If you are not from the southern half of the United States, chances are you may have never visited a Gulf Coast beach. And while some of the Gulf Coast does get caught in muddy waters and seaweed, the Gulf Coast of Florida couldn’t be opposite. We’re talking beautiful white sand beaches with sand as fine as powdered sugar. And gentle crystal clear water. There’s a whole stretch in Florida’s panhandle along Highway 30A that is dotted with the most charming and chic beach towns and some of the best beaches in the United States!
How to Get There:
The reason that this has been a southern gem is because the best way to get there is by car. Previously there wasn’t a major airport in the area (so you had to drive a few hours to get here) but now there’s an airport carrying multiple airlines in Seaside, Florida. If your looking for more options though you can still fly into Pensacola or Tallahassee. We decided to go by car though, as we’re based in Houston, and because road trips can be a nice change of pace after so many airplane rides. Best part being you get to make pit stops along the way (we stopped in New Orleans because when was New Orleans NOT a good idea?)
Where to Stay:
The neighborhoods and houses are what make the beaches of 30A. Each town is unique and has its own character. Our favorites, though, are Watercolor & Seaside because they are the epitome of southern charm – siding houses, big porch swings, and all the “yes ma’ams” and “y’alls” of your dreams.
If you decide to stay in Seaside, the houses are everything, so renting one can be really fun. You get your own space to hang out when you want a break from the sun and even cook up a few meals. Here is the one that we rented and we were in LOVE with it. Also every house in town has its own unique name, which we thought was endlessly fun. Here’s a few we recommend for location and space:
Where to eat:
While we did most of our cooking back at our place, there was still a couple of must hit places:
· Raw & Juicy – Juice & smoothie bar (need we say more?)
· Shrimp Shack – fresh local shrimp boil (it’s a southern thing. If you’ve never tried, it’s worth the experience)
· For the Health of It – A little bit outside of Seaside (ideal if you have a car) but great place to pick up healthy munchies and a smoothie. Also organic products can be hard to come by in seaside, so this is a safe haven for all those organic lovers out there.
What to do:
Activities to do in seaside/ watercolor:
· Farmer’s Market – you know how seriously we take farmer’s markets around here. If there’s a weekend market, count us in. Seaside has their own and though it’s not the largest we’ve been to, they still have a lot of fun things to check out.
· Amphitheater – commonly in the summer they have evening concerts – most of the time for free! And with those warm southern nights, there’s nothing better than hanging outside to some good tunes. Look at the Watercolor website to see the latest events.
· Justin Gaffrey Museum – if your into local artists and quaint little studio museums this is a favorite of Seaside. This resident Floridian artist uses loads of paint for texture that literally pops off the canvas. We love his work that is showcased all over town as well.
Obviously you’ll want to soak up the rays of the beach, but don’t just check out one beach – check them all out! Here’s some of the nearby one’s we loved:
· Alys beach – European romantic vibes with gas lanterns, white houses, and turquoise shutters.
· Rosemary beach – German feel to it with wooden frames and colorful houses.
What we go Right:
· Rent Bikes – you’ll find all along 30A the main form of of short distance transportation is bikes. And for good reason – it’s naturally flat and things are all pretty close together so biking just makes sense. And you get to see so much more when you explore a city by bike instead of car.
· Explore Along 30A – it can be tempting to just park yourself at your house or hotel and not ever leave, but we highly recommend seeing all the beach towns around. Each one brings its own character and you won’t regret taking a cruise along the epic highway views.
· Stay as close to the beach as possible - It’s nice to be able to walk back to the place when the day starts to burn up. Humidity in the south can be intense, plan that you will want to be going in and out of the sun. If your in the mood for umbrellas you can rent them all day for $25-$50, else at around 2 pm and on you might be able to find some abandoned ones to camp under (just saying).
What To Pack:
Hope you find yourself in Seaside Florida soon. Any more questions? leave us a note and we’d love to help!
That’s all for now-