Seaside and 30A beaches

So I’ve been debating where to start with posts of places where I have been because I have so much to catch up on, so I am going to start with the most recent trip! Last weekend, my husband and I went to Seaside and a few other beaches on 30A. If you have not visited, put this one in the books for a future trip! You will not be disappointed. Alex and I have gone to 30A several times as it is only a couple of hours from where we live and we always enjoy ourselves.

This time, we went to Seaside for our first wedding anniversary. We have previously visited to celebrate our dating anniversaries, so it was a sentimental trip for us for many reasons.

This year, we visited Seaside for the day, but stayed in Grayton Beach for the evening. If you haven’t been to the 30A beaches, the photo below gives a good visual of where they are geographically located. We typically visit several of the beaches as each has a distinct personality and different activities and they are only a few minutes apart.

Seaside, to me, is a perfect little paradise to just get away and forget about the grind of work! I’ll review our 2013 visit in this post and make a future post with recommendations from previous Seaside visits.

Alex surprised me with this year’s Seaside visit, which I found very romantic! I knew we were going on an anniversary trip, but I didn’t know where. The only clue I had was that he told me to pack for a beach destination and that it was “similar, but different” to somewhere we had been before. I had a feeling it might be Seaside, because it is one of our favorite weekend destinations.

Me in the car, still not sure where we are going!
Me in the car, still not sure where we are going!
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Me once we got to Seaside, my happy place!

We hopped in the car and drove the few hours to 30A. We arrived early enough to park and walk around the Seaside Farmer’s market, which occurs every Saturday in the town square. If you are planning a Seaside or 30A trip, I highly recommend making time for a Saturday morning visit to the Seaside farmer’s market. You can sample cheese and jams, purchase homemade soaps, and find delicious snacks for a picnic. We walked through the market and sampled ice cream from the Southern Craft Creamery based in Marianna, Florida. The owners have a dairy farm and creamery and, dare I say it?, this is the best ice cream I have ever had. We tasted the Strawberry Balsamic, and decided on a  pint of Salted Caramel which did not disappoint. The flavors are so deep and rich and creamy, you will never want to stop eating. Fortunately, if you miss the farmer’s market, Southern Craft Creamery ice cream is sold in Modica Market, a staple in Seaside, where you can purchase groceries, beer and wine, pre-made food, and any toiletry essentials you may have forgotten. Modica also serves coffee and sell 32 oz mimosas (or as I like to call them, Crystal-sized mimosas!).

Best.Ice Cream.Ever.
Best.Ice Cream.Ever.

Right along the town square are also permanent food trucks. As something of a food truck connoisseur (Tallahassee was an early adopter after some of the big cities like New York and Austin got them), I very much enjoy the Seaside airstream food scene. Read more here and here. Hands down, my favorite “truck” is The Melt Down on 30A. A good old-fashioned grilled cheese never fails to disappoint me, and I highly recommend the Classic American and Three Cheese grilled cheeses if you are in the mood for ol’ faithful. With that said, the Brie and Bacon on cranberry walnut bread is fantastic. The creamy brie melts in your mouth and the combination of bacon with cranberries perfectly fits that sweet + salty combo that we all love. 

One of my favorite things about Seaside is the town square. You can find a calendar of Seaside events here, and many of the activities revolve around the town square. Some of my favorites are the farmers’ market, movies in the square, and the concert series. Bring your blanket and pick up some treats at Modica to set up a picnic and you are all set!

Back to our trip: after a Three-Cheese grilled cheese, we headed out to the beach with a pint of Salted Caramel and set up our towels and chairs for an afternoon in the sun. We took several walks to see the nine architecturally distinct pavilions. After an unseasonably cold winter in Florida, the Gulf was chilly so I didn’t venture into the water, but we did see a school of dolphins playing and swimming not too far off the shore.

Paradise.
Paradise.
Beach walk in Seaside
Beach walk in Seaside

After we had enough sun, Alex and I walked up to The Shrimp Shack for a lobster roll. We visited Boston twice last summer, so there was a lot to live up to, but we were both very impressed. The lobster was hot and buttery and served on a toasted bun. It was on the small side, but more than satisfying. We enjoyed our roll out on the pavilion and relaxed while watching the waves come in.

Inside the Shrimp Shack
Inside the Shrimp Shack

Next it was time to do a little shopping at some of my favorite 30A boutiques. If you are looking for inexpensive, but trendy pieces, particularly sundresses, tops, and jewelry, try DejaVu (in Seaside) and Fuss Boutique (in Santa Rosa Beach/Watercolor). If you are on the hunt for names like Lilly Pulitzer, Trina Turk, Free People, and Vineyard Vines, Barefoot Princess (in Santa Rosa Beach/Watercolor) is for you. Another favorite of mine is The Blue Giraffe. I met one of the owners this fall and she is so sweet. The store is stocked with books, stationary, and artwork and jewelry made by local artists. If you are looking for a unique gift or just want to take a piece of 30A home with you, definitely stop at The Blue Giraffe.

I also have to mention WineWorld at Watercolor here. They do wine and cheese tastings every Friday, but for one reason or another, we have never made it. If you have, how is it?

Finally, we were off to our cottage. On previous visits, we have always stayed in the Motorcourt Inn in Seaside, which you have to rent through the Cottage Rental Agency, but this time, we stayed in a private cottage rented through VRBO in Grayton Beach. It was perfect and a bit more private than staying at the Motorcourt. We were only there for one night, but it would be a great place for a longer visit because it had a kitchen and washer/dryer. VRBO is a great resource for many cities, especially the 30A beaches because most homes are listed so it is easy to find a cottage to accurately fit your needs.

After we relaxed at our cottage, we got ready to walk to the beach to see the sunset. As we walked, we commented that it was looking dark and maybe it was too cloudy for a sunset. At that point, I realized I had misread the sunset time and forgotten that 30A beaches are on Central Time. Whoops! Lesson learned. So if you are coming from Eastern Time, do not forget to change your clocks!

We then went straight to our dinner at The Red Bar, which has definitely become a favorite! If you go, there is likely to be a bit of a wait, but it is worth it! Also, do not forget cash as The Red Bar is CASH ONLY! You can always have drinks from the bar, enjoy live music, and look for frequently sighted celebrities while you wait. We got drinks and walked around looking at all the eclectic and kitschy decor. When we did get our table, I ordered the Baked Eggplant (stuffed with shrimp, scallops, and veggies and served with a salad), and Alex ordered the Shrimp and Crawfish pasta. We both highly enjoyed our meals, and I definitely plan to recreate mine. It was incredible, filling, and healthy. After our dinner, we went for a walk to work off some of the meal before going to bed.

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In the morning, we had planned to go for a long walk on one of the trails in Grayton Beach State Park, but unfortunately, there was a big storm with torrential downpours for most of the morning. Instead, we drove to The Donut Hole in Santa Rosa Beach, which was recently featured in the New York Times. We shared four donuts (yes, four!), including peanut butter filled and chocolate topped, devil’s food, apple crumb, and chocolate cream. It was packed, so I highly recommend getting there early if you want a table or if you want the Red Velvet, which is supposed to be one of the best and most popular flavors. Even if you miss it, like we did, you will still be impressed and filled by the delicious donuts.

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After packing up our things, we then got coffees at Modica Market and browsed some of the shops along the Seaside town square. We went to Bud and Alley’s, one of our absolute must go-tos, for drinks and their famous tuna dip, while we watched the storm roll in. Finally, we realized the weather was not going to clear up, so we headed back home. On the way, we tried to drive into Eden Gardens State Park to see the beautiful grounds and plantation home and walk a trail, but the rain was still heavy, so we are planning to visit the park on our next visit.

Bud and Alley's deck
Bud and Alley’s deck
View from Bud and Alley's
View from Bud and Alley’s

Have you been to Seaside or 30A beaches before? If so, what are some of your favorite things to do? What are your favorite restaurants? 

Keep an eye out for another 30A post, where I will highlight some of our recommendations from past trips!

RECAP: 

Food/Drinks:
Modica Market: 109 Seaside Central Square, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459
Melt Down on 30A: 2235 East County Highway 30A, Trailer C, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459
The Shrimp Shack: 2236 Scenic Hwy 30A, Cinderella Circle, Seaside, Florida 32459
The Red Bar: 70 Hotz Ave, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459
The Donut Hole: 6745 U.S. 98, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459
Bud and Alley’s: 2236 East County Road 30A, Seaside, Florida

Shopping:
DejaVu: 2236 East County Highway 30A, Seaside, Florida 32459
Fuss Boutique: 6 Watercolor Blvd, Suite 101A, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459
Barefoot Princess: 4 WaterColor Blvd, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459
The Blue Giraffe: 1777 E. County Hwy 30A, Watercolor, Florida 32459

Visit:
Eden Gardens State Park: 181 Eden Gardens Road, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459
Grayton Beach State Park: 357 Main Park Road, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459

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