City Guide to 30A

Dare I say it — my guide to Seaside and the whimsical beaches along Highway 30A is back and better than ever. 

If you aren’t familiar with our annual trips to the panhandle in Florida, Gerald’s aunt owns a condo in the WaterColor community and she graciously lets us stay there when we visit. WaterColor, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, and Alys Beach are just a few of the white sand beaches that line Highway 30A along the Florida Gulf, and they’ve become Gerald’s and my sacred happy place. 

This is the third year that we’ve been to WaterColor, so we’ve pretty much mastered the logistics. We either fly into Fort Walton or Panama City beach airpot (whichever is cheapest, really) and rent a car, then make the 45 – 55 minute drive to the emerald coast. It’s possible to make the trip if you don’t have a car, but since Gerald likes to golf, it’s cheaper to rent your own vessel than to constantly pay for taxis to the courses.

This year, we made an effort to branch out to the neighboring beaches and try some new spots — and they did not disappoint. Read on for my new and improved guide to Seaside and WaterColor and shop my look at the bottom.

EAT  

273 Whiskey Bravo: we rode by this coastal spot on our never-ending bike adventure and instantly wanted to check it out once we saw the massive rooftop patio. Like many of 30A’s restaurants, it serves southern + seafood style fare, but they were kind enough to make me a custom vegetarian plate that was basically an assortment of grilled and steamed veggies and probably the healthiest meal I ate on the trip! The rooftop patio might just be one of our new favorite places to watch the sunset

The Wine Bar: somehow, this year was the first time we dined at The Wine Bar, even though it’s adjacent to the condo we always stay in! We’ve been in there plenty of times to stock up on booze and cheese board supplies, but man were we missing out on dinner there. We dined al fresco to live music and had one of the best cheese boards we have ever had. This might have been our favorite meal of the trip

George’s: we made a bit of a “road trip” out to Alys beach to try this highly-recommended spot, mainly because I spotted a salad I wanted on the menu and leafy greens are slim pickings in the southern town. We ate inside and the vibe seemed like it was better on the patio, but it was still a nice dinner. I don’t know if we’d go back since we had to take the car to get there, but it’s a nice option if you’re looking to get “out of town”

The Taco Bar: it’s become a bit of a tradition for us to go to this colorful taco stand on our first night of the trip. Aside from a great selection of tacos, burritos, and salads, the outdoor spot is perfect for people watching while sipping a Corona

Great Southern Cafe: as a vegetarian, I’m not a huge fan of southern food because it isn’t too friendly for us herbivores, but Great Southern gets the mix between veggie-friendly and comfort food just right 

Bud And Alley’s Pizza Bar: with a huge outdoor seating area, views of the gulf, and great pizza, this is probably my favorite restaurant in town. Definitely don’t forget to order an appetizer of avocado toast — it’s probably the best I’ve ever had 

Seaside Slipstreams: Seaside is full of quirky amenities and the slipstreams are certainly one of them. Lined up in front of the town center, the slipstreams are kind of like mini, permanent food trucks. You can find everything from BBQ to grilled cheese to smoothie stations at the slipstreams—perfect for a quick lunch or casual dinner  

DRINK 

Havana Beach Bar & Grill at The Pearl: I’d been dying to go back to The Pearl since we biked by it last year, it’s insanely picturesque and honestly I really really wanted an instagram photo by their striped awnings and yellow umbrellas. The good news — I was able to lure Gerald there with the promise of cocktails! While the drinks weren’t that memorable, the quirky boutique hotel and unaltered beach views from the rooftop patio certainly were

Amavida Coffee: I feel like I’m cheating by putting this in my guide because it’s the only coffee shop in Seaside, but whatever. They have a great cold brew and a cute patio where you can enjoy your caffeine! 

Bud and Alley’s: okay by now you’re probably wondering if Bud and Alley own Seaside, and TBH I have no idea who they are, so they might. This roofdeck bar is where we always head when we get into town and grab a drink while we wait for our room to be ready. We also end up here at least three other times to watch the sunset because it’s the best view in Seaside

Beach Club Grill & Rita Bar: located at the WaterColor Inn, the beach bar overlooks the resort’s pool and the beach and it’s pretty much picture-perfect. They have a daily happy hour so we liked to head up there after spending the day on the beach or the pool for a drink before we got ready for dinner 

Great Southern Cafe: I included this in both food and drink because it has a really good happy hour on the bar patio. The atmosphere here is super lovely and I love people-watching everyone strolling around the town center!  

DO 

Explore neighboring beaches: the first year we came we never ventured out of WaterColor or Seaside, and I was determined to change that the second and third time around. Nestled along Highway 30A, Seaside neighbors tons of beautiful beaches including standout Rosemary and Alys Beach. It’s definitely worth it to make a trip out to the towns to see their unique architecture and explore the restaurants, but I wouldn’t recommend biking there like we did unless you’re in way better shape than I am and have a legit bicycle — not the “pedal backwards to stop” bikes we were on

Go for a bike ride: contrary to that last point, go for a short bike ride through Seaside or to the nearby Publix. If you have a bike basket or backpack you can stock up on groceries or drinks and it’s way cheaper at the grocery store than at the tiny market in town 

Walk around the pastel houses: take a meandering stroll throughout the colorful neighborhoods and take in the sights of all of the adorable homes! Every single house in Seaside is a different design and has its own name and color scheme. The neighborhoods are practically begging to be Instagrammed

Catch the sunset at Bud and Alley’s: every night, the waterfront bar has a contest where diners and bargoers guess what time the sun will set and when the sun finally sets, the team rings a massive bell and the winner gets a free drink. It sounds silly, but everyone gets really into it and you really can’t beat the views from the bar! 

SHOP

DejaVu Boutique: nestled in the town center is a haven for all girls who crave an effortless, beachy boho style. The boutique is totally southern, but sources finds you won’t see in your standard DC retailers (except for this jumpsuit that I found at Forever 21 for significantly less…whomp whomp.) 

Sundog Books: there are fews things I love more than reading a book poolside, so Gerald and I always head here to stock up on beach reads. They have a fantastic selection of books and upstairs is a record store! It’s worth it to go inside just to grab a magazine so you can check out the decor 

Persipcacity: envision an outdoor farmer’s market — now imagine that instead of produce, all of the stands are selling accessories and clothes. This outdoor market is not only adorable, but stocked with great finds if you want to bring back a souvenir for friends or pick up a pompom beach bag

The Seaside Style: this is probably pretty lame to admit as someone who calls themselves a fashion blogger, but I love souvenir t-shirts and Gerald and I have started picking them up from the places we go to together. I usually opt for an oversized, long sleeve tee and love wearing them around the apartment because they bring back so many great memories. It definitely doesn’t hurt that the Seaside store has fantastic branding and very tasteful color palettes for their products—this is definitely nothing like a boardwalk beach store

Shop My Look

Romper | VICI

Sandals | Vestique (similar)

Earrings | SugarFix by Bauble Bar

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