travelgirl founders Stephanie Oswald and Renee Werbin want to be sure you’re enjoying every destination to the fullest. Take our “savvy six” picks with you when you travel and make the most of your time away.
This issue’s savvy six picks: beaches of South Walton:
1. GO GREEN AT THE BEACH: We applaud Alys: White sand and “green” homes form the splendid resort community of Alys Beach. This recent addition to BSW boasts 1500 feet of glorious unspoiled beachfront and an enchanting 21-acre nature preserve. But here’s the claim to fame that got our attention: Alys Beach is the celebrated first community in the world where all 900 villas and community homes are constructed to comply with Florida’s Green Home Designation Standard. Like so much of BSW, Alys Beach is elegant yet relaxed — and knowing that your vacation is also helping the environment makes this grand Floridian paradise even sweeter. www.alysbeach.com
2. RELAX BY THE SEASIDE: No matter what type of trip you’re planning — an escape for the whole family or a chance for BFFs to bury their feet in the sand, Seaside is a superb choice. Built to resemble a small town, this beach community is an eclectic mix of pastel cottages with a matrix of pathways linking rental homes, shops and restaurants— and of course, all roads lead to the beach! An oasis of tranquility often navigated by bicycle, many of Seaside’s beautifully appointed rental properties include hot tubs. Offering upscale boutiques, casual and fine dining, and the allure of some of Florida’s finest sand, Seaside is where we want to be. www.seasidefl.com
3. CASUAL DINNER WITH A VIEW: We toast Bud & Alley’s! Located right on the beach opposite Seaside, this savvy restaurant knows how to mix a drink. Named after a dog and cat, the rooftop bar is just right for a post-or-pre beach beverage served up along with delectable seafood. The Taco Bar menu can’t be beat and is certain to please the younger set. Travelguys may prefer the rib eye, while bikini-clad salad-seekers will be pleased with this eatery’s sumptuous salads — and the Peppered Seared Tuna starter is pure perfection. 2236 E. County Road 30-A; 850.231.5900; www.budandalleys.com
4.HOW BSW DEFINES “FRESH”: Pack your appetite for a meal at the Great Southern Café: Co-Owner and Chef Jim Shirley chooses the most succulent local veggies, fruits and fish to make this Seaside restaurant “the” place for breakfast in BSW. Order some divine beignets, or start your day with Eggs Sardou. The flavorful Creole cooking reminds us of dining in the Big Easy itself. Dinner and lunch are equally pleasing and creative with menu choices such as Grits and Grillades, Apalachicola Oysters, Gulf Shrimp or a New York Strip. 83 Central Square; 850.231.7327; www.thegreatsoutherncafe.com
5. PAINT A PICTURE OF HARMONY: When you’re ready for a change of scenery that oscillates between early morning kayaking and lazy sunsets, fine dining at the beach and kids camp, the WaterColor Inn & Resort is beach heaven on earth. And this waterfront luxury can be a bargain: Check online for a treasure trove of deals — for example, two nights with breakfast and dinner can be had for less than $500 (including a meal at the outstanding Fish Out of Water Restaurant). A bonus for hikers and bikers: the nearby community of Santa Rosa Beach offers several entrances to Point Washington State Forest, a 15,000-acre preserve with more than 10 miles of trails. www.watercolorresort.com
6. SIMPLY SPLENDID BEACHES: Try as we might, we can’t find a reason not to love the beach life on the 26 miles of northwest Florida covered by the 15 unique communities of Beaches of South Walton. The BSW beaches are not only some of the best in Florida, but they also are some of the finest found anywhere in the USA. Unspoiled, serene, and draped with layers of blissful pure white grains of sugar-like sand, these beaches offer infinite places to get your tan on. Remember to apply sunscreen as you watch your cares float away on the emerald and azure waves lapping up from the sea. This is dazzling eye candy for the soul, and the soothing landscape found here welcomes travelers to bask in its glory anytime of year.