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Get to know Rosemary Beach

In general, relaxation isn’t something you can plan — but that’s not true of a community specifically designed for relaxation. Because Rosemary Beach has everything you need, you don’t need to worry about anything. The homes here are large and architecturally interesting, and the whole community is luxuriously laid-back in every detail, with everything connected by walkways and boardwalks perfect for walking or biking on a fat-tired beach cruiser. There’s a park — the Long Green — which hosts markets, concerts, and festivals, and a town center full of restaurants and one-of-a-kind boutiques. There are tennis courts and swimming pools, park benches and shade trees — and we haven’t even gotten to the “beach” part of town. The beaches on this part of the Gulf are sugar-soft, and Rosemary Beach also has easy access to the inland wilds of 800-acre Powell Lake, making this a dream for kayaking, paddleboarding, bird-watching, and fishing for both saltwater and freshwater species — often on the same trip.

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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.