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About 30 minutes south of I-10, the Beaches of Walton (County) encompass 26 miles of picturesque shoreline, replete with snow-white sand, wide beaches, mounds of dunes topped with sea oats and crystalline turquoise water. Better yet, the area is pristine, far removed from tony high rises, horn-blowing traffic, glaring billboards, flashing neon and souvenir shops.

Primarily your vehicle will stay the course on U.S. Highway 98 or 30-A. All that you need for a pleasant visit is off these two byways. On the western end of South Walton, the 2,400-acre Sandestin maintains its stance as a golf and beach resort. If you are into golfing, try any of the four championship golf courses, or take advantage of complimentary kayaks and boogie boards. Or, it's your serve on one of the 15 tennis courts.

You can rent condos (some of the few in the county), beach homes or stay in the Hilton Sandestin Beach & Golf Resort. The Hilton boasts the superb five-star Seagar's Prime Steak and Seafood, a fine dining experience overlooking the Gulf, and Serenity, a totally luxurious full-service spa.

Protecting the shoreline from over-development remains a priority. In fact, about 40 percent of South Walton's 56,000 acres is state owned. This incredible untouched property is home to endangered species such as the gopher tortoise and the red-cockaded woodpecker and to indigenous wildlife, including the fox and deer. .