The new airport near Panama City is named Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. Guess what the local politicians think is the attraction that draws tourists to Northwest Florida?
A gentleman named Robert Davis decided to turn his family's 80 acres near Seagrove Beach into a brand new model for all Florida Towns.
His grandfather had bought the property in the 1940's, and it was a family retreat.
The Florida towns of old were places where folks sat on their front porches and chatted with neighbors walking by. People could walk to the post office, the library or the grocery store.
Mr. Davis wanted to create this kind of town using Florida Cracker architecture. This features small wood frame houses with big porches and white picket fences.
In an oceanside community like Seaside Florida, the houses have windows that actually open and provide good cross ventilation for enjoyment of the sea breezes.
Wide roof overhangs provide shade from the Florida sun and protection from the torrential summer rains.
Mr. Davis created this ideal community with the help of Miami architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.
Other architects, including Melanie Taylor and Robert Orr, designed most of the buildings in Seaside Florida.
This talented team and enlightened owner created a small town from scratch, with pedestrian friendly streets and town squares.
Although they probably didn't intend it, the town has also become one of the most popular Florida tourist attractions because of its unique character.
Seaside started to come out of the ground in 1981. We long time Floridians think of it as a new town, but it is now 40 years old.
The concept used in creating Seaside Florida has been dubbed "New Urbanism".
It was the first of it's kind in Florida, but it has inspired a host of worthy imitators, including several in the same Gulf coast neighborhood.
New Urbanism is a design concept that emphasizes walkable neighborhoods and a wide range of residential and commercial uses.
It reaches back for its inspiration to the era before automobiles were so common.
Since Seaside was born, it is estimated that more than 600 communities have been created in the United States using the principles of New Urbanism.
Most of the residents of Seaside are seasonal. It is a town of vacation homes, but it has a good community feel about it anyway.
A visit to Seaside is a bit like a visit to Disney's Celebration. You feel like you are in a perfect town with wholesome people.
No wonder Seaside was chosen as the location for the filming of the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.
Truman Burbank is the unwitting star of a reality television show. He lives a perfect life in a perfect town.
Seaside is probably more in harmony with Walt Disney's vision for Epcot than what his successors at Disney finally created at Celebration.
After seeing the success of Seaside, the Disney organization created Celebration near its Orlando attractions.
Seaside is a wonderful place to visit but is often quite busy - especially in the summer months. Unlike much of Florida, this is the "season" along Florida's panhandle coast.
The Town of Seaside is only 80 acres in area, but has a thriving town center with shopping and dining along with its 300 surrounding homes.
Some popular places include the Modica Market, a great place for gourmet groceries. There is also a weekly farmer's market each Saturday.
The town center has a book store, Sundog Books, and a few art galleries.
There are vacation rentals galore, a beautiful white sand beach, and plenty of other restaurants, quaint beachy sandwich and coffee shops and bars open to the sea breezes.
Lots that originally sold for $ 15,000 in 1981 have resold for more than $1 million.
Seaside Farmer's Market (2235 E County Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459) - Held every Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, this farmer's market is a great place to find fresh produce, artisanal goods, and unique crafts.
Grayton Beach State Park (357 Main Park Rd, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459) - This beautiful state park features sugar-white sand beaches, hiking trails, and abundant wildlife. Visitors can swim, fish, and kayak in the Gulf of Mexico or explore the park's coastal dune lakes.
The Hub 30A (7000 E County Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459) - A lively outdoor venue with plenty of dining and entertainment options, The Hub is a great place to catch live music, watch a movie under the stars, or grab a bite to eat with friends and family.
Alys Beach (9581 E County Highway 30A, Alys Beach, FL 32461) - This picturesque beachfront community is known for its stunning architecture and luxurious amenities. Visitors can stroll through the town center, take a dip in the pool, or relax on the beach.
Rosemary Beach (98 S Barrett Square, Panama City Beach, FL 32413) - A charming seaside village with a European flair, Rosemary Beach features boutique shops, upscale dining, and beautiful architecture. Visitors can rent bikes and explore the town or take a yoga class on the beach.
Seacrest Beach (10343 E County Highway 30A, Seacrest, FL 32413) - This family-friendly beach community is known for its sugar-white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and laid-back atmosphere. Visitors can swim, paddleboard, or simply relax on the beach.
Seaside Amphitheater (25 Central Square, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459) - A popular venue for live music and outdoor events, the Seaside Amphitheater is located in the heart of Seaside and features a large grassy area for picnicking and lounging.
The Red Bar (70 Hotz Ave, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459) - A local institution, The Red Bar is a funky, eclectic restaurant and bar that serves up live music, delicious food, and strong drinks. Visitors can dance the night away or enjoy a leisurely brunch.
Gulf Place (90 Spires Ln, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459) - This vibrant outdoor shopping and dining complex features a range of stores, restaurants, and art galleries. Visitors can shop for unique gifts, grab a bite to eat, or attend one of the many events hosted at Gulf Place.
Eden Gardens State Park (181 Eden Gardens Rd, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459) - A tranquil oasis in the heart of Santa Rosa Beach, Eden Gardens State Park features beautiful gardens, a historic mansion, and walking trails. Visitors can take a guided tour of the mansion or pack a picnic and enjoy the scenic surroundings.
Topsail Hill State Park is located at 7525 W County Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. This 1,640-acre park boasts pristine white sand beaches, rolling sand dunes, and coastal dune lakes, providing visitors with a unique outdoor experience. Activities include hiking, camping, swimming, fishing, and wildlife watching.
By car, take US-98 out of Panama City and go west about 30 miles to SR-395. Go south two miles to SR-30A, turn west (right) and you will find Seaside about a mile down the road.
Seaside sits comfortably between the older communities of Seagrove Beach and Grayton Beach on either side.
Other new places along the beautiful beaches include Panama City Beach, Rosemary Beach, Watercolor, and Alys Beach.