Top Must-Do’s at WaterColor on 30A
July 20, 2021
Scenic Highway 30A, or as the locals call it, ‘30A’, is a 26-mile stretch running parallel to the Gulf of Mexico between Destin and Panama City Beach. Dotted along the way are small communities, each subtly nuanced, distinguished by a unique history, design, and architecture, and each one as charming as the next. Some were curated with meticulous detail, others evolved organically over time, and all coexist seamlessly along the Gulf’s sandy shores.
The entire stretch is marked by coastal dune lakes, walkable footpaths, outdoor recreation areas, and thousands of acres of protected state forest, lending the region to an outdoor lifestyle that permeates everything. From open-air shopping plazas to waterside cafes, life is spent outdoors here, and the attitude of the residents embodies an unabashed love of the nature that surrounds them.
WaterColor, one of the 16 communities along the 30A corridor, was purposefully designed with vegetation left intact, thereby preserving the roots of the land it inhabits. Connected by quaint streets and paths, manicured grounds intertwine with scrub oaks and palmettos, creating a beautiful backdrop amid contemporary accommodations, exclusive dining, and upscale shopping. It’s this delicate mix that keeps guests coming back year after year, each time discovering something new.
Here are our top must-do’s when you stay at WaterColor along Scenic 30A.
Hang Out Poolside
One step on the grounds of the newly renovated WaterColor Beach Club, and you’ll quickly realize this is the community epicenter. Start your day here, end your day here, or spend all day long here. You’ll undoubtedly find plenty to keep you entertained. With three pools, unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico, and plenty of deck space, lounge chairs, and umbrellas, the environment encourages leisurely days spent poolside. Catch a game at the outdoor bar mid-afternoon, build your own burger or grab a wood-fired pizza from one of the on-site eateries, and enjoy a margarita while the sun sinks on the horizon. It doesn’t get much more relaxing.
If you’ve got little ones in tow, they’ll love spending time at Camp WaterColor. Marked by zero-entry pools, a lazy river, basketball court, and playground, this full-sized recreational area does an exceptional job catering to families. Lounge in the pool, catch some rays, or monitor children’s activities while sipping on a refreshing beverage at the Canteen Restaurant and Bar.
Ground Yourself on the Trails
Take in the natural habitat at your own pace on the WaterColor and Seaside Trails Loop. The 8.9-mile trail system accommodates walkers, joggers, and bikers as it gently meanders through picturesque neighborhoods. Go for an early morning jog or step out for a stroll among shaded and walkable pathways of mixed terrain. Bikes of all sizes are readily accessible to guests at the WaterColor Bike Barn, along with bike trailers accommodating up to two.
Hop on the Timpoochee Trail, a scenic 18-mile paved bike path traversing the length of the 30A corridor. Starting at Dune Allen to the west and extending to Alys Beach to the east, the flat, wide path makes for easy riding and exploration of nearby communities. Point Washington State Park encompasses 15,000 acres with four trail systems offering nearly 30 miles of flat, sandy soil to explore. Pass hikers, bikers, and horseback riders on the 3.5-, 5- or 10-mile loops along the way, all exploring the coastal scrub and longleaf pine Flatwoods prevalent in the area.
Make a Splash Along the Waterways
Bordering WaterColor is the majestic 100-acre Western Lake, one of 15 named coastal dune lakes along Scenic 30A. Its calm waters and many access points present the perfect opportunity to explore the area’s waterways by kayak or paddleboard. If you’re new to the SUP (stand-up paddling) game, you’ll find it a relaxing, fun, family-friendly activity and a great way to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding areas. The Boathouse Paddle Club at WaterColor maintains a friendly, knowledgeable staff with hourly rentals available. Book a lesson to get started, sign up for a SUP workout or yoga class, and experience a new world on the water.
Seventeen freshwater and saltwater lakes and the Gulf of Mexico make for great fishing, no matter your experience level or area of expertise. Be it cobia, tarpon, or redfish, there’s a season for that on 30A, and novice fishers and experienced anglers alike will enjoy the diverse habitats throughout the area. Before you go, familiarize yourself with state fishing license requirements and swing by Old Florida Outfitters for outdoor apparel and fishing gear to ensure a great day on the water.
Refuel With Coastal Cuisine
One of the joys of traveling to a new area is sampling the local fare, and WaterColor imparts dining experiences second to none. The renowned Fish Out of Water features locally sourced southern cuisine, superb service, and an unsurpassed view of the Gulf. Peruse the extensive wine list and order the ‘Taste of the Sea Tower’ for a flavorful sampling of oysters, shrimp, tuna, and lobster. Swing by for happy hour, sample a craft beer or signature cocktail, and be sure to catch at least one sunset from the aptly named ‘Sunset Deck.’
The Wine Bar is another option for a sophisticated yet casual lunch, dinner, or happy hour. Grab a table on the patio, order a sparkling rose’ or a bold red, dive into a gourmet cheese plate and a chicken pesto pizza, and enjoy the sights and sounds of passersby.
Shop Seaside Boutiques
It seems that every location carries with it a particular manner of dress dictated by the area’s climate and lifestyle, and 30A is no different. No matter what you pack, there’s always room to add more to your wardrobe, and with ‘beach casual’ a standard dress code at local restaurants in the area, you’ll want to stock up on some new digs with a coastal vibe. WaterColor Town Center fits the bill with several shops designed to make you feel right at home. While there, grab gifts for friends back home or a memento commemorating your trip.
Island Clothiers offers a wide selection of apparel for men and women, as well as jewelry and accessories, while Beach Folly features a range of popular women’s clothing brands along with shoes and hats. Indigo WaterColor specializes in fun beachy attire available in cool colors and coastal hues, even offering up exclusive parties for small groups to browse privately. If you can’t find what you’re looking for at WaterColor, hop on your bike and head over to one of the nearby communities, many with outdoor shopping environments and all with a vast selection of beachy merchandise.
Check Out the Nearby Communities
With so much to see and do at WaterColor, it might be challenging to pull yourself away, but we encourage you to take some time and explore the vicinity. Journey to the west and hit Grayton Beach and Blue Mountain Beach, both lovely, rustic communities with long histories on 30A. Travel to the east and discover Seaside and Alys Beach, newer contemporary developments with stunning architecture. No matter where you venture on 30A, with WaterColor as your home base, you’re guaranteed an experience like no other.