Several years ago my husband and I decided we wanted to find a new vacation spot for our family. I had spent some time researching online and came across a blog post on Seaside, Florida and the surrounding areas. On a whim, we booked a townhouse on the beach in a neighboring town and arrived there two weeks later. We fell in love instantly. We have been vacationing here for the last 10 years now and love how family friendly the area is for our crew!
30A is a highway that runs between Destin and Panama City Beach. It is filled with darling little beach towns, no commercial businesses, and even better no high rises. Little beach cottages with picket fences, visitors and locals both on bicycles, farmers markets, cute little coffee shops, and of course the beach. It is magical and you instantly want to pick up and transplant yourself there permanently. We have now been staying on 30A each winter for the past 10 years and we love the fact that we can pack up and get there in a day or catch a quick direct flight.
Where to stay
In the past we often chose to stay on the beach in Seagrove, especially with small children. It was a nice option have the beach in front of you while the little ones were napping. It is just a short walk or bike ride from the heart of Seaside. With young kids staying on the beach always worked well for us because of nap time and it also is great for to have private beach access so the kids can play in the sand while we have a cup of coffee or a cocktail. And of course the sunsets! When staying on the beach I recommend paying a little extra for beach chair set up daily!
More recently we have found ourselves staying in Watercolor because it is so family friendly and the amenities are fabulous. There are many pools to choose form including the Camp Watercolor which has slides, a lazy river, and two pools. You can order lunch or dinner here as well as a margarita or my kids personal favorite: a virgin strawberry daiquiri. We love riding our bikes here and floating in the lazy river. The beach club is also a favorite spot in Watercolor for swimming or catching the sunset. It is right on the water so there is easy beach access and is close to the heart of seaside square.
We always book vacation rentals through 360blue and you will find that there are options for everyone! They have taken great care of us through the years and even have a concierge service if you want to get out and try something new!
Watercolor Inn: Beautiful rooms right in Watercolor and right on the beach! You will enjoy all of the Watercolor amenities and this is perfect for a quick weekend getaway!
The Pearl (adults only vacation) . I am dying to do a trip sans kids and stay here! The rooftop bar is also pretty awesome
Watersound Inn: The rooms here are amazing with a living space and kitchen and the price is lower than Watercolor Inn. I had family stay here and they loved it!
The Court: Located in the heart of Seaside, better for an adult weekend away! Beautifully decorated!
During our travel down I always set up an Instacart and shop through the local Publix. I like to get enough to get us through the first night and morning. Nobody wants to go to the store right when they arrive and this allows me more time to get everyone unpacked and settled in. There is a Publix in Watercolor that we go to often. It is a great store and love that I don’t have to travel far to get groceries. They also sell beach toys, sports balls, and floaties. They will even blow up any pool toys that you purchase while you are in the store! They also have a wonderful bakery and we order cakes there for any birthdays we may be celebrating while there.
Where to eat with kids
Bud and Alleys in Seaside is one of our favorite spots for lunch or dinner with a view. The outdoor patio has a casual vibe. I always get the crab cakes on a bed of arugula. This is not on the menu but they will make it for you. So good!
Fish Out of Water in Watercolor This is a go to spot for dinner for our family. We typically stay in Watercolor so we either walk or drive the golf cart. We love to sit on the front deck because it overlooks the beach and they often have music in the evenings inside. This is definitely one of our favorites.
The Bay Off of 30a but worth the short drive if you don’t mind getting in the car! I love the sushi here and there is plenty of space for the kids to play on the beach. One of our favorite spots!
The Wine Bar in Watercolor We love to lunch here or grab a casual dinner. The margherita pizza and house salad are my favorites but we also love to order a big charcuterie board for a crowd. During happy hour 11-6 you can get a carafe of wine for the price of one glass. The kids pizza is also full size but half the price! We venture here often!
The Pizza Bar in Seaside: This is such an easy spot to grab dinner on the fly. Their wood fired pizza is great and the atmosphere is laid back. It is counter service only and there are tables outdoor all around. We love to come here and divide and conquer. Some get food from the food trucks, some order pizza, or tacos from The Taco Bar. The pizza is amazing and the brussell sprouts are incredible!
Great Southern Cafe in Seaside Consistently good and we usually visit twice for that reason. The seafood is great with southern flair. You can put your name in and walk around the area while you wait.
Old Florida Fish House in Seagrove We love this spot and the outdoor environment. There are twinkle lights and outdoor games for the kids. There is plenty of seating but reservations are usually needed here and over a certain number they require a credit card down. This is my favorite spot for sushi and there are plenty of other options for everyone else!
George’s in Alys Beach We love to lunch here on the front porch and order an iced tea and the sesame crab avocado salad. For dinner the salt and pepper shrimp is amazing!
Pizza by the Sea great for takeout on arrival day or when you need a quiet night in. Thursday nights they offer a discount!
Black Bear in Seaside is our favorite spot from breakfast. The avocado toast and iced latte or cappuccino is usually what I order. The kids love the french toast! Helpings are large so you can share!
Private Chef, Taco Bar, or Shrimp Boil: Some nights dinner in just hits the spot. Especially after a long day at the beach. Enjoy a beautiful meal in the comfort of your rental with a private chef experience. You can choose based off the number of people and there is also a taco bar set up offered as well as a shrimp boil!
Date night spots
If you can sneak away for a dinner without the kiddos here are some of my suggestions:
The Red Bar in Grayton Beach A classic 30A spot. Great food and music. Get here early to get a table. It’s a limited menu but everything is great! Love their crab cakes!
Citizen in Alys Beach
La Crema in Rosemary Beach for drinks and dessert
Paradis in Rosemary Beach
Pescado in Rosemary Beach the rooftop bar
The Pearl for cocktails
What to do with kids
Go to Duckies! Your kids will love it, you may hate me. We actually plan ahead for our February visit and give the kids gift cards here for Christmas!
Rent bikes from Big Fish Bike Rentals We ride our bikes everywhere! You can visit the state park and set up a picnic, ride around Seaside, or one of the many trails!
Go to The Big Chill! There is a big screen, area for kids to run and play, ice cream, a bar, and lots of shopping!
Sunset or Bonfire experience Catch a coastal sunset or beach bonfire with a beautifully organized luxury experience. Book ahead and enjoy!
Rent beach set up for a day or week and enjoy a day at the beach!
Seaside farmers market is one of our favorite things to do on the weekend. The kids play in the grass and we get to shop all kinds of local goodies.
Watercolor Boat House has paddle boards (old school and electric) that you can rent as well as kayaks!
Take the kids to The Candy Bar in Watercolor!