...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Last month we vacationed in Rosemary Beach, Florida. We had heard so many good things about the area so we were excited to experience it for ourselves. It did not disappoint!

drive to Rosemary Beach

We made the trip by car. It was about an eleven hour car ride from southwest Ohio. To save time and money, I packed our lunches and a bag full of snacks so the only stops we made were for restroom breaks. Don’t let the picture fool you. My kids are not car sleepers. Fifteen minutes later everyone was awake and asking if we were there yet.

Seacrest

We arrived after dark and didn’t get a good view of the area until the next morning. This was the sunrise view from the third floor balcony (!) of our vacation rental. (More on that later.) The day long car ride was totally worth it.

lattes on the porch

The boys and I were up early every morning. We’d eat breakfast, hang out on the front porch swing, then go for a bike ride or a walk on the beach while Steve and Mabrey slept.

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Our vacation rental came with four adult bikes. We brought Everett’s bike and a bike stroller for Mabrey. The entire area is extremely bike-friendly which we loved. We went on a family bike ride at least once a day, if not more.

The first morning there, the boys and I hit up the farmer’s market in downtown Rosemary. We stocked up on fresh produce for juice. (We brought our juicer from home.) We also bought the most amazing crab cake mix which we cooked for dinner later in the week. Soooo goooood.

There was a Flutterby Festival (basically a butterfly-themed festival) on the lawn in Rosemary the first day. We rode our bikes down and spent a few hours there. There was a bounce house and games, and a magician performed on a small stage. The kids loved it. Steve and I liked that it wasn’t too crowded. At lunchtime, we hopped on our bikes and pedaled back to the house which took all of five minutes.

Rosemary Beach

Rosemary Beach

Rosemary Beach

The beach was ~7 minute bike ride from the house. Steve and I have never considered ourselves “beach people.” (I was stung by a stingray in my teens which has pretty much turned me off from any ocean.) The gritty sand, the scorching sun, the crowds, nothankyou. HOWEVER, I think we’ve just been visiting the wrong beaches at the wrong times. Rosemary Beach has powdery sand, crystal clear water and the most indescribable atmosphere. Have you seen The Truman Show? It was filmed just a few miles from Rosemary Beach. That dome-like, living-in-a-bubble effect?… it’s real! Between the picture perfect sky and lapping waves, you seriously feel like you are insulated from the rest of the world. It’s kinda surreal.

We loved being at the beach in the off-season. The weather wasn’t just tolerable; it was comfortable (at least for us Midwesterners). And there were no crowds to speak of. It was so peaceful. Maybe we’re just October / November beach people. Is that a thing?

Rosemary Beach

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We found ourselves skipping Mabrey’s nap in favor of afternoons at the beach. I didn’t pack any beach toys but it didn’t matter. The kids were content for hours playing in the sand and wading in the water. Nature really is the best toy. Mabrey kept referring to the salt water as “spicy water.” It was hilarious.

Seacrest pool

For fun (mostly to appease the kids’ begging) we hit up the neighborhood pool on the warmest day. We had the entire 12,000 square foot pool to ourselves. Ha! It was SO COLD. That was maybe our only regret of the entire trip. We had this amazing pool but didn’t get to fully enjoy it.

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This is the only proof I have that Steve and I were on vacation, too ;)

kids on the vacation house porch

My kids don’t do normal.

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All in all, it was THE BEST family vacation. We have never been so sad to leave a place. It was the first vacation where we didn’t feel like we needed a vacation from our vacation when we returned home. We’ll definitely be back!

I’d like to share a little more about our vacation but this post is already lengthy. I still have a slew of pictures from my walks around Rosemary Beach and nearby Alys Beach. And I managed to snap a few shots of our vacation rental with my real camera. Look for those in future posts if you’re interested.

Have you ever been to Rosemary Beach or the surrounding 30A area? Where is your favorite place to vacation? Have you ever been on a true vacation where you felt relaxed and recharged afterwards? Steve and I have never really considered vacations important, but this trip changed our minds!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

43 Comments

01.December.2014

The 30a area is home for me. Glad you had a great time in our neck of the woods!

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01.December.2014

I’m so glad y’all enjoyed your vacation. I grew up in the south – vacationing on the Gulf of Mexico every year. I love those sugar white beaches and emerald green waters. The best kept secret, shhhh.

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01.December.2014

I never cared to go to the beach year after year until we found 30A. It’s our go-to family vacation spot now. We stay in the same neighborhood as the pool you mentioned. The area is just beautiful and so relaxing, which is saying a lot when you vacation with kids! Glad you had such a nice trip.

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Your vacation looked amazing Dana. I grew up in coastal GA and im not much of a beach person either, BUT, I must say, your vacation looked like the stuff of dreams. The ocean terrifies me, but I think it has incredible soul healing powers. Im so happy you and your family got to enjoy this time together. Weve never ben on a real family vacay and I know I need to make it a priority.

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01.December.2014

We were just in Watercolor/Seaside area in October. We love it! Can’t wait to see more of your pics.

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replied on December 1st, 2014

We drove through that area! It looks really nice, too. We were bummed we didn’t discover the food trucks in Seaside until the last day when we were trying to eat up leftovers in our fridge.

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01.December.2014

This vacation sounds amazing! I have been to FL so many times, but never to that area. I can’t wait for your next post about your rental! Just curious… did you do your regular exercise routine while traveling, too? I remember you did for another trip you took with your kiddos a while back, and I was so impressed that you stuck with it through vacation. Sounds like you got plenty of exercise with the cycling either way! And love that you brought your juicer with you guys. Smart way to save money and stick to your routine.

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replied on December 1st, 2014

I brought along a Tracy Anderson DVD and did it twice. I also did a lot of biking and walking and did some lunges up and down our (dead-end) road. Steve worked out as well. It was the perfect balance of physical activity + leisure. If only it was so easy at home!

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01.December.2014

It looks like you had fun! We’ve gone as an extended family to Destin and Santa Rosa beach and it is beautiful there. We generally go during the busy season, but those areas aren’t very crowded then either.

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01.December.2014

Looks like fun! My sister and I (both full-time single moms), went on a kidless vacation at a Dominican resort a couple years ago. I never thought of myself as a resort type of person, I prefer to get real and dirty when I travel, but eight days on a beach with absolutely nothing to do unless we wanted to go find it was AMAZING. I don’t see a vacation with my kids being a relaxing vacation for a few more years yet ;)

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01.December.2014

Beautiful pictures! I have friends who live just a few miles from there and I’ve always wanted to go. Gorgeous family. ☺

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01.December.2014

Florida is where I call home and I really loved reading about your vacation! Like someone mentioned above, the beach/water is good for the soul! I’m like you and despise crowded beaches, so if you come back again, try going in late September or May. You won’t have to deal with the crowds and the water temps. are pretty good.

P.S. I love your blog!

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replied on December 1st, 2014

Thanks for the tip! We definitely want to go back so we’ll look into the months you mentioned.

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replied on December 9th, 2014

Being a fall beach person is definitely a thing!! We moved to North Carolina, and our summers are taken up with going to the family house on Lake Michigan, so we couldn’t go to the beach in the summer (couldn’t afford it either). We started going in late September, just after the rates fall. It’s FABULOUS. Cheaper, not crowded, the water and air are wonderful. Now fall smells like beach time to me. It’s weird to this former Michigander, but it’s so GREAT!

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02.December.2014

Sounds like a great little getaway, 1 of our favorite recharge holidays is called Coral Bay (we live in Australia) it’s about a 13 hour drive north of Perth and its just perfect. It’s literally 1 street, with a few restaurants, caravan parks, a couple small shops and bakery and that’s it.. But it has the most amazing beach you will ever see, it’s the Ningaloo reef so it’s snorkeling heaven and it’s the smallest little town that you have no choice but to just sit back, pop the champagne and go swimming. It’s hot all year round too ;)

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02.December.2014

Did I see correctly that Maybrey has found another Lovey (Berry)?!?! WONDERFUL!

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replied on December 2nd, 2014

Ah! Re-read your story and saw you did manage to find another B2.0. My daughter has a blue bunny she would be DEVASTATED if he went missing. I think we need to sew a tag onto him with our phone number on it (saw this tip in one of the comments on the original post – SUCH a good idea, thanks!)

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replied on December 2nd, 2014

Yes! I scored one on ebay then we bought a 3.0 as backup via Amazon. Berry goes everywhere!!

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02.December.2014

We have been considering Rosemary Beach for a vacation- the silica sand sounds amazing! Who did you rent your house through? Would you recommend that area and renter? It’s so unnerving to pay that much for a house sight unseen. I’ve shown up to a vacation rental before and they were terrible… Always like a recommendation from someone who has been there! Thanks for sharing your vacation- it looks like you had fun!!

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02.December.2014

I got married on the lawn at Rosemary Beach. It is definitely a special spot. I live in Chicago and I am amazed that no one really knows about it. It is very popular in the Southeast though. Next time try Seaside, Water Color and Water Sound. All pretty.

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02.December.2014

How do you get your pictures to look like that from your PHONE?! Is it VSCo Cam or a similar app? Or do you edit them before posting? I want all of my pictures to look as pretty as yours do!

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replied on December 2nd, 2014

It’s VSCO! I use the same filter almost every time. Makes even the plainest pictures look dreamy ;)

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02.December.2014

So glad you enjoyed your first trip to the 30a! My husband proposed romantically on the beach in Seaside in 2011 and we’ve been back annually ever since. That area has truly stolen our hearts :) We go in late August/September just when the crowds have thinned out. We’ve stayed in a few different neighborhoods and frequent a few places ever year in case you ever want recommendations!

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replied on December 2nd, 2014

Good to know! I might hit you up for suggestions before we visit the area again ;)

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02.December.2014

Welcome to the Florida panhandle! We live very close to Rosemary, such a cute vacation town! So happy you enjoyed your visit. October is absolutely the best month to visit here, no tourist, perfect weather.

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02.December.2014

I started coming to the 30a area 25+ years ago when it really was a very quiet, sleepy place. My best friend & I weathered a tropical storm in the top tower of a house in Seaside when we were little. I can vividly remember that night! I also spent a whole summer in Santa Rosa Beach when I was 10 with my friend & her mom while they were relocating from IL & building their new home. It’s grown a bit too much since then, & I will only venture there now in the off season. I do agree September would be the best time. The pool water will still be like a bath then.

We are big travelers! We are planning a one-year sabbatical around-the-world trip in a few years with our 2 kids. I don’t feel there are many better gifts we can give our kids than exposure to this amazing planet! We try to seize every available opportunity to take off with them, & we make a lot of fun memories (from beach getaways to hiking in the mountains). I hope you are able to go on more adventures with your kids, too! Before we know it, they will be out of the house & off to college.

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replied on December 2nd, 2014

Ah, I’m so envious of your upcoming adventure! How wonderful to make that a priority in your and your children’s lives. Sounds amazing!

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02.December.2014

30A is the best. Check out Grayton Beach-you guys will love the cozy screened in porches and relaxed vibe. There are a ton of price points all along 30A

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03.December.2014

Oh I love it! What a gorgeous home.

It’s all about finding those beaches that arent overcrowded. We love Isle of Palms in Charleston SC. There’s no fast food chains [just some small restaurants], the architecture is breath taking, and the beaches are clean and bare! Sounds like a dream!

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replied on December 4th, 2014

Sounds amazing!

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08.December.2014

[…] star lights in our front window help a little. Reading helps a lot. I’ve been looking through our vacation pictures all week and I can’t decide if it’s torture or therapy. I think it’s […]

10.December.2014

Just now catching up. I think we were there the same time you were! We went to Santa Rosa Beach/ Seaside/ Seagrove over Thanksgiving. My husband’s aunt has a house RIGHT on the beach in Seaside.
Looks like you had fun!

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17.December.2014

[…] hope you don’t mind if I eke out one more post from our recent vacation. It’s dark and cold here so I’ve been living vicariously through the vacation photos on […]

23.December.2014

Having grown up spending time on the FL panhandle, October is DEFINITELY the time to visit.

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23.January.2015

What a dreamy vacation! Can you tell me where you got your bathing suit or is it just a shirt over a bikini? I’m very fair and need ample coverage. I thought yours was very cute.

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replied on January 23rd, 2015

The bottoms are Victoria’s Secret. The top is just some thin athletic shirt I found at Marshall’s. It’s super comfy!

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28.May.2015

[…] fall when we were gearing up for our family vacation to Rosemary Beach, I was making a list of food items to pack. To save money, I was packing breakfast, lunch and snack […]

[…] fall when we were gearing up for our family vacation to Rosemary Beach, I was making a list of food items to pack. To save money, I was packing breakfast, lunch and snack […]

14.September.2015

I’ve been obsessed with the 30A area since I read about your vacation on here nearly a year ago, and we finally went on our own vacation last week. It was just as amazing as I imagined it would be! Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach, Seaside – they were so magical; I want to grab some clean clothes and head back there for good! Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us and for the inspiration. As someone else said, I never really wanted to vacation in FL, but now I am so in love!

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replied on September 15th, 2015

I know! It’s so different from most of the touristy places in Florida.

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11.May.2016

Where do you find your vacation rentals from? You seem to have the most beautiful selection and great luck.
Air BNB or some other site?

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replied on May 18th, 2016

I’ve used both VRBO and Airbnb. I think I’m going to write up a post on how I search for vacation rentals since there’s been some interest in the topic lately.

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replied on May 18th, 2016

That would be great. I’d love to hear your perspective. I haven’t used either before but would like to plan our first family trip to Florida in about a year

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