The Perfect Beach Town: Alys Beach, FL
When this architectural dreamscape emerged on Highway 30A, North Florida's buffet of great beach towns gained a distinctly different model of New Urbanism. Its Mediterranean-white buildings echo powdered-sugar sand, offset by bright turquoise waters. Beaches don't get prettier than this.
What to Do
The heart of Alys, Caliza Pool (850/213-5700) is a stunning 100-foot saltwater ellipse surrounded by open-air lounge cabanas. Nearby, Central Park's immaculate lawn is pulled from an architect's sketchbook, covered with families, dogs, and moviegoers on blankets. (Catch free flicks at the park Tuesday nights during the summer.)
Where to Eat
A social spot for Scrabble and catching up, Fonville Press (850/213-5906) serves coffee and seasonal specials such as the popular white chocolate-vanilla lattes (iced or hot). At George's at Alys Beach (850/641-0017), the menu of refined coastal cuisine has a healthier "Behave" section (pan-roasted Gulf grouper with a hibiscus-tea syrup) as well as a "Misbehave" section (fried shrimp). Beside the stunning pool, the upscale Caliza Restaurant adds international flair to classic seafood, from Moroccan-spiced tuna to Apalachicola oysters.
Where to Stay
Private courtyards are a stand-out feature at Alys Beach rental homes (850/213-5555), which range from two to five bedrooms (from $300).