Travel - May 15, 2018

The BTD Guide to 30A Florida

clear signs you need a vacation
the Outfit Guide

I love finding cute one-piece swimsuits! The older I get, the more I just want to wear this style as opposed to bikinis. Plus, it’s so hard to find bathing suit bottoms that ACTUALLY cover my behind. Can I get an amen? I got size 6 in this one piece and snatched this coverup on sale at NM Last call – #SCORE!

I love finding cute one-piece swimsuits! The older I get, the more I just...

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I actually can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write a guide to 30A, as I’ve literally been coming here for decades. Pretty sure I’ve been here 30 times – I’m not even exaggerating! Even before all the tourists took note and it became the hot spot for the South, my family and I have been vacationing here – so yeah, it’s about time I did a BTD guide!

Not only does it feel like home to me (it’s only about 5 hours from Baton Rouge, so it was our family hangout), but it’s still my favorite beach area to visit. Yep! I like it more than Fiji and even the Almafi coast, y’all. For some reason, the beaches along the Gulf Coast of Florida are my favorite. And if I had all the money in the world and could travel anywhere, I’m sure I would STILL go somewhere along 30A. I just love that area so, so much. 

The beaches are all super clean, and all of the towns along the stretch of 30A (aka the highway and where this area gets its name from) are charming and unique. It’s such a great destination for all sorts of crowds, whether you have a family, are with your girls, or a couple – there’s honestly something for everyone.

I recently went on a bit of a spontaneous trip to Rosemary Beach and wanted to do a quick recap of our trip & a general guide. Even though I’ve been to this area more times than I can count, we still typically go to the same places. So I’m actually hoping those of you who also love this area will chime in via the comments below and let me know your favorite spots along 30A for my next trip & anyone reading.

Where to Stay

Rent a house – My family always grew up renting houses at 30A and it’s still my favorite way to go when traveling for the most part – especially at the beach. There’s just something easy about having your own house/condo while at the beach ya know? So before even looking at hotels (unless you love them), I’d consider the high rental inventory in the area and Rent30A usually has good reviews.

The Pearl in Rosemary Beach – OK so this is a rec if you’re doing a couples or girls trip, and I wouldn’t suggest it for kids (some areas are off limits for kids like the pool). But, if you’re trying to relax as adults, this hotel is great (as is their spa btw).  I will say, the rooftop bar can be spotty service, but I’m talking more about the hotel here. It’s really close to the beach and they offer complimentary beach chair service, which you won’t always find. It’s close enough to walk to restaurants too, which I think is cool. Overall, it’s a unique, boutique hotel that’s super clean with a private beach so helloooo relaxation.

The Pointe in Rosemary Beach/Inlet beach – This place is in between two of the best beaches and it’s a beautiful property. Not only is it close to the beach, but there’s a huge pool and really good food service all over the hotel. I’ve always had excellent service here, too, and know lots of people who stay here every time they’re in the area.

Marriott’s Legends Edge at Bay Point (Panama City) – This option isn’t right on the beach (about a 10-minute walk), so if that’s your thing, you won’t want to stay here. But, it’s a really great option for people with kids or a big group since there are TONS of amenities at the hotel – from activities to pools to dining. I actually would only rec this place if you have kids or are doing something like a family reunion with a bunch of ages (or even a work trip). It’s probably not the most relaxing place, but it’s entertaining and convenient. PS, it’s pet friendly.

Where to Eat

Tommy Bahama – Great for lunch and shopping (near Sandestin). The coconut shrimp is my fave, and this is good with all ages honestly. Happy hour is really good, too!

Red Bar – If you’re looking for a bar, you’ve gotta experience this 30A classic. This is a good place to go after you’ve had a beer or are out with friends. It’s kinda dive bar-ish, but I still love it. It’s a 30A staple!

Bud & Alley’s – The perfect place to watch the sunset or for the views – it’s SO pretty y’all. And one tip: GET THE CRAB CAKES OMG.

Shunk Gulley’s Oyster Bar – Such a beautiful place, I seriously love the bright white interiors and all the windows. It’s the place to be on a pretty day because they have these big doors that they pull up so it lets in all this fresh air – and the breeze from the beach. There is regular dining downstairs and then a fun bar-ish area upstairs depending on what you’re looking for. And hello oysters!

Edwards Fine Food & Wine – If you follow me on Stories, this is where I met Ike the Saxophone player LOL. So yeah, it’s a fun place with live music in the courtyard. It actually reminds me of Louisiana which is probably why my family and I always come here, but it’s suuuuch good food! Great wine list and pretty casual.

George’s at Aly’s Beach – I ALWAYS go here when it town because it’s consistently yummy regional food and Aly’s beach is just the cutest. Honestly, I haven’t had a bad meal here, so you just gotta go. They have pretty twinkle lights too so it’s just as beautiful at night.

Cowgirl Kitchen – Affordable place for laid-back dining after a day at the beach. Really yummy salads and pizza (which can’t be missed!). Plus it’s in the heart of Rosemary Beach so it’s fun to walk around before/after.

Black Bear Bread Co. – I actually went to do some work here a couple of the mornings on my last trip, and it’s so freaking cute. Plus, it’s delicious if you want to grab a little breakfast and some coffee. Instagram-worthy too FYI!

What to Do + Random tips

Rent a car – Unless you plan on being parked at one hotel/beach, the entire time, I suggest renting a car. There’s about a 15-20 minute stretch of land on 30A and there are just so many beautiful beaches to explore. Not to mention shops, restaurants, etc. We always rent a car when we fly in and I think you can explore much easier (and cheaper) this way if you’re flying.

Airports – Again, I’ve driven here more times than I’ve flown, but I’d suggest flying into Panama City since it’s closer. Destin is option 2, which is about an hour or so away and still not bad.

Shopping – Honestly, I don’t consider 30A a place to shop simply because  I usually just want to lay on the beach. But, some places I like are: Outpost, Ophelia swimwear, Destin Commons and Seaside Square.

Fun things to do – If you’re bored of laying out or have a family, we always like to rent bikes and bike around the area. The Hub has live music and is a cute spot to take the family or whoever. This company is fun for actives, like paddle boarding and whatnot.


OK so that’s a basic guide to the area. Honestly, there is SO much more I could write about, but I wanted to be selective since the area can be overwhelming.

Now, would LOVE for you all to chime in on your favorite places in the area. Where do you stay? Where do you eat? Any tips to add?