rosemary beach florida usa

Vacationing in Rosemary Beach Florida USA on a Budget

Recently, my family traveled down to Rosemary Beach Florida for a wedding.  Now, if you’ve ever been to Rosemary Beach you know that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is cheap there.  In spite of the costs, it’s an absolutely gorgeous place to visit.  With it’s (mostly) all white stucco buildings, Rosemary Beach Florida and the surrounding Walton County area sees more than 5 million tourists annually (South Walton Annual Report, data as of 2022).  

things to do in Rosemary Beach

In this article I’ll share my favorite travel tips and things to do for visiting Rosemary Beach Florida on a budget.

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History of Rosemary Beach Florida

Rosemary Beach is located on the Florida panhandle, along the Gulf of Mexico.  Spanning 107-acres, the town is extremely walkable (  That being said, make sure to pack your favorite sneakers!

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The town was established in 1995 and was founded on the principles of New Urbanism.  Despite it’s brief history, Rosemary Beach is now known for it’s architecture. 

There are only 12 basic lot types, and although not homogenous, there exists strong guidelines that each design maintains lofty ceilings, deep eaves, shingle and siding details and stucco walls.  This design drew inspiration from the architecture of the Euorpean Colonial designs prevalent in the Dutch West Indies, New Orleans, and St. Augustine (

How to Get to Rosemary Beach Florida

When I first heard my cousin was planning to get married in Florida, my first thought was this will be an easy flight!  After all, a flight from Boston to Florida can be as little as three hours.  Wrong!

Rosemary Beach Florida is not AT ALL an easy place to get to.  But it’s also not impossible.

Here are my favorite three most practical, cost-efficient ways to get to Rosemary Beach Florida based on my experience:

Option #1: Flying to the Nearest Airport

The nearest airport to Rosemary Beach Florida is the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), located in Panama City Florida.  Although it’s probably the most convenient way to fly into Rosemary Beach, there’s only a few flights in and out per day.  So unless you’re in a major hub (say, Chicago or Atlanta), you’ll most likely have a connecting flight.  

Of course, after the fact, I realized there are direct flights from Boston to Panama City, depending on the day of week.  If you have flexible travel plans and don’t want to the headaches that come with connecting flights, I recommend doing some research and checking whether direct flights are available to/from your local airport.

I also want to note that Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS), located in Eglin Air Force Base is also close enough that you can fly into and take an Uber, Lyft, or taxi directly to Rosemary Beach.

Option #2: Flying to a Nearby Airport and Driving

Other options for getting to Rosemary Beach Florida include flying to a nearby airport and renting a car.  My parents did this and had a fabulous time!  Nearby airports include New Orleans (this is where my parents flew into), Tallahassee, and Jacksonville to name a few.

Option #3: Road Trip

Another option is driving from your point of origin and making the journey into a road trip!  We talked to many other couples and families at the wedding, some of whom were afraid or unable to fly.  Instead, they packed up their car and stopped at various points of interest along the way, including some of America’s finest national parks

If you decide to make a road trip out of it and drive, keep in mind the additional travel time and costs (gas, wear on your car, lodging, and food) associated with prolonging the trip.  

Where to Stay in Rosemary Beach Florida

The Pearl Hotel

So, as I mentioned above, the reason I made the trek to Rosemary Beach, Florida was for a family wedding.  The wedding was held at The Pearl Hotel, which although beautiful, is not at all a cheap option for the budget-friendly traveler.  Rooms at The Pearl can cost upwards of $800 a night!  Yikes!

For those of you who aren’t splurging (me included!), here’s a photo of the inner courtyard at sunset so you don’t feel like you’re missing out. 😉  I’ll be the first to admit that the hotel is stunning.  But if you’re a value seeker like me, you’ll want to stay somewhere else.

the pearl rosemary beach

Plus, you can still get a great view of this iconic Rosemary Beach hotel from the outside without paying a dime!  

the pearl hotel rosemary beach florida

AirBnbs or VRBOs in the Heart of 30A

For the more budget-conscious traveler, I recommend searching for Airbnbs and VRBOs in the area.

My family and I stayed at The Georgetown.  Although this lodging was fairly expensive at about $1,000/night, there was a total of 6 adults (3 couples).  On a per couple basis, assuming each couple would otherwise need to purchase their own hotel room, the total per night came out to $333 a couple.  Definitely still expensive!  But a lot more reasonable than the $800+ per night that would’ve been paid had we each booked a room at the Pearl Hotel.  

Might I add that our accommodations were still very luxurious, with a beautiful gathering area and kitchen and a balcony with a great view of Rosemary Beach.

where to stay rosemary beach
rosemary beach florida usa

AirBnbs or VRBOs in Inlet Beach

If you’re looking for lodging that’s even more affordable, check out the Inlet Beach neighborhood.  Although a little further out, Rosemary Beach is extremely walkable!  Which means you don’t necessarily need to stay close to the downtown.   

Lodging here is as low as a couple hundred dollars per night.  Check out these great Airbnbs or VRBOs to compare lodging options.

Things to Do Rosemary Beach Florida

If you’re searching for things to do in Rosemary Beach USA, check out the following activities:

Visit the Beach

This may go without saying, but most people visit Rosemary Beach, Florida for – yup you guessed it – the beach!  And that’s a great reason.  Beautiful white sand that stretches for miles and miles paired with crystal blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico equals one dreamy beach getaway!

things to do in rosemary beach
things to do rosemary beach

My fiancé and I are not huge beach-goers and instead of spending a full day at the beach, opted to take a walk along the water’s edge instead.  I will warn you if you do not love the beach, consider a different vacation spot!  Rosemary Beach is a pricey destination with very few activities catering to the non-beach goer.

If you are a beach goer and intent to visit the beach in Rosemary Beach Florida, it’s important to note that you do need to get a pass in advance of your visit.  Passes are granted based on access codes, which are provided by hotels or rental owners.  

For more information, visit Beach Services at

Chair Rental Rosemary Beach

If you intend to spend a full day on the beach, consider renting a chair.

Beach chair rentals start as low as $40 a day*, or opt for 2 chairs and an umbrella for a total of $80 per day*.

Or, if you want to party it up with 19 of your most favorite people, consider booking a 3-hour evening bonfire on the beach for a whopping total of $750*!

*Prices as of May 20, 2024, the date this article was published.  Prices are subject to change.

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Explore Rosemary Beach By Way of Bicycle

Once you’ve spent some time lounging on the beach (or walking it!), consider renting a bike and pedaling around the town.

Bike Rental Rosemary Beach

Finding a bike rental in Rosemary Beach is not difficult!  At times, it seemed there were more bicycles in Rosemary Beach Florida than there were people!  

bike rental rosemary beach
rosemary beach florida bike rental

There are multiple bike rental agencies, including Peddlers 30A and Bamboo Bicycle Company.  Bike rentals start at $40 per day, or if you’ll be in town for a while, rent for the entire week for as low as $70.  

*Prices as of May 20, 2024, the date this article was published.  Prices are subject to change.

However, if you’re looking to save some money while vacationing in Rosemary Beach, consider skipping the bike rental, as the town is 100% walkable!

Check Out A Few Favorited Rosemary Beach Restaurants

Being outside all day in the sun will surely tire you out!  Replenish yourself with a delicious meal and/or beverage.  

Rosemary Beach Restaurants

Here are a few local spots to check out:

And if you’re looking for a way to keep costs down, consider purchasing sandwich materials at the local grocery store when arriving in Rosemary Beach.  This is something my family and I did during our trip to save some serious cash.

Treat Yourself to Some Rosemary Beach Florida Shopping

Rosemary Beach, Florida is known for it’s quaint boutique shops.  You’ll find plenty of charming stores in downtown Rosemary Beach or venture over to Inlet Beach for even more shopping outlets.  But be forewarned, a lot of these shops are pricey!  

Save yourself some money by shopping for a cute outfit in advance of your trip! 

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Eat Ice Cream by the Fountain in Rosemary Beach Florida 30A

As silly as it sounds, one of my favorite things I did when visiting Rosemary Beach Florida was relax on a park bench and listen to the sound of a fountain in the 30A neighborhood.  Although I didn’t have an appetite for ice cream at the time (I know – totally unlike me!), eating ice cream would have only enhanced the overall experience.

rosemary beach 30A
rosemary beach florida 30A

If you’re looking for ice cream shop recommendations, my foodie of a fiancé highly recommends Kilwins.

Next Stop: Rosemary Beach Florida USA

Hopefully this article gave you some great insight for visiting Rosemary Beach, especially if  you’re on a tight budget.  

Are you planning to visit anytime soon?  I’d love to hear your unique travel experience.  Please leave a comment below!

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Thanks for reading!  Until next time, friends.

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