Last year, a brilliant combination of exhaustion and expiring airline credits brought us to the Florida Panhandle. It was March, I had just finished as co-chair of a highly successful and equally tiring Human Rights Campaign Gala Dinner, and Alisa was struggling with some health issues that ultimately led us to our current gluten-free lifestyle. Things were rough. And desperate times certainly called for desperate measures.
As a New Orleans native, I have made numerous beach trips to the Florida Panhandle. The most magical of all the areas is certainly the sleepy, idyllic community of Seaside. This perfect-world vibe was thrust into the mainstream as the sleepy town backdrop of The Truman Show. I can think of no finer compliment for a community than to be cast as “the perfect town.” This master-planned community is the first fully developed example of New Urbanism, an urban design movement that strives to make communities more dense, navigable, affordable and enjoyable. As a victim of its own success, the town’s affordability has certainly been threatened, but thankfully none of the other foundations. Everything here is in walking/biking distance and is distinctively designed around the New Urbanism mixed-use town center.
Highway 30A is the small two-lane highway that intersects the center of Seaside. The only cars that you will see are those of folks arriving, leaving or gawking. Once you arrive, ditch the car and hop on some bikes. The well- marked bike lanes make sightseeing a snap as you travel to the neighboring communities of WaterColor, Seagrove and Grayton Beach. Because of the well-followed planning, the views are basically unobstructed as the homes and buildings are limited to three stories. The tallest building is the towering non-denominational chapel; it’s Carpenter Gothic designed and stands 50 feet.
Our favorite things to do are to rest, relax and cook. But when you are cruising around during the day, conveniently located Airstream trailers in the center of town help bring a dose of Austin funkiness beachside. Wild Bill’s Beach Dogs not only has hot dogs, but also boasts grass-fed, organic, gluten-free gourmet selections of burgers and brats! Feeling a little more healthy and grounded? Well, then, Raw & Juicy is the trailer for you with vegan and raw food options served up by an awesome yogi!
As the day nears an end, be sure to carefully plan your evening around the sunset. There are numerous beach access points with benches, or grab a seat on the upper deck at Bud & Alley’s. The sun’s rays dance a brilliant hue of pink and orange. And if your evening calls for a night out on the town, plan for that early. There are few restaurants and none stays open late. But with the relaxed vibe of Seaside, this is perfect.
Story by Lynn Yeldell
Photos by Lynn Yeldell
L Style G Style – Storyteller of the Austin LBGT Community.