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Get to know Seagrove Beach

Seagrove Beach is delightfully eclectic, a gloriously unplanned community in an area where many of its neighbors seem more contrived. Here, cinder-block beach houses from the 1950s stand next to new modern dwellings, and everyone cruises down to the beach for the best the Emerald Coast has to offer. Seagrove’s beach is 2 miles of sugar-white sand with frequent public access points, and it’s sheltered by gigantic dunes and the wind-twisted trees that give the community its name. Because it has grown organically, a host of locally owned businesses are scattered throughout the neighborhood, including upscale boutiques and sophisticated restaurants, as well as beachy shops and boozy cafes. There’s a real wildness here, too, with hiking and biking trails giving easy access to Point Washington State Forest and two coastal dune lakes, Eastern Lake and Deer Lake, and boardwalks leading to secret, dune-secluded beaches.

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Living on the Emerald Coast

If the Northwest Coast of Florida has been overlooked, it’s because it’s just perfectly out of the way. Compared to other parts of the state, the scale of things is smaller and development came later, so the white-sand communities here seem thoughtfully planned rather than hodgepodge legacies of land rushes. Though the feel (and the traffic) is less metropolitan, today’s Northwest has plenty of top-notch culture, exceptional restaurants, and incredible retail experiences. This is a natural wonderland in its own distinct way, with wide rivers flowing through thick forests, vast stretches of preserved parkland, and a variety of beaches — from wild and rugged to picture-perfect strips of white. There’s plenty of golf and tennis, but the focus is on the pristine water and a boating culture that runs from yachts to fishing boats to kayaks, and from deep water to grassy flats to sparkling bays — and to the requisite bayous, teeming with waterfowl and fish. The sand is softer, the summer’s a little cooler, and the reservations are a little easier to come by — but it’s still 100 percent Florida.