5 Fun & FREE Activities in 30A
March 31st 2021
The Santa Rosa Beach-30A area is known far and wide for its charming communities, pristine beaches, luscious natural landscapes, watersports, live music and the arts, seafood dining, shopping, and so much more. Nestled in between the popular Panama City Beach, and bustling Destin, FL, this small coastal stretch of scenic beauty offers visitors a more laid-back and relaxed experience. And with so much to see and do here, it probably comes as no surprise that visitors flock to the Santa Rosa Beach-30A area, year after year.
What may come as a surprise, however, is that a trip to this picture-perfect paradise doesn’t have to break the bank! In fact, there are tons of affordable, and even free, activities in 30A offered year-round, that the whole family is sure to love. Keep reading and discover 5 Fun & Free Activities in 30A, as well as other affordable attractions to make this vacation memorable, magical, and modestly-priced.
Table of Contents
- 5 Fun & FREE Activities in 30A
- Outdoor Concerts
- Seaside REP Theatre
- Visit the Beach
- Coastal Dune Lakes
- Enjoy a Picnic
- 5 Affordable 30A Things to Do
- Banana Boat Rides
- Bicycle Rentals
- Dolphin Cruises
- Gulf World Marine Park
5 Fun & FREE Activities in 30A
With such a superfluous amount of scenic beauty and wonderful weather, finding free activities in 30A the whole crew can enjoy is a cinch. From live music and concerts at the Seaside Amphitheater, to simply strolling down the scenic shoreline, there are tons of free things to do to keep both the people in your group, and your wallet, happy!
Outdoor concerts are one of the top free activities in 30A during the spring, summer, and fall
When it comes to live music and entertainment, 30A has you covered! This area truly has an appreciation for the arts, especially when it comes to music, hosting everything from massive music festivals, to outdoor concerts featuring the top local talents. The Gulley Amphitheater, The Hub, and Seaside Amphitheater are just a few of the many places to enjoy a free outdoor concert in Santa Rosa Beach-30A.
Seaside REP Theatre
Live performances by the Seaside REP Theatre are among the top free activities in 30A to enjoy in the summer months
The Repertory Theatre was founded in 2001 as Seaside’s premier theatre company, and has been entertaining both locals and visitors alike, ever since. During the summer, the Seaside REP Theatre puts on free family-friendly performances at multiple locations throughout the Santa Rosa Beach-30A area, creating an affordable way to appreciate the arts. Visit their website here for details on upcoming shows, as well as additional information.
Visit the Beach
Breathtakingly beautiful beaches in 30A. Image from Wikimedia
When it comes to the absolute best free activities in 30A, we would be remiss to not mention a good old-fashioned trip to the beach! The beaches of 30A are world-renowned, and are consistently ranked among the most beautiful beaches in the country. With crystalline emerald waters, white-sand beaches, whimsical wildlife, and breathtaking views as far as the eye can see, it’s easy to see why!
Over 24 miles long, Highway 30A is home to multiple different beach communities, each with their own unique style and personality. For example, Dune Allen beach is located on the west end of 30A, and is known for being more secluded, while the Watercolor area is more of a family-friendly resort community. Can’t decide which beach is best for you? Check out this recent TripShock blog detailing everything you need to know about 30A beaches!
Coastal Dune Lakes
Image of a coastal dune lake at Deer Lake State Park in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. Image from Flickr
Coastal dune lakes are rare occurrences, and can only be found in New Zealand, Australia, Madagascar, and the U.S. In the Santa Rosa Beach-30A area, there are 15 coastal dune lakes, and they all play vital roles in preserving the local ecosystems and landscapes. Coastal dune lakes are essentially lakes that are surrounded by sand dunes, and when the water levels rise, the sand gives way and creates an opening, or an outfall, that leads straight into the Gulf of Mexico.
What’s interesting about this phenomenon, is that the lake’s intermittent connection to the Gulf of Mexico allows the lake to drain, emptying lake water into the Gulf, and vice versa. This creates a sort of equilibrium as far as salinity and water levels go, and once this equilibrium has been reached, the opening that connects the dune lake to the Gulf closes back up. This healthy habitat creates a rare brackish ecosystem that’s home to freshwater species, as well as saltwater species.
The calm waters of these uncommon dune lakes are also perfect for watersports like fishing, paddleboarding, and kayaking. And as one of the top free activities in 30A, there are plenty of public access points available to see these unique natural wonders for yourself. Below are a few of the public access points for coastal dune lakes in Walton County:
- Oyster Lake
- Big Redfish Lake
- Little Redfish Lake
- Western Lake
- Eastern Lake
And no matter which lake you decide to visit, each one yields something different, as no two dune lakes are exactly the same! Discover even more information about coastal dune lakes below, and be prepared for your next outstanding 30A outdoor adventure:
Enjoy a Picnic
Enjoying a picnic is not only one of the best free activities in 30A, but also one of the top pet-friendly things to do on a 30A vacation
Packing a picnic and enjoying the great outdoors is one of the best free activities in 30A, as this coastal city has tons of scenic spots that make for a picture-perfect setting. The beach is definitely a top pick when it comes to picnics, as the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico views are pretty hard to beat. Popular public beach accesses for picnics include Blue Mountain Regional Access and Walton Dunes Access. If you’re looking for the perfect picnic spot that’s not at the beach, 30A is also home to tons of fantastic parks and recreational areas, like the following:
- Thomas Pilcher Park
- Grady Brown Park
- Cerulean Park
- Hogtown Bayou
If you don’t mind paying a small entrance fee, there are also multiple state parks in the Santa Rosa Beach-30A area that are definitely worth a visit. These parks preserve a variety of natural wonders, and are a terrific way to reconnect with nature, soak up some scenic views, and get a better understanding of 30A’s diverse ecosystems. With that being said, pack your picnic basket, and head to one of these stunning state parks:
- Eden Gardens State Park
- Deer Lake State Park
- Grayton Beach State Park
- Camp Helen State Park
- Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
5 Affordable 30A Things to Do
While there are probably enough free activities in 30A to keep you entertained through the duration of your vacation, there are also plenty of cost-efficient tours and attractions available if you’re ready to kick it up a notch! From searching for Flipper on a fantastic dolphin cruise, to jetting through the waves on an adrenaline-pumping banana boat ride, discover 5 affordable things to do in Santa Rosa Beach, and see this coastal oasis in a whole new light.
Banana Boat Rides
Family enjoying an exciting banana boat ride in 30A, FL
Banana boat rides are a great way to go bananas on the water, and are sure to provide endless smiles and laughs! A banana boat is essentially a giant inflatable that is pulled behind a jet ski at high speeds for an action-packed adventure. Participants will zip and zoom through the waves, make a splash, and have a blast!
Most banana boat rides will take place in the gorgeous waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This provides a great opportunity to see the city in a whole new light, and maybe even a dolphin or two along the way!
Bicycle rentals, like the one pictured here, are a great way to explore the area’s natural beauty
Bicycle rentals are not only cost-efficient, but they are also one of the coolest ways to get around in 30A! Whether you’re exploring one of the area’s charming neighborhoods, breathing in the salt air while pedaling by the sea, or are checking out one of the many local nature trails and parks, you can’t go wrong with a 30A bicycle rental. Enjoying a scenic cycle is an awesome way to reconnect with nature, and also with your favorite people!
Bicycle rentals are more than just a fun activity in 30A, as well, and can sometimes come in handy. For example, bicycle rentals are a great way to avoid heavy traffic during the peak season, and are a great way to sneak in a work out while on vacation. Not only that, many rental companies offer delivery services, making 30A bicycle rentals convenient, inexpensive, and fun!
Small group discovers the artificial reef in Grayton Beach on a 30A snorkeling tour
A trip to 30A is simply incomplete without grabbing a pair of goggles, and discovering the magical mysteries that lie just beneath the Gulf’s surface! This area is known for its crystal-clear, emerald waters and soft, white sand, which make for ideal snorkeling conditions and great visibility. Not only that, this area is also known for their collection of snorkel reefs, which stretch all the way from Miramar Beach to Inlet Beach. These reefs are accessible by kayak or paddleboard, and are home to amazing creatures such as:
- Green Sea Turtles
- Sea Urchins
- And MORE!
One of the best ways to explore 30A’s spectacular snorkel reefs, is by joining in on a snorkeling tour! Snorkeling tours make it easy to discover this underwater wonderland, and provide peace of mind with a local and knowledgeable guide leading the way.
Dolphins jumping for joy during a fantastic family-friendly 30A dolphin cruise
Search for Flipper on a fun and affordable dolphin cruise, and experience the Emerald Coast from a whole new perspective! Dolphin cruises showcase the area’s natural beauty, and are a great way to experience up-close encounters with dolphins and other marvelous marine life. Aside from dolphins, some of the cool creatures you may encounter on a 30A dolphin cruise include the following:
- Sea Turtles
- And MORE!
Dolphin cruises come in all shapes and sizes, as well, which means there’s a tour to appease even the pickiest in your group! From thrilling speedboat rides that zip you through the bay, to slow and steady sailing charters for scenic sunset views, there’s truly something for everyone.
Gulf World Marine Park
Child interacting with a dolphin at Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City Beach
Even though it’s not in 30A, a trip to Gulf World Marine Park in neighboring Panama City Beach is definitely worth the trek, and is one of the top family-friendly things to do in the area. This amazing aquarium has been delighting visitors since opening its doors on Memorial Day Weekend in 1970, and has since become an iconic local landmark. Guests especially love the educational shows, which include awesome animals such as:
- Sea Lions
- Harbor Seals
- And MORE!
Aside from the daily shows, another reason guests flock to this aquarium is for their fantastic animal encounters. Swimming with the dolphins is a fan favorite, and other popular interactive programs include the VIP Sea Life Experience, Trainer For a Day, Harbor Seal Encounter, Sea Lion Encounter, and more! With so much to see and do, rest assured, a day spent at Gulf World Marine Park is a day well spent.
With so many fun and free activities in 30A to enjoy, a trip to this luxurious slice of paradise doesn’t have to break the bank! From strolling down some of the world’s most beautiful beaches at sunset, to enjoying exhilarating water sports like kayaking and paddle boarding on one of the area’s rare and awe-inspiring coastal dune lakes, there’s so much affordable family fun to be had here. However you decide to spend your time in the Santa Rosa Beach-30A area, you’re sure to leave with magnificent memories that will last a lifetime! For more information about this charming coastal city, including the best rates on the tours, attractions, and things to do, check out TripShock’s 30A Visitor’s Guide.
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