WaterSound Sand Dunes
Meet Three Bloggers Who Love South Walton

This month is all about spending family time in South Walton — and though we could have written about why our beach neighborhoods are perfect for families of all types, we thought it’d be more fun for you to hear about it from South Walton visitors themselves.

We talked with three different bloggers about their families’ trips to our beach neighborhoods. Read their stories and travel tips below!

Meet the Bloggers:

Kristin Luna, author of Camels & Chocolate, is a blogger, journalist and photographer living in Nashville, Tennessee. Kristin started sharing her travel adventures on her blog in 2007 and has written a number of times about her family’s travels to South Walton. Check out her big South Walton family vacation, her daytrip to Grayton Beach State Park and her most recent girls’ getaway to our beach neighborhoods.

Kristin Luna, Camels & Chocolate
Photo by Kristin Luna, Camels & Chocolate.

Jill McOwen, author of Foodtastic Mom, is a mother of two and full-time foodie living in Cincinnati, Ohio. Known for her delicious recipes and fun kitchen cooking playlists, Jill is an inspiration to other moms and budding home cooks. She’s visited South Walton a number of times — read her recaps of Seaside and Sandestin to learn more about her family’s eats and adventures.

Jill Owens, Foodtastic Mom
Photo by Jill McOwen, Foodtastic Mom.

Claire Crowell, author of Raised by the Fork, is a blogger, mother and COO of A. Marshall Family Foods. When she’s not chasing her lively toddler or overseeing operations for a handful of popular Nashville restaurants, Claire enjoys traveling to special destinations like South Walton. It’s no surprise that this Southern hospitality expert raves about the small-town charm and curated selection of Modica Market.

Claire Crowell, Raised by the Fork
Photo by Claire Crowell, Raised by the Fork.

Why do you love visiting South Walton?

Kristin: While I'm an active vacationer if ever there was one, I also love nothing more than sitting on the beach for five-hour stretches at a time and whittling down my Kindle list. South Walton allows me the peace and quiet—and best of all, the space, both physical and mental—to do just that, but when I'm ready to get my blood pumping, it also provides plenty of options for activities like SUP Yoga or speeding along atop the glittering sea with Motoboatin' 30A.

Jill: The sugar-white fluffy sands and the crystal clear water! I grew up visiting different beaches in the Florida area. My family tried to do a beach week every summer and Sandestin is by far the best beach I've ever visited. I would not consider going anywhere else.

Claire: We started coming to the South Walton area as a family over 20 years ago. We have made so many memories on 30A and I look forward to creating more with my young family. Spots like Modica Market have inspired our businesses for years and we always enjoy coming back. It's a place where we can relax and just be family without distraction.

What makes South Walton a special destination to you?

Kristin: I've visited more than 100 countries all over the world, including plenty of off-the-grid islands and tropical locales in the South Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean, and I'd still put South Walton's beaches up against any of those in a death match—and am confident it would come out the victor. And those sunsets! Have you ever found a better sunset anywhere than Florida's Gulf Coast? (No, you haven't.) The sky always seems ablaze with a tapestry of colors, no matter the day or time of year. It's an artist's dream.

Jill: South Walton is the first beach we took our son to, when he was just 1 year old. We've been back to the area four times since then. We now have two kids (ages 8 and 11) and have taken both of them.

Claire: For one, it's an easy drive. There's now a short flight to Panama City from Nashville, which certainly makes getting there quicker. But we honestly prefer piling up the car with our beach toys, hitting the road in the early a.m. and arriving in South Walton around midday. There are a lot of parallels in culture between Middle Tennessee and South Walton, but with the added bonus of the beach!

Describe your perfect day in South Walton.

Kristin: Breakfast at the Donut Hut (obviously), a few hours of reading time on Blue Mountain Beach, a dip in the Gulf, a nap in my condo or rental house, a walk around the coastal dune lakes of Grayton Beach State Park, cocktails at Caliza, dinner at the food trucks in Seaside, capped off with a little late night fun at Rosemary Beach's bars. Wash, rinse and repeat the next day. (And the day after that.)

Jill: Packing a lunch and spending all day on the beach. Heading back in the late afternoon to lounge by the pool for a bit. Then cooking a fresh seafood dinner from Shrimpers Seafood Market back at the condo. Finishing the evening by playing cards on the deck with a few ice-cold beers.

Claire: That's easy. “Sleeping in” for me is 7 a.m., so we usually start the morning off with a walk or bike ride to Modica Market for a muffin and strong coffee. Then back to the house to lather up with sunscreen and hit the beach by 10 a.m. I have a toddler so we don't last more than one or two hours on the beach before we are back for lunch. While she's napping, I'm reading on the porch, which is something I never get to do at home. Then we go out to dinner and drinks at any of our favorite restaurants (Great Southern CafeStinky's Fish CampCowgirl Kitchen and so many more!). And then top it off with some Blue Mountain Beach Creamery ice cream, of course.

How would you describe South Walton to someone who has never visited?

Kristin: The most perfect beach destination there ever was: sugary sands, the prettiest, clearest of waters, great boutiques and indie shops, delicious cocktails and plenty of culinary adventures to boot. One thing that I've really seen change over the past decade is the evolution of South Walton's dining scene and I love seeing new hotspots crop up every time I'm back.

Jill: A place to truly relax and recharge. There is something for everyone - perfect beach, fantastic play areas such as The Village of Baytowne Wharf and Jolee Island, shopping and delicious local food. The beaches are incomparable. Sugar-white sand and crystal clear waters. It's paradise!

Claire: Peace of mind.