South Walton Overview
July 3, 2017
A 26-mile stretch located along the Gulf of Mexico in Northwest Florida, South Walton encompasses a strand of 16 beach neighborhoods, each with unique personality, architecture and energy. Find your perfect beach in neighborhoods renowned for scenic beauty, sugar-white sand beaches and turquoise water. An upscale, yet casual place to unwind, South Walton rejuvenates and builds lasting memories.
- County Road 30A, a 19-mile road that winds through rare coastal dune lakes, state lands and 16 charming beach neighborhoods, has been designated an official scenic highway by the Florida Department of Transportation. 30A is the first county road in the state of Florida to receive this designation.
- Choctawhatchee River Paddle Trail, a 170-mile river that runs from the Alabama/Florida Border South to Walton County’s Choctawhatchee Bay, is designated an official state Blueway.
- South Walton’s Morris Lake at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park was featured on CBS News Sunday Morning for its pristine natural beauty.
- Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome visit to South Walton’s WaterSound was featured on CNN’s HLN Morning Express with Robin Meade.
- South Walton’s Seaside was chosen by Travel Channel as the “Best Beach for Families.”
- South Walton’s Grayton Beach was chosen by coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, professor at Florida International University, AKA Dr. Beach as one of 2016’s Top 10 Beaches.
- Southern Living featured “The Ultimate Beach Bucket List: 50 Amazing Experiences Found Only at South Walton, Florida” in its 50th Anniversary edition magazine, in addition to several references of South Walton beach neighborhoods in their book, “Southern Living 50 Years: A Celebration of People, Places, and Culture.”
- South Walton’s Seacrest, Miramar Beach and WaterColor neighborhoods made FlipKey by Trip Advisor’s list of “Rising Stars: 32 Top Trending 2015 Vacation Rental Destinations.”
- Coastal Dune Lakes: Jewels of Florida’s Emerald Coast documentary aired on PBS and explains the beauty found in South Walton’s rare Coastal Dune Lake Ecosystems.
- More than 14,500 lodging units are available ranging from world-class resorts and hotels, modern inns to charming B&Bs and cozy beachside cottages. Landmarks such as Seaside, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, WaterColor, Rosemary Beach, and Tops'l Beach & Racquet Resort offer diverse accommodations. Campsites at Topsail and Grayton Beach State Parks and RV resorts round out the extensive array of options.
- From award-winning fine dining to casual fare, South Walton restaurants are focused on serving fresh dishes that use locally sourced ingredients, including Gulf seafood and locally grown produce.
- The area is home to several Florida Trend Golden Spoon Award winners, including current honorees, Bud & Alley's in Seaside, Fish Out of Water at the WaterColor Inn & Resort, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin and Vin’tij Wine Boutique & Bistro in Miramar Beach. Fish Out of Water also has earned the coveted AAA 4-Diamond rating, as has Seagar’s at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa.
- Silver Sands Premium Outlets, one of the largest designer factory outlet centers in the nation, calls South Walton home with brand name stores.
- One-of-a-kind boutiques and luxury brand stores are located throughout the destination in areas including Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, the Village of Baytowne Wharf, Gulf Place, Merchants of Seaside, Shops of Grayton, as well as WaterColor and Rosemary Beach.
- South Walton offers numerous ways to experience outdoor adventure in pristine environments. Convenient and helpful outfitters can serve any exploration needs from repairs to daily or weekly rentals of: kayaks; stand up paddleboards; boogie boards and surfboards; bicycles and aqua-cycles; jet skis and fishing equipment.
Nature at a Glance:
- Approximately 25,000 acres, or 40 percent of the total acreage that makes up South Walton, is state owned and protected from future development. The area's four state parks and one state forest offer a vast amount of open space for hiking, biking, camping, picnicking, canoeing or kayaking.
- South Walton is also home to the largest concentration of rare coastal dune lakes in the world. These 15 lakes have been identified as globally rare and imperiled by Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI). Similar ecosystems can only be found in Africa, Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand and the Northwest Pacific Coast of the United States.
- South Walton is nestled between the Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, providing plentiful opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater recreational activities including year- round fishing.
Arts & Culture:
- South Walton has a thriving arts community. In an effort to support the area’s growing arts community, Visit South Walton has launched a number of programs celebrating the arts, ranging from development of the Bayou Arts Center on Hogtown Bayou to implementing an Artist of the Year program.
- The area’s thriving year-round arts scene features an engaging array of galleries, studios, public art, as well as art festivals and performing arts. Exquisite art can also be found in artist colonies at Gulf Place, The Shops of Ruskin in Seaside and the Grayton Artist Collective that allow visitors to enjoy a diverse array of art and meet many of the local personalities in one colorful location. Recently opened by The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, The Foster Gallery showcases the work of local artists on a seasonally rotating schedule.
- In 2016, South Walton Fashion Week welcomed Fashion Designer Christian Siriano to the 4th annual SWFW celebration. This three day event includes emerging designer competition and runway shows, celebrity guest fashion designer trunk shows, style seminars, and parties complete with plenty of delicious food and drinks.
- The 30A Songwriters Festival has become a must-attend event featuring dozens of singers and songwriters performing live in venues throughout the destination. The annual event celebrates “Hooks, Lines and Singers” each January.
- Each spring, the Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K Run, welcomes thousands of runners for a USATF-certified race that winds through the neighborhoods of Seaside, WaterColor, Grayton Beach, Blue Mountain Beach and Santa Rosa Beach.
- South Walton local Chan Cox founded and launched the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival in 2013. This annual event pays tribute to the Sandestin Wine Festival, which occurred annually for more than 30 years. As a 501 (c) 3 charity event, proceeds benefit the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation and many regional children’s charities. The festival features more than 800 bottles of wine and prestigious vintners from around the world, including Peter Mondavi, Jr., fine foods, world-class tasting seminars with culinary celebrities, and live music from national artists.
- Tennis is also a popular sport in South Walton with more than 30 courts open to the public. Whether a seasoned tennis pro or just learning the game, all levels of play are available on hard, clay, and grass style courts.
- Tops'l Beach & Racquet Resort on Emerald Coast Parkway was voted one of the top 15 tennis resorts in the United States by Tennis Resorts online. Hidden Dunes Beach & Resort, located in Miramar Beach placed in the top 50 tennis resorts. Rosemary Beach Racquet club also made the list, voted in as one of the top 75 tennis resorts for 2017.
- South Walton offers 207 holes of championship golf. The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort offers four award-winning courses, including Burnt Pine Golf Club, The Links Course and Baytowne Golf Club – all named as Golf Digest's "Best Places to Play." The resort also touts Raven Golf Club, whose 18th hole topped the PGA Champions Tour list of the “Toughest Holes of 2006.”
- A naturally distinctive golf experience can be found at the 18-hole Camp Creek Golf Club, just off Scenic Highway 30A between WaterSound and Rosemary Beach. World-renowned course designer Tom Fazio integrated a $1.4 million landscaping program into the three-community master plan.
- The Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club was named the “purest golf on the Panhandle” by Golf magazine. Featuring 18 holes of challenging golf winding through pure white sands, pristine ponds and lush vegetation, this course offers the area's only Gulf-front holes.
About South Walton:
Located along a 26-mile stretch of white sandy beaches in Northwest Florida, South Walton encompasses 16 distinct beach neighborhoods, each with its own visual style, amenities and charm. South Walton is home to four state parks, one state forest, and more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails. Renowned for natural scenic beauty, turquoise waters and sugar sand beaches, South Walton was named one of the “Secret Florida Beaches” by Travel + Leisure, but is easily accessible as a drive to destination or by flying to nearby airports Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) or the Destin – Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS). An upscale, yet casual place to unwind, South Walton is the place to recharge and build lasting memories. Learn more at VisitSouthWalton.com or follow Visit South Walton on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.