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Pronounced “Alice” Beach, this dreamy seaside enclave mixes the porcelain sands and emerald waves of Florida’s Gulf Coast with white-walled Bermuda-style cottages, grand courtyards, and palm-fringed cobblestone alleys. The planned community of Alys Beach’s 158 acres was developed in 2003 according to the principals of New Urbanism, meaning the town is super pedestrian-friendly and there are plenty of buzzing plazas and shared green spaces for festivals and events. The restaurants are delicious, the pool complex is spectacular, and the yearly Digital Graffiti event draws artists from all over the world, projecting their work on the town’s architecture.
Alys Beach is served by two airports: Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) is a 30-minute ride from the northeast, while Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) is a little over an hour’s drive from the west. Road trippers regularly arrive via Highways 98 and 79 and cruise down the scenic 30-A, which is strung with charming communities and is an attraction in its own right.
Visitors tend to prefer having wheels, but those who fly in can get by with a combo of taxis and rideshares or even rental bikes. Restaurants and shops in Alys Beach are mostly in walking distance, and it’s only a short bike ride to neighboring beaches such as Rosemary Beach, Inlet Beach, and Seacrest Beach. If you have ideas of doing day trips to destinations like Panama City Beach, Grayton Beach, or Santa Rosa Beach, a car is necessary.
The best times to visit Alys Beach are just before and immediately following the hot, humid, crowded summer, when temperatures are in the high 80s to low 90s Fahrenheit and the lows remain in the 70s. April and May offer lovely warm temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s with low humidity and are therefore popular with families. October is widely considered an ideal month to visit for the same reasons. Hurricane season lasts from early June to late November, peaking in August and October, and temperatures drop to the 50s and 60s in wintertime, clearing the beach out. (Note that some businesses keep irregular hours during this time of year, or even close completely.)
Depending on when you decide to visit, be sure to pack sun protection and/or raingear, as those afternoon summer storms have been known to catch a few visitors off-guard. And don’t forget the flip-flops.
This private beach offers soft white sand that’s perfect for castles, along with turquoise water that’s warm as a bath for much of the year. There are two access points from town, and you can rent chairs, umbrellas, paddleboards, and kayaks.
The social hub of Alys Beach is this Moroccan-inspired complex and its three dazzling pools. There’s a 100-foot centerpiece, a 75-footer with underwater speakers for laps, and a shaded family pool replete with fountains.
Paved and mostly flat, this 18.6-mile bike trail stretches from Inlet Beach to Dune Allen, passing beach communities, fish camps, dune lakes, and state parks. Consider a stop at Deer Lake State Park, where you can explore coastal dunes, fish, or just hit the beach.