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Get to know Alys Beach

You could be forgiven for waking up in Alys Beach and mistaking it for heaven. Sure, the water is perfect, the dunes delicious, and the weather divine, but the lasting impression is of the building design. Stunning white stucco covers practically every inch of architectural surface, with Bermudian influences and that alabaster palette that makes Santorini look as if it’s not trying hard enough. With the architecture so well planned, you can rest assured that the rest of the community is too, with some of the finest pools you’ll find in a resort community, fantastic restaurants, public art, private cabanas, a wellness center, and miles of nature trails. Alys Beach is near many other communities bristling with retail abundance, and close to acres and acres of parks both along the beach and along Powell Lake, a coastal dune lake with an astounding variety of wildlife and recreational activities.

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Living on the Emerald Coast

If the Northwest Coast of Florida has been overlooked, it’s because it’s just perfectly out of the way. Compared to other parts of the state, the scale of things is smaller and development came later, so the white-sand communities here seem thoughtfully planned rather than hodgepodge legacies of land rushes. Though the feel (and the traffic) is less metropolitan, today’s Northwest has plenty of top-notch culture, exceptional restaurants, and incredible retail experiences. This is a natural wonderland in its own distinct way, with wide rivers flowing through thick forests, vast stretches of preserved parkland, and a variety of beaches — from wild and rugged to picture-perfect strips of white. There’s plenty of golf and tennis, but the focus is on the pristine water and a boating culture that runs from yachts to fishing boats to kayaks, and from deep water to grassy flats to sparkling bays — and to the requisite bayous, teeming with waterfowl and fish. The sand is softer, the summer’s a little cooler, and the reservations are a little easier to come by — but it’s still 100 percent Florida.