Florida’s northwest gulf coast is home to some unique communities such as Rosemary Beach nestled in the quiet calmness between Panama City and Destin on upscale Highway 30A. Locals call this area simply 30A. I have visited several times and put together quite possibly the perfect visitor’s guide for fun things to do in Rosemary Beach that will help you get the most from your trip.
The Neighborhoods of Rosemary Beach
Rosemary Beach is a seaside creation, established in 1995, encompassing the qualities of classic beach towns designed to promote family and community. Leave gridlock behind and revisit the simple pleasures of yesteryear at this 107-acre development on prime, gulf-front real estate, ideal for vacationing, retiring or simply the best in coastal living.
Enjoy a carefully blended community, bringing nature’s backdrop together with uncommon amenities. The unspoiled beaches are home to natural dunes, and indigenous plants line pathways and boardwalks throughout the property. Water is a natural elegance and common theme beginning in the gulf and flowing throughout the property into the pools and fabulous waterfalls. And, off the beaten path, you won’t be scared away by crowds of people lying towel to towel across the beach.
Rosemary Beach is different in several ways: it has its own Town Hall and zip code; it has work/live space with retail on the bottom and beautiful, spacious lofts above; and the amenities are endless including a fabulous spa, tennis courts and state-of-the-art fitness center. Let’s start by getting acquainted with the layout.
This property was built around a quaint town center with a Town Hall, Post Office, rental office, multiple retail shops and palette-pleasing restaurants. The aesthetically-pleasing neighborhood design is such to encourage parking the car and getting around by foot or bicycle. There are paths that meander throughout the property leading to green spaces, pools and the beach, of course. It restores serenity just to wander around feeling the sea breezes on your face while the sun is kissing your skin.
Families will enjoy watching the sun set from their private balcony or right on the water’s edge. Rosemary Beach is truly one of the best kept secrets on the gulf coast…a small piece of paradise in a friendly, elegant neighborhood setting.
Rosemary Beach Accommodations
The lofts are an awesome choice for accommodations being at the center of everything. But, there are also amazing cottages, carriage houses and flats with up to six bedrooms in a myriad of colors that dot the canvas of Rosemary Beach, splattering its topography with distinctive style, color and architectural delights. Each unit is built and decorated within the guidelines of the property codes to maintain a prestigious harmony, but they do not have the appearance of cookie cutter houses…each unit is different with its own personality and charm.
Don’t overlook beachside Rosemary Beach Inn, an intimate European-style hotel offering the lap of luxury to guests in 11 spectacular rooms (two are suites). Bursting with upscale amenities, guests of the Inn are treated to complimentary beach chairs (seasonally) and rooms drowning in over-the-top bedding.
New to Rosemary Beach is The Pearl Hotel with luxury amenities in true coastal fashion. Many rooms offer private balconies with Gulf views, the pool or the quaint town of Rosemary Beach. Rooms are tech-savvy and well-appointed (think a stocked mini fridge) with nightly fresh-baked turndown treats in addition to complimentary WIFI and beach chairs. Plan some time to be pampered at Spa Pearl as well – an intimate setting for healing and therapeutic treatments. The Pearl Hotel adds even more things to do in Rosemary Beach!
Guests have two on-site dining venues available at The Pearl: Havana Beach Bar & Grill or Havana Beach Rooftop Lounge. Both are unique and perfectly fit the Rosemary Beach lifestyle. There is more about each of them in the culinary section.
Culinary Rosemary Beach
Culinary Rosemary is an offering of palette-tempting restaurants, coffee shops, and lunch favorites. A good start to any day includes Amavida Coffee, where the name says it all. Amavida is the joining of two Spanish words which mean love (amar) and life (vida)…yea, that fits this place. A family-owned business, their coffee (or tea) hits the spot and paired with a delicious pastry or breakfast biscuit, you’ll be off and running, fueled for a day of fun in the sun!
Have lunch at one of several on-property restaurants like The Summer Kitchen Cafe (a favorite judging from the daily crowds, with a menu of salads, sandwiches and roll-ups). This eatery is transformed by night into a gourmet dining experience serving fresh gulf seafood. Another favorite lunch spot is Wild Olives with their tasty gourmet pizzas – yum!
The Sugar Shak is an oasis of sweet treats for young and old alike, so don’t miss that! And, La Crema – Tapas & Chocolate is a fabulous treat! Bring your friends for small plates of chocolate textures, tastes and other treats.
Evenings are the perfect time to try out more fancy dining, like Restaurant Paradis, an award-winning lounge and restaurant where the difference is fresh ingredients. The menu is full of wonderful entrees including fresh gulf seafood and prime steaks…and fine wine. (Note: Check out the early bird dining for a discount and call for a reservation.)
Havana Beach Bar & Grill is The Pearl’s signature restaurant and is a AAA 4-Diamond restaurant influenced by El Floridita, a Hemingway favorite in old-town Havana. Celebrate good times with the rich culinary flavors of Spanish, Portuguese and French inspiration and top it off with a craft beer, fine wine or favorite cocktail. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner – plan on reservations for dinner.
Havana Beach Rooftop Lounge is an alfresco dining venue with amazing views and bistro-style seating. The menu is based on shared plates inspired by the hotel’s signature restaurant. Enjoy a fire pit, a cabana and good friends. The Rooftop Lounge is open daily 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. with happy hour from noon – 3 p.m. (Note: hours are weather permitting.)
Be sure and check the dining section of Rosemary Beach’s website often as restaurants may come and go. It will always be the most up-to-date list.
Other Things to do in Rosemary Beach
Four pools are scattered throughout Rosemary Beach, each with a different design. The Coquina pool is on the beach-side and is all one depth with no edges. The overflow water slinks into small drains flush with the ground surrounding the pool. A grand focal point is created using a triangular stucco structure framed by palm trees.
The Sky pool is the year-round indoor pool that features a metal roof with motorized panels that are opened in warm weather. This pool is perfect for those who want to swim for exercise in one of the three swim lanes.
The Cabana pool is park-side (as is the Sky pool) and offers family-friendly pool options (like the children’s pool) in a Mediterranean design. And, lastly, the Barbados pool with its dramatic entrance enhanced with a copper roof and vestibule fountain. There is a shaded area that is great for sleeping babies or adults who have had too much sun, but still want to be by the pool.
Shopping at the Town Center offers a chance to hit up one-of-a-kind shops and search for unique items from clothing and accessories to unique souvenirs.
Rent a bike and ride freely throughout the community or up and down Highway 30A. The gentle breezes make it fun and relaxing, plus you’re getting exercise!
Speaking of renting bikes, the Timpoochee Trail is closeby and perfect for a serious back-to-nature bike ride. At 18.6 miles, the trail (named after an influential Indian Chief) takes riders on a scenic route past dune lakes, state parks and beach access points. It’s safe, wide and fairly flat. For a mile-by-mile trail guide, visit Timpoochee Trail at South Walton.
The 30A Farmers Market is a hotbed of local vendors at the Rosemary Beach Town Center on Sundays year-round and Thursdays Memorial Day to Labor Day 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Awesome local produce and other goodies.
Getting married? There are tons of gorgeous venues within Rosemary Beach that offer amazing photography options as well as ceremony and reception venues. Take a look at the stunning gallery of wedding venues.
Don’t forget about the beach (like you really could do that). It’s beautiful and offers amazing serenity to heal the soul. Take some time to enjoy it, soak it in and do nothing.
Jog or take a class at the Fitness Center, play a game of tennis or hit up closeby golf courses. There are many ways to be active during your stay with a variety of things to do in Rosemary Beach.
Other Nearby Seaside Communities that offer Vacation Sanctuaries
Alys Beach, in comparison, is a luxury beach town with a Mediterranean flare situated on the same type of beautiful, white sand coastal property on Highway 30A. This New Urban community offers every upscale amenity imaginable and has zoning laws in place to keep out billboards and storefronts. Vacationers here experience unparalleled tranquility in beach homes built deliberately to stand the test of time. Quality construction is evident in this distinctive town where everything exterior-wise is white…a peaceful, serene color. It beckons those who demand the best of the best.
WaterColor Inn & Resort is another Santa Rosa Beach jewel with luxury accommodations in a neighborhood setting. Complete with world-class amenities (golf, tennis, etc.), kids programs, shopping, dining (Fish out of Water is fabulous), and matchless pools, it is the perfect place for families to reconnect and bask in the undisputed beauty of a beachside community. Stroll the sidewalks or get around on bicycles, this town is meant to explore in laid-back ways!
Have you ever visited a seaside community on Florida’s prestigious Highway 30A? Which one? Tell us about it below!
Photos are mine unless otherwise noted.