9 May 2019
Part 1: What to do on the beach at Seaside, and where to eat.
The first thing to do in Seaside is park the car, because you won't need it while you're here. Everything in Seaside is just a pleasant stroll away from everything else, while every street corner in this artsy town opens up another palette of color-filled adventure, and all roads lead to the beach.
People come to Seaside to slow down and get away from it all. Since there are no hotels, the only way to stay here is in a rental cottage or townhouse. You have to become a local, and spend all your time here simply enjoying living, in a town designed exactly for that.
With architecture designed by many different award-winners, each building and each aspect of the town is different, and usually colorful, and certainly artistic. Seaside offers rich rewards for deliberately taking a different way to get somewhere every time you go. Make sure to see all of the pavilions and stairs to the beach, all created by different architects.
The Seaside Beach
Seaside is situated on Florida's Emerald Coast, looking out across the white sand at the Gulf of Mexico. If you wanted to, you could spend all your time in Seaside just gazing at the ocean, smelling the air, listening to the sounds of the sea and soaking up the sun.
If so, the Cabana Man will set you up with a deck chair and umbrella on the beach, and rent you a kayak or a paddleboard if you want to get on the water. You can also rent a boogie board to try the surf - and Austin McGee Surf School will teach you how to do that thing right if you want. You're on vacation, and in Seaside everything is easy, including trying new things.
Coastal Kids Babysitting offers an immaculate service to take care of your young ones while you spend some time together at a show or dining out. Seaside is a very safe town, in which your kids can get around by themselves if they want. But for those times when you need a sitter, you'll enjoy the pictures texted frequently to you by this service during your hours away.
The Seaside Transit Authority is the official rental bike provider for Seaside, and delivers and picks up by arrangement. By the way, Homeowner's Collection guests receive a discounted rate on these bicycle rentals, as well as two complimentary bikes for each cottage! Also, the Beach Butlers will shop for you ahead of time and stock your vacation rental with everything you need to stay home, rest up and enjoy family and friends time together.
Meanwhile, Sunshine Shuttle & Limousine offers you a way in from the airport without even needing a car, as well as laying on the service for that signature Seaside activity - weddings. And Live Well 30A offers a whole range of services to all of the beaches along this coast, from bike and golf cart rentals, shuttles and fishing trips, to baby cribs, highchairs and grocery shopping.
Food in Seaside
There are lots of activities and events happening in Seaside, but you won't get far in your day without a little nourishment to keep you going. This is where Seaside gets really fun. Where should you walk to, and what should you eat? Read on.
As you walk around Seaside, you'll notice plenty of food to eat on your feet, from food-truck dining on Airstream Row that includes gourmet hot dogs and French-style crepes, to fine dining that includes wine and sushi. During your travels, look for the giant triple-scoop ice cream cone outside of It's Heavenly Shortcakes & Ice Cream as you walk around, and make the decision that, yes, you've earned one.
Staying on the sweet side, find your way to Dawson's Yogurt & Fudge for a variety of confections, including the legendary frozen yogurt of course, as well as fruit smoothies. If you need to cool down, how about a shaved ice or a real root-beer float? You'll find those at Frost Bites, the first Airstream in Seaside, and a great place for selfies.
Five Daughters Bakery may start your morning with one of their delectable donuts - fresh each day and only until they're all gone. And Amavida Coffee & Tea will grind you some organic specialty coffee to help that morning wake up. Maybe you need some coffee for the cottage too?
While you're shopping for food actually to stock in the kitchen of your vacation rental, remember that the Seaside Farmers Market happens practically every Saturday morning of the year, with fresh local foods you can live on. Look for the organic, the artisanal, the gourmet and the unique. It's 8 am to noon in the Amphitheater.
And don't stop shopping now. Check out Modica Market on any day of the week, for more gourmet groceries and treats for the kitchen, as well as homemade Southern food and meals-to-go for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert! It's the place to pick up wines and beers, condiments and imported things.
Still strolling? Get a taste of Paris with a crepe made just for you, from the Crepes Du Soleil airstream, with ingredients and flavors from savory to sweet. And keep an eye out for the famous homemade chocolate mousse while you're there.
If you're getting hungry from the walking, grab a gourmet hot dog from Wild Bill's Beach Dogs. Grass-fed and sustainably farmed ingredients combine with secret recipes for wholesome food and instant memories. If you have room left, there's always the frozen key lime pie on a stick, dipped in Belgian chocolate!
How about a grilled cheese sandwich? Something the kids can get on board with for sure - don't tell them it's also healthy food. Gourmet chef Jim Shirley serves up a grilled cheese with fresh, local ingredients. You'll find it at the Meltdown on 30A airstream - send the kids down to pick it up to-go, or just hang out there and enjoy.
Barbeque? Try Barefoot B-B-Q for organic local ingredients and sauces drawn from Caribbean, Southern and Texan cuisine. This BBQ has been "knocking socks off" for a decade in Seaside. You want a burger? You need to visit Pickle's Burger and Shake, for the traditional meal served with Seaside flair, and Famous Fried Pickles. This is an oasis to sit back in and watch the bustle of downtown. And delicious Grouper is also on the menu - yes, we finally got around to seafood.
The Shrimp Shack offers Gulf of Mexico goodness, from the food to the setting, with a screened porch, a beachside deck and frequently the Seaside Pavilion. Watch the waves, and try not to drool as the food comes: steamed Gulf shrimp, of course, or ice cold oysters on the half shell. Try a Crab Cocktail, or a "Half Buttered" Lobster Tail. Gumbo and crab claws are on the menu as well.
Gumbo? Be sure to check the Great Southern Café menu for seafood and Southern cooking, with international flavors and wholesome ingredients, all put together by Chef Jim Shirley. Drop in to this great restaurant for a memorable breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Bud & Alley's is a name you'll see a lot of in Seaside, with the Waterfront Restaurant, the Pizza Bar + Trattoria and the Taco Bar - 3 ways to enjoy the vibe of Seaside and have a fun time. Bud & Alley's has been around for a long time satisfying appetites and quenching thirst, with great food, service and atmosphere, and coastal flavors from Italy to Mexico, and not forgetting local Florida. The operation also provides catering for that special event or in-home occasion.
For the over-21 crowd, 45 Central Wine & Sushi Bar offers a selection of specialty wines and small plates, concocted by award-winning chef Jim Shirley, with perfect pairings in a cozy atmosphere. Take a breather, mingle, chat and relax in this Wine Spectator "Award of Excellence" winner. Take a bottle home with you - all wines are available to purchase. Open daily from 2 pm until midnight.
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Look for PART 2 coming soon, when we take a break from eating and fill you in on the other Things to Do in Seaside: the many ACTIVITIES & EVENTS, the very cool SHOPPING, and the memory-making WEDDINGS.