Alys Beach: Florida’s effortlessly dreamy, perfectly designed beach town
When you think of Florida, you probably think of the tropical kitsch of Key West, or maybe even the booze-fueled fun of Spring Break destinations like Daytona or Panama Beach. Either way, there isn’t a “Florida Man” stereotype for nothing. But if you’re looking for the last place in the state where you’d find Florida Man, we’ve found it. Alys Beach is a perfectly manicured resort town, where the all-white stucco buildings open up to white sand beaches. As a result, it feels like a Greek island town was picked up and dropped off on the Florida Panhandle.
Actually, the inspiration for the town’s “high-end, low-key” style is Bermuda, where homes are traditionally white. In addition, the butteries are another Bermudan feature Alys Beach has adapted. Butteries were used before refrigeration was invented. Butter was made and stored in the minaret-style detached buildings. Don’t peek inside Alys Beach’s and expect to find dairy, though. Theirs contain murals depicting local history. While Bermuda is the main inspiration, it’s not the only foreign city to which it feels similar. The courtyards found in many of the homes evoke those of the houses in Antigua. As a result, Alys Beach is all-around exotic and vacation-y.
If the town seems like it’s too perfect to be real, it’s probably because it was made to appear that way. The community, just off scenic State Road 30A, was designed to feel a certain way by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company. Because of this, it has a very particular feel. That’s why everything has the all-white look. Especially relevant is the fact that the streets point to the beach, offering views of the ocean from all across town.
The interiors of Alys Beach homes embrace a modern, seaside aesthetic – open, whitewashed spaces highlighted by the textures and colors of natural, local materials- limestone floors, antique cypress beams and doors, and brightly patterned cement tiles.
And, the town does make good use of the all-white color scheme for their annual Digital Graffiti event. A wild lights show is projected onto the buildings each spring, with various artists designing their own performances for a chance to win. While the town becomes a blank canvas for some of the most innovative art around, Alys Beach comes to life beneath the lights. It’s billed as the world’s first projection art festival, and it seems like it’s always a huge hit.
Visiting Alys Beach
The town has pretty much everything you need from a resort. There’s the ocean, of course, which you can access from anywhere, and a 21-acre nature preserve with a trail on the other side of town. Streets, with pocket parks and shops scattered throughout, are walkable and safe. From the local cafe (Fonville Press) to the donut truck (Charlie’s Donuts) to the casual, beachy restaurant (George’s), there’s no shortage of places to eat. The nicest restaurant in town, though, is probably Caliza. The restaurant’s focal points are the jaw-dropping pools, around which outdoor seating is arranged. Rent a cabana and enjoy the luxurious setting, or have dinner after the sun goes down. The chef crafts a mouth watering Mediterranean-inspired menu that befits the elegant setting.
Because the town is still in the early stages of development, there’s still plenty of property for sale here. You can buy anything from rowhouses, courtyard homes, villas, and even compound retreats. Also, you don’t have to purchase a home to enjoy a trip here. You can find houses and rooms for rent on sites like VRBO. Or, stay nearby. The Pearl in nearby Rosemary Beach is just as luxurious. Either way, a visit to Alys Beach will make the world of Florida Man feel like it’s universes away.
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