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Inspirations for Home Design

 

Rosemary Beach, Florida

An Elegant Sojourn at the Shore

©  Becky  Linhardt  2012

 

 The Beach

With white “sugar” sand, clear turquoise waters – the beaches of Florida’s Panhandle have attracted visitors for decades. Unique among the resort town and private developments along 30A, Rosemary Beach follows the “new urban architecture” with a planned community that is pedestrian and bicycle friendly with a strong commitment to the ecology as a way to preserve the beauty of its beach and lifestyle. 

A high bluff of dunes protects the beach and the homes behind the dunes have vista views and easy access to the shoreline via numerous “cross-over” stairs, some with ramps. Wide umbrellas and comfortable canvas sling chairs are set out on the beach each morning so that you don’t have to carry more than some sunscreen, a paperback, and your towel down to or up from the beautiful beach.

It all seems so very civilized. True, I did not visit in the very busy summer or spring break seasons but the general attitude on the beach seems to be one of courtesy and valuing the quiet window of time shared in such a beautiful place.

At sunset no one seems to be in a hurry to leave. In fact, people begin to gravitate towards the decks on the cross-overs to watch the changing colors of sea and sky before gradually drifting away to dinner “in town” along Main Street or picking up something “to go” from nearby Wild Olive on Barrett Square.

 

The Town

Large, elegant “cottages” and smaller “carriage house” accommodation were built in styles that harken back to British and Dutch Colonial architecture in the Caribbean. The streetscape could be that of an island port where streets are narrow and only glimpses of courtyards can be seen over high garden walls.

Individual owned, many of the cottages (4-6 bedrooms) and carriage houses (studio to 2-bedroom) are available to rent. During some seasons, nightly rental is an option. To my surprise one of the best values for price is mid-April to mid-May, between Spring Break and the family-oriented Summer Season.

Highway 30A flows slowly through town as a two lane road that bisects Barrett Square, the small town commercial center for Rosemary Beach. The tight-knit community encourages owners and guests to park their cars in the carriage house garages and walk or bike to their destination. It makes vacation life so much easier when everyone in your group can agree to meet at a restaurant and get there without having to deal with traffic congestion.

Numerous boardwalks, sandy paths and cobbled streets link the four quadrants of Rosemary Beach and the “cross-over” beach access points. I did not need a car. I could and did easily walk or bike to shops, restaurants, the pool, the beach, the bookstore, the fitness center, the tennis club, etc.

The landscaping is lush and pockets parks dot the community. Larger spaces such as the West Green provide a place for gatherings and festivals. The Pensione and The Rosemary Beach Hotel occupy the corners of Water Street at Main Street. A popular retail/restaurant byway, Main Street connects Barrett Square to West Green with its beach access.

 

On the Water

On the beach below the West Green cross-over you can rent a sea kayak for a paddle along the shoreline. The water was so amazingly clear and the sloop of the beach so gradual that even 20 feet out we were probably still only in about 6 feet of clear water, watching the play of light on the sand below.

Through Sea Oats Beach Service you can arrange to take a sail on a Hobie Cat and let the wind be your energy source. The soft sea breeze in your hair is sure to put a smile on your face.

For those who prefer to enjoy their sun and water experience at poolside, there are four unique pools, one in each quadrant of Rosemary Beach.

 

Dining and Retail

It is nice to have the Viking Stoves and Subzero refrigerators in your rental but do you really want to cook while on vacation? Most people do not so having elegant or casual fare within walking distance is wonderful. Truly wonderful when you have fine dining options such as Eddie’s Fine Food and Wine (inside or patio) or Restaurant Paradis (they understand how to prepare duck properly!) but can show up in casual attire – no ties here. At Onano Neighborhood Café I enjoyed flavorful mushroom ravioli, tender calamari, and delicious Pork Milanese, and the tiramisu – heavenly!

Casual dining is often outdoors since the climate is mild. Breakfast at the Cowgirl Kitchen has a bit of a Southwestern flair and a faithful following that often counts on them for large carry-out orders. For coffee and scones, it’s Amavida Coffee sheltered by an arcade. At the Summer Kitchen Café you can enjoy sandwiches and more inside or on their sunny patio. At Wild Olives you have many choices – under the arcade, at an umbrella table or deli take out.

 

Activities

So much of life is lived outdoors in Rosemary Beach. It may be a casual game of Bocce Ball on a green near Barrett Square, a afternoon ride on the bike/hike path to Deer Lake State Park, a game of tennis, or just lazy time at the beach or pool.

The community comes together for organized events open to the public, such as the annual Flutterby Festival in the fall. Small scale and planned for kids to enjoy, I noticed just as many smiles on the faces of the parents and grandparents as they wandered among the booths and activities along Main Street with their families.

 

Literary

Need a beach read? The Hidden Lantern Bookstore has at least 10,000 titles on hand and you can place an order in advance of your stay. Comfy seating makes this a great place to escape on a rainy day. The bookstore also schedule book signings and events such as one in September for “Talk like a Pirate Day” (notice the “ship” chandelier). Like everything else in Rosemary Beach, the bookstore is just a short walk away!

 Rosemary Beach: www.rosemarybeach.com

Rosemary Beach Cottage Rentals: www.rosemarybeach.com or 866-348-8952

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        As a travel writer it is my responsibility to select the best places, events, and experiences to present to you. Most travel has been on my own though some has occurred on sponsored press trips. Travel listings here will be more informal than my published articles.

 

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