By Susan Vallee
For such a small little beachside town, Seaside is teeming with things to do, places to shop and secret spots to discover. Consider this your Ultimate Guide to Seaside.
Seaside was a dream of Town Founder Robert Davis’ grandfather J.S. Smolian. When Davis inherited the 80 acres, he and his wife, Daryl, got to work, determined to create something special out of this gorgeous landscape.
They explored small Southern towns, sought out ambitious architects and designed a groundbreaking new form of development that harkened back to simpler times. This new type of development, New Urbanism, is a way to create a community that has places of worship, schools, restaurants, shops, entertainment and homes all within a 10-minute walk. It’s what life was like before cars ruled our lives.
The result was a skyrocketing demand for homes in Seaside. Real estate prices soared as every available plot of land was quickly bought.
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For a small, beachfront community, Seaside offers a remarkable amount of things to do (if you decide to get up off your beach towel that is). There’s swimming, tennis, walking trails, biking, shopping, dining, live concerts, theatre productions, outdoor movies, and .. you get the idea.
Beachfront, is, of course, the Gulf-front area located south of 30A, Amphitheater is the shopping, dining and entertainment that rings the grass amphitheater and Ruskin Place is a quiet, artsy area that connects the shopping and dining around the amphitheater to the Seaside Chapel. It’s a bit like an upside down T.
Surrounding all of this are beach cottages of varying size, color, shapes and infamy. All of these homes are connected through a maze-like pattern of white-sand paths and white-picket fences. At the end of a fun day at the beach, grab a flashlight and go explore. Seaside at night is every bit as magical as it is in the daytime.
Seaside’s beach is accessed through a variety of private beach pavilions that connect to different neighborhoods within the community, and one public beach pavilion (the Coleman Pavilion, located in between Pizza Bar and Bud & Alley’s Restaurant). There are beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent, paddle boards and kayaks. If you do nothing else while in Seaside, watch at least one sunset with sand underneath your bare feet.
The Shrimp Shack offers fresh seafood with an unbelievable view. Once you pick up your order, head out back and follow a sand path to a Grecian take on an outdoor pavilion. The views are fantastic.
Bud & Alley’s restaurant is a multiple award-winning restaurant downstairs, and a laid-back, Tarpon Club bar upstairs with unrivaled sunset views and a daily ringing of the bell at sundown.
Pizza Bar offers brick-oven pizzas, salads and pastas and offers a shady spot to sit and enjoy views of dune vegetation with glimpses of the Gulf in the distance.
Taco Bar has an impressive tequila sampling and authentic Mexican tacos and light bites.
It’s not all about the food though. Be sure to walk through Perspicacity, a delightful outdoor market created by Town Founder Daryl Davis. Perspicacity got its beginnings when Daryl would sell fresh fruit, T-shirts and hats to passers-by as a way to (hopefully) get them to slow down and visit the burgeoning Seaside.
The sloped sides of the amphitheater seem to beckon to children of all ages. No matter how much they’ve splashed and played in the Gulf, grass under feet seems to invigorate everyone.
A limestone* stage sits at the base of the amphitheater and hosts outdoor movies and concerts. Around this amphitheater you’ll find a grocery store, clothing stores, jewelry boutiques, a bookstore, record shop, toy store, eyewear and more. Basically anything and everything you need is found here.
It’s hard not to smile when you’re ordering food from a window in a shiny Airstream.
Massive snow cones in a dizzying array of flavors and colors.
Cheese sandwiches like you’ve never tasted before.
Hot dogs made from grass-fed beef, homemade sauces, specialty toppings and more. These aren’t average hot dogs.
Famous for the shrimp and grits, the award-winning Great Southern Cafe also has an excellent outdoor bar and a menu that takes Southern food to a new level.
Crepes made to order in a variety of sweet and savory flavors. Perfect for carrying around while you explore.
Reportedly the most photographed post office in the United States, the Seaside Post Office is the perfect backdrop for family photos, or a place to drop a postcard in the mail. It is especially lovely in winter when it is decked out in holiday lights.
Fine pearls on leather has become ubiquitous with Seaside thanks to the hard work and dedication of jewelry artist Wendy Mignot. Inside La Vie Est Belle are Tahitian and freshwater pearls in a rainbow of colors, rare coins and more.
This toy shop brings out the kid in all of us and is the perfect place to scoop up beach toys, diversions for the trip home or a little something “extra” to remember the trip by.
Seaside’s grocery store is a delight to fans of The Truman Show. In addition to grocery staples, you’ll find daily lunch specials, muffins the size of your head and homemade cakes sold by the slice.
Buy a book already! Unplug, relax somewhere shady and let a story captivate your attention for a bit. Look for signed editions and check out the wonderful children’s section.
Head upstairs from Sundog Books and you’ll find a record and music store that has something for everyone. Don’t be shy, ask for recommendations. The staff love to introduce people to new music.
Be sure to walk by Florida’s first charter school. Always innovating, Seaside’s charter school population is chosen by lottery and serves middle school grades. If you’re there during the school year you might see PE class out on the lawn or hear the school band rehearsing.
The adjacent Academic Village is an area for visiting speakers and guests of the Seaside Institute to stay and gather.
Ruskin Park is shaded by Scrub Oak and protected by an ornate iron gate. Along the edges of the park are boutiques and art galleries housed in the bottom level of individuals townhomes.
Newbill has been promoting the work of artists for more than 25 years in Ruskin Place and is Ruskin’s oldest art gallery. Owner Annette Newbill Trujillo credits the gallery’s long-lasting success to the relationships she’s created with customers and her discerning eye for talent. Newbill carries handmade jewelry, sculpture, photography, folk art, handmade clothing, original paintings, garden art and more.
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Watch The Truman Show before you visit and then see if you can find some of the movie locations while here.
Every white picket fence in Seaside is different. No, really! Don’t believe us? Go for a stroll on the sand paths that connect all the homes and give them an up-close look. Kids will have fun finding all the little ways they differ from each other.
Can you find the sundial? Tucked away along one of the walking paths is a huge sundial. There is also a great little playground and pools for staying guests.