Inlet Beach is the eastern most beach community in South Walton where Scenic 30A begins its 24 mile journey hugging the coastline as you make your way west past the Emerald Coast’s many beachfront jewels. Inlet Beach’s boundary begins on the north side of US 98 and west of the 30A intersection all the way east to Bay County and Camp Helen State Park.
Back in the 1930s, what is now Inlet Beach, was part of land owned by Robert and Margaret Hicks who built a summer home on what eventually became the main lodge at Camp Helen State Park just to the east. In 1938, Congress passed a law that allowed lots to be sold to citizens who met certain requirements. “The laws were essentially modern-day versions of the Homestead Act of 1862. According to a 1947 article in the Birmingham News newspaper, the government conducted a lottery allowing World War II veterans to apply for a special deal.” Because so many of the lots were sold to veterans, the area was nicknamed for a time as Soldier’s Beach or Veteran’s Beach.
Since 1947, a lot of growth and change has taken place in Inlet Beach. Now, you can stay in quaint Old Florida style cottages or newer accommodations, depending on your taste.
Katy Pinson, Realtor at Beach Babes Realty, loves the area. “Inlet Beach is a rapidly growing, highly desirable community. With less densely populated beaches, the new pedestrian/bike underpass, and proximity to the charm of Rosemary Beach, Pier Park, WaterSound and all that 30 Avenue has to offer, makes it one of the top lifestyle options in the area.”
If you’re in the mood for shopping, 30 Avenue and The Shoppes at Inlet are an excellent choice. Stop in at Café Aroma for a cup of joe, then enjoy lunch at Shaka Sushi and Noodle Bar for tasty sushi and ramen. There’s also plenty of other dining choices such as The Donut Hole and Shades Bar and Grill. If art is more your thing, The Blue Giraffe, Walton County’s 2023 Diamond Award Winner for Best Art Gallery/Studio is a must visit.
Of course, you’re not far from Pier Park in Panama City Beach which offers tons of shopping and more dining. Inlet Beach is also where the famous Timpochee Trail begins. This paved bicycle path follows along Scenic 30A all the way to Dune Allen Beach, with plenty of stops along the way. You can explore the dune lakes, stop in at state parks, and visit the beach at different public access points.
With Camp Helen State Park next door, you would be remiss if you didn’t take a day and check out the beauty of the park sitting near Lake Powell and ending at the Gulf. The walk from the park entrance to the beach is quite special. The Long Leaf pines have dropped their golden-brown needles in the path as you make your way from the cooler shaded area to the sun-drenched white sand with its dunes and middens hundreds of years old to the quiet, serene beach.
Inlet Beach is home to the largest regional beach access, and spending time soaking up the sun while you lounge on the beach or swim will be a large part of your memories. Dining and shopping are huge parts of the experience here, but taking the time to immerse yourself in the breathtaking sight and sound of the white sand beach, gently lapping water, and the singing of the gulls while allowing your senses to stretch themselves out to the horizon, is better than any therapy out there.
Visiting Inlet Beach for the first time? CLICK HERE to check out Visit South Walton’s First Timer’s Guide.