Things to Do on Vacation in Seaside, Florida

Voted “The Best Beach on Earth for Families,” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, the quiet little town of Seaside, Florida, slows time and takes vacation relaxation to the next level. Tucked away along Florida’s Emerald Coast between Destin and Panama City, Seaside’s powder-white beaches, themed cottages, and walkable town center make for a getaway you won’t soon forget. 

With so many things to do and so many ways to slow down and relax, it’s no wonder that USA Today named Seaside one of the “Top 10 Best Beach Towns in Florida.” How many ways? Let us count them below, drawn in part from the ultimate guide to Things to Do in Seaside, Florida.

Hit the Beach

All roads lead to the beach in Seaside, and for a good reason. Seaside’s pristine beach is the perfect place to relax, soak up some sun, and enjoy the salt air. Located right on the beach, the Cabana Man rents umbrellas and deck chairs, as well as kayaks and paddleboards. Austin Magee’s Surf School offers surfboard rentals, private or group lessons, and mini-lessons for the kids. For family fun, learn to create incredible sandcastles at Sandcastle School on the Beach. Weekday afternoons, the Seaside Repertory Theatre puts on a free storytelling show, for children of all ages, called “Stories by the Sea.” 

Rent a Cottage

Usually, accommodations wouldn’t fall into the “things to do” category. But Seaside vacation cottages play a big part in what makes the town so unique. Most cottages are located just a few minute’s walk from the beach, the boardwalk, and downtown Seaside. These rental “cottages” are elegant homes that give you more than enough room to stretch out and relax. Play board games, watch a movie, stargaze on the porch in the evening, or take advantage of the cottage’s gourmet kitchen and create a family meal to reminisce about for years to come. 

Couples appreciate the privacy provided by a rental cottage, as well. There’s no elevator to deal with or pitter-patter of little feet from the room above. With as many as six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, cottages are easily shareable amongst families and friends, which helps make the already reasonable rental cost that much better. Seaside cottages offer the perfect blend of modern convenience with an “Old World Florida” vibe.

Eat, Eat, and Eat Some More

Of course, you’ll want to eat out, and you’ve come to the right place. Featured by Emeril Lagasse in his Cooking Channel hit show Emeril’s Florida, Seaside eateries offer everything from seafood to smoothies. Along with grass-fed beef hot dogs, Wild Bill’s Beach Dogs serves Florida’s most unique dessert, Key Lime pie, dipped in chocolate, on a stick. The Barefoot Barbeque uses local ingredients and offers Caribbean, Southern and Texan fare at their best. Sweets are always on tap in Seaside with places like Dawson’s Yogurt and Fudge, Frost Bites, and Five Daughters Bakery. If you get the itch for seafood, you’ll find everything from gumbo to “Half Buttered” Lobster Tail on the menu at the Shrimp Shack. 

Shop till You Drop

What vacation would be complete without a little shopping – or maybe even a lot? Along with some high quality souvenir stores and surf shops, Seaside also has a variety of one-of-a-kind boutiques and galleries you won’t find anywhere else. Parisian lifestyle store An Apartment in Paris carries an authentic selection of art, jewelry, home décor, and much more to fill out your domicile’s ambience. Amore By The Sea offers a unique collection of antiques, home furnishings, Turkish ironwork, and local art. If you packed the wrong clothes, or want to change styles mid-vacation, the open-air market Cabana By the Sea sells a wide variety of clothing, accessories, and shoes with cabana living in mind. A giant duck greets visitors at the door at the kid’s clothing and toy store, Duckies Shop of Fun. If you’re staying in a Seaside cottage, (why wouldn’t you be), the Modica Market is the perfect place to stock up on groceries, beer and wine, as well as homemade Southern meals-to-go.

Explore the Town

Bring comfortable shoes on your Seaside vacation. Walking is the preferred method of transportation, as well as a popular activity. In Seaside, you’ll always be just a few steps away from sunset on the beach, your favorite ice cream shop, or the palm-tree-lined streets of Seaside’s beautiful downtown. Designed by a variety of award-winning architects, every building in Seaside is different: often artistic and always colorful. Watch Jim Carey’s film The Truman Show in the evening, then walk around town and spot locations from the film the next day. Seaside played host to the 1998 film, and – in a good way – the town has changed little since then.

Come for a Festival

Coastal Living Magazine recently named Seaside one of the “Best Holiday Towns in Florida” thanks to numerous festivals and events it hosts throughout the year. In November, the annual Seeing Red Wine Festival, named by both Forbes and Fodor’s as one of their Top 10 wine festivals, features a variety of activities, as well as a fantastic selection of food and wines. In January each year, The 30A Songwriters Festival brings performers like Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Emmylou Harris, John Prine, the Indigo Girls, and Grace Potter to the Emerald Coast. All-in-all, the festival includes 25 venues, over 175 artists, and 225 performances. The Seaside Repertory Theater also hosts “Live@ TheRep”, an ongoing concert series that features well-known musical talent from all over the country.
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