30A is a stretch of scenic highway on the Emerald Coast in Florida. It’s in the Florida Panhandle in between Panama City Beach and Destin. 30A is a highway and it’s also the general term for the cluster of small beach towns in the area.
Along 30A are several beautiful Florida beach towns, each with their own style.
Seaside is one of the towns along 30A, and probably one of the most well known. It is a great place for vacation for any group. Couples, family vacation, and friend groups big and small can all find fun things to do and places to stay in Seaside.
If you’re considering a trip to 30A, I hope that this article can serve as your travel guide.
Best Things to do in Seaside, Florida
Seaside is aptly named since it’s located right on the water. It is a popular beach vacation destination in Florida and while I do recommend spending as much time as your heart desires at the beach, there are a lot of other things to do in Seaside as well.
Start Your Morning with Coffee
One of my favorite things to do on vacation is try new to me, local coffee shops. We tried as many coffee shops as we could on our vacation to 30A. Our favorite coffee shops with locations in Seaside were Black Bear Bread Co and Amavida Coffee Roasters.
In full disclosure, both coffee shops have multiple locations in 30A and we tried both coffee shops in other 30A locations. We had the Black Bear Bread Co several times in Grayton Beach and Amavida Coffee in Rosemary Beach. But we loved both locations and would expect the same quality and experience in Seaside.
Explore a Neighboring 30A Beach Town
Exploring the various 30A beach towns is my favorite thing to do in 30A. Each beach community provides something different (my personal favorites to explore are Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach, but I love them all!)
Taking a bike ride around the different beach towns in 30A is so much fun! It’s really easy to do because there are bike paths running along 30A connecting the towns together.
You could also rent a golf cart to get around. Some vacation rentals even include golf carts and/or bikes as well.
Check Out the Iconic Post Office
If you’ve seen any pictures of 30A, chances are you have probably seen photos of Seaside’s iconic post office. It has to be one of the most charming post office buildings to exist (although, side note, I do find Rosemary Beach’s post office to be underrated).
It’s especially charming during the holidays when it’s all decked out.
The pavilions in Seaside mark the entrance to the beach. Each of Seaside’s 9 pavilions are each unique and have a different architectural style. I’ve never seen a beach entrance quite like these – they are very impressive!
Each pavilion is owned by a different homeowner association. Not only are they photo-worthy, but they also protect the sand dunes from foot traffic.
Head to the Beach
While we are on the topic of Seaside’s beach pavilions, let’s talk about going to the beach in Seaside. It’s not surprising that 30A is known for its beautiful beaches.
Each beach pavilion connects to one of Seaside’s communities and each pavilion is private, for use only by those from that community. The only exception is the public beach pavilion, the Coleman Pavilion. This is the pavilion located next to Bud & Alley’s Restaurant. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas and other gear such as paddle boards and kayaks.
Have a Beach Bonfire
In the Tampa Bay area, bonfires generally aren’t allowed. So I was surprised to learn that they are allowed on many of the 30A beaches (with a permit). There are several companies in the area that will take care of everything for you to have a bonfire on the beach from start to finish. We haven’t done this yet and it’s one of the top things I want to do in 30A next time.
See the House From the Truman Show
Did you know that the Truman Show was filmed in Seaside? You can see the Truman house as well as several other scenes from the Truman Show around Seaside.
The Seaside Amphitheater is the heart of Seaside. The amphitheater has a large grassy area and then it is surrounded by local businesses. There are tons of activities there such as live music, concerts, and movies.
When there isn’t an event going on at the amphitheater, the giant green area is a huge playground. There are always kids enjoying the open space, running around, or throwing balls or frisbees.
One of my favorite things to do in Seaside is to grab a drink to go and wander around this area. It’s fun to people watch, jump in and out of shops, and enjoy the general area.
There are a lot of great small shops in Seaside. Here are some of my favorite stores:
Seaside Style – Where you buy the famous Seaside tee, which has actually been around since 1981. They have a couple sister stores, too – Bump + Baby, Seaside Style Kids, Seaside Style Beach, and Cabana
Cabana – As I just mentioned, this is a sister store of Seaside Style but I love this store and it deserves its own mention. It’s huge and has tons of women’s clothes. I even love the outside of the store with large pink shutters.
Duckie’s – a toy store and super fun place to shop for kids.
Mercantile – a women’s boutique with a beach cowgirl vibe.
The Art of Simple – art, home decor, beauty products, and more. They have a little bit of everything, including some unique/unusual pieces from startup companies that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.
Modica Market – a grocery store with all your grocery staples, daily lunch specials, muffins, and homemade cakes. This is especially worth visiting if you were a fan of the Truman Show as Modica Market was featured on the movie.
Sundog Books – an independent book store that has been part of the community for over 30 years. This is a great spot to pick out a book to read on the beach throughout your vacation in 30A.
Central Square Records – a vinyl record shop with a large variety of vinyls. It’s actually located upstairs in the same building as Sundog Books. They also have other gifts for music lovers such as shirts and posters.
The Chapel at Seaside
The Chapel at Seaside is a picturesque spot in Seaside. There is a little park in front adding to it’s magic. It would be a beautiful place to get married and a lot of people have their destination weddings here. You can catch a service at this nondenominational church. Services are held Sundays at 10 am.
Seaside Farmers Market
Every Saturday, there is a Farmers Market in Seaside from 9 am – 1 pm. It can be a fun way to explore some more of the local businesses and feel connected to the community while buying yourself some goodies. It’s in the amphitheater area, so it’s easy to access.
Check out a Local Restaurant in Seaside
Just like checking out local coffee shops on vacation, trying new restaurants is a must in a new place. Don’t be scared to branch out to some of the surrounding towns for even more amazing restaurant options but there are plenty of restaurants in Seaside to keep you content.
Here are some of our favorites restaurants in Seaside:
Bud & Alley’s
Bud & Alley’s is probably the most well-known restaurant in Seaside. It’s a staple and the restaurant most recommended to us when we were planning our vacation to 30A. This is not only because of their great food but because of their waterfront location. I recommend sitting upstairs if you can for the best view.
We visited during lunch and enjoyed the shrimp and grits. Their dinner menu is different than their lunch menu though there is some overlap.
If you want the views but aren’t hungry, you can visit the Roof Deck Bar. It’s Bud & Alley’s rooftop bar.
Bud & Alley’s Taco Bar
This is a good spot for tacos and other Tex-Mex food. You can eat it there but it’s also a great option for takeout. I personally loved ordering a margarita here then taking it to wander around with.
Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar
Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar is a small pizza shop with wood fired pizza. It’s a takeout-type of experience with plenty of places to eat but no table service. You can also order pizza upstairs until 3pm.
Great Southern Cafe
Great Southern Cafe is in the heart of Seaside (by the shops and amphitheater). It’s another Seaside staple that serves a mix of International cuisines, Southern cooking, and local food. Pretty much everyone should find something good to order. I recommend the smoked gouda grits and the grits a ya ya (their take on shrimp and grits).
Shrimp Shack has counter service. While inexpensive and 30A don’t necessarily go hand in hand, Shrimp Shack is a relatively inexpensive way to get some good seafood. I recommend the steamed shrimp which comes with corn on the cob and potatoes.
Airstream Row is just what it sounds like – a row of airstreams that serve as food trucks serving various food options. They are located right outside of the amphitheater and I think they add to the charm of Seaside’s quaint beach town feel.
You can get BBQ, hot dogs, snow cones, crepes, and more. It’s a fun place to order from on your way to or from the beach or to grab something quickly.
The Meltdown is one of the airstream/food trucks and was the one recommended to us most. They serve grilled cheese sandwiches. Everyone we talked to recommended the Smokin’ Turkey which has jack cheese, smoked turkey, bacon, avocado, and Albuquerque sauce.
FAQs & Things to Know About Seaside 30A Before You Go
Here are some tips on Seaside as well as some common questions people have. If you have any further questions, let me know and I’d be happy to answer!
Public Beaches on 30A
A large portion of the beaches in 30A are not public. This was really interesting to me coming since Tampa Bay beaches are public. If visiting the beach is important to you, I recommend making sure your vacation rental comes with beach access. If they don’t, the public beaches are still an option but they’re really crowded.
How to Get to 30A/Seaside
Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) in Panama City is the closest airport. Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) in Destin is also a good option. Both airports are just a short drive from 30A.
How is Parking in Seaside?
If you aren’t staying in Seaside and need to drive, you’ll need to figure out parking. There are plenty of parking options but even with plenty of options, parking can be tough on busy days. There is parking along the highway as well as a few public parking lots. The public parking lots are well marked from 30A – just follow the directions.
What is the Best Time to Visit Seaside?
June through August is peak season in Seaside. The summer heat provides excellent beach weather and kids are out of school, making it easy for family vacations. These might be reasons you’d want to visit during that time.
If you’d rather visit when it’s a little quieter, consider visiting outside of peak season. Just know that even though 30A is in Florida, it can still get quite chilly in the winter months. Weather is unpredictable but when we visited in December, it was in the 30s every morning.
If you visit just outside of peak season (April/May or September/October), you should still have pretty good weather and fewer crowds with the exception of holiday weeks, such as Labor Day.
Where Should I Stay in Seaside?
There aren’t many hotels in Seaside, which only adds to the charm (no tall-building hotel chains lining the beaches here!) There are, however, tons of vacation rentals for any size of group you might have.
Side note – I’d love to get a large group of people together and rent an enormous beach house!
There are actually so many vacation rentals in 30A that I got really overwhelmed when I was doing my research. Ultimately, just read the reviews and you’ll be fine!
That concludes my guide on Seaside in 30A!
Hopefully this guide helped you plan your vacation to Seaside 30A. There is a ton to do without it being too overwhelming. Truly, 30A is the perfect mix of being active and relaxing. 30A is one of those destinations I just want to keep visiting over and over again. I think you will love it, too.