This Florida Town Has Thriving Food And Art Scenes And Is Near A Gorgeous Beach Park

Wedged between the seaside towns of Destin and Panama City on Florida's northwest coast, Grayton Beach is just one of several picturesque neighborhoods in the trendy 30A community of South Walton County. With 26 miles of pristine turquoise waters, South Walton was even named Florida's best-kept secret by Forbes for its relaxed beach scene, plethora of unique eateries, and exciting outdoor excursions. 

A little-known chic town situated along County Road 30A, beaches are only the beginning of what this laid-back surf spot has to offer. Grayton Beach was one of South Walton's first established communities and boasts its own quirky character that's evident in its motto, "Nice dogs, strange people." Nevertheless, its quintessential beach town charm still beckons those far and wide to take full advantage of the sun, sea, and sand along this stretch of coastline. Residents have the best of both worlds with an impeccable location. Grayton Beach offers easy access to the polished, upscale, white-washed neighborhoods of Alys Beach and Seaside that can be found just a seashell's throw away from the funky, eclectic vibes of Grayton.

This city boasts an incredibly swanky and hip ambiance that attracts visitors from all over the country to enjoy its white sandy shores, flourishing cafés, and spunky creative scene. It's the kind of beach town where weathered pastel abodes function as boutiques and coffee houses, and that will have you looking over your shoulder more than once on your way out of town, not wanting to leave.

Visit Grayton Beach State Park

Surrounded by the clear azure waters of Western Lake, Grayton Beach State Park is one of Florida's best beaches for families and a top-rated beach park in the United States. Coastal dunes, scenic hiking trails that weave through the salt marsh, and miles of powdery golden sand are scattered across this almost 2,000-acre sanctuary. Magnolias, scrub oaks, and coastal woodlands create a lush, vibrant backdrop for hikers leisurely pursuing the 4 miles of hiking trails that criss-cross this state park. Notoriously hot, humid summers make the 100-acre dune lake on this estate a popular summertime hot spot for paddle sports, like canoeing and kayaking. 

Of course, the pretty white sands whose shorelines are regularly met by crashing waves and warm, salty turquoise water are the obvious place to be in Grayton Beach. With fewer beach towels flung onto this stretch of coast, Grayton Beach locals enjoy a less populated beach break than its next-door neighbors in 30A. The beach is a community gathering space that offers a laid-back ambiance with calm waters teeming with aquatic life. Dolphin and manatee sightings are also not an uncommon treasure in these waters! Sunset-watching is just part of the natural rhythms of life in Grayton Beach, and this beach park might just be the unofficial sunset spot to watch the fiery orange and red hues of dusk fade into the Atlantic. Best of all, it's just down the road from some of the best shopping and dining its community has to offer.

Explore Grayton Beach's laid-back community

Reminiscent of the artsy and slightly faded portraits of slow-living beach towns often adorning the walls of a beach abode, the unhurried lifestyle of Grayton Beach is almost like a break from reality. Tucked among cozy clapboard beach cottages and flashier luxury estates is a thriving scene of music, arts, and culinary gems beloved by locals and visitors alike. The Shops of Grayton is less of an outlet strip and more of a small neighborhood, with each of its shops housed inside a tiny surf shack. Located just down the road from Highway 30A, it's a unique patchwork of art galleries and artisan eateries.

Black Bear Bread Co. specializes in Parisian-style pastries and naturally leavened bread using seasonal produce to create nothing but top-quality baked goods. Its collaboration with Stumptown Coffee, a top-ranked coffee roaster that first found its footing in Portland, only solidifies its commitment to quality. Grayton Beer Company is an equally impressive gem. This original local brewery in South Walton is sought after for its 30A Beach Blonde Ale — a moniker fitting enough for the town. 

Those possessing an eye for art will appreciate the Mary Hong and Andy Saczynski galleries that house the work of these two talented artists who were previously awarded the South Walton Artist of the Year Award. Tip Top Design Co. is filled with a hodgepodge of beach-themed decor and lifestyle pieces. If its adorable name doesn't reel you in, the aesthetics certainly will.