Monday, April 22, 2019

30A Travel Guide - 2019

Hey y'all!  We just returned from the happiest place on not Disney World...Rosemary Beach, of course, and I'm already counting down the days until we go again next year.  I love visiting the beaches on 30A for so many reasons - the white sand, the emerald water, it's casual / family-friendly atmosphere, and the ability to walk or ride a bike to tons of restaurants and shops is the cherry on top! 

I wrote my first 30A Travel Guide last year, but I found several new restaurants, boutiques, and coffee shops to share with you and a few are no longer there.  I thought I would update my recommendation list with the latest and greatest, as well as, share some of my favorite looks from this year's trip.  

If you've never heard of 30A, it is a series of beaches on the Gulf Coast of Florida located along Scenic Highway 30A between Sandestin, FL and Panama City Beach, FL.  This 24 mile stretch of beauty is full of the cutest beach communities.  

When we go to 30A, I spend the majority of my time laying on the beach reading a good book {for whatever reason, it's the only place on earth where I can sit still and relax}.  Today I'm going to share the things I do during the short amount of time that I'm not on the beach -  where to stay, eat, play, and shop.

Where to Stay:

We always use VRBO to find our place to stay on 30A.  First, I filter on dates, location, number of bedrooms, and price to see what's available in our price range during the dates we are going.  Then I use the map view to find a place that is walking distance to restaurants and shops.  One of my favorite things about 30A is how walkable it is.  You can stay pretty much anywhere along the highway and be in walking distance to great food, coffee shops, bars, and boutiques.  Lastly, I always, always, always read the reviews before booking!

My favorite place to stay is at the Villas at Sunset Beach {pictured below}.  The villas are really nice, affordably priced, and right on the beach.  They're also located walking distance to both Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach - both of which have AMAZING restaurants and shops. 

This year, I also discovered the breathtaking Pearl Hotel {pictured above} in the heart of Rosemary Beach.  This quaint hotel is right on the beach with all of the luxury amenities you would need for a relaxing weekend getaway.  It has a rooftop bar, restaurant, pool, and spa.  While I've never stayed at the hotel myself, I've heard nothing but great things!

Where to Eat:

We don't get a lot of fresh seafood here in Atlanta, so when we go to the beach, we can't get enough of it.  Below are my favorite restaurants in the area:
  1. George's at Alys Beach: If you go anywhere while you're on 30A, you HAVE to go to George's.  It is hands-down my favorite restaurant in the area.  Their seafood is some of the best I've ever had.  They use all locally sourced, organic produce and their seafood offerings are fresh off the boat each day.  My favorite menu items are the Scallops and Spicy Salt & Pepper Shrimp.  Even though you'll be so full from dinner, don't pass up on dessert - the Warm Chocolate Toffee Goo is to die for.  Unfortunately George's does not take reservations, but they have an outside bar and rooftop area to watch the beautiful Florida sunset as you wait for your table.
  2. Pescado rooftop restaurant comes in a close second as my favorite restaurants on 30A.  This was our first time to eat at Pescado, and I can promise you it won't be our last.  Their seafood was DELICIOUS but we also tried their lamb and short ribs - both of which were incredible.  I'm a sucker for a good rooftop, and this restaurant comes with amazing views of the ocean and the beautiful Rosemary Beach community.  I highly recommend making reservations earlier in the evening so that you can watch the sunset right from your table.  
  3. Cafe 30A:  BOGO entrees from 5-6 PM and $5 martini night on Tuesdays/Thursdays...enough said.  I've never had a bad meal at Cafe 30A.  I know I said I eat mostly seafood while at the beach, but their steaks are great! 
  4. The Hub on 30A is such a cool place to visit!  With multiple food options and a common seating area among them, there's something to please everyone. They also have an amphitheater with live music/events, a bar, and SUPER cute shops {more on those later}.
  5. The Great Southern is in the heart of Seaside and is known for their New Orleans style seafood and their extensive mojito list!  I had the pineapple mojito last time we went, and it the best mojito I've ever had! I've also heard great things about their brunch.
  6. Charlie's Donut Truck opens bright and early every morning in Alys Beach serving fresh, homemade donuts and coffee.  It's the perfect way to start your day!  Their red velvet donut + cold brew coffee were my go-tos. 
  7. Donut Hole: The best southern breakfast {and donut holes} around - you have to go!

Where to get Coffee & Cocktails:

  1. Amavida:  I finished my morning run with a visit to this cute little coffee shop for an iced vanilla latte almost every day.
  2. Caliza: This restaurant in Alys beach is like a dream! It feels like you're in a 5 star resort in a different country.  You sit al-fresco surrounded by an infinity pool, cabanas, and the best customer service.  I didn't add Caliza to the restaurant list above because I personally think their food was a little overpriced for what we got.  BUT it is a must-do just to experience the atmosphere {and they take reservations}.  My husband and I decided that the perfect date-night would be Caliza for cocktails then George's for dinner {they're walking distance to each other}.
  3. Havana Beach Bar is located on the rooftop of the most instagrammable hotel I've ever seen - The Pearl.  They have a great view of the ocean and delicious cocktails.
  4. Bud & Alley's:  Located right on the beach in Seaside, Bud & Alley's has a casual atmosphere with a cool rooftop bar.  While we did not eat there this trip, they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  

Top - Shorts - Shoes - Bag - Earrings

What to Do:

As I mentioned before, when I'm at the beach, I like to plop my booty on the beach and not leave until it's time to get ready for dinner.  But, below are the things that I do like to do when we visit:
  1. Explore by Running:  This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who knows me.  I love waking up in the morning for a run to explore the adorable beach communities on 30A.  Watercolor and Seaside are filled with pastel houses {or mansions, rather} that look like doll houses.  Alys beach has all white architecture that makes you think you're walking through Greece - it is absolutely breathtaking.  My morning run is also a great way for me to discover new restaurants and shops to visit in the evenings.
  2. Rent Bikes:  Another thing I love about 30A is that there's a paved running/bike path that runs along all 24 miles of the highway and all of the shops and restaurants have bike racks.  I love renting bikes from Peddlers on 30A to explore the beach communities along 30A that are too far to run to.  
  3. Live Music:  You can find live music in the evenings in almost all of the beach communities along 30A like Seaside, Rosemary, The Hub, etc.

Where to Shop:

There are SO many cute clothing, accessory, and home goods boutiques along 30A.  Below are a few of my favorites.

Rosemary Beach:
  1. Disco was my favorite boutique that I visited.  Not only do they have cute clothes, shoes, and accessories; they have a selfie machine, disco balls, play only disco music, and the dressing rooms have glitter wall paper.  Need I say more?!  It's a little on the pricier side - they carry brands like Show Me Your MumuBB Dakota, and Chloe Oliver, but definitely worth a visit!
  2. Frolic + Detour is a brand new boutique with trendy and affordable clothing, shoes, and accessories.
  3. Patchouli's has great makeup and skincare products along with my favorite lounge wear brands such as Barefoot Dreams and PJ Harlow.
  1. Willow + Woods carries both men and women's preppy, beachy clothes.  This is where I picked up the adorable striped dress pictured above!
  2. The Art of Simple - I wanted one of everything in this adorable home goods store.  From candles, to pottery, to hand towels - I loved it all!
  3. Cabana by the Seaside is an open-air, beach side bazaar.  It's the perfect place to pick up all of your on-trend beachwear - clothes, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses, bags, swimwear, etc.
The Hub at 30A:
  1. 13 Hub Lane is basically a local Pottery Barn. So many cute home goods and gifts!
  2. Oko is another one of my fav boutiques! This store carries their own in-house brand, Oko, that is hand-sewn by women in the Dominican Republic equipping them to Overcome, demonstrating acts of Kindness, and giving Opportunity to those who need it most. How cool is that!? 

My husband and I have been visiting 30A for years and I hope when you visit it, you love it as much as we do!

Have you ever visited the beaches on 30A?  What are some of your recommendations? Tell me in the comments below!


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