April 27, 2018

30A Vacation!

ok at long last, here is my recap of our trip to watercolor, florida! we first visited this area two years ago and stayed in watersound and loved it (my recap from that trip is HERE). we skipped last year because of our trip to california and were excited to get back this year. i found out about this area through, where else, instagram! i don't remember anymore what account i saw it on but i was hooked!

30a is a road that runs along the coast of the panhandle. it starts in rosemary beach and ends (some people may argue this isn't the beginning or end!) in watercolor. in between are alys beach, seacrest, watersound, seagrove, and seaside. the areas we know best are alys, watersound, seaside, and watercolor so i'll just be commenting on those. overall we love this whole area for several reasons that i'll quickly list:

1. super family friendly - kids everywhere. people are biking on cruisers and walking and running. there are people of all ages but it's not a "gray hair" population.

2. amazing beaches - truly white sand and in mid-april at least, not crowded.

3. unique and fun eating options and activities - i kept saying "we don't have this at home" and i love that. airstreams in seaside, outdoor movies at the hub, and a donut truck in alys. the list goes on.

4. the design!! of course the design! it's a pretty place and you really feel like you're on vacation.

in my opinion, it would be a little chilly, or at least not consistently warm, to visit in the winter. they don't have the temps of south florida. just have the expectation that you might not be wearing shorts or swimming december - february.

i'll start with watercolor since that's fresh in my mind! sooooooo many people asked about the house we rented and wanted the link so here you go. https://www.360blue.com/rentals/properties/watercolor-above-and-beyond-161-dandelion-drive/
we chose to stay in watercolor because it's more established with less construction (i'll get into that more later), is close to seaside where we found ourselves going often during our first trip, and had everything we wanted in terms of amenities - pools, beach, bike paths, and play areas for kids. we looked at a lot of houses online and chose this one based on location within watercolor and interior design (are you surprised?). we were thrilled with the house. it was huge - way bigger than we needed - but again the goal was to feel like we were truly on vacation and this house achieved that completely.

you can see all of the photos through the link but i'd say it was better in person. it had a ping pong table and foosball on the the SECOND floor porch. need i say more? also lots of houses have little plunge pools and this one, while still pretty small, had a bit bigger pool that the boys could jump in and a hot tub which was on my parents' list!

watercolor is a planned community which, as a friend and i were saying, sounds gross and old home-ish. but it defies the stereotype. the homes are all lovely, very close together, but we felt had enough privacy. our house came with a golf cart which was huge because we took it everywhere - to the pool and beach, to the grocery store, and the shops and restaurants in the center of watercolor. plus it was a good way to see houses! within watercolor there are five pools, a bunch of tennis courts, cute shops, a few eating options (one was under construction while we were there), a boathouse, biking trails and of course beach access. construction at this point is mostly limited to the newest phases so i'm glad we didn't stay in those areas (these are farther from the beach). our favorite places to eat were the beach club pool for lunch, the wine bar/cheese restaurant, and the boys loved the candy shop, obviously. their main restaurant, fish out of water, was out of commission while we were there.


next door to watercolor is seaside and in fact you can walk or bike pretty easily which is a good thing because parking in seaside can be a pain! seaside is also a planned community but has a more open, "town" feel to it. we often ate here and love all of the airstreams that line the street.


heavenly's is our favorite ice cream spot and on the beach side, bud & alley's taco bar and pizza restaurants were great for quick bites. the great southern is another cute spot. i generally find that the "nicer," more expensive restaurants are not as good as the more casual places. the shopping is seaside is also cute and there is even more behind the main drag if you wander a bit. on the beach side, there is a cute outdoor market and more small shops to stroll through. seaside is just a bit busier which is why we chose not to rent there but the homes are super cute and it would be a great place to stay!

view between a couple of seaside shops!

if you keep driving east, you'll go through sea grove beach. if you're hungry, cowgirl is a fun, old fashioned burger place and the perfect pig is a great spot for breakfast and lunch (they also serve dinner but we didn't have dinner there). also abode interiors is a cute shop next to the perfect pig.

watersound is the next community but is more secluded and actually is also gated. this is where we first stayed. as i mentioned, we loved it but at the time there was a good amount of construction going on so we chose not to return this time. the amenities are a little more limited but they have a few pools and great beach access and some truly beautiful homes. you have to drive everywhere if you stay in watersound but it's about halfway between watercolor and alys. the view below is from the beach walkway looking back at the houses - looks fake almost right?

just down from watersound is a cool place called the hub. it's all outdoor eating, seating, and movie watching. there wasn't a lot open when we went but i imagine during the high spring break season that place is bumping. i have a bunch of pics of it on my first recap.

and last but certainly not least is alys beach (pronounced like alice). you heard me say before and i'll say it again - alys is stunning. stunning! i adore the clean, white architecture and highly manicured greens. it's another planned community but like none you've ever seen. there are a couple of restaurants, the donut truck, an outdoor taqueria type of place, a coffee shop, wine bar, one main pool, and kids play area. plus shopping and the beach, obvi.

the main reason we decided not to stay here though is the construction. this community is still being built up. our waitress at the caliza restaurant (amazing - go!) told us that they have 120 houses built currently and 130 more either going up, breaking ground, or in the design phase. so while the parts that are done are gorg, there are a lot of hammers swinging, trucks going in and out, and just general construction chaos. so i think we would personally choose to wait another couple of years before staying here to let it die down a bit. it's about 20 minutes to seaside/watercolor but next door to rosemary if you wanted to go exploring. for whatever reason, mr. r and i weren't as enamored with rosemary beach but it has some stiff competition and the good part is that it's well established at this point.

i fell hard in love with the interiors shop in alys called mast. it was small but so well curated. i would be totally happy living there in that store!


super cute clothing store as well!


ok i think that's it!! what did i miss? what questions do you have? have a great weekend!

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