When I tell people I was raised in Seaside, I usually get a raised eyebrow and pretentious stare as if my family must be made of money. Yes seaside does have one of the most expensive real estate market, however my house was built and occupied by my family long before County Road 30-A was even paved. if you grew up in the south-east, then you most certainly heard of the glorious stretch of beach in South Walton County.
When you’re driving from Destin to Panama city you will hit a large patch of state forest. Most travelers wont think there is anything there, but tucked on the other side of the state park is a community known as “30-A”. A stretch of a scenic highway that is filled with separate sub communities each with their own reputation and aesthetic. While i would love to talk about each one individually, i feel as if i owe i to Seaside to solely focus on her( The community has a persona, visit and you will understand).
While most bloggers will probably tell you all about their vacation and short time spent in Seaside during the summer, id rather dive deeper into what its like during the “off-season”, as we would call it. As you roll onto 30-A, there is not a car in sight. Sometimes we were lucky to see another car during work hours. The population decrease is very intense. It feels as if you are in a ghost town. Restaurants close their doors for the winter, grocery stores limit their hours, and any hope of finding a boutique or clothing store in the area that is open, is next to none. But this opens many doors for the youth. The streets become your sidewalk, the each becomes your private backyard, and you can enjoy your surrounding. There is no better place to grow up.
I gathered much more, culturally, than i would living anywhere else. The locals of Seaside include artistic nomads who have ended up settling down in Seaside. Everyone knows everyone, and their mom. I’m not kidding. i had 400 people in my whole high school and i bet you i could name nearly all of them by face. Keep in mind, this is the only public high school for the WHOLE AREA. Unless you live 60 miles north, you went to this school. The sense of friendship was much more genuine than Atlanta, where i live now. The community of locals was the best part of my childhood.
Let me walk you through a day during fall break:
Id often wake up at around 6 am and take a walk down to the beach with my dog. I believe that more younger people are early risers near the beach. It has to be a fact. During the colder months waves are usually better. Id often go down to the ocean and see friends in the water as early as 5 am. Life is just healthier.
By 10 am, i was at Raw and Juicy for breakfast. My neighbors owned the place, so I always knew when i would be able to grab a coconut and Green juice. If i couldn’t find an open cafe, id usually find friends and have a pick nick. Since the community is so small, you can bike or walk to everyone’s house, a car really wasn’t a necessity.
Noon would hit, and after long boarding around for a while, i would try and make it home for lunch with my family. Id often come home covered in sand, dirty ass feet, and smelling of sweat, But this was normal. Everyone is active it seems.
In the afternoons we would usually be on the beach. One person would always have to have a permit for a bonfire, so this person was most popular and always invited to the hangout. As the sun set id spend the evening playing my guitar, swimming, talking, and creating lasting memories in the most perfect way possible.
Because of the lack of things to do, i believe i learned how to make my own fun. This helps me now save money in a way. I am content with just experiencing happiness, rather than wasting money on paying for human interaction. We made our own fun. Instead of going to house parties, we were gathering next to the ocean and celebrating its beauty.
Seaside is possibly the best place to raise a child. The eclectic architecture, unique people, unbeatable experiences, and just overall aesthetic provided me with a sort of culture that I belive some people who i have met in Atlanta lack.
I’ll always love home, and ill always tell people to experience where i grew up if they had the chance. This is not a travel guide, rather a local guide.