Monday, August 5, 2013

Trip To Seaside

Good morning & happy Monday, friends! We are home from our final roadtrip of the summer-- a little weekend getaway to Oklahoma, visiting sweet friends. I've got laundry piled & a broken washing machine & kids that need a major get back on track routine so I'll be posting about that trip a little later in the week.

For now, I'll leave you with a little something I've been working on in bits & pieces--a post about our big roadtrip from earlier in the summer. I want to squeeze it in before the summer slips away, completely.

**I've had several people ask me about the details of our trip to Seaside this summer so I thought I'd put together a post that includes snippets of our adventures & also gives some information about the area & how we planned for our trip with two little ones in tow.** 

So I know this little place. It goes by the name of Seaside, Florida.  It is breathtaking & surreal & if I had only one word to describe it, that one word would be--magical .

The moment you cruise into town & roll down the car windows, the thickness of salt water hits your hair, your skin & all five senses. You know immediately that you want to stay forever & ever & never leave.

Jared & I started planning our trip to Seaside last year, just after Lulla was born. One of my favorite bloggers, Sara at Clover Lane has blogged about her Seaside trips & we have close friends who just in the last several years have started taking their annual spring break to Seaside. So we've learned a little about it & were eager to try it out for ourselves.

We planned this trip on a budget. With the addition of a new little one & a move into a bigger house, we knew any family vacation we were going to take this summer was going to have to be highly planned out & very budget-friendly.

I'd been dreaming of visiting this quaint little town of Seaside for some time, so I gladly accepted the challenge to get us there--one way or another.

First of all, we drove. 1875 miles. 32 hours. A three year old. A one year old. I know, it sounds like pure craziness. But what we paid in gas was about a third of what we would have paid in airfare. I'll admit that just days before our trip, I started to freak a little. I started to get cold feet. And Jared did too. But we'd paid for our condo, we'd talked about the beach for months, every detail had been planned out--we decided to grin & bare it. I'm so glad we did. The kids travelled like perfect angels--not even kidding. I think we had one arched back per child the entire round trip & a total of maybe 3-5 minutes of crying between the two of them. They were rockstars & I never anticipated that the drive would have gone so smoothly. Here are a couple of things I did to prepare/ease the driving tension.

{Daddy's little Acura TSX has never seen such abuse!}

 1) On travel days, we woke the kids up at 5am & put them straightway into the car {**this was advice I got from a friend who is experienced in driving long distances with kids & is what I believe the key to our success with the traveling}. Both kids stayed awake about a half hour into the trip & then crashed for a good two-three hours. By then, the first leg of the trip was done & over with--& the kids had never even felt like they'd been traveling. This made for a much easier second leg of the trip.

2) We split up the drive time to Florida into two days/two eight hour stretches {with multiple stops, of course}. By 3-4 p.m., we stopped at our hotel, grabbed a bite to eat, played in the hotel pool {a pool was a must so that the kids could get out some of that pent up energy}, & turned in early for bed so that we could be ready to roll at 5a.m. again the next morning.

3) For the car, I packed anything & everything I could think of to keep the kids occupied. The saving grace was the DVD players & DVDs {just don't forget to pack the actual dvd's--right, husband?! This will result in stopping at the closest Wal-Mart & spending about $50-$100 in Disney & Nick Jr movies}.  Our car doesn't have the built in dvd players, so we just brought along portable ones--we had one of our own & we borrowed one from Jared's sister {since Lulla is still rear facing, we needed two}. I also packed markers & activity books--Jett loved this. I brought a couple of new toys for Lulla.  Right before the trip, I went to the library & checked out a dozen new books that the kids had never read before {so they wouldn't be bored with our old, familiar ones}--they both really enjoyed this. When they started to get a little stir crazy, I put on some of their kids cd's & that seemed to settle them. The only thing I would modify for next time is that I wouldn't pack a whole bunch of snacks for the car ride. I would pack a few, but for the most part, it was worth the five bucks & the fun that Jett thought it was to get out of the car & choose a snack & drink when we stopped.

Seaside. Seagrove. Watercolor. Rosemary Beach:
There are lots of different options for lodging with lots of different price points. Staying in Seaside, in one of the big, colorful houses {pink for me, please!} though a dream of mine to do so one day, was just not an option for us this year. But lucky for us, there were lots & lots of affordable options nestled right next to Seaside.

{One of the charming homes in Seaside--Pink house. Orange door. Want.}

We stayed in Seagrove Beach, Florida. We chose a one bedroom condo that offered a pool & was located just a short walk from the beach. The accommodations were okay, nothing to write home about & though they fit our small family of four, a little more space to spread out would have been nice. Next time we will definitely go for a two bedroom. We did love that the pool was right outside our back door & that our condo was only a mile from Seaside, where we spent much of our time. Overall, it was a good fit for our first trip to this area. We had the beach, the pool & evening entertainment right at our fingertips.

The area & close surrounding area of Seaside is very quaint. Chain restaurants are not allowed, which makes for some extremely yummy {& pricey} dining options. One thing I did to save money & stress is I cooked all of our dinners at the condo--because let's face it, how much fun is it to take a three year old & one year old out to dinner AND drop $50-$75 bucks doing so? Bingo! You got it--not fun at all.

Before the trip, I planned out all of our meals. I purchased & packed everything that I could {non-perishables} & packed them in a bag of their own. I kinda thought at one point I had gone overboard in my planning, but it turned out that it was a very wise choice. There is a grocery store near Seaside {Publix} that is actually pretty affordable & had I chosen to purchase everything at that store, I probably wouldn't have spent much more than I did at home. BUT, the problem is that most EVERYBODY comes in on Saturday & leaves on Saturday for their vacation. So....everybody generally does their shopping on Sunday & the grocery store quickly becomes a madhouse. And when you have a family, you can't wait for staples like milk, bread & eggs until the middle of your trip. I was glad my grocery list was short as I watched frazzled moms ducking & weaving through the masses while directing their children through a much smaller than usual super market.

Lunches were no fuss. We usually packed sandwiches & chips to take to the beach or we would eat at the condo just before or just after playing at the beach.

Since we saved a lot of money by eating our meals in, we always splurged for the fun stuff in the evenings. I'm pretty sure we hit up every candy store & ice cream shop in the surrounding area--& there were many. The kids loved to venture out in the evenings & it was nice to top the day off with a fun treat. Our favorite candy store was the Sugar Shak & we visited Frost Bites, the adorable Airstream sno cone place, on multiple occasions.

{Sno cones at Frost Bites after a long morning bike ride}

{Cute little candy store in Alys Beach. Those are little bike baskets full of candy. Cuteness around every corner, I tell ya.}

"Fun Is Good":
What I love about Seaside is that you won't find a more family-friendly vacation spot. For our two little ones, we never had to leave the area for fun. We usually spent our mornings beach side, our afternoons pool side & our evenings out on the town. Seaside, Alys Beach & Rosemary Beach {all within 5 miles of  each other}  put on theatrical performances in the evenings for the kiddos & Jett looked so forward to this. He talked about those performances & the characters of the performances the entire trip. Alys Beach had a music concert on the big grassy lawn one evening & Jett ran through water fountains with the other kids while Lulla laid on a blanket under the night sky, swinging a glow stick. On our last evening in Seaside, they offered a movie under the stars & we gladly tossed a quilt onto the grass, ordered some sno cones & iced coffees & kicked back to enjoy the evening. Little white lights that are strung through every single tree, twinkled & danced all around us--picture perfect, I say.  We rode bikes each & every day. The kids loved it. Jared & I enjoyed the fresh air & exercise. And there is just something so simple about riding bikes parallel to the beach that makes you feel like you're a part of the town . Everybody in Seaside rides bikes. There are several different places to rent bikes & bike accessories. Luckily, our condo included two bikes so we needed only to rent a trailer for the kids.

{By the terrified look on Jett's face, you would never know that it was him that insisted on meeting this dragon--one of the performers in the theatre. He wanted to make sure that even though she played a naughty dragon in the play, that she was indeed, actually nice. Funny kid.}

{There's a really great hill in Seaside for rolling down. Once Jett saw the many children throwing up grass with their giggles & tumbling, it was no time before he was getting his own roll on.}

The Beach:
This beach is gorgeous. I didn't edit a single one of our beach photos. I didn't need to. The water, the sky, the turquoise blue--all natural, baby. The sand is white & powder soft & squeaks beneath your toes & Lulla was just certain it was sugar until she gobbled up fistfuls of it. It is an absolutely breath taking stretch of beach & every morning the first words out of Jett's mouth were, "Can we go to the beach?!" We spent every single day in the sand, in the water, building castles, catching zzzz's & making new friends along this beach. Lots & lots of memories made here.

{The first couple of days on the beach, this kid was all business. He dug sand, moved sand, built roads,  dumped & loaded--one gigantic "construction site" was at his fingertips & he was a busy boy.}

{Twins. And two smiles that light up my life.}

{She tried so hard to stay awake at the beach. But the combination of wind, water & seagull chirps were too much for this girl to resist. Every single day on the beach, within a matter of minutes, this girl was knocked out & catching some beauty rest.}

{On the very last day, Jett asked to be buried in the sand. This shocked the bejeezus out of us. Jett is finicky & particular & not the bury-me-in-the-sand kind of kid. But he was a champ, giggling the entire time that Daddy piled handfuls on top of him.}

I couldn't have imagined a better place to spend our first summer vacation as a family of four. As I sit here & write, another trip is in the {very} preliminary planning stage. My hope is that this becomes a tradition & that Seaside becomes our spot for many, many years to come. I think it will be neat to see how the area changes & how our trips evolve as the kids get older. It is just such a magical place. You have to see it to believe it for yourself.

**If there's something I didn't include that you would like to know more about, just shoot me a comment! I'd love to keep this place as my own little secret, but if I can't do that, the least I can do is help you to have an amazing time like we did!**


  1. Awesome post! My husband is from Florida and I'm from Nebraska, I can't get enough of the beach. We vacation on Anna Maria Island every year, specifically Long Boat Key...amazing!

    1. Marissa, I am jealous of your husband--getting to grow up in Fl. would be a dream! I have heard of Long Boat Key! Perhaps we will have to give that location a try if we grow tired of Seaside!

  2. We have thought about taking a long road trip so this was encouraging that you survived with your kids! Love your swimsuit!

    1. Catie, it was soooo worth it! Let me know how it goes if you decide to do it! =)