It’s an interesting journey arriving at Alys Beach from South Florida. There are no direct flights from Miami, so a connection in Atlanta (yes, Georgia) might be necessary. When you finally land at the airport in Panama City, your trek isn’t over.
After another 30 minutes or so by shuttle will allow you to reach paradise and ultimate relaxation from the beginning of your stay until you checkout. If you’re traveling from Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee or Georgia, Alys Beach can be a quick and peaceful weekend getaway when you need to rewind and refresh.
With architecture inspired by Bermuda, Antigua and Guatemala, this quaint beachside town on the Gulf Coast is still a baby in the vacation world (it was established in 2004), but between the parks, pools, shops and nearby 20-acre nature preserve with trails and boardwalks, there’s quite a bit to keep you occupied without wearing you out during your stay.
Reserve a dreamy rental property with multiple rooms, a full kitchen, a gated courtyard and maybe even its own pool. If you want to stay on track while at your home away from home or retreat to a space that’s nourishing for both your mind and body, head to the newly opened ZUMA Wellness Center.
This 15,000-square-foot multi-function wellness center within walking distance of the beach exudes tranquility and offers homeowners and guests state-of-the-art amenities including a Lift Room, Movement Room, Cardio Room and Recovery Room, an indoor/outdoor pool, two treatment rooms, steam rooms, natural outdoor spaces and more.
Designed to be light and airy with lots of natural sunshine and large windows, ZUMA is also home to a smoothie bar and a courtyard in the middle of the property, perfect for yoga and meditation.
Bars and restaurants aren’t abundant here, but the few that are nearby serve up quality food and drinks. Head to Caliza Restaurant for a globally-sourced tasting menu served in poolside cabanas or Raw & Juicy for something fresh and healthy like cold-pressed juices, smoothies and acai bowls.
George’s at Alys Beach is a little more upscale, but not stuffy, and is a great place to grab a drink and a salad or seafood dish while sitting back and enjoying the ocean breeze. And then there’s Neat, the beautiful and artfully-curated Bottle Shop and Tasting Room that’ll suck you in for hours, whether it’s for wine and cheese or unique craft cocktails. There’s no shortage of interesting vino, bar tools or bitters here.
Alys Beach is about as perfect as a resort town gets, and every year in May (for over a decade now), the city welcomes artists from all over the world for Digital Graffiti, a two-day street festival, in which Alys Beach’s white walls are used as a clean slate for digital artists to project their work.
Expect a jam-packed itinerary, which is a bit out of the ordinary in this city but a welcome change from the usual sleepy, laid-back beachy vibes. Food and drink vendors set up their carts along the cobblestone streets and dessert (and champagne!) is served by the pool at Caliza toward the end of the night.
Grab tickets and your event wristband and start trying the local fare and booze as you take a stroll between homes and mingle with designers, filmmakers, photographers and artists whose pieces have made it to Alys Beach’s walls. If you want a bit of an elevated experience in Alys Beach, plan your trip around Digital Graffiti; otherwise, summer travel with friends or family works just as well, too.