Like we mentioned in our Music City travel guide, both of the Stella sisters got married in 2021, which brought on some fun events, especially the bachelorette trips.
For Natalie’s trip, we took the fun to her favorite beach destination – 30A.
If you aren’t familiar with 30A, it’s a coastal strip in Florida with multiple small, unique beach towns nestled between the busier beaches, Panama City and Destin.
All of the destinations within 30A provide a more secluded, relaxing vacation versus the touristy, party vibes that many beach towns bring. You won’t find large chain hotels or restaurants or be bombarded with rowdy groups of teenagers, but instead get a taste of what it’s like to be a local while being surrounded with families and kids of all ages.
The beaches within 30A include: Dune Allen, Santa Rosa, Blue Mountain, Grayton, Watercolor, Seaside, Seagrove, WaterSound, Seacrest, Alys, Rosemary and Inlet.
The really cool part is that no matter which area you stay in, the whole 30A strip is drivable so you can hit all of the spots and scope out your favorite for future travels.
As always, in the guide we’ll be covering the stays, plays, sips and sights so you can plan your very own ultimate 30A vacay!
As mentioned, you won’t find any chain hotels or massive condo units in 30A. Instead, there are miles and miles of neighborhoods filled with beautiful beach homes that make you feel so welcomed.
The first step is deciding which community you want to stay in – for our trip, we opted for Seagrove. (in the past, we’ve also stayed in Santa Rosa!)
Each beach community is a little different and when you start your search, you’ll notice that some are pricier than others. If you want to cut costs a little bit, we’d suggest staying on the outskirts of Seaside or Rosemary as these communities are the popular hubs for restaurants, shops and beach access in 30A.
Once you’ve decided which area you want to stay in, the best way to find the beach homes are VRBO and AirBnb.
The house we stayed in is no longer available for vacation rentals, but this rental is in the same neighborhood. We loved it here because it was just a few blocks away from a public beach access, in walking distance to a grocery store and came with access to 2 pools, which was a huge bonus!
(a few years ago we stayed here in Santa Rosa and absolutely loved the location)
- The Pearl in Rosemary – one of the most notable luxury hotels in all of 30A with thoughtful touches throughout your entire stay
- WaterColor Inn – if you prefer resort style accommodations with onsite restaurants, easy beach access and the added amenities of pools, lazy rivers and slides, this is a great choice
- WaterSound Inn – a boutique style suite hotel with special pool accesses
- Rosemary Beach Inn – a small European style luxury hotel just steps away from Rosemary Beach
To be honest, you can’t go wrong with your choice of stay in 30A. They all bring a coastal vibe that makes you feel right at home.
We’re going to start this by saying, there’s NO WAY you can hit everything in one trip. Trust us, if you’ve never been to 30A, you’ll want to return, so take note of your non-negotiables and save the rest for the future.
During our short weekend trip, we covered a lot of ground, but like we said there’s simply no way to hit it all.
Here’s a mix of what we did and what’s on our list for future 30A vacays:
- Rent bikes for easy exploring – if that’s not your vibe, golf carts are a big thing in 30A. Some rental houses come with them, but if not you can rent them here! 🚲
- Beach Bonfire – this is another popular activity along 30A. You can reserve a private beach bonfire for your group and spend the evening watching the sunset 🔥
- Beach Brunch Picnic – you know those beautiful curated picnics that have taken Instagram by storm? You can rent a private set up of one in 30A and they are beautiful! We opted out for this one since it was entirely too hot for our July trip, but if we ever go back in the Fall or Winter, we’d definitely reserve this 🧺
- Go to the farmer’s market – if you want to live like a true local, you can hit up the 30A farmer’s market year round!
- Paddleboard Yoga – get your daily exercise in on the water 🌊
- Find the Beachy Blooms flower truck – if you’re a flower lover that is equally obsessed with services on wheels like us, scope out Beachy Booms to get a bouquet for the road 💐
- Spend the day at the beach – while this is obvious, it’s important to note that you’ll need to scope out the closest public beach access for where you’re staying. Here’s a list!
SIPS + SNACKS 🍸🍴
Just like there’s no shortage of places to stay and play in 30A, there’s also no shortage of restaurants offering delicious coastal food.
This list includes our favorites, plus a few we’ve heard great things about!
Breakfast / Brunch:
- The Perfect Pig – a traditional brunch spot with multiple locations along 30A
- The Donut Hole – a 30A staple where you can eat a filling breakfast and get donuts to go for a fun treat later 🍩
- Black Bear Bread Co – a local cafe and bakery perfect for grabbing your morning coffee ☕️
- Airstream Row in Seaside – take your pick of casual lunch options food truck style, but make it airstreams! Our pick: The Meltdown for gourmet grilled cheeses 🍞🧀
- Bud and Alley’s Pizza Bar 🍕
- Bud and Alley’s Taco Bar 🌮
- The Big Chill (previously The Hub) – an all in once dining and entertainment experience perfect for a mid-day lunch where the kids can freely play
- Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar – our go to spot in Santa Rosa serving up the best of the best seafood options 🍤
- Great Southern Cafe – a mix of southern and local food options, this one is ALWAYS on our list when visiting. Heads up: there will be a wait. Call ahead and make a reservation! Grab drinks outside at B.f.f while you wait.
- Surfing Deer – if you want a nicer date night option, look no further
- Stinky’s Fish Camp – we’re still craving the oysters we ate here
- Bud and Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant – in the heart of Seaside, this is a popular choice. Grab drinks at their roof deck bar while you wait!
- Seaside Style – you know the infamous Seaside sweatshirts and tees? This is where you get them!
- The 30A Store – grab your other 30A memorabilia here
We’re big “pics or it didn’t happen” type people, so you know that no trip is complete without some gram-worthy photo ops.
Our picks in 30A include:
- Seaside Post Office – we know, a post office photo op sounds odd, but this is the most beautiful post office we’ve ever seen and it’s right in the center of Seaside, so you can’t miss it!
- Alys Beach – literally anywhere because the place is magical ✨
- Airstream Row – a trendy spot to snap a pic after you grab your melty grilled cheese
30A is a beach destination like no other and definitely has our travel stamp of approval. We hope this gives you some ideas and guidance when you plan your trip.
To make things easier, save this post on Pinterest so you can easily access it when you’re planning your next girls trip and don’t forget to share it with a friend!
The Stella Sisters 👯♀️