You might be planning a visit to Grayton Beach for the stunning white beaches, but this paradise destination offers many more reasons to book a trip and stay awhile. The vibrant, artsy beach village is home to a host of shops, boutiques, art galleries, and eateries. You'll want to check out the colorful Red Bar for its tasty food, live music, and friendly atmosphere. A visit to the Zoo Gallery is also a must, where you'll find an eclectic selection of art and products from creators around the world. At Modus Photography, you'll be wowed by the incredible captures of the South Walton.
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In addition to the shops and restaurants, Grayton Beach has an incredible outdoorsy scene. Grayton Beach State Park is a protected sanctuary for Northwest Florida flora and fauna. Picturesque trails wind through the vegetation, next to the beach, and beside the iconic Western Lake. Western Lake is one of the Gulf's coastal dune lakes, which are created by winds that redistributed beach sand. Though common in the area, these coastal dune lakes are rare in the rest of the world, making them a special treat for South Walton locals and visitors.
Western Lake is also the reason there is a natural kiddie pool in Grayton Beach.
Yep, you read that right! Who needs to pay for a boring, plastic kiddie pool when you can splash in a beautiful, natural kiddie pool for free? This pool is created by the Western Lake outfall of water into the Gulf of Mexico.
In Grayton Beach, the Western Lake inlet makes a shallow pool. How does this happen? Like other 30A dune lakes, the berm of sand between Western Lake and the Gulf periodically breaks due to an accumulation of rain over time. The salty Gulf water mixes with the lake's freshwater, creating a brackish habitat that supports both salt and freshwater species. When the sand builds back up, a natural pool forms just feet from the Gulf. Not only are these outfalls necessary to support the unique wildlife and vegetation of the area, but they also make fun splashing spots for kids.
This natural kiddie pool is a popular spot in Grayton Beach. It's not uncommon to see kids and families hanging out around the natural pond all day, every day. And for good reason! The still, warm water is relaxing for people of all ages. The kids will love playing in the water while the adults soak up the sun on the warm sand. Or, join your kids in the water for even more fun! It's the perfect spot for a lunchtime picnic. Maybe you feel like reading a good book while soaking your feet in the warm water—you can do that, too! The whole family can build sandcastles beside the water and then head right back into the pool when it's time to cool off. Of course, the emerald waves of the Gulf are also only a few steps away, so you can get your saltwater fix whenever you want. From morning to evening, there's plenty to do right here in Grayton Beach.
If you and the family love playing at this natural kiddie pool, you should also check out the rest of Western Lake and the other coastal dune lakes in the area. Western Lake is one of the largest coastal dune lakes in the area. Paddleboarding, kayaking, and fishing are just a few of the things you can do on this lake. Another fun idea is to snap a photo of the lake and longleaf pine trees, an image that has become synonymous with Grayton Beach. Other 30A dune lakes, from west to east, include: Stallworth Lake, Allen Lake, Oyster Lake, Draper Lake, Big Redfish Lake, Little Redfish Lake, Alligator Lake, Eastern Lake, Deer Lake, Camp Creek Lake, and Lake Powell. There is plenty to do at each of these lakes, from hiking and exploring lake shores to skimming across glassy waters on a paddleboard or boat.
In addition to providing recreational fun, the coastal dune lakes are a critical component of the ecological diversity of South Walton. These lakes store and filter water, and the mix of fresh and saltwater creates a diverse habitat not found anywhere else. As you explore the lakes, be sure to keep an eye out for the unique plants and animals that are key to this wetland system.
Looking for other ways to enjoy the unique environment? Explore the South Walton state parks, take a relaxing nature walk, bike along tree-lined nature trails, get out your binoculars to birdwatch, grab a picnic table and enjoy lunch among the coastal flora, or even schedule family photos in the scenic outdoors. From these fun activities to spending time at the kiddie pool, you're bound to make all kinds of vacation memories!
If you haven't booked your next Gulf Coast trip, now is the time to do it. Ocean Reef Resorts has all kinds of great vacation rentals in the Grayton Beach area that will not only meet your accommodation needs, but also place you within close proximity to the natural kiddie pool! Browse our selection of beach homes, or chat with one of our reservation specialists to get you started.
Learn more: Where to Stay in Grayton Beach