During our recent trip to the "Emerald Coast" along Florida's Panhandle, we didn't realize just how close our campground at Grayton Beach State Park would be to the charming village of Seaside. I had long been aware of this master-planned community, since my father and step-mother had visited and loved it years ago, but had never managed to get there.
Here's what Wikipedia has to say about its history:
Seaside is an unincorporated master-planned community on the Florida panhandle in Walton County, between Panama City Beach and Destin. One of the first communities in America designed on the principles of New Urbanism, the town has become the topic of slide lectures in architectural schools and in housing-industry magazines, and is visited by design professionals from all over the United States.The town rose to global fame as being the main filming location of the movie The Truman Show. On April 18, 2012, the American Institute of Architects's Florida Chapter placed the community on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places as the Seaside – New Urbanism Township.
Reading this, I understand better why this town so appealed to my father and step-mother, who were both architects. And once I finally had a chance to see it with my own eyes, I was charmed as well.
Seaside is only a two-mile walk or bike ride from Grayton Beach State Park. You can take the bike or footpath, or you can walk east on the beautiful beach! We did this pretty much every morning.
This obelisk marks the public entrance to Seaside. There are several other private pass-throughs for residents and guests.
Here's the beautiful beach at Seaside, looking back from the stairs to the Obelisk.
As you walk into the village from the obelisk, you are immediately greeted by a huge mural in shades of lavender and gray. Newly painted, it is a tribute to Vincent Scully, who died in November 2017 at the age of 97. Scully was a well-known professor of art history at Yale University and made a lasting impact on the study of Architecture. His influence inspired the creation of Seaside; thus, his memory is honored here in a prominent place by street artist "Gaia".
Beside the mural, the main public square of Seaside includes an adorable Airstream food truck row and a tiny post office.
As you walk a few streets inland, you'll pass shops, a small community school, a public concert/gathering area, colorful single-family homes in a variety of architectural designs, and small natural parks. You will eventually make your way to the picturesque and well-known town chapel designed by Architect Scott Merrill, who also designed some of the homes in the Seaside community.
If you want to learn more about Seaside's history and see photos of some of the lovely homes, as well as a terrific aerial view of the entire development, check out the Florida Backroads Travel website; they have a great write-up and excellent images.
Now, back to our experiences there!
Of course, when we saw that there was a donut food truck, Five Daughters Bakery, we knew we would have to stop for a sample. Most of the donuts sold here are actually "cronuts", a hybrid between a flaky French croissant and a standard donut. We'd never tried these before.
It was a tough choice!
Since these donuts were pricier than most, we limited ourselves to two to share. One was an expresso/chocolate, and the other a maple. They were super yummy, but not sure if they were worth the $5 price tag each. Seaside is not for the faint of wallet!
The taco bar wasn't open when we happened by, but we still had fun playing tourists.
Another day, we tried the Raw & Juicy food truck in another Airstream trailer. Everything on the menu sounded creative and very healthy. We've been married so long we often find ourselves gravitating to the same menu item, and this was one of those times. We both ordered the Costa Rican bowl, with brown rice, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, lime, and cilantro. It was a delicious and hearty lunch.
Our pizza was the "Farmer's Market", with a mix of veggies that changes seasonally. This corn was so sweet and unevenly cut enough that I believe it was fresh off the cob. This was one seriously tasty 'za!
After lunch, we stopped by the Modica Market, a small gourmet grocery store in Seaside, and picked up an assortment of freshly baked goodies. We didn't eat all this but saved some for the next day's drive, and some went into the freezer. It was all so delicious!
We are glad we finally got to visit Seaside; it is a special place, and I can see why it is revered by so many. We can't afford to live there, but I hope we get another chance to visit one day!
It just doesn't get much prettier than this....
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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