The Emerald Coast of Florida: We get it. You’ve spent a king’s ransom to rent a vacation home, the beach restaurant bills are piling up, and as a result, you just want to have some fun while avoiding bankruptcy. Yep, we live here, so we know exactly how expensive it can be to do fun stuff while at the beach. Well, fear no more. We here at, have got you covered.

In the Easter spirit of saving, below is a list of things that even the most frugal vacationer…and local…can do while hanging at the beach:

  • Go to the beach: Yeah, we know this one is pretty obvious…but it is free, so it applies to this conversation, and it is exactly why we’re mentioning it first. It IS the main reason you’re here, right? So, get up, pack a few sammies, some other snacks, the beverages of your choice, and head out to have a fun-filled day…on the cheap. Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy. As long as mother nature cooperates, you can do this your entire time you’re on the Gulf Coast.

  • Take a hike: While there are some locals who would prefer to keep this area to ourselves, we’re not suggesting you go home. Nope! We’re saying there are several state parks with hiking, biking, and walking trails in the area. The cost is minimal to get in, and you can explore the flora and fauna that Florida offers. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see some of the local wildlife. Here are some of our favorite parks in/near Santa Rosa Beach and South Walton:

Topsail Hill Preserve.

Topsail is a park on the west end of Santa Rosa Beach, and it features coastal lakes and rolling dunes with its southern border on the beach. There is also a primitive and RV campground.

Grayton State Park: 

Centrally located in Santa Rosa Beach in historic Grayton Beach, Grayton State Park also rests on the beach and features a lake, known as Western lake, that is a favorite of local photographers and artists. They also have a campground.

Eden State Park:  

Eden Gardens State Park contains approximately 163 acres of land that was originally part of the historic Wesley homestead. It is on the north side of Highway 98, and they offer guided tours of the Wesley House, beautiful gardens, and/or you can fish off the dock in Tucker Bayou…a tributary to the Choctawhatchee Bay.

  • Head to Baytowne in Sandestin: This one is tricky because, if you’re not careful, you can spend a boatload of money, but there are plenty of cheap and/or free things to do while at Baytowne. For example:

Hartell’s Diner:

Food and beer wise, Hartell’s Diner is the most reasonable spot in Baytowne. Read this carefully, they have $2.00 tall boy domestic beers. Yep…this is our go-to spot when hanging in Sandestin .

Kids Playground:

After popping by Hartell’s to grab that cheap beer, take the kiddos over to the free playground. Now, this isn’t some two swing, one slide kind of playground.  It’s one of those “dad, this is awesome” kind of playgrounds. Grab a bench with your beer, and let the kids have a blast. There is only one entrance, so you can relax while the kids play.

Tree House Nature Walk: 

We’re not sure if this is the actual name, but Tree House Nature Walk is extremely descriptive. There is a nature walk, and about every 30 yards they have some sort of treehouse style structure. Walk with the kids, climb up in a treehouse, and see some of the Choctawhatchee Bay’s most awesome sites. The trail and boardwalk also lead to the Baytowne/Sandestin Marina…the huge fishing boats and private yachts are also fun to check out.

So, there you have it. I am sure some other locals would be glad to chime in with a few other ideas, but if you’re tired of the beach and still want to save some cash, these should definitely get you started.

Happy Easter Everyone!