The Town Centers of 30A

Great Stops Along the Way

Posted on 6/3/2016

Ocean Reef Resorts is pleased to offer our guests a bountiful array of fine private vacation rentals along Scenic 30A, which is one of the nation's most beautiful highways. This picturesque corridor hugs the forested Gulf of Mexico coastline with breathtaking views of sugar white sands, precious coastal dune lakes and glittering jewel toned waters. The state has selected this route as a one of a favored few Florida Scenic Highways due to its natural beauty. This gorgeous route also travels beside shores designated as a Blue Wave Beach, the nation's highest honor for cleanliness and beauty. Enhancing this special piece of paradise, picture-perfect preplanned town centers have been recently established and include Santa Rosa Beach's Gulf Place, Watercolor, Seaside, Seacrest Beach and Rosemary Beach. Each village has its own unique personality, architectural style and an abundance of seasonal festivals offered throughout the year.

The 30A town center at Gulf Place is a colorful collection of retail shops, restaurants and vacation rentals that wrap around a two acre grassy outdoor amphitheater that can accommodate up to 3,000 event goers. This serves as a focal point for seasonal festivals, live musical entertainment, outdoor concerts and art shows throughout most of the year. Multiple pools, tennis courts, lushly landscaped grounds, sparkling fountains and a lovely lagoon complete the setting. Directly across from Gulf Place is a convenient public beach access at Ed Walline State Park. Showers and bathroom facilities are available with a long ramp down to the beautiful beach. Gulf Place has a colorful collection of art galleries, retail shops, casual family restaurants, condos and townhomes many of which are available as vacation rentals.  They wraparound the expansive town green that includes the outdoor amphitheater. During the summer months mini specialty shops spring up near the green featuring an eclectic colony of unique local artists. Gulf Place merchants and resident artists host a Wine Walkabout around the town center the third Thursday of every month. Attendees get to walk around sipping tasty wine, munching on savory hors d'oeuvres, enjoying live music and watching "The Battle of the Brushes" which is an artist's competition.

Watercolor Film Festival
A little further east along 30A, WaterColor is a village that's aptly named since it sits nestled beside a pristine coastal dune lake in between a vast forest and the wide open expanses of the glistening gulf. This upscale residential community has a number of custom homes designed with an "Old Florida" styled architecture that includes tin roofs, wide columned porches and breezy balconies. The town center has some specialty shops as well as a beach side restaurant, "Fish out of Water". This glamorous romantic restaurant has received multiple awards for excellence in fine cuisine and service. Delta Sky magazine named it one of the "Top Eight Most Romantic Restaurants in the World." It also is rated with a "Four Diamond Award" from AAA, received a "Golden Spoon Award" from Florida Trend magazine and an "Award of Excellence" from Wine Spectator magazine. The dining area has an expansive wall of windows that look out onto this stellar scenery. Watercolor is home to the annual Telluride MountainFilm Festival held every November at the Watercolor not far from the town center. The film festival begins at 6 pm and movies are shown under the star studded skies at 7 pm. Attendees bring their own chairs and blankets to enjoy this wonderful annual event which showcases special current films about adventure, life lessons and the environment. This is part of a national tour of films shown at Telluride Mountain in Colorado, a famed celebration of artistic excellence among filmmakers and artists. During the summer, the Watercolor Coastal Farmers Market is open at Cerulean Park on Thursdays and Sundays from 9AM till 2PM. Besides fresh produce they also sell eggs, dairy products, organic herbs, homemade bakery items and artwork.

Right next door along 30A is Seaside, which has the international distinction of being the first preplanned community to usher in "New Urbanism" for pedestrian friendly architectural design. It was completed back in the 1980s to look like a small nostalgically golden Americana type town sitting "seaside" in the late 19th century. It sits tucked beside the sugary white beach with a bowl-like lovely lawn that serves as an outside amphitheater surrounded by unique specialty boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, bars and eateries. Old fashioned holiday celebrations occur there for Memorial Day, Independence Day and New Years Eve complete with live musical concerts and fireworks. Family Movie Nights Under the Stars are held weekly during the summer season. A popular annual "Seeing Red" Wine Festival is always scheduled over a long weekend in early November. Party participants purchase tickets to enjoy their favorite wines while contributing to The Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, which donates 100% of the proceeds to local children in need. An array of tents are set up around the village green featuring select wines from around the world. The event includes multiple private dinners and wine tasting events throughout the weekend. Privileged guests enjoy elegant evenings with delicious gourmet hors d'oeuvres served along with rare and exclusive wines while being entertained with live musical performances. The main event tents all around the green serve an extensive sampling of wines from around the globe along with wonderful food from the top local restaurants along Scenic 30A. Musical concerts performed throughout the afternoon provides a festive flair. The Seaside Amphitheater also hosts a Farmers Market every Saturday from 9AM till 1 PM that sells vegetables, fruit, eggs, cheese, honey, assorted baked breads along with a variety of jewelry, soaps and handmade artwork.

Read more: The Best Things to Do in Seaside

Seacrest Beach has a decidedly laid back atmosphere that's evident as soon as you arrive. Rows of palms along Scenic 30A and a wooden life guard tower mark the boundaries as "Seacrest Beach" welcomes you to town. The architecture ranges from some chic contemporary designs to an abundance of the charming Old Florida styles complete with wraparound balconies, breezy screened porches and soaring ceilings. A virtual forest of palm trees accentuates the landscape along with other tropical plantings. Besides the emerald green waters below the towering dunes another crown jewel of Seacrest Beach is the enormous 12,000 square foot swimming pool located in the center of the "Seacrest Beach North" community. This refreshing oasis actually includes a number of interconnecting pools on multiple levels complete with waterfalls and a fountain centered upon one of them. The waterfalls flow from one pool down into another providing a luxurious lagoon type setting. On hot summer days, children and adults enjoy frolicking beneath the spray that mists down from fountain pool. Besides separate kid and adult areas, there are also two lap pools for avid swimmers. Surrounding this part of paradise are walkways, gardens, picnic pavilions, BBQ grills and even a small amphitheater that stages occasional concerts. Many also gather to drink and dine at The Acme Ice House in Seacrest, which serves savory Southern cooking, delicious drinks and friendly laid-back hospitality. Nearby is a European styled brick complex called The Village of South Walton. This town center area is adorned by a half moon grassy area surrounded by cute colorful artist's shops and an interactive kid's fountain with multiple heads that randomly shoots fun geysers right out of the ground.

Rosemary Beach
Rosemary Beach is located beside Seacrest Beach at the far eastern end of Scenic 30A. It is an exceedingly charming new world version of old world Dutch colonial styled architecture reminiscent of the tropical West Indies. Broad grassy lawns and lushly landscaped parks border town homes, boutiques, restaurants as well as single family homes that look like they are right out of Europe. A broad mall-like park runs through the center of town at Barrett Square complete with a splashing fountain and lush green lawns. During the high Summer Season, weekly events are the usual pastime. The town hosts family "Movie Nights Under the Stars" on one of the greens as well as kid crafts, storytelling and participatory plays produced by the Rep Theater. During other times of the year there are holiday craft shows, firework celebrations, free musical concerts and family bar-b-ques. The Rosemary Beach Barrett Square also provides the grounds for fresh produce sales from local farmers on Thursdays thru Sundays during the warmer months of the year from 9AM till 2PM.

The Scenic 30A Summer Concert Series occurs at Gulf Place in Santa Rosa Beach, Watercolor and Seaside from Memorial Day thru Labor Day. Guests bring blankets, lawn chairs, picnic baskets and favorite beverages to enjoy at these free live musical performances. Santa Rosa Beach concerts are held at the Gulf Place Amphitheater usually every Sunday evening from 6 to 8pm. This fairly expansive grassy lawn amphitheater is ringed by several restaurants and bars so that food will be available nearby if you don't bring your own picnic provisions. Watercolor holds its concerts at the Marina Park which on the shores of Western Lake. Besides picnicking, enjoying your favorite drinks and listening to great music you may watch the heavenly colors of sunset reflected mirror like in the water beside you. Seaside performances are held at their own outdoor amphitheater offering the longest season that usually starts just before Memorial Day and runs throughout Labor Day weekend. It should be noted that many music fans also flock to these villages for the annual 30A Songwriters Festival that occurs here every January.  This well attended three day event features nationally known musicians, top line songwriters and local musical artists.

Ocean Reef Resorts is pleased to offer a wide variety of distinctive 30A vacation rentals.  These lovely picturesque villages are also fun exploration for a visit on a "Day Trip" from nearby Miramar Beach and Destin. Enjoy the wonderful world of Scenic 30A!

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