Hi babes! I wanted to share a little vacation recap from our trip to 30A last month. We visited the Rosemary Beach / Seacrest area for the first time and loved it – after a year of spending a lot of time at home it was nice to be in a new place for a few days where we could soak up the outdoors.
When we planned our trip in November it was at a time when COVID was spiking pre-holidays and a lot of our local restaurants were being forced to close temporarily. We were wary of what traveling would look like come March so we decided to plan things as COVID-proof as possible. We decided to drive vs. fly and we rented a house instead of staying at a hotel, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of the businesses along 30A were requiring masks (we had heard prior to traveling that most of Florida was “open” and not requiring masks) and, as expected, offering outdoor dining options. We spent a lot of our days at the pool or beach so we were able to be outdoors, and overall we felt safe and like we did the best we could under the circumstances while still allowing ourselves to travel.
It was the little one’s first time at the beach and to say she loved it would be an understatement – she didn’t stop running from the ocean’s “big waves” to digging in the sand, and she never wanted to leave at the end of the day. I think we had just as much fun watching her experience those things for the first time and left feeling super grateful we were able to vacation as a family after such an unpredictable year.
ROADTRIP RECAP:I mentioned above that we decided to drive vs. fly (ehhh 😉)… we’ve driven to the panhandle once before (pre-kiddo) and it’s a pretty longgg trip, so we were a little hesitant about taking a toddler who never spends long periods in the car but we set our expectations low and our plan was to just roll with the punches. She surprised us both and did amazing, overall it went way better than we could’ve expected!
On the way there we left super early so she would sleep for a few hours at the beginning of the trip and I packed breakfast so she could eat on the go whenever she woke up – both helped pass the time during the first leg of the drive. We stopped a handful of times but kept the stops short and then we planned a longer stop about 2/3rds of the way to grab lunch and to let her run around for a while pre-nap. We found the cutest spot called Peach Park in Clanton, AL. It’s right off highway 65 so easily accessible and it’s just past the busy Birmingham area. They have a shop with food and other goods, a restaurant with BBQ and homemade ice cream, and a playground plus walking trail with bench swings and a little pond with fish. It was the perfect place because we could eat, stretch our legs, and let the little one burn some energy. We got her an ice cream to go which made leaving / getting back in the car a cinch.
On the way home we planned to stop in Nashville for a night, but the day before we left Florida ended up not being a good pool or beach day so we were able to get packed / organized sooner than expected and on the road early on Saturday. It worked out great because we had all day Sunday to recoup, run errands, and get unpacked / ready for the week ahead. We did stop near Nashville for lunch in a town called Franklin – we went to Merridee’s Breadbasket and it was so good. They do fresh breads, sandwiches, pies, etc. It’s a couple miles off the highway, but it’s a cute drive (love the homes!) and the area is great if you want to do any walking or shopping. I think if we ever make that drive again and plan on stopping overnight, we’ll look at Franklin instead of Nashville to avoid the busy downtown area but still have access to good restaurants and shopping.
WHERE WE ATE:
When we vacation we like to choose places to eat that are nearby / walkable so we can be outdoors and get some steps in 😊 This limits us a bit, but there were a lot of great options in the Rosemary Beach / Seacrest area. I will say that it was very busy (uncharacteristically busy according to several people we talked to) and during lunch or dinner time it was a 20-30 minute drive to get anywhere you wanted to go along 30A… hence choosing lots of spots within walking distance of our rental.
- PARADIS (Downtown Rosemary) – This was definitely the nicest restaurant we visited and the food was great! They are kid-friendly and were very accommodating (my kiddo wanted watermelon and they didn’t have any but made her a watermelon puree mocktail – best service!) I would recommend reserving a table outdoors, their outdoor seating is fully covered and they have curtains to help block sun and heaters if it’s a chillier night. There’s a nice ambiance indoors but if you’re worried about your kiddos disrupting dinner, outside is the way to go 😊
- COWGIRL KITCHEN (Downtown Rosemary) – This was another one of our favorites, southwestern food with something for everyone. It’s right in the heart of downtown Rosemary, lots of good people watching, outdoor seating available, casual + kid friendly atmosphere.
- BUD & ALLEY’S (Santa Rosa Beach – 20-30 Minute Drive) – The atmosphere at this one was the highlight: ocean views from dinner, outdoor seating, outdoor bar. The hubs and I both ordered a steak and it was average (definitely paying for the views), so I think if we visit again we’d share a bunch of appetizers – the calamari was great! Also, we ate at their main restaurant but they have a pizza place and taco place at the same property and I’ve heard good things about those spots too!
- LOLA COASTAL ITALIAN (Seacrest) – This place had some of the best food we ate the entire trip – great pizza, pasta, and an awesome cocktail list (with a bartender who knew what she was doing!) It just opened last year and I got the feeling we discovered a hidden gem 😊 We were able to get seated right away and the place never filled completely (30A regulars, check this place out!) I would definitely recommend if you’re in the mood for Italian! One thing that’s worth mentioning is that they offer full service at the bar only, so you order food at the counter and cocktails from the bar and they bring the food to your table as it’s prepared. We ordered a little of everything (appetizer, salad, pizza, pasta) and it all came at once. If we go back I would order one thing at a time, as we want the food to come out. It was a casual atmosphere so great for kiddos and they also had outdoor seating available. Can’t say enough good things about this spot!
- LA COCINA (Seacrest) – This was pretty standard Mexican: margs, chips / salsa, and tacos. Was good but I might check out Amigos 30A Mexican Kitchen next time!
- PIZZA BY THE SEA (Seacrest) – We ordered this when we got in because it was late and we’d been traveling all day. It’s right in Seacrest off Peddler’s Pavilion so we were able to walk there and grab a beer / listen to live music while we waited. The pizza and Greek salad were great!
Here are a few other spots I had my eye on / have heard good things about that we didn’t get the chance to visit:
- Café 30A
- George’s at Aly’s Beach
- The Bay
- Airstream Row (like a food truck row but all Airstreams!)
- Pescado (would’ve definitely visited this one but they had age restrictions so couldn’t visit with our kiddo)
WHAT WE DID:
We are definitely team “chill” when we’re on vacation… I saw a poll recently that asked if you’re adventure or chill on vacation 😊 I’m the latter when we’re on beach time! Most of our days went like this,
- Coffee / Breakfast – Rosemary has the cutest coffee spot called Amavida. Great coffee and some breakfast items. We would walk there in the morning and bring coffee back to the house, and breakfast was usually something at the rental (I stocked up on some of our breakfast faves and had them delivered the day we arrived). We grabbed donuts one morning from Charlie’s Donuts right in Peddler’s Pavilion and the key lime donut was a hit *when in FL*. We indulge a lot on vacation so usually try to keep breakfast easy and light.
- Beach / Pool – Most days were spent at the beach or pool and we’d always get a slow start (vacation + toddler life!) While the beach was walkable from our rental we opted to take the tram back and forth so we didn’t have to lug all of our stuff. It picked up right outside our rental and dropped us at the beach entrance and vice versa. We rented chairs and an umbrella through a service so we didn’t have to bring our own, and while it was nice / convenient, the location was a busier part of the beach (FYI if you’re weighing your options for chair rental!)
- Lunch – We would go to the beach / pool midday so would typically bring lunch with us or order from the pool. We did go to Crabby Steve’s one day which is off the beach and only accessible from the beach or through the resort on property. It’s the only beachside dining in Seacrest / Rosemary so was fun to have the ocean views, plus it was casual / outdoors so a good spot after a morning at the beach. If you’re making a stop at Publix, grab a Pub Sub (iykyk!) and pack it for lunch one day!
- Baths / Naps (#toddlerlife) – Regardless of our plans for the day, we normally tried to head home early afternoon to keep us on some type of schedule and do baths / naps before dinner. We aren’t super strict with a schedule but we do like to stick to some kind of routine, keeps everyone happy 😊
- Drinks / Dinner – There’s a cute spot right in Seacrest called Peddler’s Pavilion that has an outdoor bar, live music, a fire pit, etc., so was a great place to grab happy hour before dinner and we could walk there from our rental. We also liked Beach and Brew which is around the corner from Peddler’s Pavilion, it’s a craft beer place but they offer wine too (and frozen rosé!)
If you’ve visited the area, leave your favorites in the comments for anyone else reading that’s a newbie to 30A!