A Rich History

Just like today, American’s in the 1890’s had a love for spending their summer vacation at the beach. In many parts of the state of Florida, small beach communities began to grow. By 1911, Grayton Beach had evolved into a small beach resort for people who lived in the Northern part of Walton County. Beginning in the roaring 1920’s, many beach resort areas began to advertise widely. Newspapers in DeFuniak Springs (and probably southern Alabama) carried advertisements that promoted Grayton Beach as a place to buy beach property.

Soon after, new houses began to replace cottages that had been standing since before the turn of the century. Visitors continued to come from Alabama and Walton County. J.J. Kinney and B.B. Murray were among several who built houses at the beach. Their houses were described as “air castles” with low hip roofs, called storm roofs, and large screens with hinged shutters to protect against hurricanes. The rest, as some say, is history.

Today, the scenic 30a corridor is comprised of several different unincorporated beach communities. 

From tastefully designed cottages and beautiful surroundings to the eclectic community events and active town center, Rosemary Beach has made a name for itself to travelers from all over. On the eastern end of South Walton County and  Scenic Highway 30-A, Rosemary beach is populated with stunning homes, interconnected footpaths, boardwalks and even secret pathways, that lead to pristine public areas, parks, beach accesses, tennis courts, swimming pools. and tasteful town center

If you like a more traditional and quiet beach vacation, Seacrest is the community for you. It offers tranquil charm and is a perfect fit to those who want low key. Situated at the eastern end of Scenic Highway 30A, this eclectic mix of classic Florida beach houses and newer vacation homes is highly natural, and residential.

From the bold turquoise of Gulf water to deep green wooded grasslands, from the serenity of riding a beach bike between two dunes to the enjoyment of driving a ball on the Camp Creek Golf Course, the gated resort community of WaterSound gives its visitors a secluded microcosm of everything that South Walton has to offer.

Named for the thick grove of windswept trees that surround it, Seagrove still maintains the same green canopy of oaks, magnolias, hickories, and sand pines that came to define it a half a century ago.

Today, Seagrove has an eclectic mix of old beach homesteads and newer cottages, as well as a well-balanced menu of off-beach activities that range from exploring Point Washington State Forest to browsing the beach shops and restaurants along Scenic Highway 30A.

An outdoor amphitheatre. A nationally acclaimed fine arts festival. A local repertory troupe. When it comes to pairing beauty and the beach, the folks in Seaside have, well… made an art of it.

Of course, that’s exactly what you’d expect from a town that wrote the book on New Urbanism, and where the picture-perfect pastel homes and picket fences lit up the big screen in The Truman Show. But there’s more to Seaside than its design. It’s a beach neighborhood with a profound sense of community, a family-friendly feel, and a whimsical sense of fun that will permeate your entire visit

Hailed for its eco-friendly design and environmental stewardship, WaterColor is a shining example of how responsible development not only blends in with its surroundings, but enhances them.

With an award-winning inn and restaurant, stately beach cottages, a boathouse, tennis club, spa, shops, restaurants, and beach club, there are always plenty of “civilized” things to do. But with almost half of its 499 acres set aside for open space and preservation, WaterColor’s emphasis is clearly on the breathtaking natural environment that surrounds it.

The hand-painted sign on the side of the road sums it up: “Nice Dogs, Friendly Folks.” Grayton Beach is about as laid-back and organic as a beach town can get, from the old-style wooden beach bungalows to the “hippie kitsch” feel of the iconic Red Bar to the narrow neighborhood streets lined with live oaks.

But this is more than just a cool beach town. It’s home to the diverse coastal ecosystems of Western Lake and Grayton Beach State Park, and a gateway to a large expanse of sugar-white beach that is a haven for fishermen, boaters, and beachcombers alike.

With native blue lupine flowers (the “blue”) and some of the highest dunes on the Gulf coast (the “mountain”), Blue Mountain stands out along the coastline with its own naturally laid-back style. From lavish homes to ‘60s-era beach cottages, you’ll be sure to find a style all your own.

Founded in 1910 in a thriving turpentine industry, Santa Rosa Beach was the start of South Walton as we know it. Today, Santa Rosa Beach boasts luxury beach houses, upscale dining, and a unique artist colony. It was named one of the “10 Best Beach Destinations for 2011” by Yahoo! Travel.

As the newest addition to the exclusive list of beautiful beach neighborhoods found in South Walton, Gulf Place is quickly making a name for itself as a complete vacation destination.

Coastal dune lakes are a geographical rarity – an ecosystem found in only a handful of places around the world, including South Walton. However, in Dune Allen alone there are three. These lakes bring a heightened sense of beauty and ecological balance to this area.