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Seaside, Florida

We like to say that our time in Seaside was our vacation from our vacation.

I had visited the Florida Gulf Coast twice before on my annual college girls weekend (where 5 of us college besties fly in from our homes around the country to pick up where we left off). Each time, I returned home declaring that Seaside was my favorite place ever and that I couldn’t wait to show it to Ryan and the kids.

The thing about Florida is that it is on the absolute opposite end of the country from our home in the Seattle area and so traveling to and from is not ideal. When we were talking about what stops to make on our round-the-country road trip, Seaside was at the very tippy top of my list. Finally I would have the chance to visit this gorgeous part of the country with my family!

kidssunsetThe first night we arrived after a decent drive day and headed straight to the beach.

You guys. My kids have only ever known cold Pacific Northwest water. They, like their mama, have grown up thinking swimming in places like the Icicle River and the 56* waters of the Puget Sound is totally normal and so they fully embrace it. Part of my excitement over visiting this part of Florida with the kids was to watch them experience swimming in the clear, turquoise warm water. Their first moments down at the beach wading in the waves and squealing over the water and the sunset and the sugar sand beaches were priceless to me.

We deliberately planned for four days here in Florida which is longer than most of our previous stops.  For one, I was just so looking forward to hanging out at this gorgeous beach and wanted to spend as much time as possible. And two, it marked just a little over a month of traveling and we figured by this point we would need a vacation from our vacation. We were right. It was such a great change of pace to have a few slow days of beach laying, ocean swimming, pool lounging.

Our first full day was spent at the beach in the darling town of Seaside.

beachWe rented chairs, settled in and did the beach.

umbrellasboysboogieboards audreysand2masonwavesaudreysand boysinsanddadmasonsandflipflopsLater that day, we checked into our condo just down the highway from Seaside in a community called WaterSound. I booked this place months ago and had forgotten how fabulous it was!

hotellivingroom hotelbedroom

On our second full day, we skipped the sand and lounged poolside at the big community pool.

ryanpoolbradyreadingmasonpool

A couple of nights we went into town to eat and enjoy Seaside at night.
seasidewatchingshow

There are shows on a regular basis on the lawn. One night, the kids sat out and watched the local theater company perform Rapunzel while Ryan and I popped through the local shops (The Art of Simple is my favorite).

starfish

On our last night, we found a stray shovel and my oldest did what he loves to do and dug a gigantic hole.

ethandiggingSunset is just magical down at the beach. We’re used to the sun going down over the ocean on the West Coast, so it was fun to experience a different sunset and take advantage of the amazing lighting for a family photo.
familyatbeach

I’ll cherish this one forever.

Seaside – and the other darling towns along the 30A highway – are for sure on our must visit again list. It has captured a piece of all of our hearts.

P.S. One of my favorite parts of each evening was people watching. You Southern vacationers dress so beautifully! Never have I felt so Pacific Northwesty than our first night when I arrived wearing these shorts, this shirt and my birkenstock sandals :)

Also, in case you’re curious, Audrey’s swimsuits and the boys’ rash guards are from Land’s End. It’s my favorite place to find great quality swimwear that holds up to many, many washes and wears.

56 thoughts on “Seaside, Florida”

  1. Great post. Moved to Nashville from Seattle 9 years ago and return to visit every summer. One of my favorite pictures is of me in all white and my daughter in a preppy dress with an enormous bow with the Pike Place Market behind us and all of the pedestrians behind us looking grey. It was that moment of realizing the contrast and how quickly we had acclimated to living in the South!

    Love those Florida beaches…they are pretty amazing!

  2. Emily, I love that you love Seaside. My Family tor 20 yrs, has had a cottage in Seaside, We just celebrated a family wedding in our little slice of paradise! It was beautiful! My Niece told my Dad when she was 7 or 8 that she wanted to get married there. Needless to say her dreams, and our whole family’s dreams, have come true! I am so glad its a special place for you too!! I love your blog and admire your generosity in sharing your family trip.
    Enjoy the rest of your trip ! Jane

  3. My family and I go to 30A for a week every other summer with my college roommate and her family. I am thoroughly enjoying each and every post from your journey. I squealed when I saw this one in particular posted. SOO happy you and your family enjoyed your stay! Thank you for sharing all along the way.

  4. Hey Emily – loving following your family on this adventure! Could you possibly give the brand of or share a link to the sandals you’re wearing in the starfish picture. I’ve noticed them in several other posts and love them! Thanks so much!

    The other thing I’ve been wondering about is, how are you guys handling kids disagreements? We have 3 little girls; 6, 4, & 2 and they pick at each other, push each other’s buttons, and argue so much! We were talking about taking a trip like this one when our youngest is 6, and it’s a little scary to think of them in such close quarters for such a long time. How do you keep the peace?! Please don’t tell me your kids just all get along, I might not be able to handle that!! ?

    1. Yes I love those sandals and have noticed them too! LOL And thanks for sourcing Audreys bathing suit I absolutely adore the floral! Keep posting Emily, I have found my self watching my inbox waiting for the next update and making my family’s travel bucket list right along with your posts. Love it!

  5. We have been visiting Seaside, Florida and Watercolor every year for the past 17 years and a piece of our hearts will always be there….

    Did you buy groceries, a egg muffin or a mimosa or at Modica market? The art of Simple is one of our favorites, too. The pizza and taco bar always perfection.

    So happy a bit of your hearts were left behind there, too!!!

  6. We were there at the same time you were! I strongly debated trying to find y’all to introduce myself and say hi, but decided not to be a crazy stalker. ?
    You really can’t beat gulf coast beaches. Did you know that they filmed “The Truman Show” in seaside?
    I’m so enjoying following your trip! We are planning a cross country trip next summer with our 4 kids and you are providing so many great tips and ideas! Thank you for sharing.

  7. Looks beautiful Emily. Warm sea water is always better to swim in. We live right down the bottom of South Australia, so our sea water is much like yours, cold. We may get a couple of days out of a summer where it will be warm. Our water is dark and full of seaweed too. However the more north you move up our coast the nicer the water is and the warmer. I saw on tv the other day a place called St Simons Island, there in Florida. That looks like a beautiful place to stop. You may want to check it out. xx

  8. This makes me so happy. I grew up visiting this stretch of FL and I love hearing outsiders appreciate it. It’s a treasure! Glad you got your quintessential “sunset beach pic.”

    And yes. When we visited Southern CA the locals were poking fun at us for freezing the water. But when the Gulf drops below 80 it’s declared “TOO cold!” ha.

  9. A piece of my heart lives on 30a. We were married in Watercolor and go back every year now as a family of four. Every time we make that long stretch back on I10 my husband and I brainstorm how we could make a life on 30a. It’s heaven on Earth if you ask me.

  10. So enjoying your road trip posts and soaking up every little detail! Can you share where you stayed in Seaside? I’m a Central Florida Mama who would love to take her girl on a memorable road trip before sending her off to college for freshmen year!

  11. Very, very pretty. But a bit weird to this California girl–no surf! Looks like a big lake! Nice for littles, but I like waves.

    1. Kary, there are definitely waves there. Calm days and not so calm days. I’ve been there where there were days straight of red flag days. It is still my happy place.

  12. So happy to follow along on your trip and glad that you enjoyed a little rest in Watersound. I’m a Northern California girl who transplanted to the Emerald Coast 25 years ago (we live in Niceville which you would have passed on your way over the bridge to the beach) and it cracked me up to read your comment about the way southern vacationers dress. There’s definitely a 30A vacation culture! Among locals it may not be as apparent in the fashions, but we certainly love our beaches and the atmosphere! Do come visit again; Southern hospitality is alive and well here.

  13. 30-A will steal your heart forever! We’ve been vacationing there for years, either on a girl’s trip or family vacation and there’s just no other place like it! So glad you and your family could experience this little piece of God’s paradise on earth!! Love following your road trip!

  14. I love love LOVE Seaside! My husband and I first discovered it on a trip to Pensacola and I think I might have found the Art of Simple from one of your instagram posts years ago!!! Now anytime we’re near there, I have to stop for a visit. Such a fun, beautiful, and relaxing place.

  15. I am reading this on Santa Rosa Beach, 4 miles from Seaside. We rode our bikes down yesterday! All of 30a is amazing, but you are right–Seaside is magical! We’ll probably head to Bud and Alley’s for dinner, or at least hit up the taco bar! Yummm!!

  16. So fun! Seaside looks lovely! I love your kids’ reaction to the water. I grew up along the gulf coast swimming in warm water. We now live in Idaho with freezing rivers and lakes like WA and it feels so odd! ?

  17. Just found your blog, love it! Anxious to read your swimsuit post since that is a horrible experience for me lol. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Haha – I had wondered what you thought of Southern dressed kids. We live in Dallas, where only some people dress their kids Southern (smocking, bubbles, jonjons, bonnets, etc.) like we do, so it was fun for us to go to Seaside where all the littles are dressed like that! I wondered what a NE perspective was on that! Love your trip updates, love Seaside, love following along!

  19. dawn@joyfulscribblings

    I love Seaside. It’s such a quaint town and very family oriented. We rented a house there the beginning of June and I’m ready to go back. A very relaxing trip. We passed Watersound which looks like a nice place. I wondered if it had beach access.

  20. Emily, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this post as I was dying to see how your family enjoyed our little slice of paradise here in the Destin/30-A area!

    My husband and I came to the area on vacation a few years ago, and once we experienced the beautiful gulf waters, sugar sand beaches, and super friendly people, we were hooked! We soon decided it would be our next home, so we packed up and moved from California two years ago… and what a great decision that was! Yes, it was a big move, but not an impossibly difficult one…so when you’re ready to trade Seattle rain for Florida sunshine, come on back and see if this wonderful place calls you to make the same decision!

    Love “following along” on your big road trip – what fun you must be having! And what an incredible learning experience for your kids! Enjoy!

  21. ELISABET MEYER DE BORBA

    Congratulations, your photos are beautiful and your family too … loved the photo Hawaiian slipper … these slippers are manufactured in Brazil … I’m from Brazil . May God greatly bless your family … kisses

  22. I live in the Tampa Bay area now (though still a Jersey girl at heart). I’m not a huge fan of Florida, but my family LOVES San Destin which isn’t too far from Seaside. If you are ever back in the area check out San Destin Beach and Golf Resort; Village of Baytowne Wharf has so much for kids and adults alike: rock climbing, live entertainment, ropes course, delicious food, shopping. Beaches are amazing! The resort buses take you everywhere (including the beach). We arrive, park underground, and never once have to drive until it is time to leave a week later. Everyone is so friendly! Truly a great vacation spot!

    Love watching/reading your travels unravel!

  23. I’ve really enjoyed following you and your family on your adventures this summer! It’s such a blessing to see you enjoy each other and our beautiful country!

  24. Can you share tips on taking group photos while on vacation? Do you use a tripod or rely on the kindness (and photo skills) of strangers? My family always has beautiful photos of each of us individually from trips, but the group ones often leave something to be desired . . . yours are very cute!

  25. We have a condo in Destin, FL, right down the way from Seaside. We love it there. We gutted the condo and made it a very special cottage. We have a gorgeous view of the golf course and a 10 minute walk to the beach across Seascape property. We even have special parking by the beach that is reserved for our community, Seascape. We have owned it for five years and very sadly are going to sell. As it turns out I am highly allergic to Yellow flies. They show up in May. We live in Phoenix, AZ so like you were saying, Emily….quite a little trip to get there. We love to visit Seaside and I hope you traveled on down 30 A and saw all of the other darling communities.Your children are going to have these beautiful memories forever. I am so happy for them…well, you adults, as well!

  26. This post made me surprisingly homesick. I’m not from Florida (TN gal) but we vacation in the Seaside area every summer, and I will always feel like a little piece of my heart is there. Your pics actually brought tears to my eyes. I’m so happy you could spend time there with your beautiful family!

  27. What a beautiful area to visit. My daughter has that same swimsuit! It has lasted 2 years! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Lands End swimming suits. And the best part is that they are a Wisconsin company.

  28. I ❤️ 30a! We’ve been vacationing in Seaside/Watersound for 12 years and I get giggly as soon as I see the powdered white sand. If you’re interested- check out my Pinterest board of our 30a memories.

    http://pin.it/-BsT5Qr

  29. We were in Seaside in April for my cousins wedding and I too want to go back ! We loved the Airstream food trucks and walking around town and of course enjoying those white sandy beaches !

  30. So jealous! We heart Seaside and all of the surrounding towns and will actually be leaving for there in a month from yesterday and arriving a month from today! EEEKKKSS! So glad you and your family enjoyed it and really love following you on your roadtrip!

  31. would love to know where you stayed…love the Florida panhandle area. we’ve spent time in the Pensacola area which isn’t too far! happy travels…looks like a blast!

  32. I must admit. I got the biggest giggle out of your comment about the way southerners dress. We do indeed dress either ourselves or our children perfectly when vacationing. Especially our children in smocked outfits, bubbles, jon jons and bonnets! So glad you got to enjoy our beautiful white Gulf beaches.

  33. ELISABET MEYER DE BORBA

    Lindas as fotos….achei super legal a foto do chinelo havaianas…estes chinelos são fabricados aqui no Brasil.
    Parabéns pela família linda, que Deus abençoe grandemente a sua família. Beijos

  34. I might cry, I love Seaside. My aunt and uncle have a house there we got to spend a week at in the summer as kids. So many memories with my siblings and cousins there. Its bittersweet that they are selling their home there. It has always made my day to read any of your posts about Seaside so I can live vicariously through you. Other than a couple hours passing through last summer, its been a long time since those childhood trips. I love that you love it there so much!
    It’s fun to hear your comparison of life in the NW to the South…sunsets, water temps, dress, etc. If it makes you feel better, Birks are making a big comeback here in Knoxville, TN…and 90% of Knoxville vacays on the FL panhandle…so you probably fit in just fine. :-)

  35. I have been following your blog for a few years now and I am LOVING your road trip posts. Seaside is such a darling place. So glad that your family made it to our corner of the country (and that you had such a great time). If you ever make if further south (on the west coast of Florida) – you must also check out Siesta Key. I currently live in Tampa but lived in Sarasota/Siesta Key for many years! Look forward to reading about your next stop! Safe travels!

  36. Been going to that beach for almost 20 years, check out Grayton Beach just down the road. Amazing!! Love your blog.

  37. I don’t know this family at all but what a beautiful journey together and one you will be speaking of for the rest of your lives. I am sure there are obstacles you do not always share but that is part of the path. What is inspiring in following you all is learning about how we get so trapped in our boxes and rather by life set backs, no ability to create a “family”, health issues or fears, what we can learn from this well documented journey, is that we can step out side and feel the sun a little more, color way outside our lines and feel the richness we do have in the midst of the obstacles. I applaud you all for making such a beautiful treasured time happen as it is an inspiration to be passed on to others so we may all find where we can reach and do it well documented.

    Warmest appreciation,

    Kim
    Minneapolis

  38. Better Life Bag!? :) You totally need to send that photo of your husband with it to them, they’ll love it! Thanks for the inspiration on a trip to Seaside! :) I’ve loved following your trip!

  39. We love 30a!!! We just got home from spending a week there! Already dreaming about our next trip! Great pics! Love your blog!

    Jody

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