Every now and then, you need to leave it all behind to refresh and rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. There is no better place to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life than to the beautiful beaches of South Walton, Florida. The 26 miles of white sand and turquoise-green waters are just the start of this destination’s treasures. The little-known area is a hidden gem of natural beauty, foodie delights and an outdoor explorer’s haven. Here are some ways to relax in the Sunshine State:
Photo Credit: Seaside, FL CVB
Visit the Community of Seaside
The quaint, picturesque town right on the sea is perfectly named. Spend the afternoon strolling through the tiny shops, checking out the local art galleries, the outdoor amphitheater and grabbing a bit to eat from several award-winning eateries. Named one of the “Best Beaches on Earth for Families,” this community was also the setting for the Jim Carrey movie The Truman Show.
Photo Credit: Seagar's
Have Dinner at Seagar’s
Seagar's, the very first AAA Four-Diamond restaurant on the Emerald Coast, has maintained its exclusive rating and remains one of the finest dining establishments in the area. A traditional New York-style steakhouse, the restaurant is outfitted in dark wood, low lighting and a live pianist, with the ambiance to match the high quality of the food. The chef sources local fish and produce, and also only uses the finest cuts of meat. The steaks are superb, but don’t miss the extraordinary tableside Caesar salad, seafood towers and the cheesiest macaroni and cheese you will ever have. Flambéed bananas tableside for Bananas Foster (or a lovely peach option) complete the exquisite dining experience, which is complemented by a full bar, specialty cocktails and extensive wine list.
Photo Credit: Mary Hong Studio
Make Your Own Art at The Shard Shop
Local artist Mary Hong is known for her beautiful and unique use of glass shards on canvas. Right next door, she opened The Shard Shop, a beautifully-designed studio where you can make your own art. A perfect unique afternoon for families or a girlfriend’s getaway, the light and airy studio is a great way for anyone to explore their inner Picasso.
Photo Credit: Emerald Coast CVB
Be One With Nature
With naturally-gorgeous weather and miles of coastline, it only makes sense to get out and explore your inner adventurer. For water enthusiasts, spend a day with a kayak, canoe, paddleboard, fly board, wave runner or on a pontoon boat. You can also head out on the water for some deep-sea fishing or dolphin watching. Scuba and snorkeling is another great option to take you under the sea. Stay on land with a hike, biking, beach run or round of golf at one of the many area (public or private) golf courses. If you want a bird’s eye view, try parasailing in the open skies.
Photo Credit: Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa
Visit the Newly Renovated Serenity Spa
For more than 10 years, the award-winning spa at the Hilton Sandestin Beach has been offering guests a luxurious hideaway to relax. After a multi-million renovation, the Serenity Spa now features nine new spa beds, a 24-hour fitness center and two women’s lounges, one featuring zero gravity relaxation chairs and a waterfall. The same amazing services are offered to both women and men, and include facials, massages, a hair salon, nail salon, saunas, steam room and whirlpools.
Photo Credit: 30A
Take A Scenic Drive On 30A
The iconic highway ties together the 16 towns in the panhandle and is considered one of the most scenic drives in the state of Florida. Cruise through the small towns with backdrops of white sand and lush landscaping. No two towns are alike, and all have a pristine natural beauty and unique characteristics.