Some of the most astounding examples of our nation’s warmer and natural resource-laden family vacation destinations can be found close to home away from big cities and still have palm trees and blue water. Within a day’s drive of a healthy chunk of the U. S., lies the quiet planned community of Rosemary Beach – an easy to miss gem if driving the Gulf Coast between busy Panama City and Pensacola. Named after the freely growing wild rosemary, this secluded environmentally sensitive neighborhood can be missed if in a hurry. The secret to any getaway for this writer is the absence of anything being difficult – and in Rosemary Beach, no decision is more difficult than deciding which swimsuit to wear.
A literal refuge with all the comforts, Rosemary Beach avoids crowds and sprawl by discouraging automobile use in lieu of walking and biking. Everything is close by, so think twice about expending the additional time and effort to continue to overly engineered and landscaped destinations farther south. Rosemary Beach’s creative growth controls do not in any way mean the absence of modern amenities such as meticulously planned historic and contemporary beach communities, so enjoy the nature around you and live
it up – save camping for another time.
Accommodations are numerous as the recreational opportunities and thoughtful planners have strategically intertwined modest and luxury sized condos, homes, and vacation rentals among a cozy yet efficient town center and “main street”. Sprinkled with various architecturally themed neighborhoods for variety, the community features cutting edge ecologically sensitive landscaping such as indigenous plantings and rain water infiltration techniques using porous pavement to prevent pollutant runoff by putting the rain literally back in the ground. The rental population is minimal with full-time residents and out-of-town owners comprising about one half of the community keeping it low key – so if a future vacation home is in the cards, this might be the last place you will look.
Rosemary Beach planners had a dream to create a town that captures the lifestyle long lost to suburbia by encouraging community interaction and interdependence while adhering to modern and sensible architectural principles. A thoughtful intertwining of public spaces and homes connected by paths and boardwalks makes everything within a five minute walk. Every home in Rosemary Beach is unique, conforming to the natural contours of the land resulting in an intricate patchwork of 12 home types establishing the town’s character and integrity. Using green construction materials and techniques, homes are finished in the style of cottage and carriage houses with wood siding, cedar shingle or stucco in a myriad of subtle natural colors not unlike a melding of St. Augustine, New Orleans and Charleston.
The beach access is uniquely illustrative of its commitment to protect the environment by observing coastal construction buffers and nine dune walk-overs providing easy beach access while protecting the fragile ecosystem. While not quite as tropical as south Florida, the easy automobile access from the north more than makes up for that with emerald-ish clear water and fine quartz crystal sand from millions of years of Appalachian Mountain erosion. If the cooler months chill the ocean water too much, try the four beach pools and fitness centers, or for something different, rent a kayak (Sea Oats Beach Service) or bike (Bamboo Beach and Cycle) the many trails. Deer Lake State Park nearby is my favorite and an ideal and popular bike destination famous for 1,700 acres of sand dune and native vegetation systems.
In addition to the beach, my favorite past-time was strolling around the various landscape areas to observe the natural planting areas including gardens. Check out the elaborate butterfly garden which, unlike many other areas elsewhere labeled as a butterfly garden, actually has tons of butterflies. The trails also function as very scenic and winding fitness trails with four fitness stations all leading to green areas for picnics, kids to frolic, and outdoor events. For the adults, check out the main street area for a day spa and shopping – you earned it. Finish up with cozy eating options at Amavida Coffee, Restaurant Paradis, Wild Olives, Onano Cafe, Summer Kitchen, Cowgirl Kitchen, Sugar Shack, and Courtyard Wine and Cheese.
Your one-stop-shop for arrangements and research is http://www.rosemarybeach.com
The most common air carrier access is through Panama City airport by Delta
and Southwest, but Rosemary Beach is also conveniently a day’s drive from
many U. S. Midwest and East Coast metropolitan areas.