Day 1 – We arrived in 30A
Our journey to Seacrest Beach began with our arrival in Panama City, jumped in our rental car which we named “Ron Jon”. Our drive to Seacrest was 30 minutes, as we made our way to the Waterhouse condo, centrally located between Rosemary and Seaside, it’s a spacious and inviting 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom condo, complete with views of the beach just outside our long balcony.
Eager to start our adventure, we decided to kick off our first evening with dinner at the Old Florida Fish House, I enjoyed the Grouper Fish House and shared the Caribbean Breeze Roll with Mindee, it was crazy good. Mindee gave the oysters two thumbs up, we all took her word for it, and the wedge salad didn’t disappoint.
Once we had comfortably settled into our condo, we couldn’t resist catching a glimpse of the setting sun. I must say, I love the condo’s location – it’s just a stone’s throw away from the beach entrance, making it incredibly convenient. We embarked on a brief beachside stroll, seizing the opportunity to snap some photos as the sky transformed into a breathtaking canvas. Day 1 of our adventure was off to a fantastic start.
Day 2 – A Perfect Day at the Beach
Breakfast proved to be a crowd-pleaser, featuring a simple yet delicious combination of vanilla yogurt, fresh berries, and crunchy grapenuts. One of the things we quickly discovered about the 30A highway is its bike-friendly nature, with the charming beach towns conveniently nestled close to one another, making it a breeze to pedal from one town to the next. Our condo thoughtfully provided two complimentary bikes, and we decided to rent two more from Vacazen, a rental service that truly impressed us with their exceptional service. However, we had an amusing little hiccup in our plans – for some inexplicable reason, we couldn’t quite figure out the bike locks and ended up opting for a leisurely walk instead. It wasn’t until later that we realized we had the bike locks backwards, leading to a laughable moment.
We made great use of the beach chair setup service through Royal Destinations, two chairs and one umbrealla is also included in the condo rental so we added an additional set. Each morning, like clockwork, by 9 am, our chairs and umbrellas were set up, ready for us to enjoy. The weather was wonderfully warm, and the ocean water was an inviting 88+ degrees. To our pleasant surprise, both the beach and the towns were incredibly peaceful and quiet during our visit. The locals had informed us that the last three weeks of August tend to be a tranquil period, and we wholeheartedly agreed. Unlike the usual scenario where diners often face a 2+ hour wait for a table, we had no trouble strolling into restaurants and being seated immediately. It was clear that we had timed our trip to perfection.
We were all eagerly anticipating our dinner at George’s , given its stellar recommendations. As soon as they opened, we were the first to arrive and couldn’t help but notice a group of young individuals, no older than 20, who seemed rather overdressed. After being seated in the main dining area for just five minutes, they promptly left the restaurant. It seemed they weren’t quite pleased with the menu, judging by the server’s response. We shared a hearty laugh about it, and to our amusement, one of the managers came over to our table, advising us to keep the noise level down. We all burst into laughter once more.
The entire evening, from the service to the food, left an impression on all of us. We kicked off our culinary journey with the whipped feta, which was simply out of this world. The Orchard salad, featuring apples, fennel, spring mix, pecan granola, manchego, and apple cider vinaigrette, disappeared in no time as we relished every bite. Each of us thoroughly enjoyed our main courses, but Amy, in particular, still can’t stop raving about the Spicy Salt and Pepper Shrimp – a dish that continues to haunt her dreams to this day.
Since it was still early, we decided to take a short drive down the street to Rosemary Beach, where we managed to squeeze in a quick visit to some of the charming shops in the square before they closed up for the day. As we strolled past the sidewalk tables where people were seated, Mindee’s keen eye immediately caught sight of Kristian Stanfill. As we walked past them we wren’t sure who he was so she began singing the lyrics to one of his songs, and we all recognized him instantly.
Intrigued by the condo’s rooftop pool, Linda and I decided to make the most of the beautiful evening. We relished in the breathtaking view and the inviting warm water, capping off Day 2 in the most perfect way.
Day 3 – Lets Celebrate 46!
Enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee with a beachfront view and a light breeze has its own unique charm. We spent the next hour chatting and relishing the magnificent view on our balcony. Amid our delightful morning, we couldn’t help but hear whispers of Hurricane Idalia brewing in the Gulf, its projected path narrowly skirting our location. Curiously, none of the locals appeared too concerned, but we kept a watchful eye on the weather updates. Our beach excursion didn’t disappoint, as we enjoyed a leisurely walk and were treated to an abundance of dolphin activity in the distance. In fact, we shared a lighthearted moment when it seemed like a playful dolphin might be heading straight for Mindee.
Our dinner plans took us to the rooftop restaurant at Pescados in Rosemary Beach, where we had made reservations. Once again, the service continued to exceed our expectations, just as it had at every other place we had visited on this trip. Tonight was certainly no different. Our meals left us all thoroughly impressed, especially the exceptional seafood dishes. The combination of blue crab and the catch of the day was simply outstanding, making it a perfect choice to celebrate Amy’s 46th birthday.
Day 4 – A Memorable Breakfast at Raw & Juicy
Hurricane Idalia made landfall around 6 am, but to our surprise, as we peered out from our balcony, we were greeted by two rainbows, and there seemed to be no immediate signs of the storm’s impact. Mindee had already flown back home, so it was just Linda, Amy, and I left to explore. We decided to give Raw and Juicy a try for breakfast, and it turned out to be an absolute delight! I indulged in a comforting chai tea latte and relished the “Freshy” – a combination of almond butter, apples, berries, pecans, and local honey on sourdough. Amy and Linda opted for the egg & cheese biscuit, featuring egg and white cheddar cheese, all served in a housemade vegan buttermilk biscuit accompanied by a side of greens.
We knew we were only going to get a few hours of sun in as a cold front was moving in, so we took advantage of the incredible sky and green water color and snapped a few shots before making a run for cover. We made it just in time before the sky opened up.
An afternoon at Seaside, Dinner at La Creme
As soon as the rain began to fall, we hopped into the car and set off for Seaside to enjoy a leisurely lunch and a bit of shopping. Our destination was The Great Southern, and when we arrived, we were pleased to find that there was no wait for a table on their outdoor patio. Known for their exceptional mojitos, I couldn’t resist trying the Grapefruit Mojito, which turned out to be refreshing. The Caprese salad we ordered was a true standout, perhaps one of the best I’ve ever had. Amy and Linda opted for a burger and the delectable Great Southern dip sandwich.
Later in the evening, we made our way to Rosemary Beach for dinner and stumbled upon La Creme, a cozy tapas restaurant. The intimate setting welcomed us with open arms, seating us at the very first table as we walked in. Perusing the menu, we found it difficult to choose from the plethora of options. Ultimately, we settled on the country paellas, featuring chicken, serrano ham, red onion, peppers, chorizo, and saffron rice. Additionally, we savored crab cakes, steak tostadas, and a heavenly hot chocolate molten cake accompanied by salted caramel ice cream. It was truly a delectable dining experience.
Day 5 – A dinner at Blue Madel that made a big impression
Upon waking up, our minds were immediately fixated on one thing: returning to Raw and Juicy. While contemplating the menu options, my attention was particularly drawn to the strawberry French toast, and when it was placed before me, I was taken aback by the generous portion size. Nonetheless, I somehow managed to savor every bite, and it was delicious. While eating on the patio we met a woman who drove in from Atlanta to check on her house due to the hurricane. She was so nice and gave us a couple ideas for dinner. As we were leaving and got in the car we swore we saw Kristian Stanfill and his wife enjoying breakfast at Raw and Juicy. We laughed and contemplated about turning one his songs on the radio, rolling the windows down and sing at the top of our lungs, but we didn’t.
The morning was dedicated to strolling through shops, in search of the perfect beach hat. With the assistance of a helpful retail associate, I managed to locate the exact hat I had been eyeing online. We then headed back to Seaside for lunch on the boardwalk and a fried pickle burger sounded tempting, however I was unimpressed with the $25 price tag.
Since we didn’t opt for beach chair service, we happily enjoyed our time at the rooftop pool until an unexpected rain shower forced us to retreat. Fortunately, we had the entire place to ourselves, which was a pleasant surprise. Our exploration continued with a 20-minute drive west to Blue Mabel, a restaurant frequently recommended by locals. It soon became one of my top dining experiences. The server was warm and welcoming, and the food was nothing short of exceptional. Our meal consisted of smokehouse nachos, wedge salad, flavorful smokehouse gumbo, succulent shrimp and grits, wood-fired Gulf fish, and a delectable carrot cake to finish off the evening.
Day 6 – Donut Hole for Breakfast was a WIN
Our check-out time was scheduled for 10 am, and as we made our way to the airport, we decided to indulge in a leisurely breakfast at the Donut Hole, a highly recommended establishment. The decision was unanimous, and as we sat down, we were greeted by a friendly server who offered valuable recommendations. Her enthusiastic endorsement of the cinnamon raisin bread proved to be spot-on; it was the best I’ve ever tasted. The donuts were equally impressive, the bacon was off the charts and the portion sizes were astonishingly generous.
Following our satisfying breakfast, we found ourselves with a spare 1.5 hours before our airport departure. We took a casual stroll through the Inlet shops, and in one of them, we had the pleasure of meeting the store owner and his adorable Chihuahua named “Louis.” She was an absolute delight.
Although bidding farewell to this beautiful place was bittersweet, I’m grateful to have discovered a new beach destination. To 30A, I can confidently say, “I will be back!”