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Sandestin’s Marina Bar & Grill Earns Coveted TripAdvisor Award

Marina Bar & Grill was recently awarded the 2016 Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site. Now in its sixth year, the achievement celebrates hospitality businesses that have earned great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year. Certificate of Excellence recipients include accommodations, eateries and attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a quality customer experience. It accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travelers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months “We are very proud of Marina Bar & Grill for earning the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor,” said Robert Kallmeyer, director of operations at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. “This award truly represents the voice of the customer, and this accolade is evidence of the hard work and dedication of our staff.” Heather Leisman, vice president of industry marketing at TripAdvisor said the award helps customers idenify restaurants that regularly deliver great service. “TripAdvisor is proud to play this integral role in helping travelers feel more confident in their decisions,” she said. For more info, follow Marina Bar & Grill on Facebook.

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Fifth Annual Alys Beach 5K and Fun Run Returns This Fall

Runners and families will gather in Alys Beach for the Fifth Annual 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run on Sunday, September 4, 2016. Proceeds will benefit Alaqua Animal Refuge, a no-kill shelter on the Emerald Coast that has helped find homes for 11,000 animals since its inception in 2007. The certified 5K will start in the Alys Beach Amphitheatre and wind through the Gulf-side community and nature trail. Following the 5K, a family-friendly 1-mile Fun Run will kick off for children ages 12 and younger. After the races, runners can gather in the Amphitheatre for awards, live music, a bounce house and more. Registration is now available online. Advance registration for the 5K is $35 and the 1-miler is $15 (children ages 12-and-younger) through Sunday, August 28. From Monday, August 29 until Friday, September 2, the price to participate in the 5K will go up to $50 and the 1-miler will be priced at $25. Any remaining registrations will be sold on Saturday, September 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Fonville Press during packet pick-up. For more information, or to register, visit alysbeach.com/5K.

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SATURDAY: 30A Charity Golf Classic Presented by The Aesthetic Clinique

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2016 SANTA ROSA GOLF & BEACH CLUB PRESENTED BY Each year, 120 players meet at Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club for the 30A Charity Golf Classic — a wild one-day tournament that’s raised over $73,000 for charity so far! The 4th annual tournament — PRESENTED BY THE AESTHETIC CLINIQUE — will held on Saturday, October 22, 2016. This year’s tournament will benefit Children’s Volunteer Health Network. Learn more or make a donation at their website. Player check-in and breakfast will begin at 7:30 AM, with a shotgun start at 8:30 AM. Complimentary snacks and Bloody Marys will be served along the course, and carts will be making the rounds, serving ice cold beer. The team that wins the 30A Charity Golf Classic scores fantastic prizes donated by 30A friends, sponsors, partners and local businesses. Just like previous years, there will also be tons of fun prizes, raffles and giveaways throughout the day. THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT! We would like to sincerely thank THE AESTHETIC CLINIQUE along with all of our 2016 sponsors: PRESENTING SPONSOR: The Aesthetic Clinique $1 Million Hole-in-One Challenge: 30A Television Driving Range: St. Joe Club and Resorts Putting Green: Kiwanis Club of Freeport – South Walton Breakfast Sponsor: Another Broken Egg Beverage Sponsor: Henderson Barrett LLC Beer Cart Sponsor: Rent 30a Signage Sponsor: Press Print Graphics and Eloquent Signs Trophy Sponsor: Mercantile Hole #1: Shore Thing Cigars Hole #2 (Par 3): 30A Television Hole #3 (Par 3): Howard Hospitality Hole #4: Maison Bleu Properties Snack Station #1 Sponsor: Roux 30a Hole #5: Pelican Real Estate and Development Hole #6: EcoCentric Brands Hole #7: Red Bar and Louis Louis Hole #8 (Par 3): 30A Cottages and Concierge Hole #9: Berkshire Hathaway Beach Home Services | Beach Properties of Florida Bloody Mary Bar Sponsor: Stinky’s Fish Camp Hole #10: Summer House Lifestyle Hole #11: T-Formation Hole #12 (Par 3): O.B. Laurent Construction Hole #13: Maurice Stouse, broker Snack Station #2 Sponsor: Chiringo Hole #14: Cafe Thirty-A Hole #15: Think It Wear It Hole #16 (Par 3): Aqua Title Hole #17: Bud & Alley’s Hole #18: The Aesthetic Clinique Lunch Sponsor: Barefoot B-B-Q Click here to sponsor our 2016 30A Charity Golf Classic! 100% for Charity Again this year, 100% of all proceeds from the 30A Charity Golf Classic will be donated to charity. In its first year, $23,000 was given to Off The Mat and Shelter House Domestic Violence Center. In 2014, $27,000 was raised for Alaqua Animal Refuge. In 2015, $23,000 was donated to Food for Thought. This year, all proceeds from the tournament will be donated to Children’s Volunteer Health Network (CVHN). CVHN seeks to enhance the lives of uninsured or underinsured school-aged children by facilitating free, immediate access to medical, dental and mental health care in Walton and Okaloosa counties. Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club Hugging the Gulf of Mexico, this hidden gem in Santa Rosa Beach has it all, including a highly sought after Gulf Front view. And if the view isn’t enough, this “member-owned” semi-private Club boasts an immaculate golf course that masterfully winds through natural habitats, making this course a must-play in the area. Holes three through five wind around a complex of dunes, all within a few hundred yards of the Gulf of Mexico. The 18th hole is a beauty and a superb finishing hole, as it doglegs hard right before rising to the green, perched on a hill with the club house in the background. Click here to learn more about Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club. Click here to become a sponsor or register to play! SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2016 SANTA ROSA GOLF & BEACH CLUB PRESENTED BY

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Thankgiving Day 30A 10K and Free Community Events!

Need an incentive to get the family to lace up those running shoes this fall? Join us for the 5th annual 30A 10K Thanksgiving Day race in Rosemary Beach for three days of family fun, fast racing and the chance to help fundraise a record-breaking donation for local charities. The race featured three days of activities — and you don’t have to be a registered racer to participate! Sign up for the 30A 10K, ranked one of the top 5 Thanksgiving Day races in America! The 2016 30A 10K features three days of events including a race expo at 30Avenue, a Thanksgiving Day 10K race & 1 mile fun run down scenic highway 30A, and the inaugural 30A 10K Black Friday Shopping Spree Contest with special deals and prizes for our runners. The fun before the run starts on Wednesday, November 23, at 30Avenue, with a fall festival and packet pick-up. The event is free and open to the public. The festival runs from noon to 7 p.m. Forrest Williams Band plays from noon to 3 and Chris Alvarado takes the stage from 3:15 to 6:15 p.m. The party includes lawn games, a silent auction, photo opportunities with Lucky the Turkey. We’ll also have the 30A Gear truck out with great race gear and other fun items. After the race, join local shops and businesses for the inaugural 30A 10K Black Friday Shopping Contest, which is also free and open to the public. All you have to do is snap a photo where you are eating, shopping or working out on Black Friday. Post it on Facebook and tag the 30A 10K. Winners will be randomly selected for a bunch of cool prize packs (including one from 30A Gear!). All proceeds from the race are donated to the annually selected charity partners. “We are so excited to celebrate our 5th anniversary and expand our event with a new expo venue and the Black Friday Shopping Spree Contest,” said Race Director Karen Meadows. “We love that so many families make our event their Thanksgiving Day tradition and celebrate the spirit of the holiday by helping us give back to those in need.” This year the 30A 10K is raising money to help four charity partners including: the South Walton Fire District, the Walton County Sheriff’s Department’s Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Anchorage Children’s Home and the Northwest Florida Guardian ad Litem Foundation, Inc. The race expects more than 6,000 runners, volunteers, vendors and spectators in three days of events. “We have something for everyone,” said race organizer Craig Baranowski. “Runners of all ages and paces are welcome. And now, with our expanded race expo and the Black Friday Shopping Contest, we have exciting events for our non-runners as well.” In the past four years, the race has raised more than $150,000 for local 501c3s. This year, the event’s goal is to top that grand total and exceed the $200,000 mark. “It’s been an honor to help so many needy organizations in our area,” said race organizer Amy Stoyles. “The success of this race is a reflection of the support of our local business sponsors and race participants.” Find us online at 30A10K.com or on Facebook and Instagram for more information about the race!

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Grayton Beach State Park Named Among Top 10 Beaches in U.S.

Grayton Beach State Park has once again been named among the Top Ten Best Beaches in the 26th Annual Top 10 Beach List produced by coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, professor at Florida International University, better known to many as Dr. Beach. Grayton Beach State Park features sugar-white sand and emerald-green water where development has been restrained so big sand dunes still dominate the landscape. At the same time, all the amenities of great restaurants and accommodations are close by in the old town of Grayton Beach or bustling Seaside.  Many people choose to camp in this wonderful state park that also features tidal lakes and freshwater ponds. “More attention is being paid to safety and management this year and extra credit is being awarded to beaches that prohibit smoking,” said Visit South Walton Director of Marketing Jon Ervin. “These changes allowed the list of best beaches to begin anew. This is why Grayton Beach, which has been recognized before by Dr. Leatherman, has once again made the list.” Check out this live tour of Grayton Beach State Park: It’s the first day of summer and we went LIVE from Grayton Beach State Park. Tune in again tonight around 5 p.m. C.S.T. for a very special announcement about some amazing news from The 30A Company! Posted by 30A on Monday, June 20, 2016 As “Dr. Beach,” Leatherman has selected the annual Top 10 Beaches since 1991. Fifty criteria are used for evaluation including water and sand quality, safety and management. Dr. Leatherman is an internationally known coastal scientist who has published 20 books and hundreds of scientific articles and reports about storm impacts, coastal erosion and ways to improve beach health and safety. For more info, visit Grayton Beach State Park.

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New Vending Machine Concept Carries 30A Gear

Vending machines are not just for chips and candy bars any more. At least not the kind Scott Turner runs. Turner’s business, TBOX, operates a series of high-tech vending machines across Northwest Florida where customers can purchase t-shirts, hats and now even 30A Gear. Turner’s concept is part of a growing movement for businesses to provide higher-end products in vending machines. Red Box, the movie rental kiosks, may be the most popular in the United States, but people across the globe have started using vending machines to sell everything from iPods and phone chargers to shoes. “Once we got into researching it ourselves, we found these kind of machines are popular in Asia and Europe, but not a whole lot of people are doing it in the states,” said Turner, who started out with ice vending machines, but quickly saw a need for something more. A vending machine can serve as a pop-up store — without the expense of overhead — and the concept is catching on. “It helps businesses expand to an area they might not be able to otherwise, to have a presence without having to have a storefront, staffing and all that goes with it,” said Turner. The technology has come a long way since the days of coin-operated soda and snack machines. Turner’s machines use LED lights and a system of infrared sensors so the machine conserves energy when not in use. All merchandise is tracked electronically, as well, which helps decrease the business’s ecological footprint. In years past, vending machine stockers had to travel with a big semi-truck full of products and assess what needed to be restocked on site. Turner can use a compact car to visit and restock machines. He knows exactly which products and how many he needs before he ever leaves the warehouse. Customers make purchases with credit cards and if any problem arises, the machine sends a text to Turner and he can operate it remotely to provide whatever customer service is needed. 30A Gear vending machines are in place at HarborWalk Village, Destin Commons, Silver Sands Premium Outlets and Pier Park. You can buy t-shirts, hats, drink huggies, license plate decals, Tervis tumblers and even coffee. “With the technology available, these things are pretty amazing,” Turner said. “They’re eco-friendly, business and customer friendly. We’re really excited to have them out there for people to use.”

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30A Launches Apparel Line Made From Recycled Water Bottles

The 30A Company launched a new line of sustainable apparel designed to decrease human impact on the environment, while celebrating the unique aspects of small-town beach life along Scenic Highway 30-A. Called Dumpster Diver, the eco-friendly product line features shirts made from water bottles and other recycled plastics and materials salvaged from southeast landfills. With 13 designs now available in multiple styles and coastal colors, each shirt features a beach-inspired theme, including words, phrases and images associated with 30A lifestyle and culture. Dumpster Diver is the latest product line from The 30A Company, a lifestyle media and merchandising brand founded in 2007 by entrepreneur Mike Ragsdale in South Walton, Florida. The brand has built a loyal fan base around the country, shipping more than 13,000 orders of its 30A Gear merchandise to customers in all 50 states. “We’ve spent nearly two years researching and developing 30A’s Dumpster Diver brand and could not be more excited to finally launch,” said Ragsdale. “Dumpster Diver embodies everything that represents the 30A brand — a love of the fun, laid-back vibes of the beach and a commitment to protecting and preserving beach environments for future generations.” Interesting facts about 30A Dumpster Diver shirts: — The shirts are produced using a ‘trash-shred-spin-wear’ manufacturing process in which discarded plastic waste is collected from landfills, shred, spun into yarn and woven with recycled cotton. — Plastic materials collected and recycled in production include water and soda bottles, lunchroom food trays, discarded film and plastic beer bottles. — Each shirt saves approximately six to ten 16-ounce water bottles from landfills, depending on the color. — Designs are imprinting using a digital printing process, which is more advanced, uses fewer harmful chemicals and is an environmentally cleaner approach than traditional screen-printing. “As a brand, we wanted to create a product that not only reflects our sincere love of the beach, but also demonstrates the responsibility we maintain to leave the lowest impact possible on the environment around us,” said Ragsdale. Sustainable and stylish, 30A Dumpster Diver shirts are available now at 30AGear.com and at our official 30A Stores located in Gulf Place, Seagrove Plaza, Rosemary Beach and Pier Park. Check out this behind-the-scenes peek at the new line: Behind-the-scenes sneak peek of our new line!3…2…1… and we’re LIVE with a behind-the-scenes sneak peek of our new line! Posted by 30A on Monday, June 20, 2016

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Sonder Project Returns from Malawi, Africa

The Sonder Project, a Santa Rosa Beach-based nonprofit that works locally and around the world, recently returned from an educational expedition in Malawi, Africa. Three Santa Rosa Beach residents joined the trek, including Sonder Project and 30A Company board member, Travis Meyer, of Southeastern Retail Development, Rachel Meyer, a teacher at Freeport High School and Sarah Hockett, executive director of The Sonder Project. “It’s one thing to understand there are children and adults living on the other side of the world whose lives and circumstances are much different from our own. It’s another thing entirely to visit and see this firsthand,” Rachel Meyer said. During their visit, the trio managed to visit five remote villages, work on a construction site for a new primary school structure, visit adult literacy classes and learn their importance, meet with the district education manager and gain knowledge of some of the community initiatives helping remote areas break the cycle of poverty such as goat programs, meal programs for school children and honey bee hives. They also had the opportunity to hear some of the stories of this country, understand the difficulties faced here and see how the organization’s work has an impact. “It takes so little to change the futures of these kids, and that’s exactly what The Sonder Project is doing — changing lives,” said Travis Meyer. The 30A Company is a founding partner of The Sonder Project, which works to end poverty locally, domestically and across the world. “We couldn’t be more proud of the work The Sonder Project is doing,” said Mike Ragsdale, founder of The 30A Company. “We look forward to joining a future trek to experience firsthand the good that our little nonprofit is accomplishing.” The purpose of this endeavor was to help The Sonder Project learn and grow as a nonprofit and with everything discovered, the trip was definitely a success, said the organization’s executive director, Sarah Hockett. “Knowledge gained on this voyage will be applied in future projects both locally and around the world,” she said. On the topic of future projects, be on the lookout for these upcoming ventures: — Construction of a school in Burkina Faso, Africa, in memory of Ahmed Kere — Construction of a water well in Burkina Faso, Africa — Construction of a school in Nicaragua — First undertaking of new program, PROJECT: agriculture – launching beekeeping in Nicaragua — 2017 Trek and Project Schedule For more info, or to learn how you can help, visit The Sonder Project.

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Unique 30A: Hit the Water for a Dinner Cruise

Cruising every week from Sandestin‘s Baytowne Marina, Sunquest Cruise’s SOLARIS yacht is a truly unique 30A experience, and it happens to be one of the very best places to enjoy a South Walton sunset. (In the summer months, the sun sets over Choctawhatchee Bay, not the Gulf). The family-owned 5,300-square-foot fine dining and dancing yacht (built right here in Walton County) features two dining salons, a full-service gourmet galley and a full-service bar. Enjoy an afternoon or evening cruising around the Bay, hanging out on one of the yacht’s open-air decks, dining on a gourmet meal, kicking up your heels to a live band and dancing under the stars. Book your cruise now. Learn more about the story behind the SOLARIS in this interview with owner James Murray: After the cruise, hop on the boardwalk that leads away from the marina and meander through moss-draped oak trees over to The Village of Baytowne Wharf. There you’ll find some seriously fun and funky blues, a dueling piano bar and tons of other nightlife options. It’s the perfect way to wrap up an evening on the bay. The Solaris is also a perfect venue for special occasions, including banquets, corporate retreats, V.I.P. functions, and of course, weddings and rehearsal dinners. Learn more at 30aweddings.com. Check out this 30A Video Tours episode, featuring the Solaris: Book your cruise now.

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SATURDAYS: Join 30A YOLO Bike and Beach Club for Group Bike Rides

The 30A YOLO Bike & Beach Club has officially launched, bringing locals of all skill levels together for some laid-back exploration of South Walton’s natural habitats. Group bike rides are free and take place every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Participants at the YOLO Bike + Beach Store in Gulf Place every Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. The ride through the trails of Point Washington State Forest leaves at 9 a.m. All skill levels and bike brands are welcome (“ride what ya got!”). Even if you don’t want to ride, join in for coffee and fun! Download the free 30A YOLO Bike and Beach Club App for iPhone/iPad and Android for exclusive membership perks. Jeff Archer, CEO of YOLO Board, and Mike Ragsdale, founder of The 30A Company, came up with the idea for the club as part of the companies’ recent partnership. Check out this interview with Archer and Ragsdale about the new club: “We wanted to bring together a fun group of people who enjoy taking advantage of everything that South Walton has to offer,” said Archer. “It’s a really laid-back chance to hang out with old friends and to make new ones.” “Some days we’ll explore nature trails, some days we’ll do a pub crawl or cafe tour; whatever the club wants to do,” said Ragsdale. “It’s almost like a mobile speakeasy.” In better weather, the group organises Group paddles, which are also free to join. The special mobile app (for iOS or Android) features club info, as well as access to official 30A YOLO Bike and Beach Club shirts and swag. The 30A YOLO Bike and Beach Club is free to join, and it’s open to all skill levels. Watch 30A.com’s events calendar for weekly meeting dates, times and details. Contact feedback@30a.com for more info.