From art-filled enclaves to sophisticated beach neighborhoods, buzzing northwest Florida destination South Walton offers a luxury getaway to satisfy every taste.
Sugar-white sand beaches are a major South Walton attraction.
When it comes to sun-soaked domestic getaways, one stretch of Florida sand is having a serious moment: South Walton, whose 16 unique beach neighborhoods along a 26-mile stretch of turquoise water and renowned sugar-white beaches have made it one of the region’s premier getaway destinations. Here, we deliver a primer on this hot spot’s prime attractions, from decadent dining to chic shopping and everything in between.
World-class golf at Burnt Pine in Sandestin
With world-famous stretches of sugar-white sand at every turn, the area makes it easy to find your perfect beach. Feeling laid-back? Check out the mile-long expanse at Grayton Beach State Park. Kids in tow? The family-friendly stretch at Seaside is ideal. Craving natural beauty? Complete with three rare coastal dune lakes, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is a jaw dropper. Stretching 19 miles past the area’s new urbanist enclaves, the scenic Timpoochee Trail offers runners and cyclists perfect panoramas of the scenic surroundings, which include four state parks and a 15,000-acre state forest (40% of the region’s land area is under protection). From world-class golf at courses like Sandestin’s Burnt Pine Golf Club and Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club to backwater tours with 30A Airboat Adventures, there are countless ways to get active in South Walton—then soothe those weary muscles at Serenity by the Sea Spa at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa in Miramar Beach.
Live entertainment and culture abound in the area. For live music and family-friendly activities, hit WaterSound’s The Hub 30A; browse galleries galore at Artists at Gulf Place; or dance, dance, dance at Lucille’s Music Hall at the Seascape Towne Centre.
The scenic Timpoochee Trail along Grayton Beach State Park
Craving retail therapy? You’re in luck across South Walton. Find chic looks at Lilly Pulitzer at Grand Boulevard in Miramar Beach; just-picked produce at the seasonal 30A farmers market at WaterSound and Rosemary Beach; stylish handcrafted leather goods at Blue Mountain Beach’s Coastal Road; and beach-ready swimwear and fashions at Ophelia in Seacrest, Seaside and Miramar Beach.
Tempting fare at local fave Stinky’s Fish Camp
Fresh-from-the-Gulf seafood and an abundance of local ingredients make dining out in South Walton a dream. From chic patio dining at WaterColor’s FOOW (Fish Out of Water) and global fare at Seagrove hot spot Surfing Deer to Dune Allen classic Stinky’s Fish Camp and morning must-try The Donut Hole in Inlet Beach and Santa Rosa Beach, every meal can be an adventure.
The area is easily accessible whether driving or flying, with both Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) and Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) less than 30 minutes away, each offering nonstop flights from many U.S. markets.
Photography by: PHOTOS COURTESY OF VISIT SOUTH WALTON