An extended family trip to WaterColor, Florida

10 December 2021

The third time was most definitely the charm for our extended family trip to WaterColor, Florida! Originally scheduled for spring break 2020 (whomp whomp), we tentatively rescheduled for spring break 2021. When not everyone was comfortable with traveling and gathering at that point, we made a final move to the week of Labor Day 2021 and were SO HAPPY to settle our feet into the sugary sand of the Gulf Coast at long last! Here’s a little bit about our trip, if you’d like to see!

To begin, let me just say that Florida’s 30A, and WaterColor and Seaside specifically, is a straight-up magical place. WaterColor is a master-planned community and resort with gorgeous pastel homes, live oaks, and shady streets dotted with cruiser bikes and golf carts, a stone’s throw from the beach and the Seaside Center Square.

And it’s not just a pretty face – our stay felt as good as it looked. The vibe is sweet and slow, and everything seems built for connective experiences.

Because we were traveling with John’s extended family, we split the rental of a large home through a rental agency (pictured below!). We chose the house to sleep 16, but in the end we traveled with 12 when one sister and family wasn’t able to come (so sad!). I would highly recommend the home we stayed in – everything was comfortable and in great condition, the rental included a six-seater golf cart and bikes, and it was a 5-minute walk from Camp Watercolor, the main pool for kids. This made it easy to take multiple pool trips a day, which we did several times!

In fact, that’s how most of our days were spent – bopping between the pool (complete with lazy river, two waterslides, and a zero-entry pool), the beach (more about that in a sec), and the house, where we could spread out for meals and quiet hour across multiple porches and balconies. In between, we biked, golf-carted, and strolled around the idyllic streets, coastal paths, and town centers of Seaside and Watercolor. No detailed itinerary to share for this vacation :)

We stayed for five nights and barely scratched the surface of what Watercolor has to offer – we only visited one pool (of the six available with your rental!), we never did any water sports, and we didn’t visit any of the other beach communities along 30A. All the more reason to return :)

The main infinity pool at the Watercolor resort. We didn’t swim here but walked by on our way to the beach!

We did go out to eat dinner once, at the famous Bud & Alley’s, but I can’t say I recommend it… the food felt average and overpriced to me, and unless you’re on the roof deck, the atmosphere felt like a low-budget tent, ha. We did have lunch at Scratch Biscuit Kitchen, takeout pizza from Pizza Bar (also owned by Bud & Alley’s), and multiple fancy frozen chocolate bananas from Nigel’s, and all were delicious. Other than that, we mostly cooked at home – there’s a Publix right outside of the neighborhood, and the couples each took turns making dinner.

A major draw for this area, of course, is the beach, and the Gulf did not disappoint! The water was SO beautiful – clear and aqua, with truly sugary sand. For better or worse, however, it can be tricky to access for a beach day. If you’re a guest of the resort (including a rental home), you can be on the stretch in front of the Inn, but you cannot bring in your own chairs or umbrellas (they want you to rent from them, of course!). We thought the rental prices were a bit absurd, but we really needed to have shade with an infant, so we opted to set up in the tiny sliver of public beach sandwiched between private stretches.

And when I say tiny, I mean TINY – it was maybe 100 feet wide. Because of when we were visiting, this was totally fine – though the public sliver was more populated than the almost-empty resort stretches on either side, it didn’t feel crowded. And once you’re in the water, you can move about freely :) The kids loved splashing in the gentle waves and making sand castles, and we loved playing alongside them – aside from loving their company, it was SO nice to have grandparents around to hold Annie while we swam with the big kids. (The access we used was the Van Ness Butler Jr. Regional Beach Access!)

Speaking of our visit timing – we arrived on Labor Day Monday and immediately strolled through the Seaside Center Square to the beach, and it was QUITE busy. After that, however, it was not busy at all, and our weather was beautiful! Early September seemed like a great time to visit. This shot was from that first night – John with all the cousins :)

For someone like me, who counts among her main hobbies strolling through scenic neighborhoods, WaterColor is heaven – the cuteness factor is off the charts, with each house more charming than the last. We went on multiple scoots, walks, bike rides, and golf cart rides to admire the details up close (sometimes with scavenger hunts for extra fun!).

I visited WaterColor more than a decade before this trip, for my very first photo shoot for Southern Weddings, and it was as magical as I remembered. I’m so grateful I got to return with family! Because of course, though the scenery was sublime, the very best part was being together.

There are so many amazing places in the world, aren’t there? Thanks for letting me share a little bit about this one!

P.S. My friend Rhi has a much more comprehensive guide to Seaside on her blog, if you’re planning a trip!

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December 10, 2021 8:57 am

Gorgeous pictures and what a fun family trip! I can’t stand the beach access laws at the 30A beaches – it’s such a bummer since that sand and water is so incredible!

December 10, 2021 11:26 am

So dreamy! I can’t WAIT to go back!

December 10, 2021 2:10 pm

Absolutely breathtaking! So glad y’all were able to go!

December 14, 2021 1:23 pm

This was the sweetest recap! I’ve always heard 30A was beautiful, but living in Florida, it seems silly to allocate funds to travel to the beach when I live 10 minutes away from one, ha! After seeing these photos though, it’s definitely moving higher on my travel list.

October 22, 2023 11:59 pm

Im not sure what you had at bud n alleys but the crab cake, arugula salad, sweet potato fries, tuna dip, grouper, gumbo and both kinds of shrimp are all amazing and I crave them all year long! Also the chicken sandwich which I have never had everyone says is unbelievable. I only eat on the rooftop. But the food and view are amazing. It is pricey but every where down there is.