Rosemary Beach, Florida (This article was originally published on 08/18/10) Pack the flip flops, straw hat and sunglasses. Grab your iPod, a magazine or two and the sunscreen. Then toss in some Chianti and some cheese straws. If a chic beach vacation sounds like a great way to capture some late summer fun, then why not try Rosemary Beach, Florida? Rosemary Beach is one of the many planned communities along 30-A the Florida highway along the Emerald Coast, the northwestern Panhandle of the Sunshine State.
In late May, we drove 8 hours, zipping across I-10 through Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, arriving at supper time, eager to see the famed crystal green-blue waters and sugar white sand. The oil spill had shaken the locals, who spoke worriedly about the potential effects on their laid back lifestyle and pristine beaches. We saw no effects during our trip and word is, that as of late August, there is little to no oil spotted anywhere. The beaches are open and the fun goes on.
Rosemary Beach is a planned community, with thoughtfully orchestrated home styles, parks, and amenities. Developer Patrick Bienvenue opened this idyllic community in 1995, a great example of ‘New Urbanism,’ meaning a lifestyle contained within a community where most everything you need is within walking distance. This community of 107 acres has living space – featuring everything from multi-million dollar mansions to apartments, single rooms, condos and casual beach houses.
Shops, restaurants, pools, parks and fitness facilities are included in an organized way. The developer created a careful orchestration of amenities that result in a lovely environment where rest and relaxation is foremost. Even the color schemes of all the buildings must meet a strict code. Lush landscapes are snuggled against the property’s buildings with the beach steps away no matter where you are.
Accommodations: There are a myriad of choices when staying at Rosemary Beach. Visit the website or visit with the helpful staff for a detailed description of the many homes and condominiums that are available for rent. Every detail can be arranged. Concierge services are available for restaurant reservations, babysitting services, housekeeping, fishing tours, golf tee times and more. No need to lug a lot of groceries either. We found one company, The Beach Butlers (thebeachbutlers.com), that will have everything you request purchased and put away in your refrigerator when you arrive. Now, that’s my idea of a vacation!
Things to Do: The beach is the star, of course, and absolutely perfect. Access is via one of several walkovers which are opened with a pass code. You will get yours when you check in. Once on the soft sand, it is unwind time. Chairs and umbrellas are available for rent as are kayaks, sailboats and volleyballs. You can also arrange for some surf lessons. Whatever your preferred mode of movement, Rosemary Beach has become one of the best walking, bicycling, roller blading, and running location along 30A. You will enjoy the 2.3 mile fitness trail and walking tour - a perfect to admire both the many beautiful homes and public spaces. The Bamboo Bicycle Company is located right in the main town square. You will be magically drawn to these lovely two-wheelers, parked out front and ready to go. This is the preferred method of getting around Rosemary Beach and after a quick test drive, you will forget all about your BlackBerry and laptop. Tennis director Mike Clark is a genial host of the property’s courts. He offers daily clinics, private lessons and rental on all needed equipment. Court fees are complimentary for guests. Watch a movie since all guests received complimentary DVDs are complimentary throughout your stay. The convenient movie rental box right is right outside the Cottage Rental Office. Spinning? Yoga? Massage? The Fitness Center has it all. Offering the latest in equipment, manager Patti Tindall can arrange for private of group personal training. Now is the time for you – so why not let Patti give you some fitness tips. There are four swimming pools to choose from and each has a different feel. We loved the Coquina Pool with its negative edge. Minutes from Rosemary Beach is Eden Gardens State Park in Point Washington, a 163-acre state park on Tucker Bayou. Take a picnic and stroll the park, admiring the 1895 mansion on site that belonged to the property’s original owner, lumber baron William Henry Wesley. Shopping is delightful with a nice variety of boutiques to peruse. Bombora Sun & Surf, Drift, Willow, Rosemary Beach Trading Company, Gigi’s Fabulous Kids’ Fashions & Toys, Moonpize, Pish Posh Patchoulis, Shabby Slips, Tracery and the World Six Gallery have lovely items, all with friendly staff to greet you. I loved the Trading Company, owned by Linda Gifford, wife of Rosemary Beach vice president Ken Gifford. Linda has an eye for darling things and I wanted to take home everything in her store. You will too!
Dining: There is a nice choice of restaurants at Rosemary Beach. They are all individually owned so don’t worry about that hotel-like experience of several restaurants with all food coming from the same kitchen. The Wild Olives Market has a great deli-type menu with fresh salads. My favorite place at Rosemary Beach was La Crema Tapas and Chocolate where delectable nibbles are available with an extensive wine list. Do not miss the spiced crème brulee. It is exceptional. The Onano Neighborhood Cafe offers outdoor dining – a wedding rehearsal dinner party celebrated at the tables next to ours. Onano’s serves fresh seafood with an Italian flair. On October 23, “Rosemary Beach Uncorked,” a culinary and wine pairing event will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Eight restaurants will prepare three dishes paired with six wines for a total of 24 gourmet food and 46 boutique wine pairings. Tickets are $75; visit www.rosemarybeachuncorked.com. for all the information. Additionally, the excellent shops and restaurants all along 30A offer a marvelous variety from which to choose. Enjoy the beautiful beaches, the shopping and delectable dining, vibrant art, golf, and tennis to your heart’s desire. Rosemary Beach is one of the best places to enjoy the West Florida lifestyle. Houston area visitors can now enjoy non-stop flights aboard Southwest Airlines to the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport for “Wanna Get Away” round-trip web fares as low as $198! For additional information about Rosemary Beach lodging options, contact the Rosemary Beach Cottage Rental Company toll-free at 1-888-855-1551 or visit www.rosemarybeach.com. Cynthia Calvert is an experienced travel writer based in Houston, Texas. She owns four newspapers, The Tribunes, in suburban Houston with a delivered circulation of 50,000 and an online presence receiving more than 155,000 unique visitors each month. The Tribunes are an accredited (application basis only) part of Google News and enjoy a serious presence on the Internet (www.ourtribune.com). Calvert is a contributing editor to Stone Magazine, a bi-monthly, glossy magazine completely devoted to travel: www.stone-mag.com and StoneTravelGuide.com Stone is distributed in 25 countries and has a paid subscriber base of 85,000. Calvert is also a contributing writer for Bonita Living Magazine www.bonitalivingmagazine.com a paid monthly delivered to upscale businesses and affluent communities in Southern Florida. Photos from top to bottom: Sparkling water and crystal white beaches provide the perfect beach. Wooden boardwalks connect the different areas of the community, perfect for a stroll or a bike ride. Wild Olives has something for everyone - freshly prepared and delectable meals. Your table is waiting for al fresco dining at Onano.