On the surface, South Walton is sugar-white sand beaches and turquoise water, but some of its most beautiful sights are beneath the waves. The South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) is building artificial reefs to increase habitats for marine life and last summer completed the fourthsnorkel reef in the area. In addition to a turtle-shaped reef offshore near Grayton Beach, they’ve placed a seahorse-shaped reef off Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, a cobia-shaped reef off of Inlet Beach, and a dolphin-shaped reef in Miramar Beach. On top of the four snorkel reefs, SWARA has plans for nine more scuba diving reefs; swarareefs.org/reefs/. South Walton is home to innovative SUP (Stand Up Paddling) companies like YOLO. There are 26 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico, bordered by the Choctawhatchee Bay to the north, and 15 rare coastal dune lakes, providing a huge variety of kayaking and SUP options. You can also fish from your paddle board, and there are boards made specifically with anglers in mind.
Visitors spend an estimated $436 million annually in South Walton on good eats. Pescado Seafood Grill & Rooftop Bar in the heart of Rosemary Beach is a casual fine dining restaurant with incredible gulf views from the rooftop bar; pescado30a.com. Black Bear Bread Co. is a Santa Rosa Beach neighborhood bakery, coffee shop, and all-day seasonal café with fresh-baked breads and pastries; blackbearbreadco.com. The Bay is Chef Jim Shirley’s family friendly waterfront restaurant overlooking the Choctawhatchee Bay and features mouthwatering Southern Gulf Coast cuisine, sushi, a 12-draft beer system, excellent wine selections, and inventive bar-crafted cocktails; baysouthwalton.com. Surfing Deer’s name pays homage to one of Seagrove Beach’s early founders, Cube McGee, a local celebrity in the 1940s, with his pet deer named Bambi. Casual fine dining, surfingdeer.com. Caliza offers contemporary American cuisine served al fresco overlooking the stunning pool at Alys Beach; calizarestaurant.com.
South Walton is home to a surprising number of yearound wine festivals. South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival features a chef-inspired culinary village and hands-on educational seminars; sowalwine.com. Sandestin Wine Festival in the Village of Baytowne Wharf is South Walton’s original wine festival with more than 30 years of tradition behind it; sandestinwinefestival.com. 30A Wine Festival in Alys Beach is a four-day showcase of award-winning wines, culinary arts and charity; 30awinefestival.com. Seeing Red Wine Festival is a local Seaside tradition for more than 25 years. Diverse mix of wines, winemaker dinners, and farm-to-fork culinary experiences; seeingredwinefestival.com. Rosemary Beach Uncorked offers, fine wines and culinary creations from the beach town’s talented chefs; rosemarybeachuncorked.com Harvest Wine & Food Festival in WaterColor features live music, culinary demonstrations, and of course wine and beer tastings; Dcwaf.org
Emeril Lagasse owns and operates Emeril’s Coastal Italian Restaurant in Grand Boulevard and recently donated a half-million dollars to The Seaside School through his Emeril Lagasse Foundation. The donation will go toward building a performing arts center, a garden, and three classrooms. Luke Bryan opened Shore Thing Cigars with business partner Paul Copeland in 2016. Located at The Hub in Santa Rosa Beach, guests to the lounge and bar have been known to bump into the country superstar while visiting; shorethingcigars.com. Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line and his wife Brittney opened Tribe Kelley Surf Post in Grayton Beach. Located across the street from the soon-to-be-rebuilt Red Bar in Grayton Beach.
Luxury Living at Parkside at Henderson Beach Resort
New Parkside condominiums bring resort-style luxury living to Destin’s Henderson Beach Resort.
The Premier Property Group (PPG), Northwest Florida’s mumber-one independent locally owned real estate firm, has partnered with Dunavant Enterprises to bring a new $45-million resort condominium development to Destin’s Henderson Beach Resort. The first phase of Parkside at Henderson will break ground this summer with expected completion in late 2020.
Parkside at Henderson will include 64 residences in five buildings with views looking out over the pristine dunes of the adjacent Henderson State Park to the Gulf of Mexico or over a brand-new resort pool complex. Buyers can choose from one-, two-, and three-bedroom residences with thoughtfully designed layouts for easy, everyday living. Residences will feature high-end stainless-steel appliances, quartz countertops, wood cabinetry, frameless glass showers, and crown molding. In addition, each residence will feature a bunk area and wet bar with a sink and wine refrigerator.
Owners at Parkside will have access to Henderson Beach Resort’s impressive array of amenities, including a full-service spa, fitness center with group classes, multiple resort pools and lazy rivers, poolside cabanas, free shuttle service, and a private beach. Owners and guests will have multiple on-site dining options including Primrose and the Beachwalk Café, Destin’s only fine dining restaurant located directly on the Gulf of Mexico.
“What sets Parkside apart from other condominiums up and down the beach is our connection to the award-winning Henderson Beach Resort,” says PPG’s Chief Marketing Officer, Michael McNeil. “Through our involvement in Parkside, we look forward to delivering the best in luxury development on the Emerald Coast through our team’s deep experience and vision for resort-style properties.”
Parkside residents will also have access to the resort’s concierge, valet, in-room and poolside dining, daily cleaning service, and beach chair and umbrella service, and live entertainment. Families can also take advantage of an on-site kid’s club that features day camps and kid’s-night-out activities. Bicycle, kayak, snorkel, and paddleboard rentals are also available.
For more information on Parkside at Henderson, call (205) 937-7784 or visit HendersonParkside.com.
Selling Dreams on 30A
Find a piece of Paradise with 30A Realty.
For nearly 25 years, 30A Realty has been the local market experts when it comes to real estate in the beach communities of South Walton. With over 20 local agents and an office in Seagrove Beach, 30A Realty is perfectly positioned to help clients buy and sell at the beach.
30A Realty opened in 1995, the brainchild of original owners Mickey Whitaker and Alice Forrester. “30A Realty was the first of its kind,” says 30A Realty Marketing Director Florence Hudson. Last November, Jacob Watkins, a Fairhope, Alabama, native and Auburn graduate, purchased the company and initiated a total corporate rebranding. “Mickey and Alice are still very much involved; we see them every day,” Hudson says. “It’s fun to see their different takes and the perspective they have on the market.”
Watkins graduated from Auburn with a Bachelor’s degree in economics and a Masters of business Administration in Finance, bringing his experience in investment, finance, accounting, small business leadership, and construction to the real estate industry in Florida. Watkins moved to 30A in 2013 and began his real estate career with a boutique firm in Miramar Beach in late 2015.
The 30A Realty team has extensive experience working with buyers and sellers, locating premier properties, and negotiating the best deals. They understand the unique features of the market and the unique needs of their clients while keeping a firm pulse on market changes, sales strategies, and development opportunities. They are annually one of the top producing brokerages in the market. The 30A Realty team takes a full-service approach to real estate, doing everything from design and development to interior design and marketing. “We take clients from conception to completion in-house,” Hudson says. The in-house marketing team, led by Hudson, spearheaded the corporate rebranding project and a complete website overhaul. For more information: 30Arealty.com
The Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa
Photos courtesy of Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa
With sugar-white sand and crystal-clear water, plus amenities galore, every family will find something to love at the Hilton Sandestin Beach.
Guest rooms offer a partial or full Gulf view, with private balconies, for plenty of people watching or spectacular sunsets. Or book a Junior Deluxe Suite with kid-friendly bunk beds, and in-room cribs and Pack-n-Plays are available upon request. Special packages are available during the summer. Check hiltonsandestinbeach.com for specials.
Hilton Sandestin Beach caters to kids with a full menu of summer activities. The popular Kids Krew Program—offered to kids from ages 5-12—offers creative activities under the supervision of a trained staff who will keep the kiddos happy and occupied during the day. Kite-flying, sand-sculpting, water balloons, squirt guns, and slip-and-slides give you a hint of how they will spend their time. There are also theme days, including Minion Mayhem—where kids get to become a Minion for a day—Wild West Showdown with pony express races, 10-gallon hats, and root-beer floats, and Superhero Saturday, when kids make their own superhero masks and capes. Kids Night Out is the perfect way for parents to enjoy a relaxing evening sans children knowing their kids are having a ball. Activities from 6 till 10 p.m. include camp-outs on the beach roasting marshmallows over a bonfire, searching for constellations, crab hunting on the beach, live comical science experiments, and more. For children younger than five, or during hours not covered by the kids’ programs, guests at Hilton Sandestin can arrange babysitting— with help from the resort—by outside licensed and bonded childcare agencies.
In addition to sugar-white sands and clear-as-glass water, the Hilton Sandestin also has three pools—two outdoor and one indoor—whirlpools, and an expansive pool deck. There is also a state-of-the-art fitness center and a full-service spa. Guests have full access to all of the resort amenities, including four golf courses, a putting course, 15 tennis courts, and bike rentals. The Village of Baytowne Wharf is home to charming shops and boutiques, a variety of restaurants, nightlife options, and yearound festivals and other fun events and activities. Complimentary shuttles are available to guests at Hilton Sandestin Beach.
A variety of dining options from Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood to family friendly fare at Barefoot’s Beachside Bar & Grill ensures there’s something to please every palate. There’s also Hadashi Sushi Bar, Sandcastles Restaurant and Lounge, Picnix Poolside Market, The Coffee Shop, and the Sandbar, plus 24/7 in-room dining. In other words, something for everyone
Pack your bags. It’s beach time.