K.K. Snyder is a freelance writer and photographer, who specializes in travel writing. While her travels are mainly concentrated to destinations in the Southeast, she knows no bounds and has ventured throughout the U.S. as well as Germany, Switzerland and England. She works full-time as a features writer for a daily newspaper in Southwest Georgia, where she strives daily to destroy the unflattering stereotypes imposed upon Southerners.

f l o r i d a

The Newest Little
Old Town in Florida's Panhandle

Story & photos By K.K. Snyder
Above: A peaceful jaunt in a sea kayak during a Rosemary Beach sunset is a perfect way to end the day at Rosemary Beach.

the same old song every spring and summer. Load the car with suitcases, bathing suits, sand buckets and shovels and those
Rosemary Beach is located on Scenic Route 30A, just west of Panama City Beach off Highway 98 West (east of Seagrove Beach).
little nets for catching unsuspecting sea creatures. Then it’s sand in the shoes, sand in the car, sand in the sheets, and before the week is over, you’re all beached out. Well, the run-of-the-mill beach vacation is no more, thanks to Rosemary Beach, where accommodations are both classic and classy, the dining, shopping and recreation opportunities are among the best in the Sunshine State, and new names had to be created to describe the sunsets. And believe it or not, by the end of your trip you won’t even mind the sand.

Grab a glass of wine and the camera to enjoy the spectacular sunsets along the Emerald Coast.

So why hasn’t there been much to-do about Rosemary Beach before now? Because until recently, it didn’t exist. This new traditional town on northwest Florida’s gulf coast between Panama City and Destin began development just a few years ago and has met with great success thus far in satisfying full-time waterfront residents, second-home buyers and upper-middle to high-end vacationers. Once you enter the Rosemary Beach property at the eastern end of Scenic Route 30A, you’ll realize the real world - and the old song-and-dance beach vacation - are long gone.

Basking in the beautiful Florida sun or shimmering in the uncomparable, the silhouettes of architecture call to mind the West Indies, New Orleans, St. Augustine, and Charleston. And while each piece in the mosaic of vacation cottages and carriage houses is architecturally unique and is custom designed and built to reflect their owner’s tastes, needs, and lifestyles, each fits into a very specific pattern. Planned by Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, of the Miami-based Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. (DPZ),who also designed the infamous Seaside just up the road, Rosemary Beach is a town much different, where planners chose beautiful muted, subtle earth tones to compliment and blend in with the native scrub and vegetation, which has been painstakingly preserved.

“No two houses in Rosemary Beach are the same,” said Alex Dunser, project director and executive vice president. “In fact they’re all different.” So don’t look to find yourself standing in the middle of another pastel playground, this town brings all the elements of fine residential style and architecture together and tightly wraps them around an impressive town center, which will make even the most distant of travelers feel at home. With about 60 rentals available at this time, and more to come in the next couple years, guests may choose from cozy studio or one-bedroom carriage houses to luxury cottages, featuring two to six bedrooms.

Fully-equipped kitchens in Rosemary Beach cottages are a matter of necessity and convenience for a cup of coffee or full gourmet meal.
Once on site, choosing what to do first will be your only trouble. As you discover the luxury and refinements awaiting you in the cottage or carriage house you’ll be calling home during your vacation, it may be hard to get you back outside to enjoy the beautiful beach and professionally landscaped grounds. Each luxurious cottage has its own personality and theme, most furnished to the owner’s specificity and lifestyle. If you enjoy cooking fresh seafood or other culinary favorites while vacationing, you’ll be delighted to discover the fully-equipped kitchens, including all appliances as well as dishes and cookware. Gourmet coffee, bottled orange juice and bottled water are provided as well as biscotti and microwave popcorn.

Sleeping is a pleasure at Rosemary Beach where guests enjoy lying in the lap of luxury on an assortment of twin, full, queen ane king beds, sleeper sofas and bunks for the children, in most of the cottages, which offer more than a comfortable nights rest. You’ll be pamper even more when it comes to the special appointments attended to for bathing. With fluffy towels, Aveda soaps and lotions and specially-made rosemary soap, you can wash away that work week stress. A few cottages even offer Jacuzzi tubs and soaking tubs for a truly relaxing bathing experience after a long day of tennis, biking, sea kayaking, shopping or just lounging on the beach. Other luxuries featured in most cottages are garage; wrap-around porches and balconies with chairs and gas grills; television; VCR and stereo system; and washer/dryer.

The glassy-smooth surface of the Coquina Pool will lure you to its depths for a refreshing swim after a day on the beach.
Though a few cottages do offer private pools, you’ll want to experience the glass-like surface of the negative edge Coquina pool, located beach-side and named for the beautiful tile which surrounds it. The pool is one depth and has no edges, meaning that the overflow water falls into small drains flush with the ground around the pool. The Cabana Pool, located park-side, is a family friendly pool area with a Mediterranean design, featuring cabana-style dressing rooms and a separate children’s pool. Both pools are open for residents and guests from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. In all, five pools are planned for the development, with the third under construction as of late 2001.

If you prefer your swimming water to be edged with sand, follow one of the many wooden boardwalks which traverse this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood and chances are you’ll end up at the beach, where comfortable Adirondack chairs and beach umbrellas are awaiting. Or meander down the dune walkovers built to provide residents and guests access to and from the beach, while protecting the fragile dune system that keeps the beach rooted and prevents erosion and washout during storms. Walkovers also contain showers and restrooms and two walkovers are wheelchair accessible.

Besides swimming, Rosemary Beach provides a mountain of recreational activity for adults and children including tennis on the fast-dry clay courts, two of which are lighted for those nighttime games. The Rosemary Beach Racquet Club provides lessons, group clinics and “match” making service for those in need of a tennis partner. The new Tennis Pro Shop features state-of-the-art equipment and the latest in men, women and children’s tennis wear. The shop employs northwest Florida’s only qualified Master Racquet Technician, available for re-gripping and racquet re-stringing needs.

Bike rentals, available at the Tennis Pro Shop, are another popular option as the layout of the neighborhood is so well-equipped for bike riders who won’t have to worry about traffic. Bikes for adults and children are available, as are baby joggers and baby seats. A great deal of sightseeing can be accomplished by traversing the Scenic 30-A by bicycle at your own pace. If it’s something a bit more adventurous you’re in
Each cottage and carriage house is designed and decorated to the owner's taste and no two are the same.
search of, get one on one sea kayak instruction from the on-site expert or rent one to brave the waves on your own. But, if lounging on the beach, strolling through the English knot garden, or watching the children play on the playground and immaculate emerald lawns of the common areas is all the excitement you can handle during your stay, that’s fine too.

Your every need can be attended to on-site at Rosemary Beach, beginning with the delicious lunch or dinner which beckons from
The Summer Kitchen in Town Center. Providing casual, family-style fare for lunch and dinner, the restaurant offers tasty sandwiches, salads, roll-ups, and more. The menu changes seasonally and as the afternoon rounds out, the restaurant becomes Blue by Night, where specialties may include blackened catfish; rosemary chicken and garlic tomato stack; and grilled fish du jour. Coming to Rosemary Beach in March 2001, an Italian-style bed and breakfast inn and restaurant will provide another option for delicious meals.

Should you decide to venture down the road for dining or shopping, you won’t want to miss dinner at Café Thirty-A, which provides a one-of-a-kind dining experience, as well as martini bar and quite an extensive (and impressive) wine list. For starters, try their specialty appetizer of grilled Georgia quail with creamy grits and sage fritters. These aren’t your mama’s grits, so prepare your taste buds for a whole new sensation. Next, enjoy a unique salad, or go straight to your choice of main courses, including a pan-seared sesame crusted rare yellowfin tuna or the delicious (you have my word) cracked pepper crusted filet mignons, with truffle whipped potatoes, mushroom and caramelized onion strudel and asparagus. Don’t eat too much, though, you’ll want to save room for the delicious desserts include a vanilla creme brulee with fresh fruit compote, which is out of this world, or the banana beignets with caramel sauce and macadamia nut brittle Haagen Dazs. Yum.

Or if you’re looking for something a little more casual, but ev
The Shops of Grayton Beach offer a wide variety in shopping, from fine clothing and antiques to art and jewelry.
ery bit as tasty, stop into
Amalfi Coast for some classic Italian, including Tuscan white bean soup with pancetta, penne pasta with grilled shrimp or any of their specialty brick oven pizzas, such as the Napoli with oven-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach and mozzarella. Don’t miss the wonderfully unique fried strawberries with a white chocolate gelato, blackberry coulis and whipped cream to round out the dining experience.

If it’s souvenirs or a special gift you’re in search of, visit the
Rosemary Beach Trading Company in Town Center, where logo-wear is their specialty. From shirts, sportswear, children’s wear and straw beach totes to note cards, cookbooks, woven baskets, island gifts and accessories, guests can find their own special reminders of their visit to Rosemary Beach. The shop is open seven days a week during the spring and summer months. Another treat right in town is L’ Artiste et Le Photographe, Rosemary Beach’s own fine art gallery, featuring the works of renowned Caribbean batik artist, Marti Schmidt, and world-class photographer, Michael Belk. Occasionally, visitors are treated to the artists working in the gallery.

Once you’ve set yourself up with a delicious meal, burn off some of those calories by browsing at any of the local shops such as those at Seaside or Grayton Beach. Offering a wide array of specialty s
You'll sleep in the lap of luxury at Rosemary Beach where the appointments are both classic and comfortable.
hops, fine clothing stores, antiques and collectibles shops and much more, you’re sure to find at least one “must have” item before returning to the quiet splendor of your home away from home at Rosemary Beach. Whatever you choose to do throughout your days, be sure to hit the beach and perhaps enjoy a glass of wine while watching those brilliant sunsets. Don’t be too long in getting there though, because once it begins, there isn’t much time before that last little pulp of sun is squeezed out of the horizon for yet another day. Oh, and don’t forget the camera - you’ll want to get a picture of this one.

Rentals are available in a cozy studio or one-bedroom carriage houses to luxury cottages, featuring from two to six bedrooms. Spring and fall daily rates range from $157 to $735; weekly rates range from $917 to $4,662. Summer daily rates range from $187 to $810; weekly rates range from $1,127 to $5,187. Winter specials are available between September and February with daily rates starting at $147 and weekly rates at $847. For more information on cottage rentals or to inquire about reservations, call (888) 855-1551.