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The secret is out about Hwy 30A and its string of picturesque seaside villages (especially Seaside) that line its sugar sand beach coastline.
Yet, I still love a visit here.
Located in between the larger cities of Destin and Panama City, Hwy 30A still maintains its “Old Florida” charm, but more and more development and growth have turned this 2-lane highway into practically its own lifestyle brand, complete with a bumper sticker.
My favorite time to visit 30A is during the cusp of the off-season. By all means, try to avoid going at the height of summer or during Labor Day Weekend.
Late September through November is a beautiful time to visit as well as March through May (avoiding the Spring Break crowds). The rates are cheaper, the weather won’t scorch you, reservations are easier to come by, and you can actually walk and drive without the crowds.
Top 9 Places to Eat on 30A
(Plus a Hidden Gem in Grayton Beach & a Bonus Restaurant in Destin)
1. Restaurant Paradis
Restaurant Paradis really is a bite of paradise. If I could eat at only one restaurant on 30A, this would be it. There have been trips where I’ve eaten here twice–once in the dining room and the other at the cozy bar (you can order the full menu there as well).
The careful attention paid to the food and cocktails makes Restaurant Paradis consistently delicious, and the ambiance is elegant and romantic, yet relaxed.
My go-to appetizer is the Beef & Blue Cheese Tortellini (crispy filet & Maytag blue cheese with roasted garlic cream, and truffle demi-glace). I crave these rich melt-in-your-mouth bites of savory heaven. Another appetizer favorite is their Crab Cakes served with slaw and a lemon caper dill remoulade.
For the dinner entree, I highly suggest the Lobster Encrusted Grouper served atop toasted orzo, shaved Brussels sprouts, spinach, hearts of palm, red onion coconut passion fruit, and drizzled with pineapple beurre blanc. If you’re not in the mood for seafood, the Cast Iron Filet is the way to go, seared & served with Yukon gold mash broccolini, and black truffle demi.
2. The Great Southern Cafe
I usually go for their breakfast/brunch, but The Great Southern Cafe has fantastic food for lunch and dinner too.
If you’re there for breakfast, start with an order of their fluffy Beignets. Follow those powdered sugar puffs with their Biscuits & Gravy (lightly seasoned with sage) and a side order of Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits. Lately, I can’t resist ordering the Crab Cake & Fried Green Tomato Benedict. It’s just that good. Pair it all with a Vodka-infused Mimosa, and you’re officially on vacation.
For Lunch or Dinner, try the Grits a Ya-Ya (blackened shrimp, smoked bacon, spinach, portobello mushrooms, and cream on a bed of smoked Gouda cheese grits).
Unfortunately, The Great Southern Cafe no longer accepts reservations, but since the restaurant is large with plenty of covered outdoor seating, the wait isn’t usually too long.
3. Old Florida Fish House
There are many reasons to eat at this classic 30A establishment on Eastern Lake, but I mainly go for the sushi. Specifically, the “Yes Sir” roll:
If sushi isn’t your favorite, they serve a variety of fresh seafood entrees and a burger, filet, or chicken sandwich. Old Florida Fish House is a sprawling restaurant, but you may still have to wait in line for a table. Reservations are not accepted, and live music is typically featured Thursday – Sunday.
4. Seagrove Village Market Cafe
Speaking of classic, the Seagrove Village Market Cafe has been in business since 1949.
It’s a perfect, casual spot for lunch (although they serve dinner as well). The nostalgic vibe makes you feel like you’ve been transported to a simpler time, and their Fried Fish Tacos rank #1 on 30A, at least for me anyway.
Reservations are now accepted and can be booked through Resy.
5. Bud and Alley’s
Bud and Alley’s is a consistent fixture on the 30A “best eats” list and with good reason. I’ve never had a bad meal there. Situated on prime oceanfront property in Seaside, Bud & Alley’s is casual and reliably fresh.
Named after a dog and a cat, Bud and Alley’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in their crisp white building, and the establishment also operates a separate Pizza Bar and a Taco Bar.
My favorite time to go is lunch, where I usually order the best Sweet Potato Fries I’ve ever tasted along with a Shrimp Po Boy.
Due to the casual atmosphere of Bud & Alley’s, reservations are not accepted.
George’s at Alys Beach has been a 30A icon since 2008, and all dishes are crafted using organic, locally sourced produce.
The lunch menu is divided into “Misbehave” & “Behave,” so, depending on your mood, you can either indulge in the Lobster Quesadilla or go for the lighter Avocado & Crab Flatbread. The menu has something for everyone, whether you want to sink your teeth into an Angus Beef Burger, sample some fresh seafood, or keep it vegetarian.
George’s does not accept reservations (except for Valentine’s Day), but they are typically open daily (excepting winter hours), with lunch served from 11:00 to 3:00 and dinner from 5:00 to 9:00.
7. La Crema Tapas & Chocolate
La Crema Tapas & Chocolate is exactly what it sounds like–they serve tapas and lots of chocolate.
Either go for a bite when you’re not super hungry or eat here when you’re starving and order basically everything.
I love the Manchego, Cheddar, & Monterey Fondue, and the Patatas Bravas are always delicious. They also offer traditional Spanish dishes like Paella and Empanadas, but definitely save room for dessert.
If you want a sweet treat without the bulk, order a Sipping Chocolate or go all-in with an OMG Chocolate Espresso Cookie.
Open daily | Reservations are not accepted except for Valentine’s Day.
8. Vue on 30A
SANTA ROSA BEACH
It’s an appropriate name. Vue on 30A definitely has one of the best views on 30A.
My favorite time to dine here is either for brunch or lunch so I can really soak up the oceanfront views. But, if you go for dinner, you can time it, so you catch the sunset.
If you’re there for brunch, my favorite entree is the Crab Cake Benedict served on grilled sourdough topped with hollandaise.
A lunchtime favorite is the Grouper Bowl a la Nicoise. For dinner, there are classic options like a Wedge Salad and Filet Mignon or try the Pistachio-Crusted Grouper served on saffron risotto.
9. Seaside Airstream Row
These vintage silver airstreams were here way before food trucks started trending. Not only are they adorable, but they serve up some really delicious food.
From the classic Barefoot BBQ and Wild Bill’s Beach Dogs to the more recent additions such as The Meltdown on 30A to Crepes du Soleil–it’s a great way to cater to a variety of cravings as well as enjoy people-watching in the heart of Seaside.
Roux 30A: 6 Course Tasting Menu | Intimate Fine Dining
Roux 30A is not just a restaurant — it’s an experience. With an open kitchen concept, guests sit at the rustic community tables as the chef prepares an exquisite meal from the freshest, locally sourced ingredients.
Currently, Roux 30A offers a 12-dinner series centered on 6 courses with a regularly changing menu to reflect the season. Because the restaurant is so cozy with limited seating, a reservation is a must. This innovative dining space is located in the artsy district of the Shops of Grayton.
Fun Fact: Roux 30A also offers a range of classes. Learn to cook your favorite meals, explore the art of making your own pasta or how to roll sushi, and you can even learn to blend your own wine. For the class event offerings, click here.
Bonus Dining Suggestion: BIJOUX
From Bistro Bijoux to now just Bijoux, I’ve loved this restaurant for many years. I would make a point to visit here even if it were just for the Caramelized Pear Bread Pudding with Warm Whiskey Sauce & Goat Cheese Ice Cream.
A fine dining restaurant, Bijoux suggests a sense of elegance (no cut-off shorts) but still maintains a relaxed feel. The bar offers quite a few discounted specials before 7:00 pm, but if you’re planning to go for dinner, you’ll want to make a reservation.
My favorite dinner menu items are the Crab Beignets or Lobster Spring Roll appetizer and the Gulf Shrimp & Grits entree. But, definitely save room for that dessert.
While I normally try to stay on 30A, this Miramar house is the next best thing.
I had the pleasure of staying at Caribbean Breezes for a week in November. Its location with a private heated pool combined with sunrise and sunset views from the deck and pool with effortless access to the beach made for a vacation stay I can’t wait to repeat.
Top 5 Places to Have a Drink on 30A
1. Neat Tasting Room & Bottle Shop
It’s new, it’s fun, and you should definitely go. The cocktails and small plates at Neat pack a flavorful punch, much like the style of drink the name suggests.
While you can order wine or beer here, take advantage of the well-crafted cocktails and pair it with one of their delicious small plates like the Whipped Feta served with Naan or the Baked Burrata Bolognese coupled with a baguette.
When you’re finished, don’t forget to stroll through the Bottle Shop located to the left of the bar. Here you’ll find a large selection from small-batch producers with labels you may or may not recognize in addition to bottles from more standard distillers. I bought a bottle of Kirk and Sweeney 12-Year Dominican Rum, and it is yum!
Neat is closed Sunday & Monday. Operating hours are:
Tuesday – Thursday: 12 pm – 10 pm
Friday – Saturday: 12 pm – 11 pm
2. Havana Beach Bar & Grill
I can’t resist ordering a Hemingway here, mainly because it’s delicious, but also because the space is inspired by El Floridita, Ernest Hemingway’s go-to spot in historic Havana.
The Havana Bar is open daily from 9 am – 10:30 pm, with a daily Happy Hour from 3-6 pm.
3. Bud & Alley’s Rooftop
While Bud & Alley’s restaurant is already on this list, their Rooftop Bar deserves its own mention here. Ironically, it’s the only bar in Seaside with an oceanfront “seaside” view.
The Roof Deck can get hot and crowded during the summer months, but the bar serves up consistently delicious drinks whether you’re in the mood for something tropical or frozen, like the Rumchata Bananas Foster with a Dark Rum Float.
Or, even if you’re craving a classic margarita, manhattan, or your favorite beer, the Bud & Alley’s Roof Deck Bar has got you covered.
4. Wine World
Select a glass of wine from the extensive list or sample a flight of either white or red. During Happy Hour (offered daily from 11 am – 6 pm), enjoy a 12 oz carafe of wine for the price of a large glass.
Round out the experience with a curated fruit and cheese plate, then sit back and savor.
5. Crabby Steve’s
Tucked away behind High Point Resort in Seacrest Beach, Crabby Steve’s is a hidden beach retreat located directly on the beach with some of the best views along 30A.
Crabby Steve’s serves fresh seafood alongside typical American fare. Still, it’s the full bar offering classic beach cocktails such as Pina Coladas, rum runners, hurricanes, and more relaxing thirst-quenchers, plus beer and wine, that keeps visitors coming back.
The only difficulty is just getting there. If you’re staying at the High Pointe Resort, it’s easy because you can walk through the resort and directly into Crabby Steve’s. If you’re not staying there, you can still visit, but you have to walk along the beach to access it.
While Crabby Steve’s doesn’t have an official website, they do have a Facebook page that you can check out for recent updates. Call for Hours: (850) 231 – 0999
Top 7 Places to Shop on 30A
1. The Markets
SEASIDE & ROSEMARY BEACH
I love an early morning market serving up fresh, local produce, cheese, and baked goods.
Even if I don’t end up buying anything, walking through them is such a refreshing way to begin the day, which is why I’m listing both the Seaside and Rosemary Markets as #1 in this category.
The Seaside Farmer’s Market takes place every Tuesday & Saturday from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm along the pathway that surrounds Seaside central amphitheater.
The Rosemary Farmer’s Market takes place every Sunday in the heart of Rosemary from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. In addition to fresh produce and other locally sourced food items, this market also features arts and crafts.
2. The Shops of Seaside
After you finish the Seaside Farmer’s Market, be sure to check out at least a few of the wide variety of shops that Seaside has to offer.
A few of my favorites include:
This bookstore is a Seaside stable, and I always make sure I visit them at least once when I’m in town. While I enjoy having a Kindle, there’s still nothing quite like a physical book in my hands while I’m at the seashore.
At Sundog Books you can pick up the latest New York Times bestseller, classic fiction, history books, kids’ books, and even poetry. Plus, the staff are super helpful with recommendations as well.
- Cabana by the Seaside Style–an open-air market near Bud & Alley’s offering a variety of hats, jewelry, beachwear, and shoes.
- La Vie Est Belle is a beautiful store selling simple, elegant pearl and leather jewelry, historic old coins, and other shipwreck artifacts.
- An Apartment in Paris–situated in Ruskin Place, which is located directly behind The Great Southern Cafe, this snug shop is like a doorway to Paris. The boutique sells Parisian home decor, jewelry, luxury books, plus kitchen & dining items.
- Fusion Art Glass & Fine Jewelry: Prepare to be amazed. Walking through this store is basically like visiting an art and jewelry museum, except everything is for sale. The good news is there are quite a few affordable pieces available in addition to the high-priced items.
3. The Shops of Rosemary
Much like Seaside, Rosemary Beach is also filled with a beautiful variety of shops. Browse art galleries, candy shops, clothing stores, books, and more in this colorful beachside town. I recommend going in them all, but if you’re short on time, check out:
- Curate: This art gallery features some of the most striking pieces I’ve ever seen. Even if you’re not in the market to buy any art, step in for a browse. You won’t be disappointed.
- Patchouli’s: A shop dedicated to helping you look and feel better with their bath, body, & fragrance selections. It’s a great place to discover a new luxury brand or replenish your powdered sunscreen for those days at the beach.
- The Hidden Lantern: While I’m partial to bookstores, this one gets a mention here because not only does it have a great name plus great books, the interior is just so cozy and inviting.
4. The Shops of Grayton
Grayton Beach embodies the essence of Old Florida, and its shops reflect that same spirit.
Their shop owners also reflect that carefree spirit, which might explain why it’s hard to pin down some of these shops’ open hours. That being said, if you happen to be there when these stores are open, you are in for a treat.
- Mary Hong Gallery: Connected to Shardworks Art, this gallery displays fixating works of art that make you pause and wonder for a second if you can (or should) find a way to both buy and ship the art back home.
- Modus Photography: I enjoy paintings, but sometimes there is no art quite like photography. Modus Photography is also connected to Mahalo, which is a super fun gift shop.
5. The Hub
The Hub is a relatively new shopping and dining center along 30a, but it is growing in popularity and with good reason.
The Hub currently features 20 shops & 10 dining establishments, not to mention a massive screen and expansive green to watch movies or football.
My favorite store here is Mermaids of 30A, mainly because I’ve actually purchased quite a bit of their jewelry. Hwy 30a has many options for pearl and leather jewelry, but Mermaids of 30A has them all beat.
6. The Shops of Watercolor
Watercolor has several unique shops, but the Blue Giraffe is my favorite.
Located directly on 30a, a few steps away from Wine World, The Blue Giraffe offers exquisite local beach art at relatively affordable prices as well as jewelry and art supplies, should you be in the mood to paint something for yourself.
7. The Artists of Gulf Place
SANTA ROSA BEACH
I absolutely love browsing through the Artists of Gulf Place. It’s funky local art at its best.
If you enjoy the less crowded, laid-back vibe of Santa Rosa but are looking for condos with an oceanfront view, then be sure to check out the available listings for the Villas at Santa Rosa.
Every time I visit 30A, I give this guide an update, so check back for the latest recommendations on this exceptional region of the Florida panhandle.
Looking for more Gulf Coast travel? Be sure to check out the following Travel Guides: