Finding a little bit of Europe in Florida’s Panhandle!


If you follow my blog or social media, you probably know I visit Florida quite often. My family visits Northwest Florida about once a year to visit extended family and my favorite beaches in all of the US! We usually stay somewhere in either Navarre or Destin. This year, we ventured out a little further to explore the charming town of Rosemary Beach and the nearby neighborhood of Aly’s Beach.

Rosemary Beach, Fl.

For a split second, I thought I was in the French Riviera, with its cobblestone streets lined with enticing cafes, shops, and hotels brimming with private balconies adorned with black and white striped awnings. You’ll also find the most charming of post offices and town hall I have ever laid eyes on! Rosemary Beach was exactly what my wanderlusting heart needed. It has been over three years since I’ve traveled overseas. I get so excited when a place in the US reminds me of a distant elsewhere!

First, we snuck passed the private pier of The Pearl Hotel and enjoyed a couple of hours on one of the most pristine beaches nestled in the Gulf of Mexico. I mean, the gate was held open for us by some friendly guests, so what’s a girl to do?! Saying ‘no thank you’ would have been rude, don’t you think? Maybe next time we’ll stay at the hotel, I’ve heard amazing things!

Places to eat:

The Sugar Shak – After our time at the beach, our family of four popped in here for a quick ice cream cone. They don’t serve homemade ice cream, but Edy’s is fine by me. The reviews I read in the Yelp link aren’t the best. I wasn’t overly impressed but we didn’t have to wait in line, I know what Edy’s Ice Cream tastes like, and the price was reasonable. I give it a four out of five stars…only because, If given the choice, I would have preferred homemade ice cream.

La Crema Tapas and Chocolate – For lunch, we decided on this super delicious tapas place because, well, chocolate…duh! We ordered the Spanish Cheese Platter, the Strawberry Avocado Poppyseed Salad, the Serrano Wrapped Figs, the Steak Empanadas, and last but definitely not least, the Dark Chocolate Fondu. I would dine here again in a heartbeat, delicious!

Places to wander in:

The Hidden Lantern – This is the perfect little Indie Bookstore to wander around for a bit! There is a cozy reading nook, complete with a crystal ship chandelier. I love picking up gifts in bookstores like these. I feel it adds to the thoughtfulness by purchasing a gift while traveling, all while supporting local shops like this little gem.

Rosemary Beach Trading Company – If you’re looking for locally made jewelry, gifts, or souvenirs, this place is full of unique and beautiful finds. We purchased a beautiful hanging planter as a gift for our friends, who hosted our stay, and a sand dollar and geode that my daughter got to crack open later; it turned out to be gorgeous inside. She was very pleased, oh, and my bank account didn’t get its feelings hurt with my purchase and my friends loved their gift! It was a win win win!

Aly’s Beach, Fl.

Aly’s Beach’s website boasts, “… is a Traditional Neighborhood Development whose architectural vision has its roots in the style of Bermuda architecture and in the courtyards of Antigua, Guatemala, the colonial capital of Central America.” I definitely felt that vibe, however, with its white-washed architecture, coastal feels, along with the contrast of the clear blue skies on this particularly beautiful day… I just imagined I was in Greece! #dreamer

To say this neighborhood is aesthetically pleasing would be an understatement! I just loved wandering around, imagining one of these beautiful homes was one of my own. Quite a bit of Aly’s Beach is still under construction. I hope to visit again one day to see its completion. You can also find bicycle rentals, dining options, and vacation rentals on their site, Aly’s Beach. Might I also suggest looking into sites like Airbnb to find possibly more affordable prices booking directly with a home owner.

I loved exploring both Rosemary Beach and Aly’s Beach on my most recent trip to Florida’s Panhandle. Such a nice surprise to quench my thirst to travel outside the country a bit, but just for a bit *wink*.


How about you? Have you ever visited a city that made you feel you were in a completely different country?