A Vacationer’s Guide to Watercolor & Seaside Florida

If you live in Nashville, you’ve probably at least heard about the Panhandle of Florida and the countless communities there, where we southerners migrate to for beach vacations. Just 7 hours in the car or one quick 45-minute direct flight (thank you Southwest), and you will find yourself on miles and miles of the prettiest soft, white sandy beaches you could imagine. My husband and I spent part of our honeymoon in the Maldives. It was one of the most beautiful tropical locations I’ve ever had the privilege to visit, but it took us 16 hours by plane and another 2 hours by boat to arrive at our magical destination. One day, we went snorkeling with the sea turtles, and I’ll never forget our saucy French instructor telling us that the only other place in the world that’s as beautiful as what we were about to see is… the Gulf of Mexico. My husband nearly had a heart-attack as you can imagine. Forget the Maldives; Panama City is just as pretty- ha! Somewhat of an exaggeration there, but still, you get the point.

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Anyway, there are countless resort-like communities all along the stretch of 30A highway that runs right along the beach from Panama City to Destin and beyond. One of these towns is called Watercolor, and my family and I have been coming down to the Watercolor community for over a decade now. It’s by far one of my favorite places in the world- yes WORLD. The beaches are breathtakingly beautiful, the weather’s amazing (hot in the summer, but I’m not complaining), and it’s about as southern and preppy as any beach town gets. Almost every little girl is wearing a smocked swimsuit and swimming with a bow in her hair. The men wear seersucker everything with Croakies attached to their Ray Ban sunglasses, and rarely do you encounter someone who isn’t polite and speaks with a southern drawl. The Watercolor Inn & Resort along with all the houses around the resort (that are privately owned but most available for rent) was built around the Seaside community, which has existed since before I was born (over 30 years is all I’ll admit to). The beauty of this is that whether you’re staying in the Watercolor Inn or renting from one of the hundreds of homes in Watercolor OR Seaside, you have access to the amenities of both communities (the public ones of course). This means you can do as much or as little as you want to while on vacation. If you get tired of lounging by a pool or swimming in the ocean (which yes, sometimes you need a little break from the sun), there are still countless things to do and see with or without kids. There are also countless places to eat, which as you know, I don’t cook, so this is very important for my family, so they don’t starve while on vacation.

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I’m sharing with you some of my favorite places to eat, shop and visit in Watercolor and Seaside Florida. This list is by no means all there is, but it’s a good start should you be lucky enough to find yourself here one day. I hope you do!

Breakfast

Fish Out Of Water- in the Watercolor Inn (Dine-In)

The Great Southern- Seaside (Dine-In)

Five Daughter’s Bakery Airstream Truck- Seaside (Grab-And-Go)

Amavida Coffee and Tea- Seaside (Grab-And-Go)

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Lunch

Watercolor Beach Club Pool Deck (only if you are staying in a Watercolor property)

The Gathering Spot- in the Watercolor Inn

The Wine Bar- Watercolor

Seagrove Village Market- Seaside/Watercolor

Bud & Alley’s- Seaside

Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar- Seaside

Seaside Taco Bar- Seaside (Grab-And-Go)

Any of the Seaside Square Food Trucks (Wild Bill’s Beach Dogs is my favorite)

Shrimp Shack- Seaside (Grab-And-Go)

The Great Southern- Seaside

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Dinner

Fish Out Of Water- in the Watercolor Inn

The Gathering Spot- in the Watercolor Inn

Pizza By the Sea- Watercolor (Grab-And-Go)

The Wine Bar- Watercolor

45 Central- Seaside

The Great Southern- Seaside

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Treats for Kids (and Adults)

The Candy Bar- Watercolor

Heavenly’s Shortcakes & Ice Cream- Seaside

Frost Bites- Seaside

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Shopping- Kids’ Stuff

The Watercolor Store- Watercolor

Little Red- Watercolor

Duckies Shop of Fun- Seaside

The Seaside Style (Kids)- Seaside

Sundog Books- Seaside

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Shopping- Momma’s Stuff

The Barefoot Princess at Watercolor

Old Florida Outfitters- Watercolor

The Art of Simple- Seaside

Willow + Woods- Seaside

Per.spi.cas.ity- Seaside

Sundog Books- Seaside

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Activities/Amenities

I suggest checking with your rental provider or the “bulletin boards” in Watercolor and Seaside for an updated list of what’s happening in each community during your stay. Depending on the time of year, there are a variety of free activities and events offered daily, such as: movies in the park, boardwalk yoga, farmer’s markets, bingo games, etc. Other activities you can purchase include: beach bonfires, sandcastle building lessons, paddle boarding, canoeing and more. If you’re staying at the Watercolor Inn or in a house/condo in Watercolor, then you can book your activities through the hotel or a concierge service that your rental company can provide for you.

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Rentals

Hotel Room Rentals: Watercolor Inn (www.watercolorresort.com)

House Rentals in Watercolor: 360 Blue (www.360blue.com) *This is how we rent our house and how we have rented houses in Watercolor in the past, but it is not the only rental company option- just the one I’m confident to recommend.

House Rentals in Seaside: The Cottage Rental Agency (www.cottagerentalagency.com)

Bikes: The Watercolor community has its own bike rental company that you must visit in person upon your arrival. It’s centrally located within the Watercolor community. Seaside also offers its own bike rental company located in Seaside square that you must visit in person in order to rent bikes. You do not need to book bikes in advance, but I suggest securing your rentals the first day you arrive to town.

Big Daddy’s Bike Shop (www.bigdaddysbikeshop.com) is also a great local resource for bike rentals and they deliver and pick-up your rentals in both communities.

Beach Chairs in Watercolor: You must rent your beach chairs and umbrellas through the resort if you are staying in the Inn or one of the Watercolor houses. The website is: www.watercolorresort.com/beachsetups. *I suggest renting beach chairs and umbrellas up to a year ahead of your planned stay if it’s during peak season or over holidays. You are NOT allowed to set-up your own chairs and umbrellas within the Watercolor beach boundaries.

Beach Chairs in Seaside: The Cabana Man (www.cabanaman.com) *I suggest renting beach chairs and umbrellas up to a year ahead of your planned stay if it’s during peak season or over holidays. You are NOT allowed to set-up your own chairs and umbrellas within the Seaside beach boundaries

Golf Carts: The Electric Cart Company (www.electriccartcompany.com) * The is the only company you are allowed to use in Watercolor.

Child Gear/ Baby Equipment: Babies-n-Town (www.babies-n-town.com) *I’ve used this company personally several times, and I’ve always been pleased. This is great if you need items for babies and kids that you don’t want to travel with, but that you need during your stay.

 

 

One thought on “A Vacationer’s Guide to Watercolor & Seaside Florida

  1. This is so helpful!!! Also you’re adorable. Lol’d about the French instructor in the Maldives — wonder if she’s ever actually been to FL. Granted, it IS gorgeous…

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