Recently my family stayed in the picturesque community of Rosemary Beach, Florida. Located on the far east side of the Scenic Highway 30A, Rosemary Beach is a wonderful destination for families any time of the year.
I grew up going to the beaches of South Walton. I have so many memories of going to places along 30A that my grandmother loved – Goatfeathers, the Red Bar, the Santa Rosa Beach Club (where we almost got married!) just to name a few. But I had never really ventured down past Seaside until our recent trip to Rosemary Beach.
My parents chose Rosemary Beach because they wanted to be in an area where we would have access to community pools, park, and tennis courts. And it seemed Rosemary Beach had more houses to choose from that were big enough to hold our entire crew comfortably. Our vacation rental, and adjacent carriage house, were very close to the beach and had a perfectly-sized pool (which is a big plus, in my book, if you have young children!).
Rosemary Beach provided that laid back, old-fashioned family vacation we were all needing. The children played football on the greens and begged to visit the old-fashioned candy store (which they did, multiple times!). The adults stayed up late making cocktails and going out on a date night (thanks mom and dad!).
If you are considering going to the area, here is a little Rosemary Beach Guide to help make your trip wonderful like ours. (Note: my sister has been going with her in-laws for years, so she helped in giving me some of these fabulous tips!).
Explore the Area on Foot and Bike:
The nice thing about Rosemary Beach is that you don’t really have to leave the area other than to go to the grocery store. You can walk or ride bikes to go to the beach, pools, parks, restaurants, and cute boutiques. My two year old wakes up super early so I walked her to the Amavida coffee shop nearly every morning so others could sleep.
Rosemary Beach has the perfect topography and size for biking with young children. We biked nearly every day through the charming, shady streets of Rosemary Beach. We also biked along 30A to explore neighboring beachside communities.
Alys Beach is a beautiful nearby development, home to George’s restaurant (great for lunch!) and if you go early in the morning, Charlie’s Donuts food truck. There is also a splash pad that’s a great stopping point during an afternoon bike ride.
And, of course, we spent most days at the beach, staying until late in the afternoon. If you have never been to the beaches of South Walton, you might mistake them for the Caribbean they are so gorgeous. Soft, white sand, crystal blue waters, when I see the Emerald Coast’s water I feel like my childhood has returned.
Local Restaurants and Bars
Edward’s serves both wonderful food and ambiance in their outdoor patio area. Most nights you will find a local jazz or blues singer serenading the patrons.
Opened just two years, The Pearl is a fabulous boutique hotel (perfect for a couples getaway!) but anyone can stop by their rooftop bar happy hour (which is in the early afternoon.). The bartenders know what they are doing and make AMAZING cocktails. (Pinã colada, anyone??) A full menu is available until 7 pm. Note: the rooftop lounge closes at 10 pm so don’t go too late!.
- SK2 Cafe
Great for dining outside and (if you have children old enough) letting them play at the Western Green across the street while you wait for your food. Food isn’t the best; more for the atmosphere.
- Cowgirl Kitchen
Casual dining establishment. We picked up pizza here one night and it was fabulous!
- Wild Olives Wine Tasting
A Rosemary Beach happening on Friday evenings is the wine tasting at Wild Olives. Order the children some small bites and everyone is happy!
- Donut Hole
My whole trip was made by the fact that the Donut Hole (a childhood favorite) opened a location right near Rosemary Beach. Order donuts to go at the counter or sit down and eat their fabulous sand well-priced ‘Dines, Drive-Ins, and Dives’- worthy breakfast menu.
As mentioned, this is a Alys Beach restaurant is a fabulous place to ride your bike for lunch or drive for dinner.
If you are not a fan of tapas for dinner (my dad thinks it’s not enough food!), this is a great place for dessert! Do not miss the fondue and chocolate molten cake! (My husband and I also went here for tapas and it did not disappoint!)
Fabulous atmosphere and food at this rooftop bar and restaurant that overlooks Rosemary Beach. Go for dinner, drinks, or just a late night dessert!
Super pricey but super chic in Alys Beach overlooking their pool.
Cute Local Shops!
- The Sugar Shak
A Rosemary Beach landmark, the Sugar Shak on Main Street is a great after-dinner stop for ice cream or candy. Also a great place for a t-shirt souvenir!
- Fitz and Emme
This children’s boutique used to be down at Sandestin, so I was so excited to see them at Rosemary Beach. Sweet children’s clothing.
A classic children’s toy store with clothes, too. Our children picked out a souvenir here.
More Rosemary Beach Tips :
– You can hear the live music from Edward’s just about anywhere on the south side of Rosemary Beach. So if you don’t want to take your children to a super nice restaurant, you can still enjoy the music at nearby SK2 or Cowgirl Kitchen or even a picnic on the Western Green nearby.
– Check the Rosemary Beach community calendar. During the summer months, Rosemary Beach has lots of family-friendly activities including moonlight movies, puppet shows, and bands.
-30A has an amazing art and music life. You can find a free outdoor concert on almost any weekend night. Check this 30A calendar for highlights.
– Rent beach chairs before you go (see “services” below) so they are all ready when you get there. (Also, you can give the lifeguards a nice tip to store your big beach toys overnight!). Note: some house rentals come with beach chair rentals.
– Not to be a Debbie Downer, but people who did not grow up going to the area sometimes aren’t aware of the dangers of the “undertow” or “riptide.” Pay attention to what color flags are raised at the beaches (red means no swimming, obviously!).
– March through May and September through November are ideal times to go because the heat is not oppressive and the crowds are gone. But children all over the South have grown up going to these beaches during the summer (and it never bothered us!).
Hope you enjoyed this Rosemary Beach Guide! See sources below for more detailed information. I can’t thank my parents enough for taking us all on this wonderful trip!
Have you been to Rosemary Beach or nearby? Share your tips below! (And please share this post on Facebook!).
Southwest and many other airlines fly into NW Florida Beaches Airport (Panama City) which is about 25 minutes away from Rosemary Beach or Ft. Walton Airport.
- There are many vacation rental companies in the area or you can book directly through Rosemary Beach. We used Barefoot Vacations and our house was called the Flying Dutchman with adjacent Calypso Carriage House. Any house on the south side of 30A is within walking of the beach. Nearby Seacrest and Water’s Edge communities are within walking/biking distance to Rosemary Beach (and can be a tad less expensive!) although you cannot use the community pools and tennis courts if you are not actually staying in Rosemary Beach.
- The Pearl is a luxury boutique hotel recently featured named by Southern Living as one of “The South’s Best New Hotels.” If you wanted a weekend couples getaway (but didn’t want to go out of the country) this would be a fabulous option.
- The Rosemary Beach Inn is a charming beachside inn with 11 rooms and two suites (and I think) is less expensive than The Pearl.
- Bamboo Bicycle Company – Our house came with six beach cruisers but we rented some more for the children, including trailers. Bamboo Bikes made it super easy to do!
- Katrice Howell Photography – I’m doing a separate post on our fun family photo session with Katrice Howell, but it’s definitely something we are glad we did. It’s been almost 10 years since we had a professional family photo taken! Katrice was amazing working with our children and was able to get individual family and sibling photos for Christmas cards as well!
- The Beach Butlers – We had a car so did our own grocery shopping. But if you fly into the area, this company will stock your condo or house before you even arrive. Place order 7-10 days before arrival.
- Sea Oats Beach Service – You can bring your own beach chairs, but my parents rented beach chairs ahead of time (Note: some houses come with this service). You can also rent beach cabanas that are nice when you have young children.
- Issa Tank and White Jean Roll-Up Shorts // Sisi Sunsuit and Bonnet by The Beaufort Bonnet Company
- Little girl’s romper ($5.60 online!) here. (She wore it several times! Perfect for the beach!).
- Lavender tankini and bottoms & coordinating lavender baby’s swimsuit.
- Terry cloth Beach Cover Ups (for colors for boys and girls)
- Tassel Beach Cover up here. (Comes in three colors with free shipping!).
- Monogram Stripe Tote and outfit it this post.