Pulse: Getaway: Sweet Rosemary

As we drove along scenic Route 30A to Rosemary Beach, a gulf-front resort community on Florida’s panhandle, we quickly found ourselves lost. Realizing we had gone too far, we turned around and made our way back down 30; Rosemary, though gorgeous, is easy to miss, as it spans a mere three city blocks.

But once my fiancé and I righted ourselves, we fell in love within minutes of driving through the compact, 107-acre rental and residential area. A little more than 10 years old — and vastly different from neighboring Panama City — Rosemary Beach consists of large custom homes (many with smaller carriage houses for guests) reminiscent of St. Augustine’s and Charleston’s plantation-style estates. The design evokes small-town America — boardwalks and secret footpaths thread through neighbors’ yards, linking intimate spaces to public greens where children toss footballs and ride their bikes. A number of the properties are available for rent.

As we pulled up to our choice, Cochran Carriage House (decorated with Pottery Barn furniture and stocked with Aveda soaps and lotions), we noticed how pristine the grounds were — strewn with crepe myrtles and, naturally, wild rosemary. After settling in, we made our way to the private beach, lined with green canvas beach chairs and umbrellas in the soft Florida sand, where families flew kites and built castles.

Later that evening, we enjoyed a candlelit dinner at Rosemary’s premier restaurant, Onano, a small eatery serving fried calamari salad, homemade ricotta and spinach ravioli, grilled grouper, and a chocolate molten cake so rich that even a nibble felt sinful. Onano’s owners, Penny and Mark Dragonette, offered insights into the town’s unique architecture while introducing us to every resident who walked through the door.

Though it rained each afternoon during the latter half of our trip, we happily holed up in our carriage house, venturing out for appointments at Solace Day Spa and wine tastings at Courtyard Wine & Cheese, in the heart of Rosemary.

Where to stay:

One of 170 rental accommodations (studio or one-bedroom carriage houses, loft or flat units, or cottages featuring two to five bedrooms; from $165 per night); 888-855-1551.

The Pensione Bed and Breakfast, 78 Main Street, 850-231-1790; from $128 per night.

Where to eat:

Onano Neighborhood Café, 78 Main Street, 850-231-2436; dinner for two, about $100 with wine.

Summer Kitchen Café/Blue by Night Bistro, 74 South Barrett Square, 850-231-6264; dinner for two, about $60 with beer.

What to do:

Solace Day Spa, 8 Georgetown Avenue; 850-231-6801.

Courtyard Wine & Cheese, 66 Main Street; 850-231-1219.

Bamboo Beach & Bicycle Company, 50 North Barrett Square; 850-231-1219, 850-231-0770.