It is that romantic time of the year again, so why not take a magical trip to the beautiful beach with your beloved Valentine? Say you are looking for a very special place away from the hustle and bustle. If so, the enchanting historic village of Grayton Beach provides the perfect setting!
Grayton Beach is the oldest coastal village along Scenic 30A. It started out in the mid-1800s as a timber plantation. By the late 1800s, an entrepreneur discovered the sugary shoreline next to the bountiful gulf, bought some land, and subdivided it for sale as fish camps near the beach. A general store and a few cottages were completed. The town was not connected to paved roads until the 1940s, and it went to sleep for many decades. In the 1960s, artisans flocked to this isolated village "to get away from it all". The village started to get an eccentric artistic feel, and later, bumper stickers appeared that summed it up, saying: "Grayton Beach. Nice Dogs, Strange People!" Today, Grayton Beach has a charming historic village center within walking distance of many of our Rivard by Ocean Reef vacation rental properties. It features a unique gallery, a chic beach boutique, and two wonderful restaurants with lively bars. This easily walkable village provides an awesome nostalgic setting of golden years gone by.
You can enjoy a special evening at the famous Red Bar, which has been an iconic dining and entertainment establishment for many years. It is aptly named for its funky, eclectic décor with red lights, chandeliers, and old-world posters. The daily menu is displayed on chalkboards and includes a tantalizing array of pasta, seafood, shrimp, crab cakes, crawfish, stuffed eggplant, and chicken with roasted potatoes. They also offer wonderful salads, seafood gumbo, and appetizers like jalapeno poppers, chicken wings, egg rolls, pizza bread, cheese sticks, and crispy onion rings. They are open daily, serving food from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. The Red Bar Jazz Band features great local musicians Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5:30 to 9:00 pm, which provides a very festive, friendly atmosphere. This one-of-a-kind popular place has the distinction of being frequented by celebrities in the past who usually try to remain incognito.
If you're in the mood for Spanish-styled Tapas, Chiringo's is only a block away and bills itself as a casual, friendly place that blends global beach flavors with southern charm. Their menu features appetizers like guacamole, fire-roasted salsa, chicken wings, tuna poke, snapper dip, and Tot-chaos, a delicious tater-to-nacho cheese blend. They also have fried fish, shrimp, chicken strip baskets, sandwiches, salads, tasty specialty bowls, and a variety of tacos. For drinks, enjoy a wonderful array of craft cocktails, wine, beer, and champagne.
Be sure to take your loved one shopping at a unique beach boutique at the Tribe Kelley Surf Post very nearby, which offers a wide array of chic, fashionable coastal clothing. They have exclusive souvenir shirts, caps, hats, and "Butter Sweats," including comfortable hoodies, drawstring pants, wide pants, and jogging suits. They are open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from noon to 5:00 pm.
You will love a unique shopping adventure at the Zoo Gallery, right across from the Red Bar. This vibrantly colorful place has been a shopping mecca since 1979, featuring an incredible variety of creations made by carefully selected curated artisans nationwide. They include unusual handmade decorative art, including newly built vintage transistor radios, fanciful cups, bowls, vases, colorful sculptures, vivid abstract wildlife prints, straw woven hearts or peace signs, and even a solar-powered rainbow maker. They also have unique, beautiful handmade jewelry and vibrant apparel. The Zoo Gallery is the kind of place you will never forget due to its magical collection of radiant artistic creations. They are open daily from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Enjoy some great gulf-caught seafood and a night of dancing at AJ's Seafood & Oyster Bar, which has been an iconic night spot on Destin's harbor and recently opened in Grayton Beach. Although it is not right in the village center, it is only a minute away by car just south of Scenic 30A. The spacious dining and drinking pavilion resembles a giant Tiki Hut with a dramatic bamboo-styled cathedral ceiling. Besides the large open dining area, it has three bars and two stages that feature live musical entertainment. Their menu includes fantastic seafood baskets, a variety of raw or cooked oysters, shrimp & grits, sandwiches, burgers, and savory steaks cooked on an oak-fired grill. This place is known for providing "the life of the party" with DJs, rollicking local bands, and lots of room for dancing. They serve beer, wine, and specialty drinks. AJ's is open daily, and the entertainment starts at 4:00 pm and goes till 2:00 am with different intervals of music played throughout the entire evening.
The charming village center is nestled beside the beautiful beach and the shores of Western Lake. This Coastal Dune Lake treasure is a rare natural phenomenon and one of a precious few since they are found in very few other places in the world. A magical water composition is created when the sugary dunes open and close, connecting the fresh artisan spring-fed water to the salty gulf through an estuary with the daily tides. This estuary flows in one direction when the tide is going out and in the opposite direction when it is coming back in. This coastal dune lake provides a home for abundant wildlife, a wide variety of fish, and waterfowl. Besides enjoying the serene natural beauty, you may see Great Blue Herons, Snowy White Egrets, flocks of Pelicans, soaring Eagles, Osprey, Falcons, and Deer.
The shimmering shoreline and emerald-toned waters of the gulf here adjoin Grayton Beach State Park. Forbes Magazine recently reported that after an extensive nationwide study, this park was named one of the most beautiful beaches in America. The criteria for this study included natural beauty, sand quality, cleanliness, annual weather temperatures, number of sunny days, average water temperatures, sand color, watercolor, the width of the beach, varieties of wildlife, vista views available, and on-site amenities. This park spans almost 2,000 acres of pristine forested grounds, which include loads of remote sugary dunes topped with golden sea oats, and sometimes you can see deer grazing on them at twilight. Nature trails provide easy access throughout, and it is right down the beach from the village center.
This wonderful time of year features spectacular sunsets right over the gulf as the sun majestically descends into the water. Intimate walks along the beach with your loved one provide a truly romantic, heavenly, and magical experience. Now that you know about this special place for a magnificent, lovely Valentine's vacation, be sure to browse our lovely selection of Rivard by Ocean Reef vacation homes. You can view detailed descriptions, vivid property images, a bird's eye view of each individual location, availability, and affordable rental rates. We are sure that you will have an unforgettable, fun-filled time here, and we look forward to hosting you and your Valentine soon!