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Get to know Dune Allen

Dune Allen is the westernmost community on Scenic Highway 30A, and plenty of people think that’s as far as you need to go. It’s been popular long enough that classic Florida bungalows and beach-ranch homes are mixed in with modern architectural masterpieces, and people come here for the outdoors rather than the shopping (though there’s plenty of that not so very far away). The restaurants and cafés are full of locals, and though the beaches attract lots of tourists and day-trippers, there’s so much sugar-white sand that the shore never fills up. That’s thanks to Dune Allen’s western neighbor, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, 1,640 acres encompassing forests and wetlands, three coastal dune lakes, and more than 3 miles of isolated beaches with dunes rising more than 25 feet above the beach. Dune Allen is a wonderfully authentic beach town, with incredible natural beauty around every corner.
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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.

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