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Looking for a list of the best things to do in Seaside, Florida when visiting or vacationing there?
Located in Northwest Florida, Seaside is a unique, picture-perfect beach town you don’t want to miss!
With stunning white sand beaches, adorable pastel architecture, and a sense of community you can only find in a small town, there are so many iconic and fun things to do in Seaside, Florida.
In this post, I’m sharing the best activities, restaurants, beaches, and landmarks that Seaside has to offer.
I’ve also included essential activities along 30A and in neighboring beach communities if you’re looking to venture out a bit.
Here are the best things to do in Seaside Florida that the whole family will love!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.
What’s so special about Seaside, Florida?
Seaside, Florida sits along Highway 30A between the towns of Destin and Panama City Beach on Florida’s Emerald Coast.
As one of the most picturesque beach communities on the Florida panhandle, Seaside is best known as the location for the 1998 film, The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrey.
And while the plot of that fictional movie was too good to be true, the pastel-colored beach houses, iconic whitewashed post office, and architect-designed walkways are actual staples of Seaside, Florida.
Seaside’s soft white sand, pristine landscaping, and crisp coastal charm attract vacation goers who like to ditch their cars, kick back, and relax.
Known as the birthplace of the New Urbanism architectural design movement, Seaside provides a life and a vacation experience like no other – as you truly do not need a car to get around.
Its purposeful layout was developed so that its restaurants, shops, entertainment, homes, and schools are all within a 10-minute walk.
With 2,800 permanent residents and 490 homes (300 of which are rentals), Seaside’s simple and practical way of life makes for the perfect beach vacation.
Oh, and psst…we love the Emerald Coast so much that we’ve written several other posts to help you plan your trip!
- Things to Do on 30A for Endless Florida Fun!
- 33 Best Things to Do in Destin, FL With Kids
- Destin Harbor Boardwalk (Best Things to Do + FAQs)
- 13 Best Places to Eat Breakfast in Destin, FL
- A Guide to The 8 Best Destin, Florida Beaches
- How to Stay Cool in the Florida Heat While on Vacation
Things to Do in Seaside, Florida
For a small, beachfront community, there are so many iconic and fun things to do in Seaside!
Along with biking, walking trails, swimming, and tennis, Seaside is known for its boutique shopping, dining, live concerts, theatre productions, and outdoor movies.
Whether you’re visiting or vacationing in Seaside, or just passing through on your tour of 30A, let’s take a look at the best things to do in Seaside, Florida!
1. Head to the beach
With sugar-white sand and clean, emerald-colored water, spending a day at the beach in Seaside is an absolute must.
Although Seaside has some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States, 8 of the 9 beach access points are private to residents or guests staying at Seaside’s hotels or rental homes.
Seaside only has 1 public beach access area that is accessed via the Coleman Pavilion, located next to Seaside’s famous Bud & Alley’s Restaurant.
If you want to access the beach as a guest, you need to pay for a mandatory beach chair and umbrella rental that costs approximately $100/day per group of 2.
Personal chairs, umbrellas, or tents are not permitted.
Here’s a quick look at Seaside Beach, and our other favorite beaches in the area:
Seaside Beach is accessed through a variety of private beach pavilions that connect to different neighborhoods within the community.
Residents and paying guests are given a beach pavilion entry code – with the exception of the Coleman pavilion which can be accessed by the general public.
Though Seaside Beach is privately owned, you can still enjoy its luxury when you rent a beach chair and umbrella.
There are also paddle boards and kayaks for rent.
Public Beaches in the Area
Here is a list of the public beaches in the area that are also more affordable.
- Van Ness Butler Beach (free parking, lifeguards, close to Seaside’s city center)
- Blue Mountain Beach (large sand dunes with blue flowers, nearby hiking trails)
- Santa Rosa Beach (Ed Walline beach access, free parking, lifeguards, restrooms)
- Grayton Beach State Park (pristine beach, $5 parking, camping, hiking trails)
Additional planning tip: Be sure to pack the appropriate Florida beach essentials to be adequately prepared for a perfect day at the beach!
2. Visit “The Nine Seaside”
Seaside’s unique, Instagram-worthy beach pavilions are referred to as “The Nine Seaside”.
Visiting and photographing one or all of them is one of the most popular things to do in Seaside.
After all, each of the 9 pavilions is architecturally unique, acting as both beach entrance points and a gathering spot for families and friends.
Located at the end of each street in Seaside, Florida, each pavilion is owned by that street’s homeowners association and was designed to make Seaside stand out from other beach destinations.
While their main function is to provide a “gateway” to the beach, the pavilions also help protect the dune system.
Here are the names of the Nine Seaside beach pavilions from east to west:
- Tupelo Beach Pavilion
- Savannah Beach Pavilion
- East Ruskin Beach Pavilion
- Seaside Beach Pavilion
- Coleman Beach Pavilion
- West Ruskin Beach Pavilion
- Pensacola Beach Pavilion
- Odessa Beach Pavilion
- Natchez Beach Pavilion
3. Relax at Central Square
Relaxing in Central Square is a must-do activity in Seaside, Florida
Central Square, a public gathering place in the center of town, is the basis for which Seaside was designed and is the true heart of this community.
When this town center isn’t hosting the weekly farmer’s market, it’s one of the best places to relax, read a book, or spend quality time with family and friends.
Pack a picnic, bring along a frisbee, and enjoy its ample picnic areas and surrounding green space.
Central Square is surrounded by quaint shops, unique eateries, and pedestrian-only walkways.
4. Photograph the Vincent Scully Mural
Located next to Central Square on the side of 25 Central Square is a gigantic outdoor wall mural.
Photographing the Vincent Scully Mural has become one of the best things to do in Seaside due to its enormous size and its vibrant purple color.
The mural pays homage to Vincent Scully, a great American historian and educator who helped inspire the New Urbanism movement that Seaside was founded on.
5. Grab a bite on Airstream Row
Located adjacent to Central Square, and only steps away from the ocean, is Seaside’s Airstream Row!
As one of the best things to do in Seaside, Airstream Row is a group of custom, converted, aluminum airstream trailers turned gourmet food trucks.
Here, you’ll find vendors serving up quality barbecue, hot dogs, gyros, grilled cheeses, donuts, snow cones, and crêpes.
With friendly service and delicious food, you’ll easily spot these silver Airstream trailers permanently parked in the shade of palm trees.
6. Stroll the streets of Seaside
The residential streets of Seaside are lined with charming cottages and homes filled with character.
Their timeless designs come in various sizes and shapes with each home being painted either white or a muted pastel color.
Adorned with an exterior porch and often times pillars, all of the homes are connected through a maze-like pattern of white-sand paths.
Another characteristic of Seaside is that each home has a unique white picket fence that gives the community a storybook feel – no two houses on the same street can have the same picket fence.
As one of the most unique things to do in Seaside, both kids and adults alike will love strolling through the streets to explore this fascinating architecture!
7. Sample local fares at the farmer’s market
One of my favorite things to do in Seaside, Florida is to visit the weekly farmer’s market.
Located in Central Square, the Seaside Farmers Market takes place every Saturday morning.
Their offerings have a focus on seasonal, sustainable farming practices with farm-fresh items for purchase.
This is a great way to experience the local culture, as it is a community event that everyone comes out to enjoy.
It’s also the perfect spot to pick up some Florida fresh fruits – the ultimate beach snack!
While the market is fairly small, the quality of produce, baked goods, and hot foods are unbeatable.
Additional planning tip: Get there for opening at 9:00 AM for the best selection.
8. Photograph the Seaside Post Office
Another must-do activity in Seaside is to photograph the Seaside Post Office – commemorative stamps are available too!
As one of the most iconic buildings in the community, the Seaside Post Office claims to be the most photographed post office in the United States.
This whitewashed structure (with a bright red door!) is a real, functioning post office, however, has no computer – only a scale and adding machine.
The staff at Seaside Post Office pride themselves in “doing it the old-fashioned way”.
9. Get your fill of local cuisine
Food is such an important part of any trip and it’s often said that you can’t truly experience a place without sampling the local cuisine.
Luckily, Seaside has no shortage of food for you to try.
These are some of the most popular Seaside restaurants:
- Great Southern Cafe – Stop by for good food and a convenient location in Central Square. They serve southern specialties that anyone would love.
- Modica Market – An iconic Seaside grocery store perfect for loading up on beach provisions.
- Stinky’s Fish Camp – A must-stop along Highway 30A offering comfort foods like gumbo and fish tacos alongside live music and rotating special events.
- Shrimp Shack – Try their fresh seafood including Gulf shrimp, oysters, or gumbo bread bowls. You can even order to go and eat on the beach!
- Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant – Try this seaside spot for sea views from their rooftop bar along with great food and a friendly atmosphere (the crab cakes are a must!)
- Blue Mountain Beach Creamery – The best dessert spot in town – grab a frozen treat like ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt.
10. Explore by bike
Biking in Seaside is a vibe, and everyone’s doing it!
Because Seaside is such a quaint, compact town, you’ll see most vacation-goers riding around town on a bike or in a golf cart.
Though most vacation rentals in Seaside come with the use of bikes (check the listing!), there are also several places to rent bikes by the hour, by the day, or by the week.
In addition to there being a prevalence of bike rentals, there are also plenty of bike racks and bike parking spaces located conveniently throughout the community.
Additional planning tip: Looking for more extensive biking opportunities in Seaside? Connect on to the 19-mile Timpoochee Trail and ride for as long or as little as you’d like.
11. See a show at the Seaside Amphitheater
If you’re looking for a little bit of live entertainment, look no further than the Seaside Amphitheater.
It is one of the most popular places in Seaside, with movies playing every Friday night, along with shows, and live music.
This spot offers so much more than your run-of-the-mill movie theaters – it’s a true gathering place for families and community members.
Pull up a lawn chair or spread out a picnic blanket to enjoy a show (don’t forget some snacks!).
12. Admire the Seaside Chapel
Although the Seaside Chapel is most recognized for its stunning architecture, whitewashed exterior, and simple, 68-foot bell tower, it is a functioning chapel that hosts weekly services and storybook weddings.
The interfaith chapel seats 175 people with Sunday services amplified outside for overflow guests.
As one of the best things to do in Seaside, head to 582 Forest Street in Ruskin Square to visit the Seaside Chapel.
13. Browse at Sundog Books
Browsing at Sundog Books is one of my favorite things to do in Seaside!
Overlooking Central Square, Sundog Books is an independent bookstore filled to the brim with a brilliant collection of books for all ages.
With a fun, relaxed vibe, you’ll love the homey feel of the bookstore as well as the chance to browse or buy books and exclusive Sundog merch!
14. Visit an art gallery
A favorite thing to do on any vacation is to view some community art.
And what better place to do that than at an art gallery?
Fusion Art Gallery is one of the area’s most popular art galleries, featuring works from over 150 American artists.
Here, you’ll find glass art, jewelry, ceramics, and more.
They even have art available for purchase as a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
15. Go hiking
If you’re looking for one of the best things to do near Seaside, Florida, consider going hiking at nearby Grayton Beach State Park.
Grayton Beach State Park is located in Santa Rosa Beach, just twenty minutes northwest of Seaside.
This quick trip is well worth it as the park’s popular nature trails will take you through stunning dunes, salt marshes, and pine flatwoods.
Along the trail, you may even spot local wildlife including birds, white-tailed deer, and gray foxes.
If you want to make a day out of it, the park offers several other activities including:
- Paddling Western Lake
- Swimming at the beach
- Bird watching
16. Take a drive down Highway 30A
Seaside is just one of many beautiful stops along Florida’s scenic Highway 30A!
With unbelievable views of the Gulf of Mexico, driving along the 24-mile Highway 30A is well worth the effort whether you’re just going for a ride or choosing to stop in neighboring beach towns.
This scenic highway winds its way through quaint seaside towns including Alys Beach, Rosemary Beach, Santa Rosa Beach (and more), providing ample opportunity to shop and explore.
17. Visit neighboring beach towns
If you have the time, I highly recommend touring some of Seaside’s surrounding beach towns.
Each location has its own unique charms with beaches, shops, and landmarks.
Spend a day in any of these towns, just minutes away from Seaside:
- Seagrove Beach
- Santa Rosa Beach
- Rosemary Beach
- Fort Walton Beach
- Alys Beach
- Panama City Beach
More things to do in Seaside Florida
Though small in size, there is still a lot to see and explore in Seaside, Florida.
Other fun sights and activities in Seaside include:
17. Visit Duckies Shop of Fun (a whimsical shop with toys, beach gear, and fun gifts).
18. Rest at Ruskin Place (a quiet, grassy park shaded by giant oak trees, located by the Seaside Chapel).
19. Visit the Truman Show House (Found at 31 Natchez Street).
20. Browse records at Central Square Records (one of America’s classic music and vinyl record stores).
21. Go kayaking or paddleboarding (Check out The Rental Shop 30A for watersport rentals).
22. Explore the sand dunes at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park (10 miles of trails, 3 miles of white-sand beaches bordered by dunes over 25 feet tall. Rare coastal dune lakes, camping, and picnic areas).
23. Explore Point Washington State Forest (3 trail systems for hiking, biking, and horses; $2 day passes).
Best Time to Visit Seaside, Florida
Though Seaside, Florida is a great place to visit year-round, most people feel that the best time to visit is during the months of April to May.
From mid-April to the end of May, the days are long and sunny and the temperatures are comfortable (expect highs in the mid-70s and 80s).
The spring break crowds have fizzled out by then so you can enjoy Seaside’s activities without feeling crowded.
Another popular time to visit Seaside, especially if you’re most interested in swimming in the ocean, is during the summer months of June, July, and August.
During the summer months, you can expect higher daily temps in the high 80s.
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*