The upscale community of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida offers picturesque views, high-end eateries, and plenty of family-friendly activities within close proximity to many charming Santa Rosa vacation rentals. Located on the Emerald Coast in northwestern Florida, this luxurious beach neighborhood gives tourists and locals alike access to stunning sandy beaches and spectacular turquoise waters. Make the most of your trip to Santa Rosa Beach with these kid-friendly activities.

1. Visit a State Park

Once you’re settled into your vacation home, pack some sandwiches for lunch, and head to a state park to relax with your family and take in the natural beauty. Grayton Beach State Park is rarely crowded, and it has gorgeous dunes, a man-made reef, and incredible sunsets you have to see to believe. Deer Lake State Park is the place to go to enjoy clean, pristine white sand beaches, while Point Washington State Forest features peaceful trails for hiking or biking.

2. Go Shopping

Venture into the local shops to pick up some unique souvenirs to commemorate your Santa Rosa Beach vacation. Browse the art at The Blue Giraffe, and choose a beautiful watercolor print to hang in your home. Flip through the vintage vinyl at Central Square Records, then stop by Goatfeathers Restaurant and Seafood Markets for steamed shrimp to take back to your vacation rental. Wunderland Candy & Craft Factory is a true treat for the kids.

3. Hit the Beach

Bring your umbrella and beach chairs, or rent some, and settle in for a day in the sun. The clear blue water and white sand look like an image from a postcard. Book a few hours with Mark, the owner of Sand Odyssey, for private sandcastle-making lessons. There are no lifeguards at Topsail Beach State Preserve, but the beach is clean, uncrowded, and natural. Perfect for families with younger kids, Blue Mountain Beach offers gentle water that’s not too deep.

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4. Take a Trail Ride

If you’re feeling adventurous, sign the whole family up for a tour with Arnett’s Gulfside Trail Rides. Saddle up to enjoy a scenic horseback ride on one of the well-trained horses, led by friendly and knowledgeable guides. Whether you and your kids are avid equestrians or first-time riders, the patient trainers here take the time to help you select the perfect horse and show you the ropes.

5. Try the Local Cuisine

Give yourself a break from cooking dinner at your vacation rental, and venture out to one of Santa Rosa Beach’s top restaurants. For steak and seafood, look no further than Trebeache. The oysters here are incredible. Turn up the heat with a trip to Don Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant or Los Rancheros Grill & Cantina. For Asian, try Basmati’s, where you can’t go wrong with an order of sushi and a side of jasmine rice.

6. Cast a Line

Spend some quality time with the family as you teach the kids to bait their hooks and cast out into the gorgeous waters of the Gulf. Book a charter to do some fishing on the bay; 30A Inshore Charters caters to beginners and families with children, and Captain Cody ensures you never get too far from land. More serious fishermen should check out Fishy Booty Charters, which offers half-day trips.

7. Ride a Bike

Bring your bikes from home, and store them in the garage of your vacation rental when you’re not riding, or rent some from Sunny Days Bike and Beach Sports. You can even rent caboose trailers and baby seats for the little ones. Big Daddy’s Bike Shop offers bike rentals, repairs, and sales. Point Washington State Forest has some popular trails for riding, or just pedal around town to see the sights.

8. Embark on an Adventure

Get the whole family up at sunrise, and leave your vacation rental behind to find adventure on the Emerald Coast. Trust Grayton Scuba Company, whether you’re renting scuba gear or looking for a tour guide, and check out the marine life at Turtle Reef. Emerald Coast Hydrobikes offers hydrobike rentals, perfect for families with tweens or teens. Try stand-up paddleboarding with a rental from Surf Sup Paddleboard Rentals, and go to The Rental Shop 30A if you’re looking to explore the bay in a kayak.

9. Explore an Art Gallery

When the weather isn’t cooperating, keep the kids entertained with a trip to one of the local art galleries. Inspire your budding photographers as you browse the works at Modus Photography, and get your favorite photo framed as a keepsake of your trip. Visit The Studio Gallery at Grayton Beach to view eclectic art, sculptures, candles, and other handmade wares, or find something unique to call your own at The Blue Giraffe.

10. Take in a Performance

The Seaside Repertory Theatre offers professional productions for the whole family. “The Rep” only holds about 100 people, so you can always expect a good seat, but be sure to buy your tickets in advance. The children’s performances are perfect for the little ones.

11. Take a Cruise

Thrill the kids with an airboat ride with 30A Airboat Adventures. You might even see alligators or manatees. Cruise the Emerald Coast with AJ’s Water Adventures to watch the sunset over the water, and try to spot some dolphins.

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