Discover paradise at Rosemary Beach, Florida

Long stretches of sugary white sand and warm gulf breezes have long attracted people to the northwestern coast of Florida.  But Rosemary Beach in South Walton County also provides peace and tranquility, an element not found in many overcrowded beach resort towns.

A planned community, Rosemary Beach is pedestrian-friendly—boardwalk promenades, paved walkways, and graded paths lead to the town center.  Park your car while there because everything—shopping, restaurants, beach, parks, Town Hall—are within a five-minute walk of all accommodations.  Bring bicycles or rent at Bamboo Bicycle Company for your entire stay, and zip along anywhere you want to go.

Quaint carriage houses and spacious multi-bedroom cottages, and rental units with full kitchens make vacationing at Rosemary Beach as much fun as the destination. Architecture of buildings throughout the town follows style from traditional New Orleans and St. Augustine to southern Charleston and exotic West Indies.

Strolling on the beach at sunset, watching a reddish glow spread over gentle waves was like basking in paradise.  I fell in love with the slower pace and soothing ambience of the community, which has only 180 permanent residents. Even if all accommodations were full, the town supports just 2400 people, so it never feels congested—and everyone is so friendly.

In addition to pristine beaches, guests enjoy the fitness center, tennis courts at the Racquet Club, four swimming pools, and green-space parks where movies are shown on summer evenings (and weddings are frequently held).  Walkways over sand dunes provide beach access while protecting the shoreline from erosion.

Located 30 minutes by car from the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, Rosemary Beach is at the eastern end of Scenic route 30A between Panama City and Destin.  A paved bike path extends for many miles alongside 30A, so we took advantage and peddled four miles to Deer Lake State Park, passing a rare coastal dune lake. During our stay we also had a tennis lesson on the clay courts and learned how to do stand-up paddle boarding at Yolo Board in nearby Grayton Beach.  Meals at Restaurant Paradis, Cowgirl Kitchen, Summer Kitchen Café, Onano Restaurant, Amavida Coffee shop, and Wild Olives covered the spectrum from casual to fine dining—and all were very good.

The best part of any vacation, of course, is outstanding scenery and plenty of serene places to soak it all in—and this is where Rosemary Beach excels.

Read more about Florida coast at http://stripedpot.com/2010/11/02/the-many-faces-of-florida-part-i-the-panhandle

Read more about stand-up paddling at http://www.goingonadventures.com/2011/05/stand-up-paddling-is-latest-water-craze.html

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

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