The idyllic getaway of Rosemary Beach, Florida, is on the cusp of becoming one of America’s favorite new vacation destinations. And with its family-friendly vibes, charming architecture, golf courses galore, excellent coastal cuisine, and that sugar sand beach, it’s easy to see why. Read on for the reasons you should make Rosemary Beach, Florida, and the South Walton beach area your next getaway location. It’s the least Florida place in Florida.
1. This Area Is Both Walkable And Bikeable
Perhaps my favorite part of my recent weeklong jaunt to this area was how I didn’t have to get in the car one time the entire trip (except to get to the airport). We rented bikes and were able to find great restaurants and attractions within biking distance. Some were even close enough to walk. Almost every day, we’d take a bike ride as a family to explore the pretty neighborhoods and impressive seaside homes. There are numerous biking paths all over, but we used one adjacent to the famed 30A the most.
2. It’s Perfect For A Multigenerational Trip
Rosemary Beach is super family friendly. There are tons of activities around for kids. Plus, the water deepens so gradually you can walk out really far and it’s still shallow; that made it way more fun to swim and splash with my niece and nephews. Additionally, the aforementioned biking options meant we could take family bike rides together. Most of the area’s restaurants offer kids menu options and also open early enough for early, kid-friendly dinner time. Beautiful rentals -- not hotels -- make it even more fun to share a large beach house together. Ours was located in the perfect spot right between Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach, two of the loveliest communities in the region.
3. Those White Sand Beaches
The beautiful beaches on this stretch of Florida’s Gulf Coast are made of clear quartz. They are luxuriously soft and even squeak when you walk on them. Additionally, there are some pretty sand dunes in the area to explore, too. As an added bonus, the beaches stay nice because most pets aren’t allowed on the beach, unless an area homeowner has a special permit.
4. It’s So Easy To Get To
On my recent trip, we had family members coming from Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska, St. Louis, Missouri, and Austin and Houston, Texas. It was a breeze to get to Rosemary Beach even with all of us coming from those different places. That’s because there are two airports that are easily accessible from South Walton. Panama City airport is roughly half an hour away, while Pensacola is less than two hours from Rosemary Beach.
There are also numerous large metropolitan areas within driving distance. Atlanta is just over five hours away by car while Nashville is seven hours from the beach. Both New Orleans and Birmingham are about a four hour journey.
5. There’s An Excellent Culinary Scene
It’s no surprise that the treasures of the Gulf, like fresh seafood, shine in these beachside communities. But there are lots of other dining gems as well. Coffee connoisseurs will appreciate the local artisan Amavida Coffee and Tea; be sure to get their unreal fancy chocolate with Hawaiian sea salt. You can feel extra good about it too, since Amavida is a certified B Corp that balances purpose and profit.
Edward’s Fine Food and Wine has an impressive wine list and offers an upscale experience; on our trip, one night just the adults went out to eat here. My scallops were some of the best I’ve ever had. The crispy Brussels appetizer was another show stopper. Beer enthusiasts will rejoice in the area’s celebrated microbrewery, Grayton Beer Company; my hubby enjoyed his American Lager all week long.
Another great, slightly upscale spot we tried was George’s at Alys Beach. If you can, sit outside on the perfectly breezy patio to enjoy the coastal cuisine with Southern flair. Menu favorites were the crab etouffee arancini, ABC salad (avocado, beet, citrus), and the spicy salt and pepper shrimp. Another favorite was our regular lunchtime spot, The Summer Kitchen Cafe, in the heart of Rosemary Beach. Their veggie burger was excellent, but they’re known for creative coastal cuisine. This spot is actually the oldest eatery in Rosemary Beach.
6. There Are Championship Golf Courses In Close Proximity
With warm weather all year long, Florida is the perfect backdrop for a vacation with a golf element. My husband and his cousins loved driving an hour or less to try out different courses during our week in Rosemary Beach. Both public and private course options abound, so any level of golfer from beginner to pro can find a course that fits. My hubby liked both the Signal Hill Golf Course in Panama City Beach as well as the Emerald Bay Golf Club in Destin.
7. It’s Close To Other Charming Beach Communities
While Rosemary Beach itself has enough to keep visitors busy, it’s also super close to a number of other cute beachy villages. One of my favorite excursions of the week was heading to Seaside, famous for being the setting and film location of The Truman Show. Their Saturday farmers market was a lively, exciting spot, and I loved walking around exploring local vendors and produce.
All in all, the South Walton beaches consist of numerous posh beach towns between Destin and Panama City Beach. They include (from east to west) Inlet Beach, Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach, Seacrest, Water Sound Beach, Seagrove Beach, Seaside, Water Color, Grayton Beach, Blue Mountain Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Dune Allen, Sandestin, Miramar Beach, and Seascape. The name comes from the name of the county, South Walton.
8. It’s Right On 30A
Until my trip, I hadn’t heard of the famous coastal highway 30A. Known as Scenic Highway 30A, this two-lane road hugs Florida’s Gulf Coast and is widely considered one of the prettiest drives in the U.S. Coincidentally, 30A is also a lifestyle brand that embraces this happy beachy approach and was inspired by the highway’s beachside communities. Travelers who want to pick up some of the cute clothing and other wares from the 30A brand can get them all around the area. I recommend doing your 30A shopping at Amavida Coffee. The brand truly represents the feeling you get with the wind in your hair, the sand under your feet, and all those gorgeous ocean views.
9. There Aren’t High Rise Buildings
This makes the area so much more charming. There aren’t giant buildings all over the place. This is on purpose -- a reflection of the New Urbanism school of thought for development/planning. In fact, structures of over 50 feet or roughly four stories high aren’t allowed in the area known as the South Walton beaches. The few that do exist were built before this ban was put in place. This also helps with population density. The beaches never feel too crowded. There simply aren’t that many people staying right in the area.
It’s easy to see that there’s something special about this stretch of Florida’s Gulf Coast. The South Walton beaches between Destin and Panama City are the perfect spot for a family getaway, foodie adventure, and relaxing beach vacation all rolled into one. Add Rosemary Beach, Florida, to your list for getaways ASAP. You won’t regret it. And do it soon, because for now, Rosemary Beach is popular but not oversaturated and still has a bit of an undiscovered vibe.