. All our homes include bikes and many include electric bikes… haven’t had an electric bike trip yet ohhh girls you have to!
We loved e hosting bonfires!! Beach Boyz will set up a fire pit, chairs and tiki torches right on the beach. We of course follow the “leave no trace” policy, and clean up after the night has ended. We bring the cooler, can even pick up food I suggest boil and of course s’mores (ask about gourmet style) for a fun evening (and amazing sunset views if you time it right).
Restaurants can get crowded if you are visiting during peak times. Catering food to your vacation home is a great way to have a more low-key evening. A great way to feed a larger group during your girls’ weekend is to host a shrimp boil. Signature Catering of 30A offers this set up right on the beach or in your home. Also try Lesgo Personal Chef. This is also a great add on to your bonfire or we can set up at your vacation home!
30A offers a wide variety of events during the year. A few of my favorites include: the Seaside Fourth of July parade and the fantastic wine festivals. This includes the 30A Wine Festival at Alys Beach and the Seeing Red Wine Festival in Seaside. These would both be great events to attend with your girlfriends. The 30A Songwriters Festival is also a must-do to see national music talent.
WHERE TO DRINK ON 30A
From sips by the sea to views from above the rooftops–it is always 5 o’clock when you are on vacation. Here are the best spots to grab a drink during your girls’ weekend.
Chiringo has quickly become one of my favorite spots for drinks and Mexican-inspired eats. The downstairs has great wrap-around seating with a front row view to the drink making, or you can grab a seat in the comfy chairs on the lawn. Order the island-inspired Billy Ocean with ginger, pineapple and mango or the house margarita.
Chances are you have a friend who has been to Rosemary Beach, and they will recommend La Crema. A staple in this beach community, with the best smells of melting cheese and chocolate fondue. Don’t miss the fruity sangria, and the wide selection of wines. Another favorite is the chocolate-covered bacon.
Visit the rooftop of The Pearl for the perfect place to take a group photo. Face the beach and have the staple yellow umbrellas in the back, or opt for a beach background. Happy Hour is from 3-6 p.m., so try and get your hands on a frozen mule for $7.
From prickly pear margaritas to dill-infused gin drinks–Pescado is a great place to go for sips, and views of Rosemary Beach, and the gulf. If the waitlist is too long for a table, head to the bar seating outside, and make sure to arrive before sunset. Sure to become one of your faves!
Great Southern Cafe is famous for their mojitos, which come in flavors galore: mango, coconut and more. Plus, since they don’t take reservations, waiting by the bar is a great way to pass the time while you wait for a table.
WANT A LATE NIGHT OUT?
If you want to check out the bar scene, take your girls’ weekend out to AJ’s Grayton Beach. If you don’t mind the long Uber or Lyft ride, take a drive to the Destin Harbor for a bar-hopping experience: AJ’s Destin, and a few more are within walking distance of each other.
WHERE TO EAT ON 30A
Let’s be honest, a good vacation always involves food. I love to say my “phone eats first,” because if you didn’t get a good picture, did it really happen? Here are my picks for best eats for your girls’ weekend.
LUNCH AND DINNER ON 30A
With small plates, and an entire side of the menu involving chocolate, this intimate space on the main stretch of Rosemary Beach smells decadent when you arrive at the host stand. Start out with the sweet white or red sangria, and cheese fondue. Don’t miss the lobster-stuffed mushroom caps or the steak tostadas. For dessert, have each guest at your table order a different type of chocolate: espresso cookie, chocolate molten cake or an order of chocolate fondue to share.
When the garage doors come up, the sunsets are unmatched at Shunk Gulley. The restaurant perches above a public beach access with uninterrupted views of the rolling gulf. We started out at the bar while we waited for a table, and sipped on Jalapeño margaritas, which included muddled jalapeños and a salty finish. The tuna poke appetizer comes in a stack with avocado, sesame soy ginger dressing and won-ton chips to load up with the scrumptious poke. We ordered the gulf sandwich with blackened grouper, heirloom tomatoes and slaw, which was delicious and a huge portion of fish. If you don’t want a sandwich, basket or oysters (the majority of the menu), the chef features daily specials on their Facebook page, so make sure to take a look before visiting.
Sit atop Rosemary Beach’s most elite homes and soak in the views of the gulf at this soon-to-be 30A staple. The bartender recommended the “Pescado 76” so that is exactly what we ordered. The fusion of Meyer lemon, basil and bubbly prosecco was a refreshing start to dinner. We sampled the pepper-seared tuna & blue crab from the raw bar section of the menu and loved the striking combination of flavors from the peppers and aioli on top of the tuna. The clams & mussels were delicious, slow-cooked in a Thai-infused coconut milk and ginger sauce. The menu is a culinary-fanatic’s dream, with offerings from the raw bar to shareable feasts like the whole-grilled fish. We enjoyed the visual merge of small plates whisking around the dining room followed by colorful cocktails and the chef’s daily creations.
Need some chips and guac for dinner? This is just the place. I love their house-made guacamole with pepitas, cotija and pomegranate. The tacos and enchiladas are also all good. Don’t forget a margarita!
Sushi lovers flock to this spot settled on Choctawhatchee Bay with a laid-back vibe, but well-prepared food. We loved the Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps as an appetizer before our sushi, but make sure to also consider ordering the chef’s special when you visit. The chef had homemade tomato soup with a pizza-style Focaccia bread when we were there and we couldn’t resist the order. Sushi favorites are the The Bay Roll (spicy) and the John the 2nd Roll.
Sit along the wrap-around white porch of this feels-like-grandma’s house restaurant right in the middle of the action of Seaside Square. They are famous for Grits-s-Ya-Ya with creamy mushroom sauce, blackened shrimp all over a bed of rich gouda grits with a crispy carrot topping. We also love the crab cakes and fried green tomato appetizer. Don’t leave without trying a coconut mojito, and make sure to arrive early with a big group, the lines get long!
By far the most well-known restaurant on 30A, up there with Bud and Alley’s, the Red Bar is a favorite for visitors far and wide to Grayton Beach. Enter into the intimate, red-lit space screaming 80s eclectic from all walls. If you are lucky, a jazz band will be strumming away in the corner while you eat. The menu is served on a chalkboard with only five items–but don’t fret, all five are stand-out. I recommend the Panne Chicken topped with lemon butter caper sauce and served with the most amazing mashed potatoes and salad with a house-made tomato vinaigrette. The cucumber margarita is a refreshing pair to dinner. And good news, they now accept credit cards.
Surfing Deer has a Southern California vibe with the added charm of Gulf flavors. Favorites include the flavorful clothesline bacon, served with clothespins on a a wire, rich lobster tacos, and the everything bagel wedge salad.
You cannot miss the best local deal on 30A: Cafe Thirty-A’s two-for-one entrees! Check their social media for times (typically from 5-6 p.m.) Tini Tuesday and Thursdays mean $5 martinis of all kinds (they have very well-mixed martinis). We always start with the tuna poke, and end with one of their great desserts. You can’t go wrong with any of the entrees, Cafe Thirty-A is a staple (it has been around since 1995).
With a recent revamp, FOOW has added more causal menu items for any time dining. The Carolina Pimento Cheese Toast is a great way to start, or the plentiful seafood gumbo. Choose from seafood baskets, handhelds, or tacos. Everything has a dressed-up Southern feel. At 5 p.m., they begin serving larger entrees, including swordfish and grouper.
With a renovation in 2019, Bud and Alley’s is better than ever. Start with the house-made smoked tuna dip, and move on to the crab cakes, or gulf fish. The owners also run a pizza bar and taco bar close by if you want something more relaxed.
This quaint cottage packs quite the punch in the flavor department. The seafood plates are a classic pick, served Southern style with grits, hush puppies and slaw. Make sure to check the chalkboard for seasonal specials.
GRAB AND GO EATS ON 30A
The Hub 30A and the Seaside Airstreams are two great places to check out. The Hub has a few small restaurants (more like permanent food trucks) to grab different types of food, while you enjoy a concert, or movie on the lawn. The Seaside Airstreams include Frost Bites, Barefoot Barbecue, Raw & Juicy and more for grabbing food to-go.
BREAKFAST AND BRUNCH ON 30A
The locals know this is the spot for the best coffee and tartines (a fancy way to say open sandwich) in the area. For girls’ weekend, arrive early to beat the lines, which reach out of the door and down the steps of this quaint cafe in Grayton Beach as the day goes on. My personal favorite is the avocado tartine (I am a self-proclaimed avocado toast specialist, and their toast is hard to beat), but the salmon is a must-try as well.
The deep scent of sweet maple bacon wafts toward you when entering The Perfect Pig. They serve lunch and dinner as well, but the breakfast is a must-try. Try the pork belly biscuit or the mouth-watering biscuits and gravy.
A New Orleans-raised chef, and James Beard Award-winner, brought this restaurant to 30A, and we are oh-so-thankful. Do not go here without ordering one of their famous, buttery biscuits. The Huevos Rancheros Grit Bowl is to die for.
This location is not on 30A, but it is worth driving into Miramar Beach for Mama’s fabulous breakfast (the picture above is eggs Benedict on a Yorkshire pudding muffin). Start with the espresso biscuits and a mimosa, and make sure to check the specials board. Mama makes sure to taste all of the chef’s creations before they make the board.