Seaside, an Iconic Beach Town on SoWals “Emerald Coast”
Seaside has been called a local gem by vacationers who come here again and again. Seaside began as a vision. In 1946, J.S. Smolian purchased 80 acres of pristine land along the 30A corridor of the Emerald Coast in Walton County, locally referred to as Scenic 30A. He loved bringing his family there and drinking in the serenity and beauty of the place. He and his family spent their time hunting for shells, swimming, lounging, and fishing. He intended to build a family retreat, but that vision didn’t pan out. A little over 30 years later, J.S. Smolian’s grandson Robert Davis took his grandfather’s initial vision and expanded on it. Robert and his wife, Daryl Rose, began making plans for not a family retreat but an old-fashioned beach town – the first New Urbanist town in the area. The idea comprised wood-framed cottages with deep roof overhangs and front porches, a chance to get to know your neighbors and walk or bike to shops, restaurants, and cafés. Real Estate is at a premium. It was designed so you’d have everything you need within a short walk or bike ride away.
Gorgeous White Sandy Beach A Vacation Paradise
Seaside has more than just the gorgeous white sandy beach to enjoy. It is a vacation paradise and a must-visit on your list. Gorgeous accommodations to luxury beach rentals with amenities all within walking distance. You can shop at the art galleries, boutique shops, Sundog bookstore, where you can get lost for hours among the stacks of books with tantalizing titles and, cover jackets, and so much more. For those who love outdoor entertainment, Seaside hosts music in an open-air amphitheater as well as performing arts at the REP theatre. See our Events Calendar for a plethora of family fun options and adult couple options.
Things to Do in Seaside: A Local Gem Along Highway 30A
In Seaside’s Central Square, Modica Market is a specialty and gourmet market offering culinary delights for vacation beachgoers. Started by Charles Sr. and Sarah Modica in the days of Seaside’s beginnings. Charles, Sr. used to say that Seaside was a “diamond in the middle of smaller gems.” Now their son Charles, Jr., and daughter Carmel run the store. Charlie, Jr loves living in Seaside and views their store as a place to keep in touch with his Seaside family. As Carmel says, “We are blessed to be here in Seaside. We’re honored to be able to help and serve and meet a lot of people.” Modica Market offers delicious bakery items, prepared foods, gourmet groceries, sundries, and souvenirs. A very lovely place with adorable views and tables to sit and enjoy coffee in the mornings, mixed drinks abound, and a foodie’s delight of options!
There’s even more to this picturesque place. The movie The Truman Show (1998), starring Jim Carrey, was filmed here. You can’t get much more famous than that.
Dining and Shopping Options in Seaside
Visitors and residents can enjoy the weekly farmer’s market, along with coastal cuisine like Bud and Alley’s where you can sit outside and revel in the sunshine shimmering on the water while you enjoy your meal, or along Airstream Row for some barbecue and donuts, crepes, and so many more tasty things to try from the food trucks. Great Southern Café, with its “new-fashioned Southern cuisine,” has some excellent menu items and is famous for its Grits A Ya Ya. If you love trying out new dishes, you won’t run out of dining opportunities here.
Bethany Edmonson, who moved to the Panhandle about eight years ago, loves Seaside. “Ruskin Place is the hidden gem of Seaside. If you go just a little way out of the main thoroughfare, you’ll find yourself in a little square with a park in the middle and art shops and eclectic boutiques along the sides. They have everything from appointment only galleries, to affordable local art pieces. In the Fall they have an open house where you can watch artists do plein-air painting.”
Seaside Beach Neighborhood is a Must Visit
Seaside has become one of the most sought-after beach communities to visit and live in. Local residents from Walton, Bay, and Okaloosa counties spend a lot of time in Seaside dining, shopping, exploring, and then coming back for more. Some places you visit once and, though you had a great time, never go back, but that’s not the case with Seaside. There’s something about the setting and feel of the place that draws you back again and again.
Seaside Parking Plan
See Seaside’s 2023 Parking Plan here.
Visiting Seaside for the first time? CLICK HERE to check out Visit South Walton’s First Timer’s Guide.