Whether you’re looking for a coastal retreat for a long weekend, a summer home, or as a permanent escape from hectic city life, the stretch of waterfront communities along the scenic 30A Highway has you covered. Each beach town has its own identity and unique coastal flavor, so you are bound to find the right fit for you.
If you’re tired of high-rise condominiums and bland, overly commercialized tourist traps, skip the cookie-cutter resorts and spring break beaches this year and visit Seaside, Florida in the 30A area of South Walton. Recognized by Time magazine, USA Today, Newsweek Magazine, and Travel + Leisure magazine for its flawless beaches and charming community, Seaside has been praised by travel writers, food bloggers, architects, artists, urban planners, and beach enthusiasts everywhere. It stands as a cultural icon on the Panhandle, melding together masterful design, diverse architecture, a community of creatives, a thriving local theatre scene, boutique shopping, and award-winning restaurants to suit any palate.
Sugar-fine white sand beaches, clear water, stunning waterfront dining homes, and a culturally rich community make Seaside, Florida one of the best beach towns in the world – and not a tourist trap in sight. Let’s take a look at what makes Seaside the sophisticated, cultural capital of the Emerald Coast.
More and more Americans are interested in relocating to walkable and bikeable neighborhoods. Whether you are looking to save money, save the environment, or simply escape the suburban sprawl, Seaside was meticulously planned as a pedestrian-friendly urban community. From the post office to the public amphitheater, Seaside is entirely walkable.
As one of the first communities to inspire the “New Urbanism” movement, Seaside has been studied by urban planners all over the world. Its conscientious design helped to renew enthusiasm for building cities that promote environmentally-friendly lifestyles and a sense of community.
The award-winning Seaside Institute ensures that the community continues to thrive under the model of New Urbanism by furthering urban planning education, hosting town halls and community-wide conversations, and attracting resident artists and architects.
Even the homes are regulated to achieve the goals of New Urbanism. You won’t find any of the high-rise condominiums that cover much of the Florida coastline, private front yards, or non-native plants in Seaside. The white picket fences outline eco-friendly landscaping that is free from sod, herbicides, pesticides, underground irrigation, or noisy lawn mowers.
These conscious design choices make New Urbanist communities like Seaside a sound investment as well. In fact, homes in these developments have held their value better than those in traditional suburbs despite market conditions.
Walk the cobblestone streets and see for yourself why Seaside’s urban planning is world-renowned!
Thanks in part to its New Urbanist roots, Seaside is considered an architectural masterpiece. One of the first things you’ll notice when walking around Seaside is the diversity of architectural styles. The design of each home is unique, but the pastel colors and common materials help the wide variety of homes mesh together.
Then there are the nine beach pavilions where the streets of Seaside meet the shore. All were designed by different architects and serve to protect the natural dunes.
A Low-Key Art Community
The architecture in Seaside isn’t the only art in town. There are actually multiple art galleries and an artist collective with seasonally rotating residents and special exhibitions. The Newbill Collection by the Sea features art and handmade jewelry from locals and artists all over the south.
Browse the original ceramics and artwork of Red Bird Gallery, or shop for unique home décor and handblown glass art from Fusion Art Glass. Or if you want to flex your creative muscles, you can create your own sand art with the help of the professional sand castle builders at SandCastle Lessons. These sand artists take their work seriously and can help you become the best sand sculptor in Seaside.
Communal Theatre Scene
Seaside attracts more than just painters and potters – there is also an active theatre community. Walking through the tree-lined lanes, you might get caught up in street performance from a few of The Seaside Repertory Theatre actors, improvising a scene based on the suggestions of onlookers.
Watch a play in the outdoor Seaside Amphitheater or enjoy the intimacy of their 75-seat theater. This group of dedicated theatre professionals entertains over 25,000 audience members a year!
A Foodie’s Dream
No matter what kind of cuisine you’re after, Seaside has something to please every palate. Grab a coffee from Amavida Coffee in the morning or come back for Guatamalan arepas and empanadas for dinner. Indulge in “new-fashioned Southern” cuisine and fresh Gulf fish with huge mojitos at The Great Southern Café. Eat wood-fired pizza from a terrace overlooking the ocean at Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar + Trattoria.
Sip wine from the award-winning wine list at The Wine Bar – Watercolor or sample the many dishes of “Airstream Row,” a street where a handful of Airstream Food Trucks serve hot dogs, barbeque, Hawaiian shaved ice, organic smoothies, and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. During the annual Seeing Red Wine Festival, you’ll find wines from around the globe while listening to a live concert.
A Curated Shopping Experience
If you’re still hungry after a visit to Airstream Row, head over to Modica Market where you can buy handmade candies, craft beers, and beach necessities and gifts. The Art of Simple offers a quality selection of kitchen ware, soaps, and beautiful hand-fired ceramic dishware.
You’ll find local honey, fruit, veggies, kombucha, baked goods, and live music at the Seaside Farmers’ Market or used records and rare concert posters at Central Square Records. If you need someone to recommend a good beach read, head to the independent, family-owned Sundog Books for rotating staff picks and even a book club to join! Wherever you window shop, you’ll find high quality local goods and friendly service.
Seaside – a Different Kind of Beach Town
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, art enthusiast, theatre lover, gourmand, or architecture nerd, Seaside is a must-see cultural gem in the Panhandle. Its New Urbanist design, beautiful beaches, and thoughtfully planned streets call to all beach lovers looking for a quick getaway or a second home. If you’re ready to start living your best beach life, contact Chad Farnum with Coastal Inspirations Realty at coastalinspirationsrealty.com to get started!