How to Live Like a Local on 30A

30A began as a string of small, quaint Gulf-side communities but quickly evolved into 16 popular, bustling, and unique communities. We love each of the charming communities and truly think each one is worth a visit but, with limited time vacation time, how do you know which 30A communities are a must-see? How do you know the best restaurants on 30A and the must-do’s in the area? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

We have the ultimate list of how to live like a 30A local: the best things to do, where to eat and where to stay on 30A. Learn more about 30A rental homes, the best restaurants on 30A and more!

November 3, 2021

If you’re planning a trip to 30A, we’ve got the ultimate list of tips, things to do, places to visit, and where to eat on 30A so you can live like a local. The secret to an amazing vacation is living like a local – forget the overpriced tourist traps and overrated restaurants, only popular because they’re conveniently on the beaten path. Well-traveled visitors want to eat, stay, and visit the places the locals love. Chances are, the locals have tried and tasted it all and they know what’s actually good and what just has good marketing behind it.

30A began as a string of small, quaint Gulf-side communities but quickly evolved into 16 popular, bustling, and unique communities. We love each of the charming communities and truly think each one is worth a visit but, with limited time vacation time, how do you know which 30A communities are a must-see? How do you know the best restaurants on 30A and the must-do’s in the area? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

Stay Like a Local

30A has its fair share of small, trendy boutique hotels and modest resorts. One of the selling points of 30A is the lack of high rises and over-development so you won’t find any towering Hiltons or giant Four Seasons. But, if you really want a true local experience, look no further than the incredible selection of 30A cottages and luxury rental homes. There are numerous adorable, small communities offering a wide variety of homes to stay in. From tiny apartments to massive three-story homes to 30A cottages footsteps from the beach to homes offering massive community pools, you’re guaranteed to find a home that perfectly suits your group and occasion.

Renting a home on 30A for your vacation comes with a ton of benefits: more space for the family compared to a hotel room, shared living spaces to spend quality time, a kitchen to help stay on budget, and special amenities you won’t find anywhere else. Some of our homes are even pet-friendly 30A rental homes so you can bring along the furriest member of the family to share in the fun. Free parking space, easy private beach access, outdoor grills, adult bicycles, beach umbrellas – each of our homes is curated with offerings to make your stay amazing.

On the Love to Stay 30A website, you can search homes by dates available, filter for your number of guests, search by your favorite 30A town (Rosemary Beach, Grayton Beach, WaterColor, Seaside, etc.), and more! Or contact us directly so we can help. If you want to truly relax, unwind, and feel at home in, come find out why locals Love to Stay with Love to Stay 30A.

Eat Like a Local

There is no shortage of world class restaurants on 30A but, getting to them all during a brief visit is impossible. Just like any beach destination, 30A has its fair share of overrated (and overpriced) restaurants that are better avoided. A good location can’t always make up for bad food and service, though. None of the restaurants on our list are exactly “hole in the wall” restaurants but, they are well-loved local spots we highly recommend.

Bud & Alley’s not only has a stunning view, it’s a big hit among locals. Make yourself at home among the regulars at their waterfront location in Santa Rosa Beach. It’s a popular place for dinner. Watching the sky change color never gets old. But we also love it for lunch. You’ll find an extensive bar with all your favorite drink offerings and a great menu featuring favorites like their famous crab cakes, carnitas tacos, seafood gumbo, and scallops.

Raw & Juicy is a tasty, healthy alternative to the endless roster of seafood restaurants on 30A. They are open for breakfast and lunch (8 AM-3 PM daily) in Alys Beach. The menu may be on the small side but the flavors are big. Raw & Juicy is a vegan and vegetarian heaven. Smoothies, acai bowls, overnight oats, kale Caesar, and lentil burgers are some of the dishes you’ll find there.

Cowgirl Kitchen in Rosemary Beach sells itself as “fun, no frills” and that’s right on point with our assessment. It’s a laid-back, family-friendly restaurant with a Southwestern twist. Guacamole, elote corn dip, drunken shrimp tacos, burgers, quesadillas, and a variety of pizzas make the menu varied and picky-eater friendly. But we also really love their breakfast here. Who doesn’t love French toast, migas, breakfast sandwiches, and $5 Bloody Mary’s and mimosas?

Café Tango is a special place: charming, romantic, intimate and cozy. Authentic Mediterranean and Spanish flavors are made with fresh, local ingredients. Their Pistachio Crusted Grouper made it to our Must Try 30Adishes list. Reviewers call it, “Fish candy” it’s so delicious. Their curated wine list is perfect for finding the perfect glass or bottle to accompany your meal. If you’re not a fan of seafood, try one of their popular steak dishes instead!

AJ’s is the place to be if you love live music, good drinks, and even better vibes. We love to kick back here with some oysters and a cold one. But they also have all manner of platters, sandwiches, gumbo, and po’boys. It’s an unpretentious establishment with indoor and outdoor seating and live music every night! AJ’s is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the evening.

Airstream Row is more than just the perfect setting for your next Instagram photo. This adorable row of various Airstreams is easy on the eyes and the palette. You’ll find something for everyone on Airstream Row. Indulge your sweet tooth with nostalgic sno cones at Frost Bites. Grab an ooey gooey gourmet grilled cheese at The Melt Down. We can’t forget Barefoot BBQ and Wild Bill’s Hot Dogs! Grab a spot to eat right there in the midst of the magic or enjoy a picnic over in the amphitheater area.

Travel Like a 30A Local

Of course you can always walk or drive around 30A. But, if you want a truly unique and authentic 30A local experience, we have two suggestions for you:

Biking is the #1 best mode of transportation on 30A. Breezing along the beach is a great way to burn some calories and soak up delicious Florida sunshine. You’ll quickly find that biking is a popular activity along 30A. Most places you’ll need to go are within a reasonable distance. Thanks to the New Urbanism design of the area, it’s easy to zip from location to location through the network of sidewalks and trails. 30A is a very walkable and bikeable area.

There are some beautiful biking trails to explore. Camp Helen State Park, Grayton Beach, and Timpoochee Trail are all worth taking a look at. Trails are an ideal way to explore the natural, native Florida ecosystems and spend an afternoon in the fresh air. Or just cruise on your bike through town and hop off to shop and dine along the way. Bike rentals are available in multiple locations but many of our 30A cottages come with a set of bikes for ease and enjoyment.

Golf carts are another fun way to see 30A. If your group includes small children or you’re just not into the idea of biking, golf carts are a great alternative. You’ll likely see a few carts zipping around the neighborhood during your visit. Join in the fun by renting your own. Our 30A concierge service will help you find a reliable rental company. It’s a speedy way to get around while staying in the shade. Plus you can travel with multiple people and bring along your favorite beach gear with ease.

Many locals own their own golf carts but, it may be a new thing to you and a fun way to get the local flavor. Driving the golf cart with the family is perfect to set the tone for a memorable, unique vacation. It’ll instantly get you into the local mindset. For convenience and family-friendliness, we give this option an A+.

Things to Do and Places to See


What’s a 30A vacation without a beach trip? NOTHING. You’d be doing yourself a major disservice if you missed out on the white sand, emerald water beaches during your visit. We have many different beach areas and they’re all worth checking out. Locals often try to avoid the busier, more crowded areas of the beach. If you’re looking for something a bit more secluded, try Camp Helen State Park’s beach. It’s a little walk to the sand but well worth it for some space and quiet.

Explore the Neighborhoods

Each neighborhood has its own distinct style, architecture and vibe. Enjoy the variety: visit Seaside, the idyllic town featured in the movie The Truman Show, Rosemary Beach, one of the most popular destinations, and all the areas in between. We also suggest visiting The Hub in Watersound. It’s a really cool area with lots of shops and restaurants with a large green space and play area in the center. It’s a great spot for picnic and playing. They host movie nights and live music often so check the 30A local event calendar to see what’s going on.

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