Seaside's family-friendly activities are packed with fun By Wendy O. Dixon
It’s time to get into the swing of spring and have some fun in the sun. Families come to Seaside each spring to enjoy the perfect weather and recharge as they get ready for the home stretch of the school year. Here, we’ve compiled a list of fun activities you can use to make the most of your time in Seaside.
Classic lawn games never go out of style. With childhood staples like croquet and badminton, the whole family can spend hours outdoors. Check out the croquet lawn and badminton and volleyball court, located next to the Family Pool. Equipment is available for Seaside residents and guests.
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 is actually crushed granite that is treated with a bonding agent so that it binds 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 allows players to have continuous play. Now, the tennis staff simply sweep the courts early in the morning, and play continues uninterrupted throughout the day. (See Seaside Tennis pro shop and clinic hours on page 21.)
Shop the Farmers Market
At the Seaside Farmers Market, open each Saturday, you can sample and buy locally grown produce, honey, homemade pastries, grass-fed beef and more.
Make the Most of the Beach
For more than three decades, Cabana Man Beach Service has provided Seaside guests with world-class service and comfort on beautiful Seaside Beach. Cabana Man offers beach umbrellas and chairs, as well as stand-up paddleboards, boogie boards and kayaks to rent by the day or by the hour. Cabana Man beach hut hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reservations can be made at cabanaman.com. Pack a towel, Frisbee, football and sandcastle molds, and you’re all set.
Seaside offers the joy and excitement of surfing for those who want to “hang 10.” Austin Magee’s Surf School focuses on water safety, ocean awareness and surfing fundamentals. Kids Surf & Beach Camp is open in Seaside beginning in March, depending on weather and surf conditions. Budding surfers or aspiring marine biologists can explore the waves and learn about tides, marine life and coastal ecology with the help of surf instructor Austin Magee. Sign up for surfing lessons with Austin Magee Surf School at amsurfschool.com. Check out his Facebook page for additional information, photos and rave reviews.
Put the Pedal to the Pavement
Seaside’s most popular mode of transportation is a bike. You can rent a bicycle 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 single and double kids trailers. For daily and weekly rentals, call (850) 231-0035, or go to seasidetransitauthority.com.
Splash the Day Away
Seaside’s three pools — one covered for shade, one for adults only and one on the west side — allow for everyone to splash as they please. The largest of the three, the west pool has a Frost Bites small food kiosk that opens in March, open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Get to Know The REP
Each year, The Seaside Repertory Theatre (The REP) provides a multitude of entertainment options geared toward children and families. These performances are more than a sideshow, a break from the beach or temporary distraction. Performance art inspires creativity in all ages and brings communities together at a central space: the stage. An elementary bedtime story or fairytale springs to life and makes something unreal, real.
The REP is busy this spring with activities to suit anyone who loves performance art, including Seaside Stories, Improv Bootcamp, Huck & Lilly Kids Music Performance and more. For details including times and dates, see the Seaside events calendar on page 16 or LoveTheRep.com.
Explore the Town
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). Ruskin Place offers a shady place to rest, read a book or stroll the streets and pop into an art gallery or boutique. The unique shops, restaurants, landscapes and beach pavilions are also worth a gander.
Visit the Chapel at Seaside
The Seaside Chapel (thechapelatseaside.com) is one of Seaside’s most iconic buildings. Sitting on the north end of Ruskin Park (behind Central Square) the chapel hosts weddings and events along with weekly Sunday services. The chapel’s vaulted ceiling and white-washed board and batten construction make for an amazingly beautiful space, and was awarded a Historical American Buildings Survey Heritage Designation by the Library of Congress. The chapel is usually open during daylight hours and all are welcome to partake in its peaceful, meditative atmosphere.
See 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 wrap-around 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. 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 owners 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 owners found their home just as they left it, as the production crew repainted the home in its original color and removed the yard accessories.
Toast the Sunset
A favorite Seaside tradition is to end each day on the beach watching the sun set as Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant’s vintage brass bell rings to signal that another perfect day in Seaside has come to a pleasant close. Come toast the setting sun and the restaurant’s recent renovation.
During the weeks of spring break, Seaside will limit access to the beach after 8 p.m. to those under 21 or unaccompanied by a parent. And no backpacks or flags will be allowed on the beach. Book your Seaside vacation today!