Hogtown Bayou and the Choctawhatchee Bay – Living in Santa Rosa Beach allows you easy access to Hogtown Bayou and the Choctawhatchee Bay Hogtown Bayou is a secluded spot tucked among the pine trees on the shores of the Choctawhatchee Bay. These protected waters offer the perfect spot for fishing and sailing. Fly fishing is popular on the Choctawhatchee Bay. It is not uncommon to catch enormous redfish, speckled trout, and sheep head in the bay waters. In late 2018, Waterside Investors announced plans for Historic Santa Rosa Landing. This public park will include a large building for private and community events, boat access to Choctawhatchee Bay, a boardwalk and dock, a fishing pier, nature paths, and a community garden.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park – This Florida State Park is named for the white quartz sand dunes that rise like ships’ sails along the emerald coastline of Santa Rosa Beach. Campbell Lake and Morris Lake, replete with aquatic wildlife, are two of four coastal dune lakes in the Preserve. This rare dune ecosystem exists among a maritime forest of old growth Longleaf Pines, sandy scrublands, and wetlands. Topsail Hill Preserve is home to thirteen endangered species, including gopher tortoises, Choctawhatchee Beach mice, and pitcher plants. Topsail Park’s 1,600 acre preserve offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor exploration. You are welcome to rent a canoe or kayak to take out onto one of the dune lakes. Bird watching is a popular pass time and can be done from the hiking paths or along the 3.2 miles of beach. Park rangers offer interpretive programs and guided hikes to teach the public about the native species and natural beauty found at Topsail Hill Preserve.
Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County – The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County makes its home in the Bayou Arts Center in Santa Rosa Beach. According to their website, their “…vision is to be the catalyst for Walton County’s growth as a destination for cultural and artistic excellence through which lives are enriched, economy is stimulated, and community is strengthened.” The Alliance offers many events throughout the year. In February, you can go on a Valentine Tour of Homes while Mother’s Day Weekend brings ArtsQuest: A Fine Art and Fine Craft Festival. The “Under the Sea” party and concert take place in the summer. In addition to these large events, the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County sponsors gallery receptions, and master painting classes. Other events such as writer’s conferences and a Theater Festival happen throughout the year.
Gulf Place Town Center – As the home of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, it’s no surprise that the Gulf Place Town Center is an arts and crafts conglomerate. The small galleries offer local art in the forms of acrylics, glass art, hand painted t-shirts, jewelry, photography, and pottery. It’s not unusual to be able to meet the artist and discuss their craft. In addition to the small galleries and boutiques, you’ll find an eclectic mix of restaurants, shops, services, and events. There is an Outdoor Market from 4pm-8pm on Sundays in the summer. There are also free Sunday concert series during the summer and fall seasons. In the winter, you can enjoy the Snowbird Stroll and Wine Walk. As you wander in and out of boutiques and restaurants at Gulf Place Town Center, keep your eyes open for the three large turtles. Their names are Manuelita, Miss Lucy, and Horace. They are part of a Save the Turtles campaign. Each sculpture is unique. Together they showcase a variety of techniques, design, and color.