30A is a beautiful stretch of coastline in the Florida Panhandle that’s known for its white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and charming beach towns. More than 2.5 million people visit the beach towns of 30A each year.
When I first visited Seaside eight or nine years ago in the early winter, the area was a ghost town. All the restaurants were shut down and I saw no one in the squares as we walked around surveying the architecture.
I literally thought it was a failed design. Clearly, someone had gone to a lot of trouble to build something that no one wanted to live in.
It turns out that in the mid 2010s, 30A was still a Spring and Summer only town, with a smattering of locals enjoying peace, quiet, and fewer restaurants for the colder months each year.
Since we moved to the area full-time in 2018, the demand for South Walton vacations has grown considerably, and now every month of the year is busy (with Summer months bursting at the seams).
So when is the best time to visit 30A?
Summer is peak season.
If you’re looking for warm weather and lively crowds, summer is the time for you. Temperatures range from the mid-80s to low 90s, making it perfect for beaching, sunbathing, and water sports. It does rain a lot from time to time. Some visitors spend 4 out of 5 days rained out because they happen to arrive on the wettest week of the summer.
Humidity is also a factor to consider, as we often reach 75%+ humidity in the late mornings, though mid to late afternoons dry up a bit.
Last note about summer weather: a 50% or higher chance of rain can be forecasted and the beach may still be dry for all but an hour of the day. some storms pass quickly and some never reach the beach.
Keep in mind that summer is also peak tourist season, so you’ll be competing with more people for space on the beach and in restaurants. Many short term rentals near the beach are booked six months to a year in advance.
30A in the Fall
If you prefer a quieter vacation, fall or winter is a better bet. Fall (September through November) brings pleasant temperatures in the 70s to 80s, making outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, and fishing very enjoyable. Plus, you may also benefit from lower rates and less crowded attractions.
I’ve found that the water temperature is still enjoyable at least through mid October. Sometimes even later.
30A in Winter
Winter (December through February) on 30A brings mild temperatures, with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. The area sees fewer visitors during these months, which might appeal to you if you prefer a quiet and relaxing vacation.
You can enjoy peaceful walks on the beach, explore local shops, or participate in winter events like the 30A Songwriters Festival. The water, however, is cold and wading ankle deep will definitely wake you up!
30A in Spring
Spring (March through May) is a delightful time to visit 30A. Temperatures range from the high 60s to mid-80s, making it an ideal time for exploring outdoor activities.
The area comes alive with vibrant spring colors and hosts events such as the 30A Wine Festival. Just be aware that spring break can sometimes bring a surge of visitors, especially in March.
Grocery shopping presents some brief challenges at peak times as well. Spring Break, Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day can each lead to empty store shelves for necessities like paper products and bottled water as stores struggle to keep up with demand.
No matter what time of year you choose to visit 30A, you’re sure to have a great time. Just be sure to plan ahead and book your accommodations in advance, especially if you’re traveling during the peak season.
Additional factors to consider when planning your trip:
- Events: 30A hosts numerous events throughout the year, so you may want to plan your trip around one of these events. For example, the 30A Songwriters Festival in January, the Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K in March, or the 30A Wine Festival in February are all excellent reasons to plan a trip.
- Weather: The weather on 30A can vary depending on the time of year. In general, the summers are hot and humid, the winters are mild, and the springs and falls are pleasant.
- Activities: There are plenty of activities to enjoy on 30A, including swimming, sunbathing, fishing, boating, golfing, hiking, biking, and shopping.
- Budget: 30A is a popular tourist destination, so it can be a bit expensive. However, there are ways to save money, such as booking your accommodations in advance or staying in a condo or vacation rental.
I hope this helps you plan your trip to 30A!