I’m a sucker for a good beach town, and Alys Beach is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Located on scenic highway 30a in between Destin and Panama City Beach in the Florida panhandle, Alys Beach (pronounced “Alice”) feels more like Santorini or Bermuda than Florida.
It’s masterplanning and unified architecture makes it stunning. Houses haven’t been built willy nilly, left to individual homeowners to design. There’s a strict architectural and design code that supports the town’s vision. All of that to say…it’s elite.
Let me paint you a picture…
Sometimes deemed the “Redneck Riviera,” in the last decade or so staying on 30a (or having a home there) has become a bit of a “status symbol” among certain Southern sets. Not only are frequent visitors and homeowners quick to point out the difference between 30a and the nearby areas of Destin and Panama City Beach, but they’re even more specific than that…“Oh you’re in Seagrove, not Seaside? Oh that’s not actually Rosemary Beach, that’s Seacrest”…as if the difference of 3 blocks is a measure of your societal pedigree.
Hey, every place has its quirks.
While 30a is a smattering of different beach towns, Seaside and Rosemary Beach have long been “the” places to stay or have a home, but there’s a new sheriff in town.
Alys Beach. In jest, I’ve heard it said…”if 30a is where the 1% vacations, then Alys Beach is where the 1% of the 1% vacations.” Yeah, it’s that kind of place.
There are no hotels…it’s ALL private homes and if you’re lucky enough to be able to rent one for a week, you’re probably not even asking about the price. It’s not the kind of place where you filter vacation homes on Vrbo based on budget to find the best deal for the most amount of bedrooms and bathrooms.
When I hit the jackpot, I’ll buy a place in Alys Beach, but until then…it’s still fun to visit!
Things to Do in Alys Beach
Go on an Architecture Walk: With so many cute “towns” along 30a, it really is the architecture that makes Alys Beach stand out. A shining example of New Urbanism (towns and spaces that are walkable and environmentally friendly), Alys Beach also has a signature stark white color palette with styles reminiscent of Santorini, Bermuda, and Antigua. With plenty of green spaces, public art, and well laid out cobblestone streets, it’s easy to wander around Alys Beach for hours. Read more about the town’s architecture here.
The Beach: The beach is the main star here. And if you’ve seen it, you’ll understand. You won’t find whiter sand or more turquoise water anywhere. But like in most of the towns along 30a, beach access is private and pretty tightly patrolled.
Biking & Nature Trails: 30a was made for biking and there are plenty of parks and green spaces to explore in Alys Beach. Don’t miss the nature preserve at the back of Alys Beach which has its own boardwalk. Here is a full list of parks and nature trails.
Early Morning Donuts at Charlie’s: Charlie’s Donuts is a staple on 30a and you’ll find their converted Sunbeam bread truck parked at the Alys Beach amphitheater every morning. Go early for the best selection.
Lunch at Caliza Pool: If a dreamier pool exists anywhere, I’ve yet to find it. Dine poolside during the day at Caliza Restaurant or in the evening for a more fine dining experience.
Cocktails at Neat: If specialty cocktails are your thing, you will not want to miss this place.
Raw & Juicy: When you need something a little better than a sugary donut, stop by Raw & Juicy for smoothies, bowls, and juice blends. They have heartier food too.
Dinner at George’s: This is the place to be in Alys Beach in the evenings. No reservations so play a game of cornhole while you wait and decide if you’re going to order from the “behave” or “misbehave” side of the menu.
Sunday Brunch at Citizen: You can pop in for lunch or dinner (or cocktails) all week, but Sunday brunch is special.
Chic Shopping: There’s not a ton of shopping in Alys Beach compared to other nearby towns, but if you’re looking for some special (and fancy), you might find it here.
More posts about the area:
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