Santa Rosa Beach, Florida is a quaint beach town located in South Walton County. The famous county highway 30A runs through Santa Rosa Beach.
We traveled to Santa Rosa Beach for a week in June 2021. Traveling with us were my wife’s parents, her sister, and her sister’s two teenage boys. We stayed in a beautiful home directly on the famous powdery white sands that this part of Florida is famous for. Prior to booking our vacation home, we thoroughly researched the homes in the area to ensure we rented one that would meet our needs. We also made sure there would be plenty of places to eat and things to do for our diverse group of travelers.
We have taken many beach vacations over the years. This one has been our favorite so far. The quality of the beaches is phenomenal. The water is crystal clear yet has the distinctive emerald green color that gives this area its nickname of “The Emerald Coast.” Beyond the natural beauty, this area has numerous, locally owned shops and restaurants. For those that seek more entertainment, Destin is just a short drive to the west.
This review will consist of recommendations for vacation homes. All rental home suggestions will be given the same thorough vetting that we do with the homes we stay in. Homes will have ratings of 4.0 stars or higher and have greater than ten reviews.
We will also provide recommendations and reviews of restaurants we enjoyed. We will provide a list of recommended activities as well, in the event that you decide you want to leave your powdered sugar sandy beach!
Let’s jump in!
Vacation Rentals in Santa Rosa Beach Florida
- Green Wave– This is the home we stayed in. It is a 4BR/4BA home directly on the beach. The home features a large deck that is perfect for catching the sunrise with your cup of coffee or the sunset with your drink of choice. Half of the deck is covered for those that want to enjoy the sea air without baking in the sun. This home was comfy and cozy and completely met our needs.
- White Starlight– This is a 4BD/2BA home that will sleep up to 12 guests. This is a beachfront home where the spacious deck brings you directly to your slice of beach. One of this home’s greatest features is the massive number of windows allowing plenty of natural light into the living area. This home comes equipped with a closet filled with beach accessories such as beach chairs, an umbrella, boogies boards, and beach toys. You also get discounts to area restaurants!
- Dune 1 Townhomes– These townhomes feature 3BR/2.5BA. First floor features the kitchen, dining, living room and a screened in porch. All bedrooms are on the second floor. The master bedrooms are gulf facing with private balcony that allows beautiful gulf views. Dune 1 Townhomes offer their guests access to the beachside pool and a private boardwalk over the dunes onto the beach.
- Leaning Palms– This 3BR/2BA home sits just one block from the beach. Being off the beach, even just one block, usually allows for lower pricing. Despite not being beachfront, Leaning Palms has all of the amenities (often times more) of a true beachfront home. Inside the home’s garage, guests will find two kayaks, a paddle board, two bicycles, beach chairs, umbrellas and corn hole boards. Inside, this home is beautiful, bright, and modern. The front porch has swinging chairs to allow for relaxation and afternoon naps!
- The Lily Pad– This 3BR/4BA home sits on a lake and directly across the street from the beach. On the lake side of the home, guests have access to a private pier. The home provides a kayak and a paddleboard that can be used on the lake of the gulf. Lily Pad also includes a beach chair, an umbrella, beach toys AND a wagon to make the short walk to the beach even more convenient.
- Bawdy Blue– This 3BR/3BA home sits directly across 30A from the beach. There are wrap-around porches on both levels offering excellent views of the beach. There is a private pool on the front deck. This house will comfortably sleep ten! Unlike many of the homes in this area, this one is pet friendly, though they will need to pay an extra $175 pet deposit. But at least your furry friend can join the family vacation!
This is just a small sample of the homes in this area. There are HUNDREDS more to choose from. There are homes to accommodate groups of all sizes. There are even homes for groups as large as 15+, perfect for family reunions or multi-family vacations. Search for more homes in the search widget below!
Fun Things to Do
We rented a golf cart to use during our stay. Golf carts are considered street legal on most of the streets in the area, with the exception of the highways. We had fun just cruising around the area, checking out different places, popping in for ice cream, getting our groceries or just to cruise. We highly recommend renting one since it is fun and much easier to get around as opposed to driving your car everywhere. Our boys loved it!
We spent several days at Destin Boardwalk/Harborwalk Village. There is so much to do there with many options for dining and drinks. We also booked a dolphin viewing cruise out of the marina that is attached to Destin Boardwalk. There are two we recommend. Southern Star Dolphin Cruise is a more traditional dolphin cruise. For those looking for more of a thrill, the Hydrojet Dolphin Cruise was an absolute blast.
No beach vacation is complete without a day spent playing mini golf, arcade games, and go-karts. For this, we went to Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone. They have two different 18 hole mini golf courses to choose from, dozens of arcade games, and go-karts to entertain those with a need for speed!
For more fun on the water, we highly recommend the Banana Boat Experience! Imagine riding around Destin Harbor on giant bananas that are pulled around by boat! So much fun!
Places to Eat
We cooked many of our meals at the house, but there were a couple of places that we can give two thumbs up to!
- Al’s Beach Club– Located right on the water, this lively establishment has the usual suspects of tasty burgers, seafood, milkshakes, and more. Tons of outdoor seating to enjoy the sea breezes!
- Margaritaville– If you have followed our blogs for a while, you already know that we enjoy a good meal at Margaritaville. Well guess what…they have one here too!
- The Donut Hole- This place is FAMOUS. It is not unusual to pull up and see a line out the door for their delicious donuts. We went early one day and lucked out with no line. They really were fantastic.
- Johnny McTighe’s Irish Pub– We really wanted a good fish fry on our last night in town and saw this place had great ratings. The food certainly did NOT disappoint. Staff was super friendly and they had a few arcade games to occupy the boys’ time while we waited for our food.
- Pecan Jack’s Ice Cream and Candy– We stopped here SEVERAL times during our stay. Their ice cream is house made and each day they had many different flavors (including some boozy ones!).
Similar to the rental homes, there are MANY additional restaurants to choose from. I really wanted to check out Stinky’s Fish Camp, but I am the only one in our group that likes seafood and that is all Stinky’s has. The places we listed were locations we actually dined at.
When Are You Going?
Because of their location on the Gulf of Mexico, Santa Rosa Beach benefits from having fairly warm temperatures through most of the year. This means there is no bad time of the year to visit! Their peak season rates for most homes will be during Spring Break (most of March) and then from Memorial Day through Labor Day. During off-peak, many of these homes can be rented at good discounts. Use our review as a guide and book your vacation rentals in Santa Rosa Beach Florida today!
If you will be driving to Santa Rosa Beach, FL, be sure to keep your kids (and adults!) entertained with some of our recommended ROAD TRIP GAMES!