A funky blend of contemporary and traditional sets this free-spirited waterfront community apart from its carefully groomed neighbors. Here, the best places to eat, shop, play, and stay in offbeat Grayton Beach.
Founded more than 100 years ago, quirky Grayton Beach in South Walton, Florida, is mostly surrounded by the lush trees and winding trails of Grayton Beach State Park. Narrow, tree-lined streets in town are perfect for wandering (and checking out local shops and restaurants). Locals can point you toward the beach, where the warm Gulf waters offer fantastic fishing and hanging out.
If Grayton Beach's unofficial slogan of “Nice Dogs, Strange People” makes you smile, get ready to fall in love with this sweetly eclectic beach town teeming with unique places to eat, shop, play, and stay. See the best of them right here.
Photo: JR P/Flickr
If it can be said that laid-back Grayton Beach has institutions, The Red Bar is certainly one of them. This descriptively named bar and restaurant is lit inside by crimson lamps, and its walls are plastered with an assortment of posters, paintings, street signs, and more. Its house jazz band plays almost nightly, and other bands—local and otherwise—cycle through regularly. The fresh, simple menu offers beach favorites like crab cakes and shrimp po'boys, and its salads make perfect mid-day meals. Drinks from the full bar are available all day and all night to help get the party started. On nights when most of this quiet strip of coastline is tucked indoors, this cash-only venue is pumping, and its effortless energy makes it a must-visit on any trip to the area.
Photo: Modus Photography
This Spain-inspired beach joint pledges an experience that's “Simple + Fresh + Fun,” and delivers on all three. Chiringo's menu offers fresh, local options inspired by beaches around the world, with unexpected highlights like a grouper rice bowl and albondigas (meatballs with a savory sauce and shredded Manchego)—though beach favorites like cheeseburgers and cut salads are also available. And the cocktails on the drink menu? You’ll be asking for another.
Photo: Brook Slezak
On-par with The Red Bar as a divey, beach-perfect hotspot, Hurricane Oyster Bar—an area original—is, as its name implies, all about the oysters. Raw, grilled, steamed, or baked, your perfect oyster is just moments away. The delectably unhealthy appetizers (fried oyster nachos, anyone?) are perfect for an indulgent beach vacation, and the happy hour deals make this an excellent place to unwind after a day on the sand.
With almost 2,000 acres of land, Grayton Beach State Park offers an unspoiled beachfront with ample opportunities for swimming, relaxing on the sand, and fishing. But its greatest appeal lies inland, where a brackish lake can be used for serene canoeing, paddleboarding, and kayaking and where four miles of trails let visitors get up close and personal with the plants and animals who live there. Stay overnight in a cabin or in the campground, or spend the day there, enjoying the natural beauty of coastal ecosystems.
Photo: Brittany Rebolledo
For a wellness fix—beyond the beach, of course—stop by SoWal Pilates's studio in north Grayton Beach. SoWal offers a full roster of classes, including traditional mat Pilates, apparatus Pilates, and aerial yoga. Sign up for a private session to get some time for yourself, or buddy up with some friends for a private session of up to four people.
Photo: David Bailey Photography
And how can you have a beach vacation without time on the beach? With warm, aquamarine waters and smooth sands, staking a spot on the sand in Grayton Beach is a must. Bring chairs and an umbrella, lather up with sunscreen, and enjoy your day under the sun.
Photo: Romona Robbins
Grayton Beach’s Beau Interiors offers a selection of definitively coastal décor, from accents like coral branches and shells to water-hued furniture. Grab everything from lighting to furniture to gifts for the home. We're talking souvenirs you'll use—and love—every day.
Photo: Beth Melberg Photography
Whether you forgot an outfit for dinner or you’re just looking to do a bit of shopping while on vacation, Grayton Beach Gypsea will have what you need. The boho beach vibes here will help you fit right in at laid-back Grayton Beach, and the store’s selection of local handmade jewelry will give you a taste of what Grayton’s artists have to offer.
Photo: Sarah Noonan
Host your whole crowd at Sea Pearl, a stunning Spanish-style retreat just 220 steps from the beach. Managed by Sunburst Beach Vacations, the house sleeps up to 20 guests across six bedrooms and has eight and a half bathrooms. The contemporary coastal interior has all the tools—think double oven and two dishwashers—you need to feed even the hungriest beach-goer, and the exterior—complete with heated pool—will keep your crew happy all vacation long.
Photo: Brandan Babineaux Photography
For a distinctive Grayton Beach experience, look no further than Matarangi, a trendy beachfront house that demonstrates Grayton’s love of the eclectic and design-forward, for your accommodations. The house—managed by Sunburst Beach Vacations—sleeps 10, and two ocean-facing porches promise everyone a seat in the sun.