Seaside Florida has been our destination for many family beach vacations. What's not to like about the most beautiful beaches in the world, the best bike trails for all ages, and great food at local restaurants. Located in the Florida Panhandle, it's situated between Panama City and Pensacola on Scenic Highway 30A. Chosen as the film location for The Truman Show, the bright pink, yellow and blue houses with white picket fences epitomize the idyllic American small town.
When we lived in Miami our good friends would always leave for vacation to go to the beaches of the Florida panhandle. They always told us the best beaches of Florida were there. Once we made our own trip we discovered for ourselves why it's a favorite family beach location.
Miles of beautiful white sand, ocean breezes and the sound of splashing waves keeps everyone happy - whether it's playing in the sand or floating on the ocean waves.
There's no need to lug beach tents, umbrellas, chairs or lounges to Seaside Beach when you can have them delivered and set up for you every morning by Cabana Man.
Your beach equipment will be set up by 9:00 AM weather permitting and in the summer taken down at 6:00 PM. All reservations are made on line.
What we love about going to Seaside is that it is an easy 5 hour drive from our home in south Atlanta. No busy cities or traffic jams to hold us up.
We can pack a whole lot more beach gear in a truck!
Our Dallas, Texas family members have about an 11 hour drive - which is still doable and better than paying for airfare for a family of 6.
The Panama City Airport otherwise now known as Northwest Florida Beaches
International Airport is conveniently located just a little over 30
A brand new airport with easy access and soooo little traffic compared to our Atlanta airport. Delta is one of the airlines that has gates there and so does Southwest and United airlines. There are lots of options for car rentals from Budget to Alamo to Enterprise.
We've picked up family members who have come in the middle of the week and have found several companies that provide airport transports to return them there as well.
Once you arrive at your rental home or resort in Seaside Florida park your car.
Everything is walking or biking distance.
This pedestrian friendly town means you can walk
to the beach,
the restaurants and
to any activities at the amphitheater.
Bring your bikes to Seaside Florida so you can enjoy the beautiful streets and paths in Seaside and Water Color or for longer distances follow the ocean paths along Highway 30A.
We've figured out every year how to accomodate kids of all ages - whether it's attaching a trailer for little ones or using a rear bike seat.
As our family members have gotten older they can now ride their own bikes which makes it even more fun for them.
If you can't bring your bicycles you can always rent them. There are several rental companies all in the Seaside vicinity. Our favorite bike rental shop is Buttefly Bike and Kayak located just down the road at Seagrove Beach.
Their bike rental charges are almost half of those charged at the bike rental shop in Seaside.
Call them at 850-231-2826 and find out for yourself.
Our mornings always start out with a long bike ride - before the day gets too warm. A breakfast muffin at Modica Market or a great cup of coffee at Amavida Coffee and Tea completes the morning.
Shops, restaurants, and the amphitheater provide ample enjoyment for all ages and all interests. Get your groceries or prepared food at Modica Market.
They serve breakfast foods, fresh salads in the deli as well as fresh produce and meat to grill.
Bring your food home or enjoy it in the outside seating area in the square.
We usually time our vacation when the annual art fair is set up in Central Square in May. In the summer, grab your picnic blanket and get ready to watch a family friendly movie when the sun goes down at the amphitheater.
Outdoor bazaar type shopping offers beachwear, swimsuits, hats, and jewelry.
Looking for some beachware, a swim suit cover-up or perhaps like me a no-headache visor? You can find it all at the little shops in Central Square.
Sundog books is a great place to pick up a book before heading to the beach and An Apartment in Paris provides lots of home decorating ideas.
But, really my favorite little store is tucked away a couple of blocks south on 30-A. Quaint and welcoming, shopping at Miss Ann's is an annual tradition.
Every year we pick up some memento to have in our home that reminds us of our time spent at the beach.
Just as enjoyable as browsing in the store, is walking around the grounds on the brick pathways admiring flowering hydrangeas and stone rabbits tucked under plants and hiding amongst the hedges.
The gentle sound of trickling water from fountains and Adirondeck chairs placed under the shade of a 100 year old tree makes it more of an oasis than a shopping trip.
From casual Mexican to southern cuisine, eating out is part of any fun vacation.
The V is walking distance from Seasides' central square and offers an early bird special which we love to take advantage of.
Indoor and outdoor seating is available. We found the service to be excellent and the food outstanding.
Another place we make sure to visit is the Great Southern Cafe. I love how they use locally harvested food from nearby community farms and fresh fish from the Gulf.
Best known for their Grits a Ya Ya with smoked bacon, portabello mushrooms, and spinach over Gouda cheese grits and shrimp topped with shredded sweet potatoes.
The perfect place for our girl's lunch is The Wine Bar at Watercolor. A short bike ride from Seaside it is easy to get to.
We love to eat outside whenever we can - and there is plenty of outdoor seating here.
We ordered the platter of cheese, fresh fruit and nuts - which was plenty for the three of us.
The service was quick and attentive. While we slowly sipped our glass of wine and enjoyed each others company we decided The Wine Bar to be one of our "must" restaurants for next year.
Who can go on vacation with their grandkids and not get ice cream? Whether you like ice cream, gelatos, floats or milkshakes there is something for everyone.
Featuring all kinds of flavored Blue Bell® ice cream plus a variety of nut and candy toppings that are folded in when you place your order.
If you like organic try the locally made creamy gelato at Heavenly Ice Cream right near the square.
Fresh fruit toppings and healthy walnuts, granola and pecans, along with yogurt with live probiotics might even make this cold treat actually good for you.
Just a short distance from Sea Side is Cowgirl Kitchen. What's not to like - a great selection of breakfast items like Praline Bacon - thick slices of bacon baked with brown sugar and pecans or a Campfire Gravy and Biscuit with chorizo sausage gravy for $3.50. Known for their Texas Pimento Cheese served on 7 grain whole wheat bread, there is something for everyone at a reasonable price.
Located at 3005 Scenic Highway 30A you can check out their complete menu at www.cowgirlkitchen.com.
We have been lucky to hit ArtsQuest during several of our Seaside stays.
Usually it's in May the weekend of Mother's day. It runs Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.
Sometimes it is in Seaside and other times in the neighboring community of WaterColor.
With over 100 exhibiting artists, live music, entertainment, and art demonstrations, you may want to work your beach vacation around this special activity.
Jewelry, pottery, and all different kinds of wall art means there is something to be admired by everyone.
Concerts at the amphitheater, 4th of July Parade, and Fireworks Spectacular on the Gulf of Mexico makes Seaside, Florida a great place for a family beach vacation for the Fourth.
You can often hear a concert or watch a play at the local amphitheater. With a large stage and tons of space, families gather here for entertainment and fun.
There is no shortage of opportunity to get a variety of food - from buying your own at Modica Market to hot dogs served from one of the food Airstreams that line the main highway.
Outdoor seating only, but who cares, with the shade of trees and an ocean breeze who wants to be inside?
My favorite spot to get some healthy food is Raw and Juicy. You can get organic juices, salads and other healthy dishes for breakfast, lunch or a light supper.
The Green Goddess is a great way to start the day, made from fresh kale, celery, lemon, parsley and apple. If you're not a fan of green juices the Spicy Rabbit is a great alternative made from juiced carrots and ginger.
Kids can get something healthy there too - like organic fresh popsicles made with local ingredients.
For those who wouldn't touch a green juice there is plenty of opportunity to find sodas, beers and hotdogs.
Every year I pack a fresh pound of ground coffee and every year I pack it up again to take it home.
I should know better by now. Our morning routine of riding bikes always includes a stop at Amavida's for a great coffee latte and some fresh baked goods.
Even my Starbuck's fan husband loves their coffee.
Let your day begin by sitting outside under the shade of one of their large blue patio umbrellas sipping your coffee or tea.
The Saturday morning farmer's market is a must. Home made goodies, fresh produce, natural lotions and artistic jewelry make for a full market. Buy fresh food to take home or find special gifts to give away (or keep :).
Every Saturday a local farmer's market is set up in the central square by the amphitheater. Starting around 9:00 AM you will find fresh produce, fudge, baked goods, and hand crafted items can be found there.
Our favorite "buy" is some natural skin care products made from shea butter and natural oils.
The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is a short 30 minute drive. It was the perfect activity for a day that was just too windy to be at the beach. It is open daily from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM is located at 1010 Miracle Strip Parkway SE in Fort Walton Beach.
Our grandkids aged two to seven loved the Dolphin Show, the Sea Lion Show and the Shark Chat.
It's also fun to just walk around the park to see the sea lions, reptiles, penguins and sea rays.
Find out more by going to www.gulfarium.com or calling them at 800-247-8575.
As you can see there is plenty to see and do in Seaside, Florida besides enjoying the beach and ocean. You can wander the shops, enjoy local cuisine, or ride the trails for a vacation that can be as active or relaxed as you want.
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