30A’s Guide to New Year Festivities

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South Walton has plenty of fantastic ways to ring in the New Year. Check out our round-up of some our favorites below and finalize your plans for the big day.

But first, a few tips. One, stay safe! Here is a reminder of what not to do on New Year’s Eve. Two, after all the celebrating, come out to Gulf Place for the Polar Bear Plunge, sponsored in part by The 30A Company, and start the New Year right with a dip in that beautiful — albeit a bit chilly — Gulf of Mexico.

(To make a full day of it, head over to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park for a First Day Hike with a park ranger leading the way and sharing info about the park, its wildlife and the turpentine industry that thrived here in the late 1800s. The two-mile hike will take about 1.5 hours along a relatively flat trial with roots, rock and dirt.)

The events listed below are just some of our favorites — there’s so much more! Check our events calendar for the full listing. Did we miss something? Email us at feedback@30a.com and we’ll get it added.

Happy 2017!


Celebrate the New Year on the water with a Fireworks, Dinner and Dancing Cruise on the SOLARIS Yacht. The party includes a five-course seated dinner, live music and the best seat in the house for Baytowne Wharf’s amazing fireworks show over the Choctawhatchee Bay. Enjoy a champagne toast and party favors while counting down the final seconds of 2015. Reservations required. Visit sunquestcruises.com for more info.

Or, come dance the night away at Baytowne Countdown, a New Year’s Eve bash at the Village of Baytowne Wharf that offers something for everyone, including TWO grand fireworks shows — one at 8 p.m. for the family friendly crowd and another at midnight for adults only.  This year’s headlining band is A Time of Your Life. Learn more.

Sandestin also offers a  number of overnight accommodation options for those that want the party without the worry of getting home safe.


Seaside will ring in the New Year in family-friendly style with their annual Countdown Seaside celebrations. COIN, who just broke into the USA Today Top 10 Alternative chart for their hit “Talk Too Much,” are headlining the night. Knox Hamilton and Motel Radio will take the stage starting at 7:30 p.m. Come early for kids activities and to grab your spot on the lawn. Stay late to enjoy a grand fireworks finale over the Gulf of Mexico at midnight.


Fish Out of Water is serving up a special four-course Chef’s Tasting Menu for New Year’s Eve ($100), with an option for wine pairings ($35). Check out the full menus and make reservations online. At midnight, enjoy fireworks over the Gulf of Mexico.

Seaside’s fireworks display over the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by 30A Vibe.

Alys Beach

Stop by NEAT Bottle Shop and Tasting Room in Alys Beach before you ring in the New Year. They’ll have light fare, their superb and unique cocktails and live music from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Plus you can pick up a bottle of bubbly for later!)

Rosemary Beach

Head over to Havana Beach Rooftop Lounge at The Pearl hotel for a New Year’s Eve sunset celebration. They’ll have a live guitarist, holiday drinks and champagne specials from 2 to 5 p.m. After, in the restaurant, enjoy a special four-course menu, live three-piece band and champagne service. Dinner reservations are required and can be made online.

The West Side

NEW! Trebeaché‘s inaugural New Year’s Eve Bash includes special dinner options, live music by the Funk Disciples and a DJ spinning tunes all night long. Reservations start at 5 p.m. with three options: four-course dinner in the restaurant, entry to party in the grand ballroom, bottomless champagne and a dessert bar ($99); a four-course dinner in the restaurant ($75); or entry into the grand ballroom with bottomless champagne and dessert bar ($30). Call 850-937-7793 for reservations.

Louis Louis will countdown to 2016 with their annual New Year’s Eve Gala and costume party. This year’s theme: Moulin Rouge! Come dressed with Parisian flare. Regular menu will be served from 5 to 9 p.m. and then special Prix Fix seatings will be at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. DJ will keep the music going until after midnight! Call 850-267-1500 for reservations.

Grayton Beach

The Red Bar will host their annual New Year’s Eve dinner and party featuring The Red Bar Jazz Band, plenty of party favors and a champagne toast. The whole place — eclectic on any day — gets decked out in festive style with a balloon drop and plenty of confetti at midnight. Seatings are at 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Call 850-231-1008 for reservations.


The East Side

Get your football on at The Hub, which will be showing college football games all day on their Jumbotron and serving up bottomless mimosas. Party starts at 10 a.m. with the LSU vs Louisville game. Then, at 9 p.m., celebrate with a beach ball drop!

Old Florida Fish House is hosting a New Year’s Eve Party with Forrest Williams Band. A special New Year’s Even menu will be available for dinner starting at 5 p.m. (Reservations encouraged.) Forrest Williams Band starts at 9 p.m. and will play well into the New Year. Enjoy party favors and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight!

Seagrove’s newest restaurant, Surfing Deer, owned by longtime locals and Seagrove Village Market Cafe owners Ann and George Hartley, will be celebrating New Year’s Eve with a four-course meal. Choose the meal only or the meal with special wine pairings at either 6 p.m. or 8:15 p.m. See the full menu and make a reservation online.

Roselie Dining & Seafood Bar, the new restaurant in 30Avenue opened by former Caliza chef Kevin Korman, will be celebrating the New Year in the spirit of South American culture. As is custom in Rio de Janeiro, guests are encouraged to wear white as a sign of peace and prosperity. The evening entails cocktails and appetizers, a five-course meal including caviar, lobster, filet of beef and more, and a champagne toast ($85). Wine pairings are available as well. Reservations are required. 850-909-0400.


Lulu’s is hosting their second annual Noon Year’s Eve celebration just for kids starting at 10 a.m. on December 31. Kids can enjoy a sandcastle-building contest, arts and crafts, inflatable play sets, face painting, live music by country singer Caroline Kole and more on the sandy beach of the Choctawhatchee Bay. The party includes a countdown to Noon with kid-safe sparklers and a huge beach ball drop. Learn more online.

Pier Park
Pier Park hosts a New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop with live music, laser-light shows and fireworks.

Pier Park

Pier Park is hosting their eighth-annual New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop, one of the bigger celebrations in the area. The family-friendly festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. with kids activities and live music by Barry Fish Band. They even host a special kid-friendly countdown at 8 p.m. with over 10,000 inflated beach balls dropped from nets stretched across the street plus a fireworks show.

After, the fun and live music continues with Terry Brock & Friends at 8:15 p.m. and The RiverTown Band at 10 p.m. At midnight, the grand finale rings in the start of 2016 with an 800-pound glowing beach ball and a fireworks display over the Gulf of Mexico.

Learn more at Pier Park’s website.