If you were to fall off a cloud without having any sort of geographical orientation on what continent you’re on, you might mistake Rosemary Beach for a European beach town. Its pedestrian-centric layout accompanied by the undisturbed nature of its lush paths and old-fashioned, tasteful architecture is what distinguishes this quaint little town apart from its bolder counterparts along 30A Highway, a stretch of the Florida Panhandle known for its luxurious and stylish beach getaways.
Since I live in Panama City Beach (about a 25-minute drive from Rosemary), I have the luxury of spending some days here to enjoy the exquisite offerings of this historic-feeling, Floridian town. I want to emphasize the phrase “historic-feeling” because the town was actually only built in 1995; so, while the architecture is designed to have that “old Florida”, Spanish vibe, it’s actually quite modern.
I love to get over to Rosemary Beach as much as possible. I have a media consulting job in 30A so I ask clients to meet me at a local coffee shop in the main square to chat about proposals. When I’m not working, I love to spend my time strolling along the secluded walkways that connect the neighborhoods, admiring the stunning architecture, reading on tucked-away benches, dining at the award-winning restaurants, and splurging on a bit of boutique shopping. There is something about the aura here that is absolutely enchanting. Even though I have been to this part of the beach a few times now, every time I ride under the part of 30A where the trees form a natural, enchanted tunnel it automatically makes my heart flutter as I exhale a peaceful sigh of relief.
Where to stay
As an aspiring travel writer, I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to write about where I usually stay or have stayed, but since I’m on permanent vacation here my “hotel” is really just my house. It’s nice. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars. However, if I were to treat myself to a “staycation” I would love to stay at The Pearl, the infamous boutique hotel known as one of Rosemary Beach’s most architecturally memorable buildings. The suave, coastal décor, private balconies overlooking the ocean, exclusive adults-only pool, spa, and fine dining options complete with a rooftop lounge are pretty much everything beach vacation dreams are made of. I mean, just imagine opening your balcony doors every morning to let the warm, salt-tainted breeze caress your skin? I sure can.
What to do
Shop on Barrett Square and Main St
The heart of Rosemary Beach has a long, promenade complete with well-manicured boutiques, airy gallery’s, fine dining, and the cutest gift shops you may ever enter. Some of my favorites are Pish Posh Patchouli’s, The Hidden Lantern Bookstore, and Luminary. Your wallet won’t thank you for spending time here, but your wardrobe sure will.
Take a Sunday Stroll
If blowing a hole in your wallet on beautiful new clothes doesn’t interest you – don’t fret! One of my favorite things to do is to simply stroll around the neighborhoods surrounding the main promenade. These walkways are planked with wood to ensure comfortable walking (or biking!) and are a great way to envy the architecture and pretend you’re in an enchanted town along the Spanish coastline.
Go to the Beach
Not to be crass but, no shit, right? What’s the point of a beach vacation if you’re not going to make a questionably strong DIY margarita under the embracing warmth of the tropical sun while the soothing, salty waves crash into powdery sand? The main point of escaping to the beach is to enjoy … the beach and The Florida Panhandle is known for having America’s prettiest.
Where to eat
I just want to preface this by saying I have never heard of a bad restaurant in Rosemary. Everything is family-owned, and you certainly won’t find an Olive Garden here. Honestly, not including them all feels like a disservice to the community. Alas, I am only sharing a few of the ones I’ve been to (or are high on my “must visit soon”) list.
Start the morning right with a tucked-away brunch spot complete with swanky pool views, fresh squeezed orange juice, and trendy bunch options. Order the crab omelet. Tell them Amanda sent you and wink really knowingly. Just kidding. Please don’t do that.
I probably shouldn’t be recommending a place I haven’t even been to, but yet here we are. I haven’t had a chance to check out Pescado in the 6-months I’ve been living here but I’m hoping to get a chance in the next few weeks (*double winks at boyfriend*). I have only heard good things about it from the locals and the photos from the rooftop look dreamy.
It’s tapas … and chocolate. Do I really need to say more?
I love coming here for drinks, and the best craft cocktails I’ve had in the area have been on this rooftop. The food has great reviews and the outdoor seating includes huge couches that are perfect for happy hour lounging. As you can see below you actually become 3x cooler just by showing up.