No matter where we have traveled each year, our daughter always begs for a beach trip. While looking for a fresh take on the Florida panhandle beaches, I came across Rosemary Beach and was instantly enchanted. With a European flair but relaxed beach vibe, this is a sophisticated family-friendly town to get your beach fix. (And you might just spot a celebrity cruising around!)
Located off the scenic 30A highway, Rosemary Beach is the first of a charming array of seas side villages, each with a little different flair. Rosemary Beach has beautiful architecture and superb eats; Seacrest is family friendly and laid back; Alys Beach is low-key (for the rich and famous who prefer privacy); and Seaside, just a little farther down, is a colorful and charming, yet hip town. Whichever village vibe you choose, make sure to cruise down 30A to check out the other places. But the best part is, once you arrive at your destination, you can park your car and leave it for the rest of the trip since the villages are all so walk-able.
Things To Do
Rosemary Beach doesn't offer the usual putt-putt and go-kart amusements you usually find at beaches, so what's there to do for fun?
First off, rent some bikes! Rosemary Beach and Seacrest are two super close towns that you can easily bike to. You can also walk, but let's face it, coasting down the sidewalk brings out your inner child and that's what vacations are for! You'll see bikes everywhere and some rental places offer a discount voucher for bike rentals. Peddlers 30A is a super convenient spot to rent from.
2. Shopping is not always high on my list of things to do when we travel but Rosemary Beach had some quaint and unusual shops that attracted us (what book lover wouldn't want to check out The Hidden Lantern bookstore?). Clothing boutiques and interior decorating stores have some beautiful items and there are a couple of your traditional beach gear stores. We even picked Rayna up a little pearl bracelet at "The Best Little Pearl Shop on 30A."
3. Oh yeah, let's not forget about the beaches! Like most Gulf beaches, Rosemary and Seacrest Beaches have the sugar-fine sand and clear green waters. While some beachfront property is privately owned, there are open areas to grab a sunny spot and hit the ocean! Since there are few hotels on the shore, many of the villages offer complimentary golf cart rides to the beach. (And the views are unspoiled by high-rise hotels!)
4. After a full day of beaching, evening concerts or movies are provided by many of the villages or city during peak summer season and are a fun way to end the night. Grab the kids an ice cream (and a drink for the adults!) and enjoy the sunset and breeze!
The most iconic place to stay in Rosemary Beach is The Pearl, a sophisticated spa hotel. But since this does not scream "family-friendly" I would recommend doing what we did- booking a privately owned condo or studio apartment at The Village of South Walton in Seacrest.
<<Trip Tip>> Seacrest is your more affordable way to experience Rosemary Beach and it is literally just a few blocks from downtown Rosemary Beach!
The Village resort offers several access to pools, complimentary golf cart rides to the beach front, and lots of fun restaurant options. This is also a place that hosts evening concerts on the green! Book through VRBO or Airbnb to find the best deals! Our condo was beautiful!
One thing that stands out in my memory from our stay in Rosemary Beach is....goat cheese. Yep, goat cheese. We dined one night at La Crema Tapas and Chocolate and everything we ordered was outstanding- every. single. bite. Honey balsamic roasted brussel sprouts with goat cheese, bacon-wrapped dates, thick and creamy drinking chocolate. (I bragged so much on my online review that La Crema even featured it!) This restaurant payed homage to the finest of Spanish cuisine and I highly recommend dining here.
Other favorites we tried were Edward's Fine Food & Wine (on my husband's birthday night!), Grits & Grind, Cowgirl Kitchen and Market 27. And if you want to pack a picnic or just eat in one night to save on the cash, visit Market 27 or Seacrest Sundries for snacks, drinks or premade goodies!
<<Trip Tip>> Use this convenient dining guide on the South Walton tourism page to look up dining by beach neighborhoods to explore other nearby options. Also, many restaurants here do not take reservations so dine early to avoid long waits with kids!
One last tip if you visit Rosemary Beach- pack some cute outfits and a good camera! There are some great Instagram-worthy spots to snap some family photos!