When the girls were younger, we went on a trip with several of our friends to the 30A area of Florida. We rented a house near Rosemary Beach and went back and forth from house to beach to the pool. This year, when our yearly trip to the Bahamas was canceled, we decided it was time to go back to Florida’s Gulf Coast. We love the Caribbean’s laid back lifestyle and crystal blue waters and try to travel there when possible. In the event that a tropical destination isn’t in the cards, 30A is pretty much the only stateside beach trip I can successfully get Zach excited about. But what’s not to love about white sand beaches, crystal blue water, and a strand of seaside communities where your kids can ride bikes and you can travel nearly everywhere by golf cart? This year, the girls were a little older and we decided to stay in Watercolor where we could have easy access to plenty of activities and restaurants. We loved the 30A area and are already planning a repeat beach trip next summer.
Where We Stayed in Watercolor
With our family of four traveling, we thought it would be best (and easiest) to stay at the WaterColor Inn and Resort in Santa Rosa Beach on 30A. We only went for 5 days and renting a big house for our family of four just seemed like a stretch. Plus, the house rentals were extremely limited with the travel restrictions keeping people stateside. Next year we will most likely rent a home via 360blue but our experience at the WaterColor Inn was wonderful!
We stayed in an oceanfront room that had a king bed and a pullout sofa. It was so nice to be able to walk up to our room for drinks or snacks, grab lunch at Fish Out of Water or visit the Beach Club. The amenities at the hotel were limited but the rooms were incredibly nice and it was wonderful to be within walking distance to shops and restaurants.
If you stay at the WaterColor Inn and Resort you need to book bikes and golf carts as soon as you book your room! The HOA only allows 60 golf carts and when we booked we were approximately 50th on the waiting list.
Beach Tips for Kids
The 30A beaches are great for kids because the water is warm, clear (aka you can see them better) and there is plenty of beach area to run and play. The last time we visited 30A, the girls were really young so we’ve learned a few tips from our other beach trips, especially when you fly and aren’t packing a car full of beach gear.
If you are planning a trip, book beach chairs asap or plan to take your own. We went to Publix night one and stocked up on oatmeal, cereal, snacks, drinks and unwiches. We also bought some beach toys and boogie boards once we were in Florida.
My rule of thumb is that the girls can take whatever they want to carry. I handle the beach bag with sunscreen, goggles, and storage for our phones, books, external charger, bluetooth speaker, coverups, etc. Dad handles the cooler and the girls are responsible for their toys.
If you are walking further than down the steps to the beach, I cannot stress enough the importance of a wagon like this. We used it when the girls were little for naps under an umbrella and it makes your life so much easier! Also, these $4 Target inner tubes were a HIT.
Vacation Tips for the Husbands and Dads
Zach needed a vacation as much as the rest of us after 6 long weeks of working hard and dealing with a stressed-to-the-max wife and rambunctious kids that were over being cooped up in the house.
Zach’s favorite travel hack is to pack a YETI backpack as a carry-on because it’s so easy to use going back and forth from the beach. On vacation mode the last thing he wants to do is fight with an umbrella set up, so he definitely recommends booking chairs as far out in advance as possible.
I would say that his number one tip for beach trips is to be prepared to wait at dinner, no matter where you go. Pack a cooler for the trunk or the golf cart with waters, snacks and a roadie or two for exploring while you wait on your table. We ate at The Wine Bar and loved being able to walk around the gardens and explore before dinner.
Our Favorite Spots Along 30A
The girls LOVED The Candy Bar and Camp Watercolor. If you aren’t familiar with 30A, I feel inclined to tell you that Camp Watercolor is inland and feels like you may or may not be right smack dab in the middle of the swamp. All those nice breezes you get at the beach are long-gone when you’re in the middle of all the homes, near the lake and the state forest that backs up to the bayou. All that to say, the kids don’t mind it at all but as an adult, you should come prepared to sweat. And by sweat, I mean a full-on swass situation if you aren’t floating around the lazy river on repeat.
I love nothing more than a late afternoon on the beach so we went to Camp Watercolor first thing but couldn’t take the stagnant heat once lunchtime rolled around. The girls loved the slides and the lazy river, and the food and drinks was one of the best quick service meals we had. If I were to plan it differently, I would hit up the beach in the am and then Camp Watercolor towards the end of the day.
Another favorite place to go is the central square at Seaside. There is a large grassy area where the kids can run and play and a ton of shopping, eating and places for desserts at your fingertips.
Where to Eat on 30A
In Seaside // Bud & Alley’s is the best spot for a delicious and casual lunch or dinner. We also love Great Southern Cafe and it’s one of the only places that takes reservations! The brunch is unbeatable, in my opinion. There are also a ton of food trucks in Seaside that make for an easy dinner if everyone wants something different. Barefoot BBQ has excellent BBQ, Zach loved Gyro Hero, the girls each preferred The Meltdown and Beach Dogs and Crepes du Soleil is perfect for a sweet treat.
In Watercolor // Fish Out of Water is probably my favorite restaurant in the Watercolor area and The Wine Bar is an easy dinner that I could eat nightly. The Beach Club has excellent hamburgers and nachos and The Perfect Pig is a great option as well. It’s right beside the Publix so that would be a good spot for a first meal if you are also planning a grocery run.
If you have anything else to add, leave it in the comments! I hope this helps you plan your next trip to 30A!