The Best Review of Seaside vs Watercolor, Florida

Are you planning a vacation to 30A and debating between Seaside & Watercolor? Great news- you’ve come to the right place. I’ve spent 15+ years vacationing on this scenic highway and am familiar with both spots. I’m excited to share my expertise and review Seaside vs. Watercolor, Florida.

Both beach towns are great options for your next family trip. They have some similarities but also unique traits that make them special and unique. Please follow along to determine which community best fits your family or vacation group.

Seaside

Seaside Beach Access

30A

30A is a picturesque scenic county road between Destin and Panama City Beach. Charming towns dot the county road, and many guests find their favorite community. Over the last 15 years, we’ve stayed all over 30A as I enjoy experiencing new areas. It is our favorite place for a beach vacation due to the beautiful white sand beaches, fresh seafood, and quaint towns.

Beach Supplies

Here’s a snapshot of some of my favorite beach supplies when traveling with kids. Click HERE to read my detailed list of what has worked famously for our family.

beautiful beaches of the Florida panhandle

Similarities

Although Seaside & Watercolor are separate communities, they have much in common. Truthfully, you really can’t go wrong with choosing either place for your next vacation. I wanted to share their commonalities.

  • Beach access
  • Local shops, restaurants & ice cream
  • Bike and golf cart-friendly 
  • Resort pools & tennis courts are available for guests
  • Walkable 
  • Quick access to a grocery store, Publix
  • Vacation rentals are available in various sizes 
  • Access to golf courses 
  • Close to Grayton Beach State Park & Point Washington State Forest
  • Both have Back entrances if traffic on 30A is terrible.

🏖️Click HERE to read my guide on the best vacation rentals in 30A for families.🏖️

Watercolor

Watercolor is a picturesque town and an excellent place for a beach vacation. For years, we explored the Watercolor Community’s shops, restaurants, and walking trails. Recently, we returned from a family vacation here with my sister, parents, and kids. It was everything I had hoped for and more.

The crown jewel is the Watercolor Beach Club, which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and has three pools. Guests are greeted with complimentary towels as they enter the club and can order food & drinks while lounging at the pool. There’s also private beach access from the pool deck.

Watercolor Beach Club

one of the 3 pools at the Beach Club

In addition, guests can choose between three smaller pools and another large complex, Camp Watercolor. My kids loved Camp Watercolor for their lazy river and water slides. It was also less crowded than the Beach Club. Outside of the camp, there’s a playground and a basketball court.

I just wanted to let you know that Watercolor also offers several private beach access points, and you can arrange for beach chairs and an umbrella. Some rentals come with beach toys, a wagon, and beach chairs, so check while you search for your next vacation rental.

Watercolor Community

One of my favorite aspects of the community is the numerous nature trails ideal for a bike ride or walk. My older kids had the best time exploring a new trail each day. The property is serene, gorgeous, and the perfect place for a beach retreat.

Perks of Watercolor

  • Two massive pool complexes plus three smaller pools
  • Kayak and paddle board rentals on Western Lake
  • Fitness options
  • Biking & walking trails
  • Easy access to Seaside without having the mess with parking (can walk or bike)
  • Ability to order food & drink at two of the pool areas
  • Complimentary towels
  • There is less traffic & visitors than on Seaside. 
Camp Watercolor lazy river

lazy river at Camp Watercolor

Downsides to Watercolor

  • The community is massive, and some homes are very far from the beach
  • Beach Club and Camp Watercolor can be extremely crowded in peak season
  • Less parking compared to Seaside 
  • Fewer dining options than on Seaside

Tips for Watercolor

  • book early for the best availability
  • Aim for a vacation rental within walking or biking distance to the beach
  • Look for rentals that come with beach toys and chairs
  • Don’t lose the access wristbands as there’s a replacement fee

🏖️🏖️Book the Watercolor Inn or a condo within a short walk to the beach.🏖️🏖️

Seaside

Seaside

The town of Seaside is a master-planned community in the center of 3oA. Pastel and white homes dot the landscape as the community is centered around Seaside. You’ll experience the small-town feel.

In the town center, guests can browse local shops and restaurants, including food trucks, ice cream, casual places, and fine dining. Great Southern Cafe and Bud & Alley’s are popular choices for guests, but try to secure a reservation. 

As for the shops, many guests can’t help but purchase an iconic Seaside tee shirt or sweatshirt. In the suburbs of Atlanta- it is almost a rite of passage. The town also offers darling kids’ stores, a bookstore, and a charming grocery store, the Modica Market. Remember to snap a picture of the cutest post office you’ll ever see. 

Seaside's adorable Post Office

Seaside’s Post Office

Seaside also boasts an outdoor amphitheater, a favorite spot for children to run around. Many beach access points are private; however, a few are open to the public, including one in the heart of town.

Perks of Seaside

  • Abundant dining options ranging from casual to fresh seafood
  • Family-friendly 
  • Clean
  • Adorable
  • community pools
  • Close to other communities like Seagrove & Watercolor

Downsides to Seaside

  • It can be pricey, especially in high season.
  • CROWDS!! During Spring break and summer, Seaside is packed with guests. Finding a parking spot can be challenging, and so many kids are riding bikes, so you must stay alert!
  • Compared to the other communities, there’s a daily influx of visitors from other beach towns to shop & eat in Seaside. If you want a quiet town feel, it may be challenging to experience this if you stay near the town center. 
Seaside beach front homes

Click HERE to read my fantastic guide on planning a vacation to 30A on a budget.

Tips for Seaside 

  • Book a rental near the beach or develop a game plan to reach the beach easily.
  • If you prefer to avoid crowds, stay away from the town center.
  • rent bikes to avoid the parking trouble
  • Book early for the best availability.
  • If it is out of your price range, consider going in the off-season or looking at last-minute rentals. Some rentals drop their prices significantly at the last minute. Or consider sharing a rental with friends or family.

🏖️Want to check out some of the other beaches on 30A? Check out my guide on the best beaches on 30A. 🏖️

Public beach access in the town of seaside

My final review: Seaside vs. Watercolor, Florida

Seaside

  • large town center with shops & restaurants
  • lively town center
  • more dining options than Watercolor
  • 3 pools
  • private & public beach access
  • Farmer’s Market every Tuesday & Saturday

Watercolor

  • Watercolor Inn
  • large neighborhood with great vacation rental options
  • quieter than Seaside (less tourists)
  • 2 large swimming complexes plus 3 smaller pools
  • nature trails for walking & biking
  • kayak and paddle board rentals

Both communities are beautiful. Seaside tends to be more popular, but honestly, I love the quietness of Watercolor. If I had to choose, it would be Watercolor in a heartbeat. I love the nature trails, upscale amenities, and serene atmosphere.

I also love that it isn’t as crowded as Seaside. Plus, you can stay in Watercolor and easily walk to Seaside, so it is the best of both worlds. You have the amazing resort feel and easy access to the shops and restaurants of Seaside without dealing with the parking hassle.

nature trails

views on Watercolor’s Nature Trails

FAQ: Visiting Seaside & Watercolor

🏖️🏖️What’s the best route to this region?

If you live in the Southeast, driving may be the easiest. Without traffic, it’s about six hours from our home in the Atlanta suburbs. If you prefer flying, Panama City Beach has a wonderful airport only 45 minutes from Watercolor/Seaside. My family members have used it several times with ease.

Seaside Beach

Public beach access in Seaside

🏖️🏖️What are the best restaurants in the area?

30A boasts fresh seafood all year long and delicious brunch options. Our favorites are The Bay, Great Southern Cafe, Old Florida Fish House, and Fish Out of Water.

🏖️🏖️What is the best time to visit?

Many visitors flock to the beach during the peak season of Spring Break or summer. Our family prefers the shoulder season of fall due to low crowds but great weather. The ocean is still very warm, and yet we aren’t inundated with crowds.

Recently, we visited in the winter months and loved that time too because it was so relaxing and some communities had heated pools. Christmas is also magical. All seasons have their perks.

In Conclusion: The best review of Seaside vs. Watercolor, Florida

I hope my review of Seaside vs. Watercolor, Florida, helped you pick your next beach destination. Either way, you will have a fantastic time. If you are torn between the two, stay in one town this year and plan for a return trip to the other community.

30A Resources
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