I pretty much thought I had seen all that Florida has to offer. It has been my spring break playground ever since I can remember after all! From Orlando to Miami. From Longboat Key to Captiva Island. Naples, Clearwater and of course Vero Beach. Each destination I love for different reasons. Yet with all that said, there is an area that remained untouched by my travels up until recently. And that is the coastal towns situated in Northwest Florida, which has earned the moniker, 30A.
Unless you are from the South, such as Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, you may have never heard of 30A. But it really is a destination everyone should try and visit at least once. 30A is a collection of small, unique, beautiful Florida beach towns nestled quietly between the much busier areas of Panama City and Destin along County Road 30A. Within this area, you’ll find the beach communities of Rosemary Beach, Seaside, Aly’s and Watercolor to name a few. What you won’t find though is a conglomeration of hotels, retail chains, cruise ship ports and college spring breakers. Instead these towns are littered with families, expansive white sand beaches and locally loved eateries and shops.
What Rosemary Beach Offers
Photo courtesy of Rosemary Beach
It is by invite that I first experienced the eastern most coastal town of 30A, Rosemary Beach, this past May. At first look, I was immediately captivated by the architecture. To try and articulate, the aesthetic is West Indies meets Charleston immersed in a tunnel of shaded of trees. The majority of homes in Rosemary Beach are designed with courtyards and smaller carriage houses. Large, shaded porches are a staple on the homes here. Pebble walkways and wood boardwalks zig zag throughout the community.
The Rosemary Beach community also boasts plenty of amenities that blend seamlessly into the idyllic landscape. Four stunning swimming pools (including a retractable indoor pool), a multitude of green space for reading, games, picnics and outdoor events and a fitness center and racquet club; the fitness center possessing an indoor and outdoor space for yoga, and the racquet club home to eight green clay courts.
You truly do not need a car in Rosemary Beach unless you want to explore all the towns along 30A. Biking is one of the best ways to explore Rosemary Beach and the surrounding beach communities. With paved sidewalks that are completely pedestrian and biker friendly and an 18.6 mile bike trail, which winds through coastal dune lakes and beach communities, biking along 30A is safe for the entire family. And even better, there is no such thing as worrying about locking up your bike when you stop!
Photo Courtesy of Rosemary Beach
Most of us come to Florida to experience the beaches and Rosemary is no exception here. Sugar white sand beaches and emerald green calm waters truly make you feel like you are in the tropical islands. Also, a bonfire set-up can be arranged for the evening as well!
Where to Eat and Shop
The 30A eateries will not disappoint. There is truly something for everyone. While I could list so many along 30A, I am keeping the scope close to Rosemary Beach.
Big Bad Breakfast-order one of the homemade biscuit sandwiches
Edward’s-experience the beautiful courtyard setting in the heart of downtown
George’s at Alys Beach-go for the Spicy Salt & Pepper Shrimp
Pescada Seafood Grill & Rooftop Bar-the view and the margaritas are to die for!
Raw & Juicy-do not pass on stopping here to get the Almond Love Smoothie. Plus the outdoor seating here is like nothing you have ever experienced!
Shades Bar & Grill– tons of beer and good beach grub offerings
The Citizen-The most stunning restaurant and the best charcuterie board I have ever had!
Upscale and unique boutiques are plentiful in the area as well. Strolling through downtown Rosemary Beach and winding your way through the shops is a must. Plus, you don’t want to miss two of my favorites in Alys Beach.
Alys Shop It is hard to leave here empty handed! There is beautiful curation of gifts and apparel for men, women and kids!
DISCO This is such a fun women’s clothing store with a London edgy vibe!
MAST-Situated in the town center of Alys, this is perhaps one of the most aesthetically perfect interior design stores I have ever come across.
Tracery-beautiful collection of gifts, tabletop and home items.
Where to Stay in Rosemary Beach
Rosemary Beach is home to the locally famous boutique hotel, The Pearl. Its black and white striped awnings are one of the most photographed and recognizable attributes of the area. If you are coming to Rosemary Beach for the first time with your significant other or a couple of friends, this might be your spot. It is an adult focused luxury hotel, located at the end of the cobble street lined town, overlooking the ocean. At the very least, come here for a drink or lunch on the terrace.
However, I prefer, and highly recommend renting a home within Rosemary Beach. Homes rented through Rosemary Beach Rentals gives you access to all the amenities like the fitness center and tennis courts. Plus bikes and beach chairs (already set up for you on the beach!) comes with your rental! My girlfriend’s home, where I stay, is available to rent here. It truly merges comfort and luxury! Plus, there is a courtyard complete with a jacuzzi and soon to be finished outdoor fireplace!
When to Visit Rosemary Beach
One of the reasons the area isn’t more popular with Northerners is the weather. It is highly variable in the winter, when we most seek warmth and sunshine. Peak season here is April through October. The summer months especially are busy. 30A quickly fills up as many southern families flee to the coast to escape oppressive summer heat back home. And while I imagine kids filling the paths on their bikes and porches and beaches bustling with social activity, there is no doubt it is very crowded. So my advice is to come in May or October. Both months that I have had the pleasure to experience! The weather is glorious and the summer crowds have left.
Rosemary Beach is best accessed by Panama City airport, about a 20 minute cab ride. All major airlines fly here.
Thanks for stopping by!