If you follow me on Instagram, then you know we just came home from such a relaxing and beautiful vacation to some beaches in Florida! It was a BIG and profound trip for Ben and I on so many levels. I wanted to share more about our trip, the planning, and some things I learned while I was there. If you’re slightly even thinking a little about visiting the beaches along 30a in Florida, I suggest you book your trip now! You won’t regret it!
The planning of this trip started almost two years ago. Yep, that’s right, it was a long time in the making. It all began with a flight somewhere. Somehow I had made it to 30 years old and have never flown anywhere. Growing up my parents always decided to vacay within driving distance which is very easy when you live in North Carolina. Even our trips to Florida for Disney World was a full on driving experience! Fast forward to college and my early married years and I still have not flown. I never had to travel for my job, our honeymoon was in driving distance to Charleston South Carolina, and the opportunity had just not presented itself. Therefore, for our tenth wedding anniversary, I was DETERMINED to fly somewhere!
I began to research where I wanted to go with some basic criteria. I am such a Summer and beach girl at heart. It is completely my happy place and someone out there better scatter my ashes into the waves when I die or I will come back and haunt you ALL! Yes, I love the beach that much, so heading to one was a must. I wanted it to be different from the east coast beaches I am so familiar with yet within a short flying distance. I didn’t want my first flight to be super long incase I was anxious or uncomfortable, therefore, Florida seemed to be the place to go. My friend Cheri and I started discussing one day this new beach town that was popping up on a popular stretch of Florida highway called Alys (Pronounced like the name Alice) Beach. We had seen it begin to show up more and more on social media and the pictures seem spectacular, like you’re in a whole new country. The architecture of each home being built was nothing you see along the east coast and we appreciated the style and charm. Being the type one enneagram that I am, I began to research more about Alys and decided that it was most definitely the place to head.
We searched and found a great recently renovated studio condo on Vrbo and booked the trip for late April. Our wedding anniversary isn’t until the first of June but this was the time we could fit it into our schedules. Ben searched for some flights and the whole thing was ready! With some saving and planning, in just a few months we would be ready for my first flight and our 10th anniversary trip.
I remember it all too well. One of the last things Ben and I did in a pre-covid world was enjoy a wedding of one of his friends together. A few short weeks later our lives as we knew it were so different. I was furloughed from my job, Weston was ending his Kindergarten year virtually at home, and yes, our anniversary trip would have to be canceled. I remember being quarantined in March and wondering if there was any possible way we would still be able to travel in April. Oh, naive Crystal. We canceled the trip and was able to get a refund for our Vrbo spot. The flights became a voucher that we didn’t know when we would possibly be able to use. For our 10th anniversary we were able to drive to Beaufort North Carolina for a weekend and that was a great trip in itself. I was so very thankful to see the ocean that June after being quarantined from everything for so long.
God’s Timing, not our own.
The year changed from 2020 to 2021 and things had progressed. We decided it was safe to book our trip back to Florida! What we didn’t expect was the year that happened in between. Ben and I made huge (and painful) leaps and bounds as people and as a couple in 2020. I cannot even imagine taking the trip with him during that time of tremendous growth. So when we rebooked our trip we had completely changed. We had dealt with personal issues that held us back. We had cut the roots of trauma and hurt that we were dragging through our adult lives. Things that reframed us from being the best people we can be for ourselves and each other. We now saw each other in a different light. So when we rebooked our trip, we were completely different almost unrecognizable people. We then understood that this trip was now booked through God’s timing on His calendar the way He intended all along. That the trip would have not been the same without our year of growth. It was as if He said “Here you go. You made it. You put in the work, became intentional, and grew so much. Now go and relax together. As I intended it to be.” Thank you Father for always knowing what is best for me especially when I don’t. Thank you for holding the big picture in your hands and for guiding me on your path always. Amen.
The Trip Was Here!
It was FINALLY time for our trip. We made it to the airport, and besides both of my bags having to be looked through by TSA, it was a smooth process. We boarded and began to taxi the runway. We had to wait for a few planes in front of us to take off and then it was our turn! Overall, my first flights both coming and going went very smoothly. It felt like we were in the air no time at all and I am already thinking about where I want to go next. Sorry, Ben!
Alys + Rosemary Beach
So let’s talk about the good stuff! Alys and Rosemary Beach! The beaches are all nestled together on a stretch of highway in Florida, referred to as 30a, along the Gulf Coast. The beaches are lined with gorgeous while sand and the waters are emerald green. Everyone bikes or walks everywhere! So much so that we wondered if we needed to rent a car. We decided to rent one at the last minute and it turned out to be a great choice! It was ready to go when we left the airport and gave us the ability to explore more. One evening we traveled to Santa Rosa Beach, about 20 minutes from Rosemary, for dinner at Blue Mabel Smokehouse + Provisions and it was worth it!
In fact we had REALLY delicious food in Florida! Ben and I always seek out the spots with the best atmosphere and even better food. Here is a list of where we went to eat that we loved and would head back again!
- LaCo (Latin Coastal): Street tacos and stellar mixed drinks. They also serve lunch and brunch each day!
- Blue Mabel Smokehouse + Provisions: The best salad I have had in a long time! Ben had a great steak here and their Burnt End sandwich was pretty amazing! We enjoyed sitting outside on their deck and we cruised down 30a to get back to our condo.
- Donut Hole: Typical southern breakfast when you are looking for something more hardy. You have to grab some of their delicious donuts to go!
- La Crema: The best Tapas in a perfect atmosphere! This one is located in the heart of Rosemary Beach across from The Pearl Hotel. Super scenic area with interesting architecture. The main road here is lined with restaurants and people eating on the streets. The food was amazing and the vibe of the road made it better!
- Havana Beach: Located in The Pearl Hotel in Rosemary. Back on the main road in Rosemary with the amazing surroundings, this place is more of a fine dining experience. The food was delicious and their margaritas made with a house made mix was one of the best I’ve ever had!
Alys Beach is a new community and has construction going on throughout. Right now it is mainly private homes and a few condos. That being said, there is not a large selection on where to stay and it is mainly larger homes that would be best split between several couples (at least expenses wise). So we decided to stay in a community nestled between Alys and Rosemary called Seacrest. They have smaller homes for families and condos available. Our condo was a studio and perfect for a couple. It was the last building in the Seacrest community and located right before the pillars that enter into Alys Beach. Our condo came with two bikes, albeit if you saw my Instagram, mine was too tall for me and I couldn’t adjust it! haha I made do and biked with it anyways! But, there are plenty of places that offer rentals around the 30a area and I would highly suggest getting bikes for the whole family. We also rented our beach chairs for the week and it was so nice to not have to drag chairs or an umbrella to the beach each day. The Seacrest community is lovely and perfectly family friendly! They even have a tram that will pick you up and take your family to the beach. They have a LARGE community pool too! When we take the kids back, I’ve already scoped out this area for a house to stay in!
Where to next??
Overall, we had an amazing time. We relaxed and ate a silly amount of food. We laid on the beach and did NOTHING. With two small children at home that is saying something! Of course I want to go back and take the kids. We saw families everywhere and it made us miss the boys like crazy! Sometimes, though, I get stuck in a rut of wanting to head back to the same places. So, I’m putting the ball in your court. Let me know in the comments where we need to fly to next!!