Rosemary Beach sits among a constellation of dazzling white-sand beaches on Florida’s northwest coast. The South Walton beaches—named for Walton County, where they’re located—have benefited from the best of planned development. Among them is the intensely photogenic town of Seaside where The Truman Show was filmed. Rosemary Beach is less famous than its neighbor, but no less picturesque. This coastal town makes for the perfect weekend away.
Coastal New Urbanism
Rosemary Beach was designed to be walkable. Created by the same firm that designed neighboring Seaside, the town deemphasizes driving in favor of pathways built for strolling. Rosemary Beach’s pedestrian-friendly boardwalks lead to a collection of sophisticated eateries and boutiques in the town’s center. And because it has a height restriction of 50 feet, the scale of the town feels quaint despite its modern amenities.
True to its intentions, Rosemary Beach provides visitors several good options when it comes to spending the weekend. The Pearl (63 Main St., Rosemary Beach; 850.588.2881; thepearlrb.com) offers a thoughtfully curated luxury hotel experience with cocktails at check-in, fresh-baked treats in the evening and private balconies with views of the Gulf. For larger rental options, sites such as Airbnb and VRBO offer luxury condominiums and beachfront mansions.
Edward’s Fine Food and Wine (66 Main St., Rosemary Beach; 850.231.0550; edwards30a.com) is known for its award-winning wine list and sophisticated menu. Like Rosemary Beach itself, its vibe is upscale yet informal. The menu features both surf and turf entrees with a spotlight on local Gulf seafood. The Summer Kitchen Cafe (78 Main St., Rosemary Beach; 850.213.0521; thesummerkitchencafe.com) is a favorite breakfast and lunch spot with locals. Don’t skip the whipped feta appetizer served with carrots and lahvosh.
County Road 30A, which runs beside Rosemary Beach, is one of the most scenic coastal drives in the state of Florida. It extends for 24 miles along the panhandle’s coastline and stretches among the beachside towns of south Walton County—Dune Allen Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton Beach, Watercolor, Seaside, Seagrove Beach, WaterSound Beach, Seacrest Beach, Alys Beach, Rosemary Beach and Inlet Beach. Each town has its own style, entirely distinct from the others: Grayton Beach is on the funky side, while more formal Alys Beach looks like it’s been lifted out of Santorini.
The panhandle is a trek from Southwest Florida. Consider skipping the interstate and taking a plane instead. The Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (6300 W. Bay Parkway, Panama City; 850.763.6751; iflybeaches.com) is only half an hour away from Rosemary Beach, and it welcomes private jets. The Naples Jet Center (377 Citation Point, Naples; 239.649.7900; naplesjetcenter.com) can arrange a charter for an easy weekend away.