Located in South Walton County, Santa Rosa Beach FL, is a lovely area along Florida’s famous Emerald Coast. One of the sixteen distinct beach neighborhoods in the county, this is a great place to get in touch with nature. At the same time, it’s an ideal destination to enjoy a luxury experience as well.
Are you building your vacation itinerary for a few months from now? Are you looking for things to do in Santa Rosa Beach FL this weekend?
We’ve put together the definitive guide for what to do in this charming beach community. Stick with us while we explore what to do in Santa Rosa Beach FL.
How Far Is Santa Rosa Beach From Destin?
Santa Rosa Beach FL is about eighteen miles away from Destin, Florida. By car, the trip should take a little over thirty minutes depending on traffic and weather conditions.
To travel from Destin to Santa Rosa, you’ll want to head east on US-98 for about fifteen miles. Then, you’ll want to take a left onto Church Street and follow that road for one mile. Take a right onto Churchill Bayou Road for a half-mile before taking a right on North County Highway 393.
This will take you right to the center of town in Santa Rosa. If you’re heading to Point Washington State Forest or Grayton Beach, you’ll continue heading east on US-98 for several more miles.
Kid-Friendly Things to Do
Santa Rosa, Florida, offers tons of kid-friendly activities. Children of all ages will love the natural beauty and opportunities for adventure here.
Take a Cruise
There are lots of different cruise tours to choose from in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. Take a sunset cruise to watch the sky become a tremendous watercolor painting or go for a dolphin cruise to let your kids see wildlife up close.
Go for a Bike Ride
Maybe you brought your bikes from home, or maybe you’re planning to rent them once you arrive. Either way, going on a bike ride as a family is a true joy.
The Timpoochee Trail is a paved bike path that’s nineteen miles long. This is a cool way to check out the beaches along the coast and even ride through some of Grayton Beach State Park.
If you’re more of a mountain biking family, there are also trails in the woods to ride. One of the most popular places for off-road biking is Point Washington State Forest.
Take a Trail Ride
Is your family a more adventurous type? If so, consider signing up for a trail ride where you can enjoy scenic views from horseback. This is a different way to experience nature that your kids will surely love.
Fishing is one of the best ways to spend quality time with your kids. If you’re having a hard time getting them to put their favorite screens away while on vacation, invite them to cast a line!
There are boat-loads of tours available if you are new to fishing or if you want access to some of the best fishing spots in the area. Whether you go it alone or hire an experienced guide, you and your family can catch your dinner tonight!
Visit a State Park
Any of the state parks outlined in the above section would be awesome spots for bringing kids. Consider packing some sandwiches, snacks, and drinks for a relaxing picnic in a beautiful, natural setting.
If you’re looking to go on a hike through the forest, you’ll want to check out Point Washington State Forest. For pristine white sand beaches, Deer Lake State Park is your spot. If incredible sunsets and gorgeous dunes are more up your alleys, take a trip to Grayton Beach State Park.
Things to Do in Santa Rosa Beach for Nature Lovers and Adventurers
South Walton shines when it comes to the great outdoors. Get out of your hotel in Santa Rosa Beach FL, and get some fresh air at these incredible destinations.
Grayton Beach State Park
One thing you must do when in Santa Rosa Beach is head to Grayton Beach State Park. After all, this beach park consistently ranks among the most pristine and beautiful beaches in the U.S. With nearly 2000 acres of parkland, Grayton Beach State Park is one of the most popular parks in all of Florida.
Here you’ll find abundant wildlife, massive dunes, winding trails, and a shimmering coastal dune lake. Of course, you’ll also want to spend plenty of time swimming in the emerald water of the Gulf and relaxing on the sugar sand beaches as well as Hotels in Santa Rosa Beach.
There are opportunities for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, biking, camping, hiking, and more here. Located in Santa Rosa Beach between Panama City Beach and Destin, this is a truly beautiful state park you won’t want to miss.
Point Washington State Forest
Spanning more than 15,000 acres, Point Washington State Forest is a real gem. Nature geeks will appreciate the ten natural communities that make up this managed area. While you hike around, you can see sandhill communities, cypress swamps, basin swamps, and more.
Several endangered animals and plants call this Florida forest home. These include gopher tortoises, American kestrels, white-topped pitcher plants, and Curtiss sandglass.
There are tons of opportunities for outdoor recreation at Point Washington State Forest. Some of the most popular activities include off-road biking, hiking, and hunting.
An exciting future is in store for the area, as a greenway trail system is currently being built. This Florida bike trail will connect Topsail Hill State Preserve, Deer Lake State Park, Grayton Beach State Park, residential developments, and more.
If you want to spend the night, there’s camping available at Eastern Lake Campground. Reservations are required to snag a spot at one of their four primitive campsites.
The Underwater Museum of Art
Looking for something different while vacationing in the Florida Panhandle? Check out the Underwater Museum of Art. Here you can dive 58 feet under the surface of the ocean nearly one mile offshore to see sculptural works underwater.
Every year, the museum selects artists from around the world to install sculptures on the ocean floor. Over time, the sculptures transform into a living reef and attract various marine life. To explore this site, though, you’ll need to be a certified diver.
Topsail Hill Preserve
The name of Topsail Hill comes from the incredible white quartz dunes you’ll see here. When exploring this state park, you’ll see freshwater dune lakes, sandy scrubland, old-growth pine forests, and more. You also might catch sight of some of the thirteen endangered species that call Topsail Hill home.
This Florida state park is more than just a hiking and bird-watching paradise. It also boasts more than three miles of gorgeous beaches and opportunities for paddling, fishing, camping, and picnicking.
Things to Do, When It Rains
Even in paradise, it’s going to rain sometimes. Here are a few of the best things to do when the weather’s keeping you in.
There are tons of lovely shops on beautiful 30-A and in the Santa Rosa Beach FL area. Check out Store ALOHA for beachy gear and souvenirs or Uptown Grayton for an upscale experience. Whether you’re looking for thrift stores or boutiques, there’s plenty of retail therapy available.
Check Out a Local Gallery
There are lots of local art galleries worth perusing in Santa Rosa Beach FL and the surrounding area.
The Justin Gaffrey Gallery is filled with one-of-a-kind artwork in a unique gallery space. Located in the Shops of Grayton, Mary Hong Gallery is both a gallery and a workshop. At the Shard Shop, both kids and adults can take art classes!
Other popular galleries include the Red Bird Gallery, Newbill Collection By the Sea, and Clint Eager Design.
Another gallery worth checking out is Elmore’s Landing. The vibe here is eclectic and cool with tons of whimsical artworks.
Catch a Show
The Emerald Coast Theater Company is the place to be for a live show. Some of their most popular works include Spamalot and Around the World in 80 Days. The Repertory Theatre in Seaside is also an awesome place to see concerts, magic shows, and plays.
Enjoy Santa Rosa Beach FL Restaurants
South Walton is home to tons of awesome eateries. Right in Santa Rosa Beach, check out Cafe Tango for a cozy and elegant dinner. The Blue Mountain Creamery is a great spot for ice cream and Stinky’s Fish Camp is where you can get your seafood fix.
30A Ax is a fun tap house and ax-throwing venue in Santa Rosa Beach FL. The vibe here is fun and welcoming. This is a great place to go with your friends or with your family!
Free Things to Do in Santa Rosa Beach FL
Who says vacations have to be expensive? Here are some awesome free things to do in Santa Rosa Island, Florida.
Visit the Historic Gulf Cemetery
This 40-acre area was once a U.S. Government parcel and is now a Florida Historic Site. Also, A resting place for pioneer veterans and veterans, the Historic Gulf Cemetery is interdenominational. If you’re looking for a bit of history in a peaceful, treed setting, this is a beautiful place to take a moment and reflect.
Explore the Coffeen Nature Preserve
The Coffeen Nature Preserve is a place where nature lovers and history buffs can both feel at home. This 210-acre park has hiking paths and offers tours in addition to housing a WWII missile-testing site. While the Coffeen Nature Preserve is open to the public, it’s worth noting you must make a reservation ahead of time to be admitted.
Have a Picnic
If you’re looking for budget-friendly ideas in Santa Rosa Beach FL, a picnic should be on the top of your list. So, make some sandwiches, pack your cooler with drinks, and head to one of the beautiful beaches and parks here.
Attend a Free Outdoor Concert
Several communities host free concerts on their green lawns during spring, summer, and fall. Baytowne Wharf also has town parties every Wednesday night during the summer, complete with fireworks.
Bike, Run, or Walk the Timpoochee Trail
Running the entire length of Scenic Highway 30-A, Timpoochee Trail is a 19-mile paved path. As well, this is one of the best ways to explore all of the small beach towns along the coast. Along the way, you’ll get to see breathtaking views of coastal dune lakes.
Watch the Sunset on the Beach
Is it a Florida vacation if you don’t watch the sunset from the beach? Consider mixing up some of your favorite cocktails and heading down to the shore for a remarkable, colorful display.
People Watching in Seaside
The town of Seaside is world-renowned as being the first example of New Urbanism town-planning design. A little less than ten miles away from Santa Rosa Beach FL, head to this coastal town for the best people-watching around.
Take a Self-Guided Architecture and Design Tour
There are distinct design styles and architectural themes in Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach, and Inlet Beach. Also, If you and your traveling buddies are design junkies, you’ll want to dig into the history. Hop on a bike or start walking and you’ll be able to wander around world-renowned structures and spaces.
Take a Hike
Not only is this a great thing to do with kids in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, but it’s also free! That is, as long as you go to a wilderness area that doesn’t charge admission.
A good option is Point Washington State Forest. Eastern Trail and Longleaf Pine Trail are both popular options. Also, It’s worth noting that stations are asking for donations at some of the trailheads in the State Forests.
Sit By the Bay
While it’s good to run around and do adventurous things on vacation, it’s also good to simply just be. Moreover, one of the best places to sit quietly is on a dock by the bay.
One particularly good spot on the Choctawhatchee Bay is Hogtown Bayou’s Cessna Landing. Located on North County Highway 393, enjoy a moment of quiet contemplation or bring your fishing pole along.
Swim in Morrison Springs
Is the summer heat getting you down in addition to the cost of vacation? Jump in the car and head north for roughly an hour. Furthermore, check out Morrison Springs, where you can splash around in a spring-fed swimming hole. Also, ice-cold and crystal clear, this natural spring produces 50 million gallons of water a day.
Are You Planning a Trip to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida?
South Walton is famous for sugar sand beaches, turquoise waters, and natural scenic beauty. Also, if you’re staying in one of the many quaint Santa Rosa Beach Rentals available, you’ll have plenty of things to do in this beach neighborhood.
Whether you’re leaving for your vacation tomorrow or next year, we’ve got tons of resources to help your getaway be the best yet. So, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more information about must-see destinations!