Four-and-a-half hours by car
Where to Stay:
In-room iPads (from which guests can book dinner reservations or make a room service order) mean modern conveniences are aplenty at The Pearl Hotel. But the location overlooking the crystal waters of the Gulf of Mexico make it plenty romantic. Lounge by the pool, grab a bite at the rooftop lounge, or enjoy the spa before exploring 30A (the stretch of highway on Florida’s Gulf Coast that encompasses Alys Beach, Rosemary Beach, Seaside and other beach towns). Alys Beach is well-known for its plush vacation rentals, which run the gamut from oceanfront condos to five-bedroom houses. All are clad in pure, white, coastal style (somewhat of a signature for the town itself) and within biking distance of area restaurants and attractions.
Where to Eat:
Most locals start their mornings at Fonville Press, a place that’s equally popular for a morning latte as it is an afternoon glass of wine. If it’s the former, be sure to stop at Charlie’s Donut Truck for a red velvet donut. George’s is the kind of neighborhood spot you could visit night after night and still not tire of. Start with the calamari fries or lobster quesadilla before diving into the jerk-crusted gulf snapper, local grouper, or the ever-popular Sunday roast chicken. After grabbing a bite, head to Neat, a bottle shop and tasting room with a large selection of wines, spirits, and craft beers. Seats on the patio are hard to come by but just the place to enjoy a glass of rosé and plate of prosciutto flatbread with fig and manchego.
What to Do:
The 100-foot, infinity edge Caliza Pool provides a relaxing refuge from the sun, and happens to be a prime location for people-watching. The zero-entry saltwater pool is bordered by three additional man-made bodies of water: a family pool, 75-foot lap pool and spa whirlpool—so the whole gang is welcome if it’s a family affair. A visit to 30A wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Alys Beach Bike Shop, which offers the most popular mode of transportation: two wheels. Pick from a large variety of bike rentals before venturing out on the open road. ♦