Friday morning started with a bicycle ride through Seaside with John, our tour guide. He explained the concept behind Seaside, an 80-acre beach town community where everything is focused on community, ease of lifestyle and comfort. It certainly has accomplished that. From the architecture to the names (not address numbers) of the cottages, Seaside has a special ambiance that makes you feel like you are home even if you just arrived. Each cottage has a name that is proudly posted where a typical address would be. We laughed at names like: Julie Got Her Way & Tom Had to Pay, Changes in Attitudes, Four the Girls, Hooty Hoot, Wilder by the Sea, SeaEsta and Mom’s Day Off. In addition to the cottage names, the names of the owners and where they are from are also posted out front.
The town center (which is actually shaped like a horseshoe) is the hub of activity for Seaside. In the center, which is across from the beach, is a row of about six airstream trailers that sell everything from cupcakes to BBQ to cocktails and they are decorated so cute! Here you can also find great boutiques, a wine bar, local market, sushi, bicycle rentals, galleries and more.
After working up quite an appetite, we drove about 10 minutes west to Grayton Beach where we met Tracy Louthain who works for the Beaches of South Walton CVB (www.BeachesOfSouthWalton.com) and organized this fantastic trip for us. We ate lunch at Shorty’s Surfside and Topside (www.ShortysSurfside.com), a great little beach joint with an open upstairs so we could see the Gulf of Mexico.
Next, it was off to try YOLO (www.YOLOBoard.com). YOLO stands for You Only Live Once, and YOLO Board is a Santa Rosa Beach, Florida company that is dedicated to creating awareness of what is soon to be the world’s fastest growing watersport and recreational activity: Stand-up Paddleboarding. We were greeted by Tom and Justin who gave us a quick overview of the boards, how to paddle and what to expect on the water. The ladies were doubtful they could stay on the board, much less stand up. To their surprise, everyone was standing up and paddling around Eastern Lake within about 10 minutes. It was so much fun! I am so proud of Jennie Ann who did not tell me she could not swim, but she got out there and YOLO’d anyway. Woo-hoo! That’s was travel is all about...getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things.
After some fun on the water, we were ready to re-hydrate and a stop at the Raspberry Rhino in The Village of Baytowne Wharf, which is located along the shores of the Choctawhatchee Bay, was the perfect place. We met Laurie Hobbs for a quick tour of this village, which includes boutiques, restaurants, galleries and nightlife, within the gates of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort (www.Sandestin.com). After cocktails (aka Liquid Courage) we got in our harnesses and climbed to the top of the Village’s newest amenity - ziplining. We all took turns ziplining across the lagoon. Even Tanya, who was very nervous once she got to the edge, jumped off like a pro and flew across the line.
After zipling, we made our way to the Village’s karaoke bar where we made several new friends, including Lorenzo (his real name is Larry, but when he sings he likes to be called by his stage name). Good thing we had several cocktails...they made Lorenzo sound good as he belted out Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash.