Favorite Things: April 20, 2015 (Seaside, Florida Edition)

Hello all! I hope your week has been lovely! We have made it through and it is time for the weekend! Wahoo! I am a week back from vacation and all the laundry is washed and put away and now I'm longing to have my feet back in that sugar sand! From social media, I know a lot of you love Seaside or would love to love Seaside. So I thought I'd do a special edition for Favorite Things. Here are my Favorite Things I'd recommend for Seaside, Florida.

First, if you aren't familiar with Seaside, it's a small town, really cluster of very small towns/villages, that are wedged in between Destin and Panama City Beach, FL. Do you remember the Truman Show with Jim Carey, how everything was picture-perfect? Yeah, it was filmed in Seaside. You really feel like you are in a make believe world... which is exactly how you want to feel on vacation. 

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite things for Seaside, Florida (note: these are my recommendations, not a summary from my family's trip):

#1: VRBO for finding a place to stay + Tip to Get a Great Deal!

We stay in charming house, Waterside in Seaside, and it was so very lovely! I've used VRBO every time I travel and want to stay in a home. I've heard airbnb is great too, I've just never personally used it. 

Here's something I've learned that to help you get the best deal >> Call and negotiate the price. Listen, don't feel bad about it. If they don't want to negotiate the price, they won't and if that's the place you want to stay, then you can settle for that. For me, I want to spend the least amount on a great place so I have lots of extra budget money left for fun while there. I always want a good location, in safe area with the right amount of space for our group, but other than that I'm pretty flexible. I think being flexible will allow you to negotiate because, likely, you will have several options to choose from.

I narrow it down to my top three picks and then I call each owner (you will have more luck calling them, it's easy for them to say no over email just like it's easy for you to ask). I tell them I've narrowed it down to a few of my favorites that are available (so they know I can easily go with someone else) and it comes down to budget, I ask them how much they'd be willing to go down in price. I also let them know that I'm willing to book today if we can agree on a price (so they know I'm a serious caller, not just scouting things out) and keep a very friendly attitude, not hard ball sales tone. People are always willing to be more accommodating when you are kind, just be clear that you are firm too and not a sweet pushover. 

I've had the best luck when I find places that are for rent by owner instead of management company because the companies can only do so much. The owners pay their bills each month. I've actually rented a place that when for $3500/week for only $800 because I called 3 weeks out and told him we could only pay $800 for the week, we knew it wasn't his listing price, but was curious if he'd be interested as some rent is better than no rent. He agreed as long as I didn't share the deal and shared a favorable review if I liked the house. Done! Easy!

#2: All the food

I hate cooking on vacation, so it's just not something I do much of. However, things are expensive in Seaside. It is very much tourist land so everything is up-charged. EVERYTHING. Just know that and prepare for that before hand so you don't feel stressed about each and every bill you pay. Or if that sounds stressful, then prepare to go to the local grocery store and stock up for meals. Either way, I would stock up on easy breakfast, lunch food and snacks to save the budget.  We keep this super easy and simple, but will really save the budget to have PB&J for $5 for everyone instead of spending $50 for everyone on burgers. 

The are so many options for places you can eat at, but here are our top favorites that we are still dreaming about and wishing we could open one locally:

Great Southern: If I could eat here every day of my life, I would. The best food. Truly order anything and your mouth will thank me until the end of time. I'd never had grits before this place but the waiter talked me into it and I'm so glad he did: Smoked Gouda Grits, yum!!!! Also, the mojitos will not disappoint. 

Bud and Alley's: The dinner food is super delicious, pricier than other places but really tasty (and not fried) seafood! However, the MUST is their Rooftop Breakfast. You are right on the water and can feel the ocean breeze as you sip on steaming coffee or chilled mimosas. The breakfast food is insane-- order the crab cake benedict. Woah. 

Angelinas Pizza: They don't deliver but are totally worth the short drive to go pick up and bring back. Order anything and it will be delicious. Add an extra pizza because cold pizza for lunch at the beach is a vacation must. And ranch dressing. Get the ranch dressing. 

Local Catch: We were trying to go to another popular seafood place but the wait was an hour and a half. Driving back to Seaside we randomly pulled into this place. Best accidental dinner pick ever. We were all ooh-ing and ahhh-ing the entire meal. 

The Red Bar: This place is loud because it's a bar with live music that has a bunch of very crammed tables instead of people standing around. However, if that doesn't bother you, get yourself there immediately because the is totally worth your voice being horse from yelling. 

Pickle's Beachside Grille: Fried pickles and ranch dressing. You are welcome. Their burgers are really good too but do not miss out on fried pickles. 

The Meltdown (Food Truck): Oh my goodness, I dare you to try these and not go back 10 more times on your trip. So good. We also now want to make gourmet grilled cheese for every meal. The combinations sounds so strange but are so delightful. 

Charlie's Donuts (Food Truck): We like to hit Charlie's up a couple of times on our trip. Super fun to load the kiddos up still in PJs and let them pick out what's left. They sell until they sell out. You don't have to get there at 6am but I would head that way as soon as everyone is up. 

Sugar Shack: I'm not a really big sweet person, so this is take it or leave it for me but if you like sweets or if you are with kiddos-- go to Sugar Shack. This is a fun place to grab a fun and sweet souvenir for others. 

#3: Sugar White Sand + Clear Blue/Green Water

We live an hour from Galveston and LOVE it. However the water is murky and the sand is more like mud. So it was a super fun treat to play in the sugar white sands of Florida and be able to go as deep as we want and still see our toes. 

How cute is our Chandler girl?!!! Her very first time to the beach and she could not have loved it any more!

#4: You can rent anything, and should!

This community is set up for easy rentals and most even deliver it to your rental so it's waiting for you when you arrive. Do a quick search when you go for rentals or ask the owner/manager of your proper for recommendations. 

We used Baby's Away for a crib, high chair, beach tent, monitor, etc. for all the kiddos things. They were great to work with. However, there are several places, so I would just do a quick google search and find best prices. If you have kids this can save you a lot of bag space. On the flip side, while each item isn't crazy priced, it can add up quickly.