Beach season is here! (But let’s be honest, is it ever really not beach season on the Emerald Coast?) Every local beach access point has something unique to offer visitors and locals. Try to hit them all during your time in South Walton to maximize your Emerald Coast experience. Keep reading for our favorites (from West to East) …
- James Lee Park
Right over the county line in Okaloosa, James Lee Park is a public park maintained by the county that offers pavilions and picnic tables galore! The playground on site and restrooms that come equipped with changing tables make this park one of our most family friendly. Nestled in between two State Parks, an afternoon at James Lee puts you in close proximity to a host of other fun, family-oriented activities for you and the kids to enjoy together.
- Pompano Joe’s Seafood House (Miramar Beach)
Open every day at 11am, Pompano Joe’s is a fun and vibrant dining atmosphere that has been featured on the Travel Channel. A self-proclaimed “beach snack shack” – Pompano Joe’s serves up beautiful views along with their delicious food. A fun beach access point for friends traveling together looking to cut loose!
- Whale’s Tail Beach Bar & Grill (Miramar Beach)
Another fun local favorite is Whale’s Tail! Located on Scenic Highway 98 at Seascape Resort, Whale’s Tail is open every day for breakfast at 7:00am and stays open through lunch and dinner. Whale’s Tail is the pinnacle of laid back Emerald Coast beach culture. With direct access to the beach, you can’t go wrong grabbing a bite here!
- Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
For those in search of a more authentic Gulf Coast nature experience, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park offers 3.2 miles of pristine beaches. Explore South Walton’s unique Coastal Dune Lakes, hiking and biking trails, and beautiful views. The park is open from 8am to sundown every day, and although there is a fee to park, the pass to paradise is well worth it. Topsail might be our unofficial FAVORITE beach spot on the list.
- Stinky’s Fish Camp/Dune Allen Beach Access
Right across from Stinky’s Fish Camp on 30A is the Dune Allen Public Beach Access point. Stinky’s menu has been featured on a few TV shows and USA Today – and when you pair their delicious food with the memorable views of the Gulf, you can’t go wrong. Right across the street from Stinky’s, take advantage of the Dune Allen beach access which connects to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park along the waterfront and through hiking and biking trails. The Dune Allen beach access is the perfect mix of natural splendor and the dining and entertainment of 30A!
- Gulf Place/Ed Walline Park
Gulf Place is a fun vacation stop on your visit to South Walton, great food, great music and culture, great nightlife, great shopping! You could spend a morning at the beach and the rest of the day at Gulf Place! Right across from the Ed Walline beach access, which offers an awesome one-story viewing platform overlooking the beach, Gulf Place is also home to some of the best pizza in Walton County – Pizza by the Sea is to die for. Try it, trust me.
- Grayton Beach State Recreation Area
Grayton Beach tops out at nearly 2,000 acres where you can boat, fish, surf, paddle board, canoe, kayak, hike & bike to your heart’s content. Oh yeah, they also have a gorgeous beach. In fact, Grayton was named the “Top US Beach” by Dr. Beach in 1994 (and once a beach wins that title, they cannot win again). Grayton Beach is another option on our list for the nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts visiting South Walton.
- WaterColor and Seaside
The neighborhoods of WaterColor and Seaside are perfect for families and experiential travelers who want to dive into the real South Walton “way of life.” With restaurants, art galleries, shops, beautiful beaches, amazing events, and more, these communities feel like you’re stepping into a beautiful bygone era or parallel universe where everything is awesome and everyone is happy. Difficult to do justice in words, you have to see it to truly understand. So check it out for yourselves!