The weather is warming, the birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming. Time to get out the flip-flops and feel the sun on your face. The activities available in Seaside are ideal for families wanting to have a joyful time this spring.
“Spring break attracts thousands of young people to South Walton from throughout the country who are all looking to have fun with their families in Seaside,” says Lori Leath Smith, public relations and marketing director for Seaside. “Our goal is to provide that fun and family time together in a safe, enjoyable environment while also facilitating a genuinely positive experience.”
Here’s a list of fun activities to add to your to-do list while on spring break:
Classic lawn games never go out of style. With childhood staples like croquet and badminton, the whole family can spend hours outdoors. Seaside recently added a croquet lawn and badminton and volleyball court, located next to the Family Pool. Equipment is available for Seaside residents and guests.
The Pétanque Park, located next to the Pizza Bar at Bud & Alley’s, is also fun for players of all ages and skill levels, and is equipped with lights so players can enjoy it day or night. The game of pétanque is similar to horseshoes and bocce (see How to Play sidebar on page 11). The park is free of charge, though players must bring their own equipment, available at Central Square Records in Seaside.
Seaside’s tennis courts are top quality, and made specifically for the local climate. Made of Har-Tru, a man-made clay of sorts, it’s actually crushed granite that is treated with a bonding agent so that it sticks together when damp. There are many benefits to this surface, especially in the Northwest Florida climate. The courts are also HydroCourts, equipped with an underground watering system that runs constantly and allows players to have continuous play. Whereas the previous aboveground systems sprayed water across the court surface where the wind could blow it away or cause flooding, which then required hours for drying before play could be resumed, now the tennis staff sweeps the courts early in the morning, and play continues uninterrupted throughout the day.
Shop at the farmers market
At the Seaside Farmers Market, open each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (8 a.m. - noon beginning March 19), you can sample and buy organic and chemical-free smoothies, locally grown produce, vegetables and honey, as well as homemade pastries and grass-fed beef.
Make the most of the beach
When you want some beach time, you can reserve an umbrella and chairs from Cabana Man Beach Service, which also has stand-up paddleboards and kayaks — both single and double — to rent by the hour. The Cabana Man team starts their day at 7 a.m., set up and ready for sunbathers by 9 a.m. Reservations can be made by calling (850) 231-5046. Club Cabana Man is a step up in accommodation, including towels, tables, and food and drink service. Pack a Frisbee, football and sandcastle molds, and you’re all set.
Surf and fish
The usually calm water of the gulf makes for the perfect, safe place to learn to surf. Sign up for surfing lessons at Austin Magee Surf School at (850) 217-4042. Check out his Facebook page for additional information, photos and rave reviews. Also for the blooming angler, you can contact Kyle Swift for rod and reel rentals and some surf fishing lessons at (770) 880-8767 or find him on Facebook (“SwiftlyHooked”).
Put the pedal to the pavement
Seaside’s mode of transportation is your own two feet or a bike. You can rent a bike through the Seaside Transit Authority, located next to Great Southern Café. Beach cruisers and tandem bicycles are available, as well as tricycles, towing gear, and carriage seats for kids. Each bicycle comes with a basket and a bell and is available for daily and weekly rental by calling (850) 231-0035. Bicycles can also be reserved online at
Splash the day away
Seaside’s three pools — one covered for shade, one for adults only and one on the west side — means everyone can splash as they please. The largest of the three, the west pool has a Frost Bites small food kiosk that opens in March and will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Make your own souvenir
For a break from the sun or to escape a rainy day, bring out your inner artist and paint your own clay masterpiece at Fired Up Paint Your Own Pottery, (850) 231-3211. At the end of the day, you’ll have hand-painted souvenirs to take home and enjoy.
Come to storytime
Join the Seaside Repertory Theatre for Stories by the Sea, a one-of-a-kind story-telling experience for kids of all ages. Offered Monday through Friday at 3:30 p.m., the event is free. Every day offers a new story and opportunities to participate.
Explore Seaside’s out-of-the-way places
On Natchez Street, behind a corner house called Natchez, is, simple enough to remember, Natchez Park. The park’s unique sundial (it really works) was built in 1994 by 40 architecture students from Auburn University, working with architect Charles Warren and builder Mike Warner.
Rosewalk, a tucked-away footpath, has tree-covered spots for a shady picnic or game of checkers, thanks to the tiled checkerboard on the table (bring your own checkers, though).
Stop by Seaside’s most famous cottages
Seaside’s first cottage, known then as the Red House and now called Bella Vista, is a small square cottage with a pyramid roof and wraparound porch on Tupelo Street. When built in 1981 it served as the original sales office, a lone structure surrounded by little more than one paved road and a lot of imagination. It was here the “lemonade test” was invented. Many passersby would follow the modest sign on Highway 30A and stop for a brochure, but it was the ones who stayed to sip ice-cold lemonade and talk that Seaside founder Robert Davis knew would one day form the human fabric of Seaside.
The Truman House, made famous for the feature film, “The Truman Show” that was filmed in Seaside in 1998, is recognizable on Natchez Street. Directed by Peter Weir and starring Jim Carrey, “The Truman Show” tells of Truman Burbank, a regular nice guy who unknowingly stars in the most famous reality television show of all time. A film some would say was ahead of its time with the concept of reality TV, the film tells of a genre that was little known at the time the film made its début in the summer of 1998.
The cottage at 31 Natchez Street served as Truman’s home, owned by former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz and his wife, Vicky Gaetz. The home was chosen partly because of its location — the west side of Natchez Street. The exterior was painted in bright hues, and a lawn was added, as well as a grill and some garden gnomes. The interior of the home was filled with different furniture, but the rest remained as the Gaetzes designed it. A replica of the interior was used off-site during inclimate weather. With no detail spared for the duplicate home, even the doorknobs were the same.
When filming wrapped, as if by movie magic, the Gaetzes found their home just as they left it, as the production crew repainted the home in its original color and removed the yard accessories. And just as fairytale princess Cinderella kept her glass slippers after her magical night at the ball, the Gaetz home also has a memento from its time in the spotlight in the form of the house number, which causes slight confusion for those seeking the address. While the home is number 31, Truman’s home was number 36.
Truman fans can take a scavenger hunt, finding each of the 15 sites shown in the movie (see seasidefl.com for the complete list).
Toast the sunset
A favorite Seaside tradition is to end each day on the beach watching the sun set as Bud & Alley’s brass bell rings to announce that another day is done.
During the weeks of spring break, Seaside will limit access to the beach after 9 p.m. to those under 21 or unaccompanied by a parent. And no backpacks or flags will be allowed on the beach.