Parkside at the Henderson to Break Ground this Fall

Destin’s exclusive Crystal Beach community will soon welcome the addition of a new standard in luxury condominium development. Following a successful pre-sales launch, the Premier Property Group (PPG) is gearing up to break ground on Phase 1 of Parkside at the Henderson, a distinctive retreat that will provide an elegant addition to the Henderson Beach Resort portfolio of accommodations.

As of early September, approximately two-thirds of the 32 residences that will encompass the first phase were already reserved. Bryan Whitehead, lead agent for the development, noted that the first units will likely go to contract at the end of September in anticipation of an October groundbreaking.

“The response to this offering has been tremendous,” Whitehead said. “We only have about 10 condominiums left in the Phase 1 inventory. Our owners are excited about the prospects of stepping into their new condominiums as soon as late 2020 to enjoy the best of upscale coastal lifestyle.”

Phase 1 of the development includes three of the five planned buildings—the main Parkview Building overlooking the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico and two pool-view buildings—along with the resort pool. Notably, owners and guests will also enjoy full access to the expansive Henderson Beach Resort amenities package that includes a full-service spa, fully-equipped fitness center with classes, multiple resort pools including a lazy river, poolside cabanas, free shuttle service and a private beach. An onsite kid’s club ensures parents get to unwind as their children enjoy daily camp and kid’s night out activities as well as live entertainment provided on the resort property. Bicycle, kayak, snorkel and paddleboard rentals are also available.

Parkside at the Henderson features one-, two- and three-bedroom residences, although Whitehead acknowledged that most of the one-bedroom condominiums available in Phase 1 are already reserved.  Floor plans are thoughtfully designed for easy, everyday living, and PPG’s commitment to quality construction means residences come with high-end stainless steel appliances, polished chrome plumbing fixtures, quartz countertops, all-wood cabinetry, frameless glass shower enclosures and a craftsman-style interior package. Residences are equipped with extras that include a wet bar and undercounter wine fridge as well as a generous balcony for entertaining or simply enjoying a quiet evening watching the sun set.

In addition to its upscale interior residence package, Parkside at the Henderson is raising the bar on coastal condominium living through high-end concierge and valet services, in-room and poolside dining, daily cleaning, courtesy shuttles and beach chair and umbrella service. Two upscale restaurant options are offered on the property including Primrose and the area’s celebrated Beachwalk Café, Destin’s only fine dining located directly on the Gulf of Mexico. To engage in a more social atmosphere, Horizons octagon-shaped beachfront bar has quickly become a Destin hot spot for guests and locals alike. The resort also offers casual dining at Sea Level Poolside Bar and Grill, Sprinkles Ice Cream Shoppe, Beach Cantina grab and go offerings and the soon-to-be-built North Pool Bar and Grill.

Whitehead noted that strong rental showings within the existing Henderson resort condominiums have contributed to the pre-sale success. “Real estate investors recognize the opportunity available through Parkside,” he said. “Destin’s Crystal Beach community is a coveted vacation haven, and new condominium investment opportunities do not surface very often, especially within the scale of luxury offered through the Henderson portfolio.”

On-site resort rental management and maintenance is available, and unit pricing begins in the low $500,000. Whitehead noted that reservations for the 16 units that will encompass Phase 2 of the development will likely begin in the early part of 2020.

Click here for all available units for sale in Parkside at The Henderson

Distillery Movement Reaches the Emerald Coast

The craft movement has been making its way across the Florida panhandle for some time now, mostly in the form of refreshing, one-of-a-kind beer brands. Offering a wide variety of tastes and flavors, locally-owned craft breweries thrive because most often, their beer simply tastes better than mass-produced alternatives.

In tandem with this movement, craft distilleries are an emerging trend along the Emerald Coast, popping up in cities like Gulf Breeze, Santa Rosa Beach, Milton and Crestview. The five craft distilleries that call northwest Florida home strive to create unique spirits, educate consumers and promote the craft distillery concept across the area.

The distillery process demands something that can be fermented, and local Emerald Coast operations are universally taking advantage of the vast natural resources in the area. From molasses to grains and locally-grown fruits, these businesses create uniquely-Florida flavors while they support others in their communities.

Timber Creek Distillery in Crestview creates 10 different products — including rum, vodka, whiskey and gin — using a pure-blend process that distills each grain individually. This process matters because different grains cook at different temperatures, so distilling each one individually allows Master Distiller Aaron Barnes to optimize the fermentation and capture the ideal flavor profile of each one.

“By distilling each individual grain, we can optimize the flavors coming out,” said President Camden Ford. “Depending on how the grains are behaving, we can get more alcohol out with bolder flavors. Most of the big distilleries don’t have a lot of involvement on a batch-to-batch basis in determining the flavor of the whiskey, so there’s not a lot of art to it.”

Because Timber Creek distills each grain separately, they are the first-ever to offer a bourbon blending kit that comes with a bottle of corn whiskey, wheat whiskey, rye whiskey and barley whiskey so you can create your own whiskey blend.

Timber Creek, which was named Best Distillery on the Emerald Coast for the last two years, is building a brand new distillery and will offer tours beginning after Labor Day. Contact them via Facebook or email to set up a tour.

Also located in Crestview, Peaden Brothers Distillery produces a variety of moonshines using a 200-year-old family recipe that is local to the area. Bartlett Peaden, one of the first settlers in Okaloosa County, created the recipe, and all of the company’s products have ties to its roots.

 

The craft distillery produces five different varieties of moonshine and sources its corn out of Milton. In addition, the team also produces intermittent batches of bourbon, rye, single malt and rum throughout the year. Peaden Brothers operates in Crestview’s Fox Theater which dates back to the 1940s.

“We had bourbon connoisseurs comment that they couldn’t believe we were producing great whiskey in such a small space,” said Robert Ellis, co-owner of Peadens. “You don’t need a big space to make good whiskey.”

Peaden Brothers is open Wednesday through Saturday, 12-5 and they offer tours of the small craft distillery process. Connect with them on Facebook for more information.

Rollins Distillery, located in Gulf Breeze, was the first licensed distillery in the panhandle, founded in 2011. Operated by father-and-son team Paul and Patrick Rollins, the small craft distillery produces rum and vodka distilled from 100 percent Florida molasses.

“We want to educate the consumer about our process because ultimately, it’s through education that consumers will understand how spirits are made and how they are to be cared for and enjoyed,” Patrick said. “We create craft products, and we aren’t just trying to feed the bottom line.”

Rollins Distillery is working to build relationships with farmers and growers in the panhandle so they can take advantage of local resources to produce spirits that are drawn from the region. Big picture, the Rollins family hopes to take advantage of Florida’s natural resources to bring business into the state and specifically into the panhandle.

Rollins Distillery offers tours of its facilities by appointment and invites visitors to call or message them on Facebook for more information.

Scratch Ankle Distillery in Milton derives its name from local history and the thistles and thorns that settlers encountered when they arrived in the Milton area.

“Our spirits are unconventional,” said Distillery Manager Evan Doyle. “They are flavorful, robust, and they punch above their weight. Everything is fermented, processed, distilled, and bottled here.”

Scratch Ankle Distillery focuses primarily on a variety of rums and moonshines, but they have also produced vodka, a young bourbon, a bourbon-barrel-aged rum and rum-soaked cherries. And when they can go local, they do: the team uses unprocessed raw blackstrap molasses from Florida, as well as corn and rye from within the state. The distillery also sends its spent grains to a local farmer who uses them to feed his pigs.

Scratch Ankle Distillery offers tours Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 6 and Sunday, noon to 4.

The newest of the bunch, Distillery 98, is located in Santa Rosa Beach and will deal primarily in vodka, rum, and whiskey.

“It is our goal to highlight this great state and the beautiful Emerald Coast that we get to call home,” said owner and CEO Harrison Holditch. “We want to spread our passion for craft spirits to the passionate people of (Highway) 98.”

Distillery 98 makes its spirits grain-to-glass using a one-of-a-kind oyster shell filter and Florida panhandle corn. Additionally, the distillery shares a green space with Idyll Hounds Brewing Company.

Distillery 98 will open for tastings in September and will release its first bottle in October. For more information, check out the company’s Facebook page.

These local distilleries are building a following across the Emerald Coast, and many of them can be found in local establishments around the area.

“The industry as a whole has an advantage that the beer guys don’t in that most people don’t know what the liquor they are drinking is supposed to taste like,” Ford said. “We have to teach people what good spirits taste like.”

Fly and Light Tackle Fishing the Emerald Coast

Fall Inshore Preview with Slow and Low Coastal Outfitters

Captain Patrick Tarpey, owner of Slow and Low Coastal Outfitters, may be enjoying a small break as summer begins to give way to a quieter, cooler season along the Emerald Coast. But it won’t last long.

Very soon, bookings for inshore fishing charters will begin pouring in as eager anglers gear up to target giant bull redfish or monster jack crevalle—two of the company’s primary fall season targets.

A native Texan self-described as having “an absolute obsession with the water,” Tarpey draws from a wide breadth of experience fishing diverse ecosystems and learning new techniques across the globe. Today, his business is grounded in fly and light tackle sight fishing from St. Joe Bay to east of Destin.

“We offer a niche service that appeals to a wide market,” he says. “There may be easier ways to catch fish for sure, but that’s not really the point. On our charters, anglers are always hunting, actively engaged and eager to try and trick a giant fish.”

Finding the Giants

Our region is surrounded by multiple world-class fisheries that offer an abundance of species. And while the inshore opportunities for a sea-to-table catch are many, Tarpey’s focus is more singular in nature: catch and release trophy hunting.

In the summer, tarpon are central to that focus, and the popularity of catching these giants—reaching upwards of 150 pounds or more—equates to a fully-booked schedule for Tarpey up to two months out. The fall months may not boast the same size options, but Tarpey said that the excitement of targeting a 20-30 pound class bull redfish or 30-40 pound class jack crevalle makes for an exceptional experience in its own right.

“Redfish are some of our favorite and most challenging species to target, and the fight is rarely disappointing,” Tarpey notes. “The true giant redfish are out in the Gulf of Mexico right now making babies, but pretty soon, they are going to come back inland.”

Tarpey further explained that the Emerald Coast has some of the most visual red fishing encounters available anywhere on the coast. This distinction is important for sight fishing as it lays the groundwork for effectively sneaking up on the fish and getting into position for the optimal shot.

All about Adrenaline

Slow and Low Coastal Outfitter’s technical approach to fishing is less about chunking bait in the water with the hopes of a getting a bite and more about the hunt, proper technique and pure adrenaline. While Tarpey’s “catch and release” program means clients won’t take anything home for dinner, Tarpey emphasizes that the excitement and gratification of this style of fishing will keep you coming back for more.

“We’re actively finding targets in the region’s clear water and putting our eyes on them before making an approach. That giant redfish we are pursuing might be hundreds of feet in the distance,” he adds. “It’s goal-oriented fishing that hinges on making the right presentation to the fish.”

Simply put, anglers get out of it what they put into it, Tarpey says, emphasizing that there is an element of effort and practice. “You become proficient and then start having a lot more fun with it,” he says. “Our guests get the satisfaction of targeting bucket list fish on a fly–a challenging experience but completely worth it.”

Slow & Low Coastal Outfitters is based out of Santa Rosa Beach and the 30A area. For more information or to book a charter, send an email to Patrick@SlowandLowCoastal.com or call 850.502.3222.

Thirty-One on 30A Beachfront Condominium Close-Out

An Uncommon Offer. An Exceptional Opportunity.

The first Gulf-front condominium project introduced on Scenic Highway 30A in more than a decade –Thirty-One on 30A – is entering its final sales cycle with an offer that is sure to turn heads. Developer incentives ranging from just over $100,000 to upwards of $350,000 will accompany the purchase of the last nine residences as The Premier Property Group (PPG) completes yet another celebrated development and successful real-estate venture.

“It was our aim from the beginning to bring something fresh and new to the Emerald Coast, and the response we have received since closing the first residences at Thirty-One last fall suggest that we reached our goal,” said Jason White, COO of PPG. “This development’s popular standing in the market was reinforced by its attractive price point combined with a smart mix of high-end, contemporary design elements and amenities.”

Of the 27 units available in the four-story development, 17 were sold by early September 2018, when the first closings were completed at the property. Six additional transactions, including  resales, have occurred at Thirty-One since the beginning of the year. The remaining units—ranging in size from approximately 2,500-3,300 square feet—are currently listed for between $2.175 million and $3.945 million.

White noted that three of the remaining residences are designer-ready and will offer credits of $325,000 or $350,000 depending on the size and cost of the condominium. Rena Anderson, an interior design consultant with PPG and the Developer’s Representative for Thirty-One on 30A , is available to guide buyers through the process of putting the final touches on their new property, or owners can make their final choices independently. Six additional units are move-in ready and will offer a credit of between $100,000 and $200,000.

The $70 million Thirty-One on 30A condominium development was designed with a distinctive, refined lifestyle in mind that draws on the latest design trends and state-of-the-art amenities. Notably, each residence offers a large gulf-front balcony overlooking 335 feet of beach frontage (the size of a football field). That means that each of the 27 units is afforded more than 12 feet of beach compared to just over one foot in many neighboring communities.

The property offers owners an unmatched level of privacy as residences are accessed from a secure, underground garage via seven private elevators, each providing entry to four units—one on each of the development’s four floors. The garage is also equipped with a secure storage area for each residence.

Convenience and maintenance-free lifestyles are central to the vision behind Thirty-One, which offers a wide variety of concierge packages and services through Live Well 30A and La Dolce Vita. In addition, beach service is automatically included with all residences to ensure a seamless, hassle-free experience for owners. A fleet of street legal golf carts is also available that can be used for dinner outings or simply enjoying the eclectic offerings of nearby 30A communities. An onsite catering kitchen, club room, outdoor kitchen and owner’s area with firepit make entertaining easy.

For more information on Thirty-One on 30A, Contact Cathy Turner  at 850.296.2366.

Click here for photos and details of all Thirty-One on 30A units for sale

Nontraditional Lavish Cottage Gardens

The Emerald Coast’s year-round temperate climate and long growing season offer an abundance of opportunities to get outdoors and nourish beautiful landscapes. In fact, lavish cottage gardens grace homes in many communities on the Emerald Coast as residents find that these informal, diverse creations are a perfect fit for eclectic, laid-back coastal lifestyles.

Cottage gardens are areas of densely-planted flowering plants arranged in a relaxed, natural way, according to Master Gardener Karen Kirk-Williams. They feature a variety of ornamental and edible plants along with flowering shrubs and trees and are soaked in color and texture.

“Cottage gardens throw out all the strict rules of landscape design,” Kirk-Williams said. “They offer the freedom to mix plant colors, textures, and heights with abandon, so gardeners can create a unique area that reflects their personalities.”

Unlike traditional gardens with rules about color combination, height, and repetition, cottage gardens shun straight lines, rows, and coordinating colors, opting instead for gentle sweeping curves and seemingly random design. They also include hardscape features like benches, fences, gates, and arbors as well as paths to create structure among the foliage. Simply put, they strive to be relaxed, colorful, and fun.

“The overall effect is a cheerful, exuberant garden filled with flowers, along with flowering trees and shrubs,” Kirk-Williams said. “This gardening style is ideal for anyone wishing to include a few edibles in the landscape without having an entire garden area dedicated to herbs and vegetables.”

Typically, cottage gardens exist in pockets near the front porch, around the mailbox, or in other sunny areas that are visible from the house and the street. In the absence of a large yard, gardeners can use containers to create a cottage garden look.

Perhaps best of all, the diversity of plants in cottage gardens help defend against pests and diseases. At the same time, native plants provide food and shelter for the birds and butterflies that migrate through the area. Most flowering plants attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, so well-adapted plants that don’t require pesticides work best.

“Cottage gardens provide a beautiful focal point for homeowners and a beneficial oasis for wildlife,” Kirk-Williams said. “Your cottage garden will attract winged visitors, sometimes called flying flowers, that will benefit from the habitat, and from your hard work.”

Kirk-Williams currently has 63 varieties of flowering plants in bloom in her own cottage garden, and she said the variety means that she always has flowers to enjoy, even in the dead of winter. She hasn’t used insecticides or fungicides in her garden in 28 years.

“The key is to seek out plants that are well-adapted and will perform well without pesticides, and to avoid monoculture planting,” she said. “Monoculture planting, which groups clusters of the same plant together, is common in landscapes today, but it facilitates the spread of pests and disease.”

Her go-to favorites are climbing antique roses, Agapanthus, Russian Sage, Rose of Sharon, Confederate Rose, Guara, Gloriosa Lily, Plumbago, Hydrangea, Society Garlic, Crinum and Salvia.

To begin your own cottage garden:

  • Start small with your cottage garden to minimize maintenance and expense.
  • Blend in organic materials like compost or manure prior to planting to keep your garden healthy.
  • If you design with perennials, divide them every few years. Use the new plants to broaden your own garden, or offer some to a neighbor.
  • Plant flowers closer than recommended to create a lush look and reduce weeds.
  • Choose Florida-friendly plants, and place them in areas that suit their growing requirements.
  • Use mulch in bare areas to limit weeds, retain moisture, and act as a slow-release fertilizer.
  • Websites available through the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences can offer help with plant selection and inspiration or recommendations for the local area. Additional assistance is available through your local county Extension office.

    “Many of us fondly remember our grandparents’ gardens, filled with flowers and fragrance,” Kirk-Williams said. “Most of their plants were hardy pass-along plants shared by family and friends, and no one ever thought to spray for insects or disease. We can still have gardens like that and now have an even greater variety of well-suited plants available.”

Bring Some Refreshment to the August Heat Along the Emerald Coast

Local mixologist aims to educate, demonstrate and collaborate

What cocktails are on the menu for your next event? Will one-of-a-kind libations inspire guest palettes? Will friends or family leave remembering the smooth, natural flavors of the wine served?

When it comes to parties and events, local mixologist Christine Tarpey says that all too often, the beverage experience takes a backseat to food—and it’s a considerable “miss” on the opportunity scale.

“The right bar scene can take even the most well-planned events from memorable to extraordinary,” Tarpey said. “Many people simply lack a few contemporary skills that can significantly amp up their beverage offerings.”

In fact, Tarpey aims to change that dynamic on the Emerald Coast through the introduction of her new company, Better Together Beverage. A boutique education and event company, Tarpey and her colleague, Elizabeth Sinnott-Cameron, are taking their mixology experience and deep knowledge of the beverage industry on the road to conduct classes, consult with restaurants and event planners, and host special events.

Tarpey learned to love the Emerald Coast when she moved to area at the age of 14. In her mid-twenties, she left for the big-city sights and sounds of Las Vegas and Dallas, where she had the opportunity to hone her mixology skills in some of celebrated metropolitan restaurants and bars. When Tarpey accepted a position at Alys Beach on 30A and returned to the Florida panhandle in 2010, she realized that there was a significant knowledge gap across the region in terms of the latest trends with hand-crafted cocktails and mixology.

“I started as the maître d’ at Caliza Restaurant and quickly moved into the position of beverage director for the Alys Beach beverage program,” Tarpey said, noting that community’s NEAT bottle shop later became her passion project. “At NEAT, I had the opportunity to work with people in the community and teach them how to use better ingredients in their beverages. We created new cocktails every month and helped customers get out of their comfort zone.”

Tarpey noted that she enjoys introducing new mixology trends to the Emerald Coast. For example, sustainability is the rage in many big cities as bars try to eliminate waste. One way they bring the green movement into the beverage experience is by recycling lemons and limes that have only been used for their juice. Tarpey explained that a lime shrub can easily be made from lime peels, sugar and a little vinegar—a solution that can make an ordinary vodka tonic exceptional and memorable.

Today, Tarpey’s services are in demand, whether leading a seminar in a local home or working with local wedding planners. She recently consulted with the owners of Black Bear Bread Company in Grayton Beach to open a natural wine bar. “It’s really exciting because no one is doing that here,” Tarpey said. “It is catching on so fast, and it makes my heart so happy.”

Notably, Black Bear was recently received a nomination for Best Bar in the south by Southern Living.

Through Better Together Beverage, she plans to expand to offer various themed event packages that bring a flair of fun and excitement to a bar scene. For example, customers can choose from themes such as Southern Charm, Speakeasy, Glamour and Tiki.

To bring some refreshment to the August heat along the Emerald Coast, Tarpey offers her original recipe for a Hawaiian Empress:

 

Hawaiian Empress:

1.5 oz. Empress Indigo Gin

2 oz. Fresh Pineapple Juice

.5 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

.25 oz. Fresh Orange Juice

.25 oz. Lemon Oil**

.25 oz. Orgeat

-Combine all ingredients (except gin), in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until fully chilled. Pour into a footed glass, slowly pour gin overtop, do not mix. Garnish with a lime wheel and pineapple fronds. Add a Hay Straw to stir, sip, and enjoy!! (It is very important to use fresh fruit juices to captivate the freshness of this thirst quenching libation).

**Lemon Oil (yields 4 cocktails):

1 Lemon, zested

1/2 cup vegetable oil

-Combine oil and zest in a saucepan, bring to a low simmer, stirring for one minute. Remove from heat, allow mixture to sit for 1-2 hours, strain out zest, store lemon oil in air tight glass jar.

Seagrove Beach, New Construction, 2 Blocks to Beach Access and Great Cash Flow

This brand new construction 5 bedroom home under 1 million with a small pool is only 2 blocks from the beach access and with a mortgage with 25% down after rental management fee, taxes, insurance and utilities could still cash flow over 10,000 per year! Call or email me for costs breakdown, survey, specification sheet, rental projections, etc. Cathy Turner 850.502.3422 or Cathy@30AHomeListings.com

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Ecotourism in South Walton

Spotlight on Bird Watching

Visitors may flock to the Emerald Coast for our sugar-sand beaches and unspoiled landscapes, but our unique natural resources extend far beyond coastlines and waterways. The Choctawhatchee Audubon Society calls our region the most biologically rich area in the U.S. in terms of the number of living creatures. From sea turtles to bottlenose dolphin to great blue herons, the species who pass through our area are plentiful and diverse.

Our local communities embrace ecotourism, which can be defined as sustainable tourism. It includes authentic experiences that are distinctive to the local region, and it differs from mass-market tourism in that it exists because of the place. Simply put, it cannot be outsourced.

Consider bird-watching, for example. The Emerald Coast is a hotspot for this pastime because of the variation in habitats and its position within migration routes. Our location near both saltwater and freshwater make this an ideal habitat for a variety of birds.

Notably, Florida is home to the third largest number of bird species behind Texas and California–states with much more land mass. The region is home to coastal seabirds, shore birds, wetland birds, birds-of-prey, migratory birds and introduced species. The warm temperatures allow native birds to stay year-round and provide nesting locations for migratory birds.

Coastal seabirds nest on the shoreline and are often seen diving just offshore for saltwater fish or gathered in groups on piers. Those common to the panhandle include the double-breasted cormorant, aningha and eastern brown pelican.

Shore birds also live on the shoreline but they do not hunt in the ocean. Native species include the red knot, the American oystercatcher and the dunline.

Wetland birds require freshwater wetland habitats like marshes, swamps, lakes and rivers to survive. Species like the great blue heron, snowy egret and white ibis build nests of grass and mud at the water’s edge as do other waterfowl, like ducks.

Perhaps most well-known, the Panhandle’s birds-of-prey include the osprey, bald eagle, swallow-tailed kite and red-shouldered hawk. They live in the treetops of forest regions near freshwater sources because they feed on amphibians and fish. Florida boasts one of the highest populations of bald eagles in the U.S.

Introduced species include those that aren’t native to the area but that were introduced here, typically by humans who released them into the wild. They can be dangerous to the area because they have no natural predators, allowing them to overpopulate. As a result, they often negatively impact native birds. Our muscovy duck is an example.

Each year, our area hosts a variety of ecotourism events that connect locals and visitors with our varied natural resources. Programs like the Choctawhatchee Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count tallies the welfare and presence of birds in the area. Volunteers assist with the count that collects photos, recordings, and as many details as possible about the local bird population.

The Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau also hosts Nighttime Educational Beach Walks that educate people about sea turtle migration, egg-laying, and the species’ importance to local ecosystems. The presentation teaches people to recognize tracks, identify threats to the population, and watch for them during visits to the beach.

Other ecotourism offerings include Grayton Beach State Park, Topsail Hill State Preserve, Eastern Lake Bike Trail, and the Cassine Garden Nature Trail.

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National Geographic Names South Walton on Best Trips 2019

The Emerald Coast is making global waves again. National Geographic recently named South Walton to its list of Best Trips for 2019, confirming what communities served by The Premier Property Group have long known: our region offers much more than just beautiful beaches. Citing the vast and varied marine life and the local efforts to protect natural resources, the National Geographic team chose South Walton as one of only three U.S. destinations to make the list.

The magazine is not alone in its applause. In 2018, Forbes called South Walton Florida’s Best-Kept Secret.

Comprised of 26 miles of beach, 16 communities, and four state parks, South Walton welcomes more than 4.1 million visitors annually, of which almost 40% are return guests. A 2018 report noted that each visitor to the area delivers an economic impact of about $1,126.

Built within the last 30 years, the 16 communities of South Walton are as unique and varied as the residents and visitors who grace their boundaries. Some are known for their architecture, some for their laid-back atmosphere, and others for their eclectic offerings. Artists, ecotourists, foodies, adventurers, athletes and shoppers alike find something to love about the area, whether they’re drawn to cutting-edge developments, extraordinary experiences or simple beach lifestyle.

Last month, we showcased the Underwater Museum of Art (UMA), recently named to Time’s Greatest Places of 2018. This uncommon offering combines the beauty of sculpture with the utility of an artificial reef to create a scuba destination unlike any other. The UMA launched in 2017 to provide a necessary habitat for a wide variety of marine life. Because the museum plans to add new sculptures annually, visitors can return every year to explore the new additions and the growing numbers of species that call the reef home.

Ecotourism opportunities are endless, extending from rare dune lakes that are only found in a few places around the world to the miles of trails that wind through South Walton. Countless varieties of marine life and animal species reside among the sugar-white sand and emerald waters, including the Great Blue Heron, the bottlenose dolphin, and endangered sea turtles.

Those who love South Walton for its charm enjoy unique shopping, spectacular restaurants, locally-caught seafood and inviting resorts. Outdoor amphitheaters play host to numerous shows and performances, and the farmers’ markets allow shoppers to support the local economy while enjoying the best of our local natural resources.

The neighborhoods of South Walton, each with its own personality and history, draw visitors of all ages and stages, primarily from the Southeast and the Midwest. Roughly 94 percent of visitors spend time at the beach, and more than three-fourths come to relax with family.

Visitors to the area create more than 22,000 jobs and generate a total economic impact of $4.4 billion annually, and those numbers continue to grow. For those already invested in the area, property values remain sound and profitable, as both Walton and Okaloosa counties repeatedly demonstrate growth in real estate closings. Simply put, it’s a great time to own property on the Emerald Coast.

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Nice Seaside Home for Under 1.5 Million!

It is not often one can find a home in Seaside for under 1.5 million that has already been remodeled! Built in 2005, this 3 bedroom 3.5 bath home epitomizes the charm of Seaside.

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