Grayton Beach, located just off Highway 30A in Florida’s scenic panhandle, has been named one of the best beaches in America for 2017.
Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a professor at Florida International University, has produced 27 “top 10” public beach lists starting in 1991. Approximately 50 different criteria are used to evaluate the beaches including water and sand quality, beach safety and environmental practices so it will come as no surprise that Grayton Beach excels in almost every category.
Topping this year’s list was Siesta Beach, located along the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota, Florida. Grayton Beach was fourth and Caladesi Island Beach in Clearwater, Florida was seventh on the 2017 list.
“This beach boasts of its sugar-white sand and emerald green water where development has been restrained so big sand dunes still dominate the landscape,” wrote Leatherman about Grayton Beach. “At the same time, all the amenities of great restaurants and accommodations are close by in the old town of Grayton Beach or Seaside. Many people choose to camp in this wonderful state park that also features tidal lakes and freshwater ponds. Former Governor Bob Graham told me that this was his favorite beach.”
Grayton Beach has been a popular beach along Highway 30A for decades and has exploded in the last 10 to 15 years. The unofficial slogan of this 100-year old community reflects the laid-back lifestyle embraced by residents and visitors alike; “Nice Dogs, Strange People.”
Grayton Beach is an easy drive from most communities in the southeast and here’s a list of a few places to eat and things to do during your stay.
Restaurants & Bars In Grayton Beach
Red Bar, 70 Hotz Avenue, Daily, 11am till late
Ever wonder where old hippies hang out along 30A? Well here you go. Kind of like a neighborhood bar you ma find in New Orleans or Memphis minus the beach. Open from 11-10 daily, it could be the most authentic beach experience of your trip. Casual cuisine is the norm and things may get a bit rowdy after 7 or so. I recommend the grilled fish sandwich or the fried shrimp Po’boy. Great jazz music. Bring cash; credit cards aren’t accepted and no ATM is near.
Chiringo, 63 Hotz Ave., Daily, 11am-11pm
The definition of the name means a small enterprise, usually a bar selling drinks and tapas. That’s what it is. Good beach food such as burgers and fried chicken and seafood baskets. Plenty of organic stuff for the urban hippie. Open 7 days a week from 11 to 11.
Hurricane Oyster Bar, 37 Logan Lane, Daily, 11am-10pm
Described by locals as a “great hang out bar.” Good happy hour with lots of flatscreen to watch the game. Shrimp, tacos, oysters and great bar food. Cash or check only!
Another Broken Egg, 51 Uptown Grayton Circle, Tuesday-Sunday, 7:30am-2pm
Hungry for breakfast on the west side of 30A? It’s hard to find a better traditional breakfast. Consistently voted as a best breakfast spot, there are two other locations in Baytowne Wharf and Destin. A rapidly expanding southeast chain. Expect to wait if you arrive after 9am. The eggs benedict are to die for.
Grayton Seafood Co., 50 Uptown Grayton Circle, Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-9pm
Local, friendly and seafood pretty much sum up this place. Outstanding casual, beach dining known for their Sunday brunch.
Pickle Factory, 38 Clayton Lane, Tuesday-Sunday, 4 till close
True to the area, this place is something you would discover in Thailand, described by locals as “laid back.” You can sit at the bar and watch your pizza being made while chatting about the prices of homes with a local realtor. Enjoy the Hookah lounge before you leave.
Grayton Beach State Park
This beautiful 2,000-acre park is a water and nature lover’s paradise and is great for swimming and fishing. However, the inland waterway offers a serene setting for canoeing, paddleboarding and kayaking. Camping sites and cabins are also available.