Shortly after retiring, my son and daughter offered my husband and I their rental condo in Florida for a few days, so we decided to take them up on it. We knew this part of Florida wasn’t far enough south to be warm enough to swim in the pool or lay out by the ocean, but the weather forecast promised warmer temperatures of at least 10 degrees more than in Nashville and sunny skies too boot so we headed south. Since I’m new to retired life, it was thrilling just to be able to hop in the car and go! I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission!
30A is a collection of small, beautiful Florida beach towns nestled quietly between the much busier areas of Panama City and Destin along County Road 30A. Within this area, you’ll find the beach communities of Rosemary Beach, Seaside, Alys and Santa Rosa, to name a few. It’s a relatively new area with most of the development beginning since 1995.
Driving down from Nashville, we stopped at Cracker Barrell for lunch. While sitting at our table waiting for our food, I looked around and noticed that except for a couple of tables with young mothers and their toddlers, we were surrounded by all older people. Of course! The younger couples and the older children are working or in school! For the first time I absolutely identified as a retired person. These are my people now.😊
The condo was in Prominence in a quaint little neighborhood across from the Hub. It wasn’t directly on the beach, but came with this amazing golf cart that you could use to drive the short distance to it. We like to walk and ride bikes, so we choose that option, but in the summer I can see where you’d want to load up the kids, beach chairs and a cooler in the cart to head down for a day in the sun.
We had invited my husband’s sister and her husband to join us since we had three bedrooms and knew there would be plenty of room. There are many vacation rentals in the area, both oceanfront and otherwise and they are constantly building more creating plenty of places to stay, especially during the winter months.
The first day we took advantage of the incredibly blue sky and sunshine and rode our bikes down to Rosemary beach. Even though there was a slight breeze, I actually got a little warm in my light parka. The bike trail runs for miles along 30A and allowed us to enjoy every minute of the 6 mile round trip, take in at all the beautiful greenery and lovely buildings while not having to worry about cars and traffic.
Rosemary Beach was built with European style architecture. Multiple sand live oaks line the streets along with other native greenery such as the local rosemary. At night the trees are illuminated with multiple beautiful white lights throughout. It’s a gorgeous place to stay or definitely worth a trek over to it if you are in the area.
The next day was beautiful as well and we walked about a mile down to the beach access. We then walked along the shore and again enjoyed the sun, blue skies and warm weather. However, on the way back we were busy talking and somehow missed the public access so we cut through a neighborhood to get back to the street. Only problem was it was gated! Thankfully a truck was leaving so the gate opened and we sneaked in behind it to get out. Most of the neighborhoods in the area are gated with no public access, so do keep that in mind if you happen to get lose your bearings while walking along the shore. As we unwittingly discovered, you won’t have GPS service that close to the water either.
The next day we decided to take it easy so we threw our beach chairs in the trunk of the car, drove down to the beach and spent the afternoon basking in the sun. We had on long pants and light jackets, but it was still very enjoyable and the sun felt great.
The soft white sand beaches go on for miles here in the Florida pan-handle.
In order to save money and because we enjoy our own cooking, we planned to eat out one meal each day and dine in the other. The kitchen was well stocked and we had planned our dine in meals before we left and packed that food to take with us. Therefore, we didn’t have to waste time grocery shopping and, as you know, food is always less expensive than in a tourist town.
This proved to be a good combination that allowed us to enjoy the one meal in our condo each day with our companions and also be able to explore the many fine restaurants in the area. One of our favorites is The Great Southern Cafe. They have fantastic breakfast, lunches, and dinners in what they call new-fashioned southern cooking. During the summer months you can wait up to two hours to eat dinner there, but this day we were able to walk right up and get an outside table in the sun for breakfast. They also take reservations, which I highly recommend especially during busy seasons.
Would I recommend a trip to 30A in February? Absolutely! If you’re wanting to lay out and get a tan, wait a few weeks before you go, but for folks who’d like a slight break from the cold, beautiful scenery, relaxation, exercise, and great food, its definitely worth it.
Whether if it’s the oceans, the mountains, or anything in between, I love spending time in nature as it’s beauty always allows me to reflect on the majesty and goodness of God and that can be the best part of any trip!
He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.Job 9:8