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Things to Do In Grayton Beach, Fl
Welcome to the luxury world of Grayton Beach which has lots of things to do because it is a hot spot of the ultra trendy, uber luxury beachfront resort property. With multiple quaint little towns, and some of the most unspoiled beachfront propertyin Florida, 30A is the new where-to-go place if you want to live on the beach. All the little villages are minutes apart, and each has its own uniqueness about it, making the 30A area and all of the Grayton Beach area its own little wonderland on the Florida Coast.
Grayton Beach has the luxury of being one of the very first communities’ established in the South Walton (So Wal) area, dating back to the late 19th century. Walking down one of Grayton Beach’s oyster-shell roads, and quickly you get the feeling that things don’t change fast here. It’s a slower way of life, more refined, simpler. Pines and oaks surround many of the natural wood homes. Even after 120+ years it maintains its “small cozy town” vibe that it started with. Narrow tree lined streets, friendly people, funky art galleries, antique and specialty shops, and the infamous Red Bar. Grayton Beach can trace its beginnings to Army Major Charles T. Gray, who built a homestead here in 1885. At that time, the federal government owned most of the land, and few people even wanted to settle here. The soil is too sandy to farm, and the timber here was deemed essentially worthless, with most of the actually good wood being sparse and deep within forests of palms and other undesirable wood. 5 Years after Major Gray built his home he was joined by Army General William Miller, who mapped the village’s streets and blocks. Naming the village after the original inhabitants, Charles Gray, the only building that is still standing that is thought to date back to 1890 is a 2 story home that is today the Wash-A-Way. Around the turn of the century, Grayton Beach became a popular vacation spot for those that lived in inland Florida and Alabama. Because reaching Grayton Beach was difficult, as there were no bridges at the time over the Choctawhatchee River, and what roads were available were nothing more than sand trails. In 1913, W.H. Butler, and his son, Van, made the day long trip from DeFuniak Springs to Grayton Beach. Although not intending to make Grayton Beach their home, they quickly became the villages leading promoter. W.H. Butler, a real estate agent, moved his family from the Midwest to DeFuniak Springs, where he started a resort project near Philips Inlet. Upon visiting Grayton Beach, he found the land at half the price of land in Philips Inlet, and bought most of what is now Grayton Beach. Starting with nothing, building not only his own family’s home, but an entire vacation resort was no easy task. Butler had to cut the woods, survey all the trails and stake everything out. Then in 1926, disaster struck in the form of a hurricane. Creditied with creating Destin’s East Pass, and turning Choctawhatchee Bay from freshwater into saltwater, it swept the foundation of Grayton Beache’s largest home completely away, giving it the nickname of Wash-A-Way. It also blew most of the dunes, leaving the beach flat and hard enough to drive a model T down the shore to see what was left of Destin. During the 30’s, with the world becoming more modern, access to Grayton Beach was improving, making it easier to access, allowing more people to visit its pristine shores every year. This was helped out with the completion of Highway 98, the Highway 331 Bridge, and the Intracoastal Waterway being cut through Walton County. The 40’s brought with it electricity and an end to Miller’s Cattle Ranch. During this time, the state started requiring livestock to be fenced and penned in. The days of cattle roaming free were over. Miller moved his cattle from the area to what is now Freeport. During this time Grayton Beach was nothing more than a summer town, with even the Butler family moving out for winter. They would come during the summer and operate the village’s only store, and on Saturday nights, run the dance hall, present day Red Bar. The hottest of the hot spots in the day, people would come all the way from Destin just to dance. World War 2 helped boom Grayton Beach, with the US Coast Guard establishing a 40 man station here in 1942, with the government renting many of the homes for barracks and offices. The Coast Guard didn’t leave many marks on Grayton Beach, although you can find the name of one guardsman written in ink on the wall he used as a darkroom. Upon retiring from his day job in 1960, Butler kept his honorary title of “Mayor of Grayton Beach”. Politics and natural barriers kept Grayton Beach a village, and hampered its growth. Efforts to build superlarge condo projects have been met with fierce opposition, and there are even laws in effect in the area to discourage developments like that from even thinking about moving in. The state of Florida has even had part in keeping Grayton Beach small by almost completely surrounding the village in State Park property. In 1967, the state used its own land east of Grayton to create Grayton Beach State Recreation Area, and after years of lobbying, in 1985, the state bought the land to the west and north, as well as the beach front and dunes. The community, with its unofficial slogan of “Nice Dogs, Strange People”, is also the only place in the region you can take a 4-wheel drive vehicle directly out on the sand, with the proper permit.
Grayton Beach State Park
One of the most popular State Parks in Florida, Grayton Beach State Park wows visitors with massive sand dunes, winding trails, plenty of wildlife, and Western Lake, one of the many coastal dune lakes along 30A. Enjoy the sugar white beaches in this natural land preserve, with the land not being changed by human hand for almost 400 years. With miles of sugar white beaches to walk, a 4.5 mile interpretive hiking and biking trail, and a 1 mile trail, you can be sure you will see some of the best views Grayton Beach has to offer. With campgrounds and cabins, you can make this a weekend beach trip. With 30 modern cabins, with no TV, Phones, or internet, this is truly a family escape, and quality bonding time is sure to ensue. Cabins rent quickly, especially during the warmer months, so make reservations early. Pets are not allowed in the cabins and on the beach, but are welcome in the campgrounds and on the trails.
The Red Bar, with its roots frimly established within Grayton Beaches history, is the hot spot to this day for anyone in Grayton Beach on the weekends. With live jazz provided by the house band, exquisite food options, great drinks with a full service bar, and the local atmosphere make this the spot to visit during a trip to Grayton Beach. After the dinner crowd leaves each night, the band picks up, and the party begins. And don’t be surprised if you run into someone famous at the Red Bar, as even celebrities need a break, but please don’t disturb them, they just want to chill and relax too.
Ride the Sunshine Trolley
The Sunshine Trolley runs during the summer months and is currently free to ride. It is an icon on 30A that runs up and down 30A. You will experience breath taking views from the Trolley while traveling along the beaches of South Walton.
Modus Art Studio
Visit the Modus Art Studio in Grayton Beach and view the gorgeous images Modus Photography has taken. You can even purchase one and bring home a Grayton Beach Memory. Keep in mind that the gallery displays more than his local shots but include his international photo shoots as well.
Some Helpful Links
- Welcome to Florida State Parks
Grayton Beach Homepage on Florida's State Parks Page
- The Red Bar Homepage
The Red Bar - A favorite among locals and visitors, Picolo's - The Red Bar is a must-do when in Grayton Beach!
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