Last updated: 03:00 AM ET, Sun March 22 2015

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | March 22, 2015 3:00 AM ET

    Florida Fun in Rosemary Beach

    Florida Fun in Rosemary Beach

    Photo by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    With frigid temps blasting every corner of the U.S., a quick Florida escape is a no-brainer. But the Sunshine State offers a lot more than the obvious Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, or Key West hotspots. For low-key fun without the crowds, head to the serene beach community of Rosemary Beach.

    I arrived in Rosemary Beach for a long weekend and was immediately relaxed by the easy-going vibe. With the salty air from the Gulf of Mexico breezing over me, I grabbed a bike at Bamboo Bicycle Company and pedaled to the Amavida Coffee, a family-owned café that features locally roasted, Fair Trade coffee, and shelves of books lining the sunny walls. Parking my bike, I admired the cobblestone streets, free of cars, breathed in the wild rosemary-scented air and realized that Rosemary Beach is special. It really is unlike any other town in the state.

    Founded in 1995 on the northwest coast of Florida, Rosemary Beach is a 105-acre beach community that promotes green community living. That translates into lots of walking and biking, uncrowded beaches and pools, small businesses that make use of natural topography, and the perfect solo or family getaway.

    For accommodation, I found a charming two-story carriage house with a balcony and winding staircase. The first thing I did was hop on my rental bike and go exploring. I cycled to the boutiques and through the parks, including a vivid butterfly garden that was bursting with bold flowers and flitting butterflies. It was like riding through a time machine, back through a '50s-era small town, with locals waving as I rode by and asking where I was from. When I got to the sand dunes, I ditched my bike and strolled along the dramatic dune walkovers, which protect the dune systems and provide beach access.

    Rosemary Beach has a winding, 2.3 mile trail made of sand paths and boardwalks. With the Florida sun blazing down, it’s a scenic walk and a great workout. After walking the length of the trail, I was ready to enjoy the pristine, silvery beach and turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. You can simply swim or rent kayaks and surfboards right on the beach.

    I kayaked out to the second sand bar in search of dolphins and enjoyed watching brave families try yolo boarding — which requires stand-up paddling and the kind of balance and coordination that I do not have. After the beach, a stop at New Orleans Sno Balls is essential. The tiny storefront serves up icy treats in the traditional New Orleans style, which means a fluffy ice texture that absorbs the flavored syrups. They offer more than 20 flavors; my favorite was Dreamcicle.

    At night, sampling the distinctive local restaurants is a Rosemary Beach must. I visited Cowgirl Kitchen, a kitschy eatery with the motto, “Where Beach Meets West,” and ate a veggie pizza slathered with feta, roasted garlic, and fresh spinach.

    There’s no traffic, crowds, nightclubs or even tall buildings in Rosemary Beach. It offers a kind of relaxing, eco-friendly experience that makes you slow down and smell the coffee. And the rosemary.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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