Insider’s Guide to Surviving Holiday Weekend Hustle and Bustle on the Emerald Coast
While not beach-specific, here are a few tips I would like to share that will hopefully make your holiday weekend more fun if you are visiting from somewhere else. I don’t know about other locals but I have already completed all errands and have no plans to leave the house except to walk to the beach and make June grass reports.
1. If you are not staying on the beach GO EARLY! You will not be able to roll out of bed at 9 or 10 am and not sit in traffic for the rest of the day.
2. Highway 98 becomes a parking lot between 4 and 6pm, probably worse on holiday weekends. Try to avoid driving during these hours. The Midbay Bridge will also be a nightmare. If the weather turns rainy then everybody visiting will probably be out driving around looking for something to do, the traffic will be LEGENDARY!
3. There is a lot of construction on 331S, it can back all the way up north of Freeport in the evenings, you have been warned.
4. Put your phone down and drive! I see at least three accidents every weekday, it will be worse this weekend! I have been using the traffic feature in Google maps and Waze (before I get behind the wheel) to avoid some traffic.
5. Once you get here do not bike, walk, or jog along 98. I know it looks tempting but don’t, even where there are bike lanes! Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities are way too frequent in this area. There are bike paths on some other roads like old 98 or 30A.
6. All the grocery stores will be zoos when you all get into town around 5pm tonight. Plan ahead unless you like the chaos.
7. The speed limit has dropped to 45 mph on highway 98 from the Walmart in Santa Rosa Beach until you get past Silversands going west. It used to be 55 mph until you got past the Walmart.
8. If for some reason you are driving west on SR 20 toward the Midbay Bridge there is some construction, a new traffic pattern, and a lower speed limit near Basin Bayou.
9. Do not leave visible valuables in your car and make sure you lock it.
10. If it is clear tomorrow night and you are staying beachside there is a very good possibility that you will be able to see fireworks by just going down to the beach.
Have a fun and safe 4th of July!