More than twenty years ago, I was reading my copy of Southern Living magazine and I became interested in an article about a piece of property in the Florida Panhandle. It was to be a new community called, “Seaside.” The lots were selling for around $35,000. I remember thinking that it would be so wonderful to buy a lot right there on the Gulf and then when my husband retired from the Navy, we could move there and build our dream house. Well, long story short, we took no action and now recognize that the community became so popular that the lots now go for close to a million dollars. Big mistake! I made that same kind of mistake when my friend Bonnie told me I should buy shares in a new company called, “Starbucks.”
Are you tired of being cold, scraping ice off of your car, wearing your hat and gloves and muffler? Do you wish that you could take just a small vacation to a beautiful place by the sea and feel the warmth of the sun on your face? Would you like to amble down winding pathways covered with oyster shells as they weave your way through beautiful architecture? Then, you need to visit Seaside in Florida.
It has so many things that I love. The beautiful Gulf of Mexico is at your doorstep. The white sugar sand glistens. There is charming architecture, great shopping, and there are wonderful restaurants. One year our little family went there for a vacation in September. Our daughter, Beth, took this photo of a pavillion which is the entry to the beach from one of Seaside’s quaint streets.
When you are on the Tupelo Pavilion, this is what you see.
photo by Lasandra Gerling
The houses in Seaside are painted cheery colors and many have cupolas or porches on the roof. Maybe you remember a movie called, “The Truman Show,” which was filmed here.
via Rebecca Juarez
Seaside, Floorida is a town designed as an “ideal” community in the southern vernacular style, where houses have front porches and verandahs, picket fences and sleeping porches, and pitched tin roofs. Streets are curved and paved with brick, and sidewalks are made of pebbles and seashells. Below is a scene from the bazaar portion of the shopping area. I bought a great floppy brimmed white canvas hat there once and I just cannot find it after the last move.
The last time I was there, this wonderful antique shop opened in another part of the shopping area.
via Craig Howe
There is a market where you can buy gourmet food already prepared, sandwiches, and other supplies. You can rent a home in Seaside and not have to get back into your car until you head home. Here is a look at the interior of the Modica Market.
Our favorite restaurant is the Great Southern Cafe which is owned and operated by chef Jim Shirley. Here is the great story about that. When I noticed the name of the chef, “Jim Shirley,” I immediately thought of my youngest daughter’s first grade teacher in Gulf Breeze, Florida. Her name was, “Nona Shirley.” I asked to speak to the chef and asked him if he knew Nona. He smiled and then said that she is his mother. He even remembered our daughter who was then in the first grade but was then in her late twenties. Small world! We later met up with Nona and had a wonderful afternoon.
Next to the Great Southern Cafe is a book store and an ice cream shop, jewelry stores, and across the street is an expansive lawn where there are outdoor concerts and at least one fabulous flea market every year. Here is a photo of one of the meandering pathways in Seaside.
via Olivia Carisella
You can rent a bicycle or walk anywhere you need to go. This homeowner must have retired her bike in favor of walking.
via The Flower Peddler
via the web
I tried to get both of our daughters to have their weddings in this Seaside chapel. Alas! Neither one agreed to that. But, I want you to see this wonderful chapel.
You can attend a church service there every Sunday.
Here are more beachy and/or cottage style homes.
via the web
Dreamsicle Cottage via
If you do not want to rent a vacation home, you can stay at the Vera Bradley Inn shown here.
Vera Bradley Inn in Seaside
This is one of the charming mantels inside the inn.
interior of Vera Bradley Inn
Seaside became so popular that a decorating style known as “Seaside Style,” has developed. Lexington furniture has a line of home furnishings which follow the light and airy, charming and quaint philosophy of Seaside. I hope that you enjoy this series of photos from a house that is decorated in the Seaside style.
You absolutely must have sea shells and bare floors.
Here is a home for sale in Seaside, built in 1990. This could have been my lot had I followed my hunch 20 years ago.
I am not so sure about the marlin over the bed, but I love everything else.
While researching for this post, I came across an absolutely gorgeous home done by Dale Tice and Kati Lockley from Design Services of Florida. designonthegulf.com I am not certain that this home is in Seaside, but it could be!
As long as we are dreaming, we might as well dream big!
I hope that you have enjoyed taking this little trip with me to one of my favorite places on earth. Borrow some of the Seaside design ideas. Create and be happy!