Historic B&Bs Along the Emerald Coast Are Full of Old-World Southern Charm

Come On Inn

The Sailfish Room at Highlands House in Santa Rosa Beach is an elegant coastal-inspired oasis.

Matt Burke

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The history of bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) in America dates back to the time of early settlers. As the pioneers traveled the trails and roads across this country, they sought a safe refuge in homes, inns and taverns. In fact, some of those historic accommodations now serve as B&Bs.

During the Great Depression, many people opened their homes to travelers to bring in some additional money for the family. The term “boarding house” was used at this time. After the Depression, this type of lodging declined, and many people had the idea they were just for low-income travelers or drifters. In the early 1950s, the term “tourist home” was coined for homeowners renting out rooms along with a warm meal. Once motels began to dot U.S. highways, they were soon forgotten.

Today there are nearly 30,000 B&Bs throughout the states. The concept is now well accepted as a niche category within the hospitality industry. In fact, there are newsletters, travel publications and guidebooks dedicated to B&Bs.

By serving breakfast to guests in a central gathering place, B&Bs by nature appeal to those seeking a social travel experience. It’s also a highly social lifestyle for the innkeepers, not to mention a steady revenue stream that can quickly pay off a home mortgage, making for a smart real estate investment.

We “checked in” on four family-owned and operated B&Bs along the Emerald Coast to bring you their stories.

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