Inlet Beach: A Blend of Serenity and Vibrancy Along Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A

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As a young girl, I spent many summer vacations visiting Inlet Beach. Even though that was quite a few years ago, my memories of those summer days are near and dear to my heart. This tiny little piece of paradise has somehow managed to hang on to its low-key charm while huge communities sprung up all around it. Oh sure, there are plenty of shops and restaurants to frequent on your visit that weren’t here back in the ’80s but the overall, relaxed vibe is much the same. And that’s a good thing. For starters, the beaches in the area are somewhat less populated than other nearby neighborhoods. And there are several great spots where you can park yourself out on the sand to enjoy your day. Moving from east to west you’ll find these seven public beach access points all to be incredibly convenient. The Lupine access at 242 Walton Magnolia Lane is especially secluded and sits just at the edge of Camp Helen State Park. Phillips Inlet access at 202 South Walton Lakeshore Drive has a couple of spots to park for those lucky early risers but this spot is a favorite as you can walk directly from the pavement to the sand with no steps at all. And for those lucky few locals with beach passes, you can drive out to drop off your beach gear—just remember there’s no parking on the sand here like in Grayton. The three regional access points, East RBA at 118 West Park Place Avenue, Central RBA at 139 South Orange Street and West RBA at 435 West Park Place Avenue all have convenient parking close by and there are numerous spots to park. Parking is just around the corner from the East location but there’s a nice driveway for drop off and pick up. And you’ll find a bath house at the Central location as well. At 264 South Wall Street and 188 Winston Lane you’ll find two other access points. Note that there’s only bike parking here but you’re still close enough to walk down from Central access if you need a place to park. You can’t miss the wildly popular enclave that is Thirty Avenue. Within their white walls you’ll find numerous shops and eateries that you’re sure to enjoy. Amici Italian Kitchen and their neighbor Amigo’s Mexican Kitchen will leave you with a tough decision—which one to choose?? At Amici their flair for celebration and commitment to using only the best ingredients in their fresh, handmade dishes keep folks coming back for more. From their pizza to salads to signature pasta and cocktails; this family-style atmosphere is a great spot for a party of two or a table of twelve. And I can personally attest that the gnocchi is some of the best you’ll find anywhere around. On the other hand, Amigos will tempt you with uniquely prepared meals cooked to order just for you. They offer happy hour specials seven days a week and their selection of margarita flavors is rather impressive. The strawberry basil version is my personal favorite and I can tell you from experience it pairs quite nicely with an order of Nate’s Nachos. And don’t forget to try Lily’s fresh guacamole while you’re there. It’s a real treat. Over at Idyll Hound Proper, they offer a welcoming space with community and great food in mind. They embrace a flavor-forward approach to beer drinking and believe that social merriment is a key component to enjoying good company. This local favorite will fast become one of yours too—even if you’re new to the craft beer scene. The shopping here is also a highlight of this area and you’ll find clothing, home goods, and all manner of lovely delights in the many different shops and boutiques. You’ll want to be sure and stop by Becasa where they cherish all women as well as their love of clothes and beautiful home interiors. Here you’ll find an exclusive collection of handmade garments from Jaipur, India as well as those made in the good old USA. Founder Emily Raffield shares the special magic that can only be found on the Gulf Coast with everyone who steps inside. Willow + Mercer brings, known for their savvy, chic style, has been an in-demand brand in the area since they first arrived back in 2007. This newer location provides a glamorous atmosphere featuring a shoe salon, bar area, men’s department, and a wide array of women’s clothing and accessories. There’s even a colorful lounge for your less enthusiastic shopping partners to sit and wait while you dive head-first into their carefully curated collection of goods. If you want to relax and keep yourself in shape head on over to a class at Myst Yoga Studio. With traditional yoga practice at its core, they present a modern fitness experience led by professional instructors. They can guide you to your best self by providing intentional direction that will help develop your fitness routine and center your thoughts. Need to get your hairdo on while you’re in town? Grab an appointment with one of the master stylists at Rollands Beauty Bar. This contemporary salon (and art gallery) offers design cuts, color services, keratin treatments, makeup application and more. They also offer wedding services and carry several exclusive product lines as well. And quite soon you’ll be able to enjoy the walking/biking tunnel connecting this popular spot with Scenic Highway 30A. Once completed it will enable pedestrians and cyclists to safely make their way from one spot to the other without traffic concerns or disruptions. Just down the way, you’ll find a hidden treasure at Shaka Sushi and Cocktail Bar. This classic 30A Hot Spot is anchored by Chef James Sargent and his team of passionate sushi chefs. This group of talented visionaries has created an exquisite menu filled with sushi rolls, sashimi, nigiri, small plates, and entrees. They’ll also deliver straight to your home and their catered sushi boards are legendary. Ready for breakfast? You’ve come to the right place. A long time classic, The Donut Hole, is ready to serve you morning noon, and night. And while they’re known for their namesake food you can also get your fill of pancakes, bacon and eggs, waffles, eggs Benedict—even breakfast burgers— and many other breakfast classics. They also serve lunch and supper and the donuts are matched only by their delicious desserts. You’ll also be able to fill your plate with goodness at Big Bad Breakfast. Don’t let the name fool you—there’s nothing bad on the menu here! Their breakfast cocktail menu filled with an assortment of mimosas and bloody Marys is sure to get your crew in a great mood first thing in the morning. Pair one of those drinks with some of their famous biscuits or a delicious omelet. You can also go all in and try the “Redneck Benny” for a southern take on a classic and you won’t regret it. Long-time Inlet Beach favorite Shades Bar and Grill has been around for more than twenty years. They continually turn friends into family and their daily features along with their fabulous staff keep their fans coming back year after year. Famous for their wings and daily chef features they’re also one of the best spots in town to catch a game. With more than twenty-five TV they’ve got you covered regardless of which sport you cheer for! Jonesing for some good old-fashioned BBQ? You’re in luck! Back Beach BBQ is the perfect spot to grab some traditional wood-smoked BBQ. I currently live about twenty minutes away from this location and we regularly make the drive for their ribs alone. They’re worth it! And the pulled pork along with the BBQ chicken and their delicious sides will soon have you driving over as well. They even offer breakfast burritos, tacos, and several craft beer options. A very special place that draws locals and visitors alike to this area is Camp Helen State Park. This state park sits on the largest dune lakes in the entire state of Florida. It’s open from 8:00 each morning until sunset and is bordered by Lake Powell and the Gulf of Mexico. With over 1809 acres to explore it’s the perfect place for beach combing, nature study, hiking, and both freshwater and saltwater fishing. On a more historical note, it is believed that the geography of this particular area points to human inhabitants as far back as 4000 years ago! So whether you’ve been coming here as long as I have or if you’re a first-time visitor; you’ll find plenty to enjoy during your stay in Inlet Beach.

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