What is there to explore in South Walton?
Start with the incredible blessings of our natural surroundings: 26 miles of sugar-white beaches and the magnificent turquoise of the Gulf of Mexico, brimming with sport fishing opportunities and water warm enough for swimming most of the year; rare coastal dune lakes, maritime forests, and windswept sand dunes.
Then add 15 unique beach neighborhoods: Miramar Beach, Seascape, Sandestin, Dune Allen, Santa Rosa Beach, Blue Mountain, Grayton Beach, WaterColor, Seaside, Seagrove, WaterSound, Seacrest, Alys Beach, Rosemary Beach and Inlet Beach.
Each neighborhood has its own charm and personality. Some worldly and exotic, a few eclectic and artsy, others as friendly and casual as your favorite Jimmy Buffett song. Sprinkle them all with a wide range of accommodations, from premium resorts, to charming B&Bs, to cozy beachside cottages. Spice with a delectable mixture of beach cuisine, whether it be local seafood prepared by an award-winning chef, casual comfort food, or warm homemade donuts.
Finally, mix in the amenities that put an exclamation point on the ideal vacation: world-class golf and tennis facilities, outdoor eco-adventures and experiences, family fun activities, a shopper's paradise, a thriving arts community, and a long list of exciting events and festivals.
Warm it all under a sunny, four-season Florida climate… and you've got South Walton. The recipe for a perfect beach vacation.
South Walton's stunning beaches were created by the weathering of the Appalachian Mountains over millions of years. Particles of quartz from this mountain range were washed into riverbeds and eventually transported by these rivers to the Gulf of Mexico. The ebb and flow of the water over this long distance broke down these particles and buffed their edges, making the sand as fine as sugar when it finally rested along the Florida Panhandle. There are no large sediment-heavy rivers directly influencing the water in South Walton, so the reflection of the sun on the white sandy bottom of the Gulf of Mexico creates the water's brilliant turquoise hue.
A variety of cultural influences can be seen in the area. South Walton has been touched by the traditions and influence of early Native American, Spanish, French, and English cultures. Each of Walton County's four municipalities, DeFuniak Springs, Paxton, Freeport and Santa Rosa Beach continue to reflect these cultures today.
The 15 South Walton Beach Neighborhoods
Remember the beach towns of your childhood? The scenic beach road, surf shops, and beachfront homes with big decks and panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico? Miramar Beach brings back the feel of those classic coastal enclaves, yet has ultra-modern amenities.
Seascape is an ideal mix of natural beauty, exciting beach activities, grand resort-style luxury and the homey comforts of well-appointed rental condos. Add to that 2,000 feet of breathtaking white sand beaches, and you've got a beachfront playground to call your own.
There's always something fun to do in Sandestin. From golf courses and world-class tennis to spas and adventure activities, Sandestin neighborhood caters to both the romantic beach getaway and the family vacation. Looking for live entertainment and festivals? Sandestin has it all.
Coastal dune lakes are a geographical rarity – an ecosystem found in only a handful of places around the world, including South Walton. However, in Dune Allen alone, there are three. These lakes bring a heightened sense of beauty and ecological balance to this area.
Founded in 1910 in a thriving turpentine industry, Santa Rosa Beach was the start of South Walton as we know it. Today, Santa Rosa Beach boasts luxury beach houses, upscale dining and a unique artist colony. It was named one of the "10 Best Beach Destinations for 2011" by Yahoo! Travel.
With native blue lupine flowers and some of the highest dunes on the Gulf Coast (the "mountain"), Blue Mountain stands out along the coastline with its own naturally laid-back style. From lavish homes to ‘60s-era beach cottages, you'll be sure to find a style all your own.
The hand-painted sign on the side of the road sums it up: "Nice Dogs, Friendly Folks." Grayton Beach is about as laid back and organic as a beach town can get, from old-style wooden beach bungalows to the "hippie kitsch" local bar and narrow neighborhood streets lined with live oaks.
Hailed for its eco-friendly design and environmental stewardship, WaterColor is a shining example of how responsible development blends in with its surroundings, and enhances them. Enjoy the award-winning inn and spa or take an ecotour - the emphasis at WaterColor is clearly natural beauty.
An outdoor amphitheater. A nationally acclaimed fine arts festival. A local repertory troupe. When it comes to pairing beauty and the beach, the folks in Seaside have, well… made an art of it. Of course, that's exactly what you'd expect from a town that wrote the book on New Urbanism.
Named for the thick grove of windswept trees that surround it, Seagrove maintains the same green canopy of oaks, magnolias, and sand pines that came to define it a half a century ago. Today, Seagrove has a mix of old beach homesteads and newer cottages - a little something for everyone.
From the bold turquoise of Gulf water to deep green wooded grasslands, from the serenity of riding a bike to the enjoyment of a round of golf, the gated resort community of WaterSound gives its visitors everything that South Walton has to offer.
If you like your beach vacations on the quiet side, Seacrest's tranquil charm is a perfect fit. It is an eclectic mix of classic Florida beach houses and brand new vacation homes. Fishing, kayaking, golfing, and good old-fashioned beachgoing are among the traditional forms of recreation here.
As you drive to the entrance of Alys Beach, you may feel as if you've been magically transported to a seaside paradise in Bermuda or Antigua. Palm trees and deep green lawns in the community's open space contrast the white stucco walls and elegant private gardens of its residences.
Maybe it's the porches wrapped around every home. Maybe it's the "French Quarter" feel of Town Center. Maybe it's the boardwalk promenades and secret pathways that wind between the carriage houses. Whatever it is, Rosemary beach is the perfect place to relax and reconnect.
No matter where you come from, a visit to Inlet Beach will have you feeling like a "local" in no time. Inlet Beach has a laid-back, residential feel. Take a bike ride around the quiet streets, or grab a bite at one of the popular local eateries. Here, it's easy to "make yourself at home," even on vacation.
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