Grayton Beach

Grayton Beach is a small beach town in the Florida Panhandle. Many people say that Grayton Beach is a reminder of how “Old Florida” used to be.

Grayton Beach is known for its charming, eclectic community and beautiful nature. The beaches in Grayton Beach are among the best in Florida, and the area is surrounded by pristine nature, including dune lakes and Grayton Beach State Park.

Location

Grayton Beach is located in the Florida Panhandle, on the Gulf of Mexico.

It is located among other small beach towns, including Fort Walton Beach, Seaside and several others in the area. It sits approximately halfway between Panama City and Destin.

Grayton Beach is bordered to the north by Grayton Beach State Park, which sits just south of Choctawhatchee Bay.

The Beaches of Grayton Beach

Grayton Beach has some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida.

The beaches have sugar-white sand, and beautiful emerald green/blue water in the Gulf of Mexico.

The beach has numerous wooden boardwalks which cross over the beach sand dunes to help protect against dune erosion.

Beautiful Nature

Grayton Beach has a unique environment in many respects, but especially because it’s surrounded by beautiful freshwater dune lakes. 

The chain of dune lakes stretches for approximately 20 miles, and shapes the geography of the region. 

Grayton Beach State Park (VISIT FLORIDA)

Grayton Beach is located on the west shores of Western Lake, and just south of Grayton Beach State Park.

The dune lakes are a fascinating and rare geological feature, and support a sensitive and important ecosystem. The brackish lakes provide habitats for many forms of wildlife, especially migratory birds. The lakes also help ensure a steady estuary environment as they discharge freshwater into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Dune lakes like those found in Grayton Beach are fragile, and rare. They are only found in a few other places around the world.

Grayton Beach is also surrounded by Grayton Beach State Park on three sides. The state park helps protect the natural environment and provides many outdoor recreation opportunities and things to do.

Grayton Beach State Park is a favorite place to visit for both visitors and residents of Grayton Beach.

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Tourism

Grayton Beach is one of the oldest and most popular beach destinations in Florida. 

It has attracted families of visitors for many generations. It is especially popular among residents of neighboring southern states, especially Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

Grayton Beach has a lot to offer, including the amazingly popular Grayton Beach State Park, and some of Florida’s best Gulf of Mexico beaches.

Grayton Beach is part of a larger region known as “South Walton”. This area includes many popular communities along Highway 30A, and many small beach towns in the Florida Panhandle.

Is Grayton Beach nice? 

Grayton Beach is very nice. The sand is sugar-white, soft and clean.

The brilliant white sand is nice to lay in, and a high concentration of quartz helps keep the sand nice and cool, even in the hot sun.

The water in the Gulf of Mexico is also very nice near Grayton Beach. It is often a beautiful emerald green/blue, and is often very clear. The water is clearest when wave action is low, but the water is almost always beautiful.

The beaches of Grayton Beach are award-winning, and have been crowned the “Best Beach in America” by one professor and beach expert, “Dr. Beach”.

The beaches in Grayton Beach have numerous public access points, and wooden boardwalks to cross over the beach sand dunes.

Is Grayton Beach public? 

Grayton Beach is a public beach. There are numerous public beach access points of various sizes. 

Grayton Beach State Park (VISIT FLORIDA)

Some public beach access points are very large and offer ample parking, while other public beaches are small neighborhood beaches, without adequate parking or infrastructure for visitors.

Can you swim at Grayton Beach?

You can swim at Grayton Beach! It is one of the best beaches in Florida for swimming. The beaches of Grayton Beach have beautiful, sugary white sand and clean, clear water.

Is Grayton Beach Free? 

Grayton Beach is a free public beach, with many public access points. 

There are numerous regional beach access points which often have full visitor facilities, including large parking lots, restrooms, lifeguards and showers. 

Neighborhood beach access points are also common, but are typically harder to use because they have limited parking facilities, may lack restrooms and other amenities. 

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Neighborhood beach access points are usually intended for local residents’ use and access by walking or bicycle.

There has been controversy in recent years about increased restrictions on beach access, especially smaller neighborhood beach access points. 

Things to do in Grayton Beach

There are many things to do near Grayton Beach. Most of the best activities revolve around the outdoors, or the water. 

Popular activities include:

  • Going to the beach
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking and SUP paddleboarding
  • Boating
  • Visiting art galleries
  • Visiting Grayton Beach State Park
  • Exploring the communities beaches of 30A
Paddling in Grayton Beach (Russell Mick for VISIT FLORIDA)

Fishing and fishing charters at Grayton Beach are especially popular. 

The local charter fishing fleet is known as the “Mosquito Fleet”, and is unique because many fishermen launch their boats directly from the sandy beaches. It feels fun, adventurous, and is a real thrill.

Many tourists are happy to be able to book and board a fishing charter, or a boat trip, directly from their spot on the beach. Beach and surf fishing are also very popular, in certain areas.

Away from the water, Grayton Beach State Park is also a favorite activity, and is one of the best things to do in Grayton Beach. The state park offers a variety of activities, including canoeing and kayaking, bicycle trails, camping, hiking and cycling. 

The state park offers a beautiful, peaceful experience and should not be missed!

Grayton Beach State Park also offers camping 30 furnished cabins for rent, complete with fireplaces and everything you need to camp at the beach!

The town of Grayton Beach also offers a number of local art galleries, boutique shopping, live music venues and more. Many of these cultural anchors are found in a cute section of downtown Grayton Beach.

Places to eat in Grayton Beach

There are many places to eat in Grayton Beach. Restaurants are often non-chain, family-run establishments, and many have been in business for multiple generations. The restaurants and businesses in Grayton Beach are known for their funky styles and southern hospitality.

Some of the best restaurants in Grayton Beach include:

  • Black Bear Bread Co.
  • Grayton Seafood Company
  • Chanticleer
  • The Hurricane Oyster Bar
  • The Red Bar
  • The Grayton Beer Brew Pub
  • Nanbu Noodle Bar 
  • Crackings
  • Chiringo
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Living in Grayton Beach

Grayton Beach is an old community with deep roots, and is one of the original neighborhoods in South Walton County.

Grayton Beach has always been known for its creative residents, including artists of all types, chefs, musicians, and people who want to live a good life at the beach.

The motto of Grayton Beach captures the essence of the place nicely; “Nice Dogs, Strange People.” 

Downsides of Living in Grayton Beach

One downside of living in Grayton Beach is that there is generally a lack of high-paying jobs in the area. 

The local economy is dominated by tourism and hospitality-related jobs, which tend to be low-paying and often lack long-term stability or growth. 

The lack of a diversified economy also makes the region vulnerable to economic shocks. 

The communities along Highway 30A were heavily impacted by the global financial crisis of 2008. The region has also been subject to periodic boom and bust cycles throughout its entire history.

Like many other cities in Florida, the small town of Grayton Beach is also at risk of overdevelopment, and environmental destruction. 

The Florida Panhandle is one of the fastest-growing regions in the United States; the massive influx of residents is causing extreme destruction to the sensitive coastal environment. 

Many locals say they are horrified by the rapidly multiplying real estate developments and “growth at all costs” mentality of some politicians. 

Grayton Beach in particular prides itself on maintaining the “feel” of its community and resisting the siren-song of overdevelopment.

Lastly, Grayton Beach is extremely vulnerable to hurricanes. Many residents say that living with the looming threat of hurricanes is a major downside to living in Grayton Beach.