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Carillon Beach is a Hidden Gem of the Florida Panhandle

Updated on July 24, 2013

Carillon Beach, which is on HWY 98 just 2 miles east of upscale Rosemary Beach, is a little-known inexpensive gem my family discovered this past summer. It is pronounced like "Carolyn" by the locals but refers to the central carillon bell tower in the center of the community. My tastes tend to the upscale but due to the recent Recession, my pocketbook demanded some relief. Fortunately, I discovered the Carillon Beach Resort Inn online for around $120 per night on separate online site with its attractive beach boutique décor pictures and booked it. I wanted something with a nice pool for the children. I didn't really know much about the area except that it was two miles from Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach. Make sure you book directly with the hotel to see if you can save more money; the manager said that can be a less expensive way to book most of the time.

Emerald waters of Carillon Beach accessible by many walkovers.
Emerald waters of Carillon Beach accessible by many walkovers.

Interior Views of the Carillon Beach Inn Suites

Example of Florida vernacular style architecture
Example of Florida vernacular style architecture | Source

Seaside at One Third the Price!

We arrived and were very happy with our room with granite kitchen and attractive décor, right on the first floor overlooking a lake, with the beach accessible by a nearby five minute walk or a quick ride on the hotel's many golf carts. Apparently, during the condo boom before the Great Recession, the hotel was originally built as condos with mostly studios or 2 bedrooms. It was a great idea about retro-fitting as a boutique hotel. There is a small bar in the hotel that overlooks the lake and that night, we enjoyed sitting on our patio listening to a singer playing the guitar. A large, well-designed pool was available and featured two covered hot tubs; this suited my pool asthetic. There were also 3 other smaller pools throughout the neighborhood with a larger one on the beach, with a bathroom.

 Our patio room overlooked the lake showing Carillon community
Our patio room overlooked the lake showing Carillon community | Source

A World Unto Its Own

Gradually, we explored the entire community, which is built like Seaside's community idea with the same Florida vernacular architectural style. The best part is there is no crossing any major roadways, like Rosemary Beach and Seaside must do on 30 A. I soon discovered that we could rent a precious, large house for around $300 a night, a bit more in the summer. In addition, I met several owners who rent out their two bedroom condos through Craig's List for even less than we paid. With plenty of pools spread out in the community which has bikes to rent and a small shopping area, it was over for me; this was my place forever. The only bummer was, although we were just 2 miles from Rosemary Beach, it wasn't truly possible to ride your bikes over there since it crosses a highway style bridge with fast-moving traffic. However, the Carillon community has plenty of space for your children to ride bikes safely on the streets as well as fun, shaded paths just like Seaside has.

Overview Video Of Entire Carillon Beach Resort

In the residential section, some homeowners are slowly adding onto the property by beginning first with an attached dwelling.  Eventually, a larger matching home will be in the front.
In the residential section, some homeowners are slowly adding onto the property by beginning first with an attached dwelling. Eventually, a larger matching home will be in the front. | Source

Close to Great Shopping

To the east, it is still some way from Panama City Beach but there is a great deal of shopping just east of the community. There is a big grocery store right there at the corner but amazingly, Carillon Beach seems a world to itself. I understand there is an outlet area nearby going towards Panama City but we used our time driving over to Rosemary Beach for dinner.

A New Discovery, A New Tradition

My slim pocketbook made it necessary to save money on my trip to the beach. I was afraid I would suffer visually from my surroundings, but instead found out there is a better way to enjoy the beach. Why is it less expensive? I believe it simply suffers from the fact that it is not right on 30A despite being right next door. HWY 98 doesn't have the cache' that 30A does, I suppose. There was no traffic to dodge like on 30A, yet I was able to pay realistic prices for my time on beach surrounded by my favorite architecture in Florida, the vernacular style. While Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach are exquisite and lovely to visit; frankly, they are extremely over-priced and the architecture doesn't really fit the area traditionally. In the process, I discovered a beautiful, under-the-radar area in the best Florida resort tradition that I will come back to again and again.


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    • DemiMonde profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Mobile, Alabama

      Thanks, Karolinee! I enjoyed looking at your beautiful art, as well!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Fantastic hub, looking forward to come back and see your new posts. Thank you.

      My art gallery


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