I’m recently (and very reluctantly) back from a fabulous family vacation in Rosemary Beach, FL. We’ve been vacationing in the Destin/Perdido/30A area since I was a little girl. When I was younger, we would combine vacations and go with one of our favorite families but since all the kids have started to grow up, it’s been super hard to find time to schedule a vacation. This year, though, we made it happen and stayed in a fantastic beach house in the Seacrest Beach Community. It was so much fun vacationing with everyone after 10 years! Since it’s been a while, it was like discovering 30A all over again. So, I thought I’d tell you a bit about the things that we did and things that we saw in a little 30A Travel Diary!
Where to Stay:
Seacrest Beach – Like I said above, we stayed in the Seacrest beach community in a fantastic house right near the pool. The address of this area is technically Rosemary Beach so you’re within walking or biking distance to both the Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach town squares. The Seacrest beach pool is seriously the MOST AMAZING POOL EVER. I’ll be posting pics of it later this week so make sure you subscribe to check them out. They have both houses and condos in this area. We stayed across the street from the beach but the walk is so short and they have trams you can take as well!
Rosemary Beach – This is technically the same area that we stayed in but I thought I would list it anyway. One of my favorite spots here is the Pearl. Which is the most blogger worthy hotel/condos in Rosemary. Think all black, white, and yellow. Check out their website here. The houses in this area and in Seacrest are all different shades of beach colors. Its such a fun little community.
Alys Beach – This is a newer area in 30A. So new that the last time we were there, it didn’t even exist! This is the area that I was just completely WOWED by. It was basically all white and unbelievably gorgeous! I think it costs some serious $$$ to grab a spot in here, but if you can afford it, you totally won’t be disappointed. Keith had to tell me to wipe the drool off of my chin when we were walking through this area! DREAM BEACH!
Seaside – If you know anything about 30A, then you know Seaside is the OG of fabulous beach communities. It’s got that white, blue, and yellow color scheme that screams ‘I’m at the beach’ and the cutest town square EVER! There are so many fun things to do in this little area. Even if you aren’t staying here, you should totally come and check it out!
Watercolor Beach – This is another up and coming area of 30A that is right by Seaside and carries on that all white beachy vibe! This one is also on the pricey side since it’s a bit newer. I didn’t get to explore this area quite as much, but drove through and was in awe of the gorgeous architecture.
Where to Eat/Drink:
We cook and eat most of our meals in the house but here are a couple places that we went/heard were awesome!
Charlie’s Donuts – On one of out rainy morning, we ate some donuts from Charlie’s and they were AMAZING! There is a truck on Alys beach and a little shop at Peddler’s Pavilion in Seacrest. They sell out every single day, so make sure you get there early. There are all kinds of specialty donuts as well.
Small Cakes – This little ice cream and cake shop in Rosemary was probably my favorite stop. They have a concoction where they split a cupcake in half and put ice cream in the middle. It was seriously WONDERFUL!
Seaside – Instead of listing all of the spots to eat here, I thought I’d group them as one. Seaside has a ton of little outdoor (almost food truck-ish) food spots. There is a burger joint (Pickles), a taco place, BBQ, a gourmet hotdog truck, a cool pizza spot, the 30A Famous FrostTop’s frozen drinks and more. This is what we did the first night that we arrived since no one felt like cooking and everyone wanted something different! I had nachos and they were fantastic!
Bud & Alley’s – This one is also in Seaside but since it’s more of a bar, I gave it its own moment. Keith, my friend Haley, and I hopped over here one afternoon after shopping for some Seaside souvenirs to grab a drink. They have a good many beers for my beer drinking friends and some fantastic cocktails. I had the Mango Mojito (my mouth is watering thinking about it) and Haley had a Strawberry Martini with lime that was fantastic! The best part is that it is a rooftop bar over looking the ocean! We saw a gorgeous sunset while sipping on yummy drinks. I totally recommend this spot!
Havana Beach Restaurant and Rooftop Lounge – This is a spot that I kept saying I was going to go to and never got the chance. The Havana Beach Bar and Grill is located inside the Pearl. I’ve heard wonderful things about his place. Reservations are recommended if you want to eat here. If you fly by the seat of your pants like us, try the rooftop lounge. They have private cabanas and fire pits and it looks like the PERFECT spot to grab a sunset drink!
What to do:
Peddler’s Pavilion – This little spot is right next to Rosemary Beach and it is THE place to be after the sun goes down every night. They have live music every single night and a couple of cute shops (I’ll chat about his below) and a few tiny hut type shops where you can shop or grab pizza, wine, beer, and snowballs!
Rent Bikes – This can be done all around 30A but the spot closest to us was at Peddler’s Pavilion (that’s how it got it’s name)! They have all kinds of bikes and you can rent them for the day or the week at great prices. I 100% recommend renting bikes for at least one day and riding all around the area. There are so many fantastic houses to see and trails to ride. We absolutely LOVE riding bikes around 30A.
Pontoon Boats – One of the things that we love to do is to take a morning and rent a pontoon boat and head to Shell island. There are tons of companies to rent from and here is a tip: Haggle! They’re prices aren’t always set in stone, especially for the morning rentals as those are harder to fill up! You’ll get to drive your own boat all around Shell island. What you’ll want to do is find a nice spot to park your boat and head over the the gulf side (you can’t drive the boats to that side but it’s a short walk) near the rocks at the end of the island. The water is OUT OF THIS WORLD! It’s as clear or clearer than the water I’ve seen in Central America! Grab your snorkel and check out the fish near the rocks too!
Where to Shop:
LMN – The pants in the above photo were a gift from the CUTEST boutique on the entire 30A, LMN. It’s a pint-sized shop located in Peddler’s Pavilion near Rosemary and it’s filled with the best finds! They have the best taste and it was a miracle I didn’t walk away with everything. They have the perfect stuff for your family photos. I loved the selection of unique jewelry and even picked up the cutest cactus keychain for my keys! You’ve got to check this out if you’re in the area!
Pier Park – If you’re staying where we were in Rosemary Beach, you’re only about 20 minutes for Pier Park in Panama City. They have fantastic shopping and fun spots to eat as well.
Seaside – I love love love the bookstore (Sundog Books) in Seaside, as well as some of their fun little boutiques throughout the square. I always pick up a Seaside beach t-shirt while I’m there because I’m #basic and proud of it!
Alys Beach Shoppe – This is one of Alys Beach’s only shops and it is gorgeous. I (of course) bought an Alys beach shirt from this spot but they also have some gorgeous clothes, shoes, accessories, and swimwear. Actually the swimwear was out of this world amazing! The prices are a little out of my current league, but the clothes are worth every penny!
Destin Commons & the Outlets – These are a no brainer for my seasoned shoppers. We didn’t make out way to Destin this year, but these are a can’t miss for those of you who want to spend the day shopping til you drop!
Taking Family Photos:
Is it a family beach trip if you don’t wall wear white and take sunset pics on the beach? YES, YES IT IS! Since I’m chatting all about the area, I thought I’d share some tips with you to help you get a not-so-cliche family photo with that famous beach lighting and those gorgeous sun tans. The night that I went out on the beach at sunset, there were hundreds of families in the same color taking photos. I wish I would’ve taken it a picture from the top of the boardwalk! It was hilarious. We’ve always done those kinds of pics too, but this year, we decided to think out of the box and it was SOOOO worth it! I am totally not a professional photographer but I was there and I was free!
Skip the beach: Find a spot where you can see the water, or maybe one where you just get those ‘beachy’ vibes and take it there instead. It will make for a more interesting photo while still maintaining the look and feel of a beach picture. Not to mention, my hair gets CRAY when I get in that beach wind. I’ve got about 10 minutes before I’ve got a full on fro! We actually took pics in Alys beach this year. We scoped it out on bikes one night and came back for the most beautiful backdrop!
Don’t get too Matchy-Matchy: I know it may seem like the logical thing to do to choose the same color for everyone to wear. And YES, white looks great in photos. But allowing some more colors into your photos really makes them more interesting. My family honestly didn’t plan this at all and it just ended up looking super great. Maybe sticking with lighter versions of colors is a good plan. The Johnson’s wore mostly black and white with some pops of pink, and the Guy’s added blue into their color scheme. The days of everyone wearing a white button up are done and gone. Just let everyone wear something they like and try to think in a similar color palette. That way everyone feels like they look and feel their best in the photos!
Mix up the poses: It’s super easy to get into what feels like a good family photo formation, but those often look really stiff. Since I shot the photos this year, I was able to take some creative license in posing everyone. I did one structured typical picture with each family and then a laid back look as well. They all liked the laid back one better. My family sat on some steps. I put the Johnson’s in some beachy chairs. And I had the Guy’ sitting and standing!
Try Laughing: There is something about a happy picture that just makes me smile. When I was snapping pics, I had the kids make funny faces or tell jokes and tried to grab photos of us all laughing! I loved the way these turned out. When I look back at family photos, I want to remember us happy and these photos are so much fun!
Check out some of my favorite pics from our shoot below!