ALYS & ROSEMARY BEACH, FLORIDA
Affectionately known as “30A,” this magical series of charming European-inspired beach towns transport you to Santorini – right here in the USA!
In spring of 2020, we, along with the rest of the world, had our entire spring and summer’s worth of travel and weddings in Europe canceled or postponed! When it came time for our 9th wedding anniversary, we were so ready for a recharge and an escape and wanted to keep it local to the US – of course! We’re so lucky to live in the USA with such beautiful locations right here on our East Coast. 2020 became the summer of roadtrips and little domestic trips, and finding all the beautiful, European inspired gems here on our home turf! I had always wanted to check out Alys Beach & Rosemary Beach after seeing photos online of the beautiful aesthetic, and as a bonus – we have friends who live not far away! We planned a little getaway and I’m so happy to share that this beautiful stretch of the Florida Panhandle did not disappoint! Alys Beach has to be the prettiest beachfront community in America, and with Tim being a builder and me, a design-living photographer…we were in heaven just biking around taking in all the stunning architecture! We also got to meet up with one of my very favorite photographer friends, KT Merry, to take the beautiful photos of Tim & I that you see below as well! It was such a gift to be able to have KT’s incredible eye capturing us in such a beautiful place. Without futher ado…here’s my Guide to 30A, and a few of my favorite anniversary photos captured by KT!
General Info About 30A, Rosemary & Alys Beach
First of all, the term 30A refers to the name of the highway that runs along the beach towns in this section of Florida! These towns are dotted along 30A:
We flew into Panama City (ECP) which is the closest to Rosemary at about 25 minutes drive away. Pensacola Airport is further but also another option to travel in to! Ft. Walton (VPS) is another option that for us didn’t have good flight options – but worth checking into depending on where you’re coming from. Definitely rent a car – preferably a convertible or Jeep! – to travel up and down the coastline as there’s so many cute towns to explore that are beyond biking distance. Rosemary and Alys are only a mile apart and there’s a nice wide bike path in between, so we chose to base ourselves here!
Where to Stay
We chose to stay in Rosemary Beach as there was a beautiful small boutique hotel there I had fell in love with online (we picked the dates of our trip based on its availability!) called The Pearl. I couldn’t recommend it more highly – it was BEAUTIFUL and in the most perfect location imaginable, right on the European cobblestone main street in Rosemary! It has free bikes for their guests, a gorgeous little rooftop restaurant & bar with tapas and cocktails, and a beautiful Grecian-style pool area. We loved utilizing the free bikes and of course, its beachfront location couldn’t be beat. The hotel also has a beautiful beach club with complimentary lounge chairs, umbrellas, and drink services, which was such a nice bonus as many hotels charge extra for this. Our room had a balcony with a partial ocean view and a view right out onto the very cute main street. This is a better hotel for couples than families as kids are not allowed in the pool area. Two other options I’d suggest as options: The Watercolor Resort, and a House Rental via VRBO or Airbnb!
What to Do
The beach, of course! The beaches here are world class…stunning crystal clear turquoise-green water, white soft sand, and wide open beaches. Perfect for social distancing!
Bike around the beach towns & communities! We spent an entire morning just biking from Rosemary to Alys and looking at the ridiculously beautiful, all-white, modern Grecian designed homes and common squares here. Easily one of the prettiest beach towns in America, and SO bike friendly! Definitely rent bikes for the week if you’re staying at a house rental! Browse the Small Towns: Outpost was a favorite of mine, as well as OKO Lifestyle. A few more: Seaside Style, 30 Avenue, and The Hub.
Water Sports: Paddleboarding is popular here! Boating, snorkeling, and of course, swimming.
Rent a convertible or Jeep and cruise up and down the coast exploring the other towns! We loved the charming town of Seaside especially – it’s where they filmed The Truman Show, fun fact! So it actually kind of looks like a “small town” movie set.
Where to Eat
George’s at Alys Beach for a nice dinner out
Cowgirl Kitchen for tacos
Seaside’s Food Trucks: The Meltdown (grilled cheese!) and Barefoot BBQ. Both in Airstreams!
Havana at the Pearl: We ate Cuban food here for dinner the first day we arrived and the food was absolutely amazing! Get a mojito.
La Crema in Rosemary
The Pearl Hotel Rooftop Bar
Donut Hole, Charlie’s Donut Truck or Five Daughters Bakery Airstream
Fonville Press (really loved breakfast here!)
Black Bear Bread Co (we missed this one but have heard it’s amazing!)
Caliza Restaurant (in the Moroccan inspired building in Alys Beach’s pool area)
And a few more of our Anniversary Photos
…because KT captured us in this beautiful location perfectly!