July 17, 2021
Florida Scenic Highway 30A is the rural road that hugs the coastline along the Gulf in south Walton County. It travels along some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world.
The highway is south of US-98, which was built in the 1930s. This highway swung north and away from the beaches west of Panama City.
Back in the day these little communities were not connected. Many people wanted things to stay that way, but that was not to be.
The 1959 Florida road map below shows Grayton Beach and Seagrove as communities at the ends of dead end roads extending south from US-98 about 3 miles.
Eventually, these secluded communities and their neighbors were connected in the early 1970s when Florida Scenic Highway 30A was built along the Gulf.
The highway connects several unique communities along its 28.5 mile length.
You will go through 12 communities, from east to west:
Robert Davis decided to turn his family's 80 acres near Seagrove Beach into a brand new model for all Florida Towns. His grandfather had bought the property in the 1940's, and it was a family retreat.
He wanted to create something like the Florida towns of old. These were places where folks sat on their front porches and chatted with neighbors walking by. People could walk to the post office, the library or the grocery store.
The success of Seaside spawned many of the other new communities along 30A.
This stretch of coast is between Panama City Beach and Destin, both well known Florida tourist destinations.
Grayton Beach looks more Old Florida than most of its more modern neighbors.
It's just about in the middle of the route, and has a lot of weathered old beachy homes and cottages that remind you of a bygone era when it was the only settlement along what was then a lonely coast.
The community is surrounded by Grayton Beach State Park whose white sands were once listed by "Dr. Beach" as the most beautiful beach in America.
The land along this stretch of beach was first homesteaded in 1885 by former Army Major Charles T. Gray.
The town of Grayton Beach was founded in 1890 when Army Generals William Miller and William Wilson came to the area. They named the town for Major Gray.
The town remained remote and hard to visit until the 1930s when US Highway 98 was completed as the major route between Pensacola and Panama City.
Grayton Beach has also survived a few hurricanes. Opal in 1995 caused a lot of flooding and damage from Gulf waters which topped over the tall dunes.
The only original home in the community is called "Wash-A-Way".
It is was originally built in the 1890s by Captain Gray and is now a thoroughly modernized bed and breakfast inn.
It's at the end of County Road 283 right on the gulf and got its name when the unnamed hurricane of 1926 washed away its foundation.
The Red Bar was a historic restaurant and bar that was destroyed by fire on February 13, 2019. Faithful fans of the place from near and far mourned the loss.
Those fans have been overjoyed that he owners built a new one that opened for business on July 15, 2020.
Read more about Grayton Beach.
Seasonal and short term rentals are available all along Florida Scenic Highway 30A, but most of them are fairly pricey.
More budget minded travelers can look into the camping and cabin accommodations at the two State Parks, but reservations should be made well in advance.
A great resource for hungry travelers along Scenic Highway 30A is this article from Visit Florida, the State of Florida's official tourism marketing corporation:
This link takes you to a good listing of lodging in the area.