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Where To Go: Rosemary Beach, Florida

Rosemary Beach: Rustic, Refined Romance
by Kathie Farnell

Sheltered behind sugar-white dunes, the little town of Rosemary Beach nestles at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. This section of the Florida Panhandle was spared any oil contamination from the Deepwater Horizon spill, and today the emerald-green waters and white sands welcome honeymooners and beachcombers alike. Just fifteen years old, the planned community’s cottages, shops and winding streets have a Caribbean feel, thanks to a muted color scheme and extensive use of native plants.

Weddings take place in the Town Hall, outside on one of the pristine greens fronting the Gulf, or on the beach itself. May and October offer perfect, balmy weather, but mild winters make this a popular year-round wedding destination.

The town was designed for pedestrians—everyone walks or rides a bike from Bamboo Beach & Bicycle, which even has tandem bikes. Boardwalks lead to the Gulf, where visitors soak up the sun or rent a kayak or sailboat. Inland, activities include swimming in one of the four pools, tennis, a trip to the fitness center, or a game of bocce ball (the town hosts two bocce tournaments a year, and, for daredevils, Extreme Bocce.) More contemplative visitors enjoy chilling at the day spa, communing with nature in the Butterfly Garden, or browsing the elegant shops and galleries.

Mealtime options are varied: Amavida Coffee serves locally-roasted coffee and pastries. Cowgirl Kitchen brings Texas-sized breakfasts to the beach. Summer Kitchen and Wild Olive offer sandwiches, salads and wraps in the fresh air. Courtyard Wine & Cheese pours wine from the only environmentally-controlled wine room in the Panhandle. Dinner choices include Northern Italian fare at Onano Neighborhood Cafe or lobster bisque at the elegant Restaurant Paradis. Most inventive dish in town: Chocolate dipped Bacon at La Crema Tapas & Chocolate.

Accommodations range from spacious beachfront cottages to urban-feel lofts. For nostalgic brides, Eden State Gardens (ten miles from Rosemary Beach) offers outdoor wedding options with a Southern mansion as a backdrop. Weddings take place on the lawn in front of the white-columned Wesley House, under the Wedding Tree ( a 650-year-old live oak dripping with Spanish moss and atmosphere) or in the Rose Garden. More than 100 varieties of camellias bloom from December through March, and the Gardens’ 163 acres offer picnic spots as well as hiking trails along Tucker Bayou.

Visiting the area is easier than ever with the opening of the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, which offers daily service by major airlines.

To read more about Rosemary Beach on Lovetripper, see Rosemary Beach: Nature Deluxe by Kathie Farnell.

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Beach wedding photo courtesy of Rosemary Beach Cottage Rentals, other photos by Kathie Farnell.

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