Help us plan our trip to Watercolor, Atlanta, and Greenville!

27 February 2020

And now, for something a little bit lighter :) Let’s do some dreaming about spring break and warmer weather! We’ve never taken an official spring break trip since having kiddos, but when the opportunity arose to head to Florida with the whole Thomas crew, we jumped on it. We’ll be staying in a big house in Watercolor (with the cutest bunk room!), and I can’t wait!

I’ve been to the 30A area once before – almost a decade ago, for a very early Southern Weddings photo shoot – and remember just being absolutely delighted by it. The communities (Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach) are picture-perfect in every way, and I think June and her cousins will have the best time (as will their parents and grandparents!).

A drawback to the Seaside area is that there’s no direct airport to fly into – Destin and Pensacola are both small and still an hour or more away from our final destination. So, we’re adding to the adventure and road tripping! Our Florida rental is from Monday through Saturday. On the front end, we’ll spend Saturday and Sunday night in Atlanta. On the way home, we’ll stop overnight in Greenville, SC.

Even for people who love travel planning, this is a lot to plan! So, we’d love your help. Have you been to any of our destinations? Have any recommendations for us? We’d love to hear from you in the comments! :)

Photo by Jami Ray

For my part, I’m focusing on something hard to define but important. It was born out of our trip to Nashville last spring, which was delightful because we got to visit my sister but also unsettling in some ways. We did our research on restaurants and activities as usual, but fell into two traps that I’m hoping to avoid for this trip.

First, I’d like to go deep instead of wide. In Nashville, it felt like we spent a lot of time driving from location to location to hit all of the spots we wanted to. In Atlanta, it would be easy to do the same, and find ourselves criss-crossing the city checking off “must visits.” Instead, I’d love to just pick a neighborhood, park ourselves there for the day, and leisurely walk from a breakfast spot to a park to an activity to lunch and back to our Airbnb. I’d like to feel more like a local, I guess! This is how our time in Paris felt, and we loved it.

Second, I would like to steer clear of “influencer hot spots,” if you will. I’m not opposed to popular spots, or ones with nice aesthetics, but what I want to avoid is places that look great but don’t actually serve good food (or do whatever it is they’re supposed to do well). We had this unfortunate experience with Five Daughters Bakery in Nashville, which appears to have been designed for Instagram (and is super cute!) but didn’t actually serve good donuts, in my opinion. Has this ever happened to you?

From our Outer Banks trip last year

In exchange for your recommendations, I thought I’d pass along a few spring break picks I’ve been eyeing. I might pick up one or two of them, but more likely I’ll use them as inspiration as I’m cruising the aisles of my favorite consignment sale in a few weeks :)

For Shep:
— Chambray stripe slip-on sneaks
— Classic yellow rain slicker
— Classic striped tee
— Vintage sailboat tee
— Sky blue slim-fit pants
— Striped henley
— Seersucker sun hat
— Navy striped rash guard suit
— Color-blocked sunglasses
Salt Waters, always and forever

For June:
— Bright pink pointelle cardigan
— Sweetest fruit-print crop leggings
— Eyelet ruffle dress in pink or yellow
Stripes and chambray dress
Blue checked top with flutter sleeves
— Happy striped rash guard top (we have this!)
— Pink pom pom dress (matches mama’s!)
— Leopard print swing dress
— Button-front chambray dress
Salt Waters, always and forever

For Em:
— Pretty coral and white floral dress
— Pleated satin skirt (I have this in the pink and love, love, love it!)
— Seriously debating this swim suit for me and this matching number for June… much more than I’d usually spend for her but how many years do I have when she’ll want to match with me? :)
— This is also such a fun pattern for a swim suit
— Love the style of this suit but not sure which colorway I’d go for – I guess navy and white?)
Tennis dress
— Pink pom pom tunic (Boden’s tunics are the absolute best!) – or in a tee if that’s more your style
— Contrast piping t-shirt dress (I like the red/blue colorway)
— Chambray midi skirt

Thanks in advance for your insight, friends! Come back tomorrow for something fun :)

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February 27, 2020 7:55 am

Sounds like it’ll be a great trip!!
I’ve lived in Greenville for almost 2 years now and I could recommend so many things! Top choice for “deep, not wide”: go for a nice long family walk on the Swamp Rabbit Trail and stop at Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery for a meal or snack – ideally, breakfast, as their special stecca bread cannot be missed! (It’s like a baguette, but with sea salt crystals embedded in the crust. We get it at least once a week!!) I could make sooo many more recs, but this is my #1 for sure. Enjoy!

Judy Frontin
February 27, 2020 9:51 am

Oooh, I went to high school in Greenville – what a fun question! I’ll second the swap rabbit trail & swamp rabbit cafe. If y’all are only there for an evening, probably not the time to rent bikes, but it’s a great ride out past Furman and back from downtown, if the opportunity ever presents itself.

My best off-the-beaten-path recommendation: I looove pita house (, and try to go every time I’m back to visit my parents. It’s cash only, no frills, and the best falafel I’ve ever eaten, with magical smooth hummus and garlicy, smokey baba ganoush. There’s a grocery store attached, and it’s just a great family-owned place. I see in your last weekend trip to Greenville you went to Lazy Goat, which is another favorite.

February 27, 2020 10:08 am

Hi Em! This sounds like such a fun trip!! I’d love to go back to the 30A area sometime, too! So beautiful there! As for tips, I can only speak for Atlanta, since I’ve never been to Greenville (it is on our bucket list, too though! So I’ll read through the comments and take notes ;-)). We’ve been to Atlanta a few times, but our most recent trip was our favorite! And I think it’s exactly for the reason you mentioned. Deep instead of wide. Our AirBnb was in the perfect location! You might already have one booked, but this is the one we stayed at:
It felt like a very cute neighborhood with lots to do. The best thing: it’s an easy walk to the Beltline which is great for walking/biking and has tons of great restaurant options and parks. We walked to Krog Street Market several times during our stay and had great Italian pizza, Falafel sandwiches, Croissants and other delicious baked goods from a French bakery and, of course, Jeni’s ice cream!
Not sure how much time you’ll have for other activities, but we always love going to the Atlanta Zoo which is conveniently located in Grant Park. They have a nice playground there where you meet lots of locals and there are several café options around the park within easy walking distance.
We finally went to the Aquarium on our last trip and it lived up to our expectations! Definitely worth a visit, I’d say.
Then, maybe not exactly Instagrammable, but delicious: Daddy D’s BBQ. We went there on every Atlanta trip so far, ha!
Hope this helps! As I said, I’m looking forward to reading through all the comments :-)
Happy planning, friend!

February 27, 2020 10:14 am

My favorite neighborhood in Atlanta is Virginia Highlands (home to the ATL location of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit), and it’s so cute and walkable. But honestly when we visit my in-laws we stay in Buckhead (not very walkable, requires more driving) so I feel like I know a lot more restaurants there and we end up driving all over the city anyways! But I would definitely still look into Virginia Highlands–so many beautiful bungalows to peruse!

February 27, 2020 12:01 pm

This isn’t a recommendation you asked for, but I feel like you and I have similar taste in kids’ clothes–have you ever checked out Marks & Spencer USA? They have stuff that feels similar to Gap/Boden to me, but is often way more affordable! This sounds like an amazing trip–can’t wait to hear how it goes!

February 27, 2020 12:16 pm

Hi Em! I went to Seaside growing up with my family and cousins and absolutely loved it! One of my favorite parts was walking everywhere and as I got older being allowed to ride to the beach or store with my cousins on bikes! I think you’d enjoy Sundog Books and Monica Market for breakfast we always did both once or twice a trip and the coming back every year made the memories all the richer! If you haven’t watched it already The Truman Show might be fun for building anticipation of the area and shows off the town of Seaside! Maybe mail postcards home from the cute post office? June and Shep could draw pictures for each other or themselves and it would be fun to check the mail when y’all get back?

February 27, 2020 2:08 pm

We live in Charleston, but have tons of friends that live in the Greenville area. We loves the Falls Park area of downtown Greenville – beautiful upstate South Carolina setting in the middle of downtown, so lots to walk to and see. Spill the Beans is at the top of Falls Park – a yummy ice cream & coffee shop!

February 27, 2020 2:24 pm

Chiming in from Atlanta, here, and the previous advice from Kerstin is spot on. Reynoldstown (where her linked AirBnB is located) is a great little “pocket” neighborhood in town. There are a lot of pocket neighborhoods – Old Fourth Ward, Grant Park, Inman Park, Ormewood, Edgewood, Kirkwood, etc. – with great AirBnB’s, but I would say you definitely want to be Beltline-Adjacent. In fact, if a tour of the Beltline is in your budget and you have time for it, it could be really interesting. Lots of history. Aside from a Beltline tour, though, there is just a ton happening around the Beltline. Krog Street Market, as mentioned, is fantastic, and Ponce City Market is incredible, too (both on the Beltline). PCM has a fun rooftop experience that the kiddos might like. There are a lot of cute, neighborhood parks around, but even if you just go to Piedmont Park – the biggest in terms of acreage – with a blanket and a frisbee, you’ll have a blast. Piedmont Park is enormous, and you could do Atlanta Botanical Gardens, too, which is on the Park (ABG’s kids’ area is cute, too – we have a membership and my dude, who is just about June’s age, loves it).

(Sidenote: if you are members at any organizations/museums like a botanical garden or zoo or whatever where you live, check for reciprocity at Atlanta’s similar organizations. A lot of times, you can get into these types of attractions free with a reciprocal membership.)

One fun thing to do that’s free and filled with history (or, it doesn’t have to be if you don’t want it to be, I guess), is to spend a few hours at the beautiful Historic Oakland Cemetery, assuming you have a nice day. Yes, it’s a cemetery, but… it’s a gorgeous, park-like greenspace with walking trails and places to sit on a blanket. The trees and flowers there are so lovely! Something that might be fun for the kids there: get a book about symbolism at Oakland Cemetery from the gift shop, and go on a little treasure hunt to find headstones/burial sites that have the various symbols (a laurel wreath, angels in various positions, five-pointed stars, rosemary bushes, etc.). Or, you could get a scavenger hunt book from Clue Town (! I’ve done this with my hubby, and it’s super fun, but might be too advanced for kiddos).

So… I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, and of course that isn’t my goal, but I feel like I need to add: although I don’t find Atlanta to be particularly dangerous, please keep in mind that all the areas I’m talking about here are definitely in-town areas, and as with many inner city areas – or really ANYwhere – it is possible that you may see some unsavory characters lurking around, or seedy things happening at any of these public spaces. Again, though, I’ve never had a problem or felt unsafe with my little boy. One time decades ago, I did get flashed on MARTA (our rapid transit system) – HA! – but as my roommate at the time told me, “You’re not supposed to TALK to people on MARTA!”. We chalked that up to my Appalachian naivety! :) Truly, it’s fine. Atlanta is a beautiful, green, vibrant city, filled with history and culture! I love it so much, and I hope you’ll share what you end up doing during your visit!

February 28, 2020 7:51 am

I’ll just second everything EZ said. I’m an Atlanta native and her advice is spot on. Hope you enjoy our city and since you’re so close, know that you don’t have to check every single thing off your list this trip! Sounds like a wonderful spring break!

February 28, 2020 9:17 am
Reply to  RachelC

Ok a couple more thoughts – if I was picking just one attraction to visit, it would be the botanical gardens. They are lovely but the best part is their children’s garden. My kids absolutely love exploring there and it’s my favorite too. We’ll usually grab lunch on the patio of the restaurant inside and make a half day of it. I have a couple guest passes that I’m happy to share if you don’t have a membership that offers reciprocal benefits. I would likely stay toward Virginia Highlands in something that’s walkable to the Beltline. And I’ve found that most of the restaurants in that area (Ponce City Market, Krog St, and along the Beltline actually live up to their hype! You’ll also find that while this area is young and cool, there are tons of families around. If you end up on Reynoldstown (one of my fav neighborhoods!), you’ll be closer to the zoo and Oakland Cemetery which are both wonderful.

February 28, 2020 12:02 pm

I sent this in text form to you already but I am here to share alllllll of the Seaside / 30A information with you because it’s our family’s most treasured spot. More importantly though, is where will you be making your trip there? Do we overlap? Say yes!

February 28, 2020 4:42 pm

That sounds like such a fun trip! My husband and I moved to Greenville, SC, from Atlanta almost five years ago and LOVE it. I’d recommend staying close to downtown so you can walk most places. I also agree with the recommendations for Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery — it’s one of the reasons I fell in love with Greenville in the first place. I think exploring Falls Park, the Upstate Children’s Museum and the Swamp Rabbit Trail (walking or biking) would all make for fun activities for your family. As far as restaurants go, there are lots of good places downtown, but my favorite restaurant right now is Kitchen Sync (about a 10-minute drive from downtown). They are Green-Certified, have delicious food and have wonderful service. Enjoy!

February 28, 2020 4:45 pm
Reply to  Brittney

Also, if it’s still open when you arrive, Meredith Piper’s art studio is worth a visit — I love her work, she’s so nice and the studio is located right at Falls Park.

Caitlin Lucas
February 29, 2020 1:24 pm

I’ve from Greenville and have lived here my whole life minus college and a few years after! Would really love to help you! We have 3 young’s kids and there are so many fun and family friendly things to do. Do you think y’all will stay downtown? Shoot me an email if you’d like!

February 29, 2020 6:32 pm

I don’t have any recommendations since I’ve only ever been to Atlanta (and most often with you, haha!), but this trip sounds so fun!! I am vying hard for an Olson family trip to Rosemary Beach someday, since it’s halfway-ish between my parents’ house and ours. Will be eagerly awaiting your recaps and may send them to my parents for inspiration :)

March 1, 2020 8:55 am

You’ll definitely want to stay near the Beltline! My favorite part of the Beltline runs between Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market. Both PCM and Krog have cute shops and amazing food. They food halls of Krog and PCM have a mix of food stalls and table service restaurants (at PCM some vendors have both options). There is also plenty of parking at PCM which makes it a great starting point for a day of exploring. Along the Beltline there are cute little parks, public art installations and plenty of room for little ones to explore. Bike rentals are also available but I’m not sure if they have child seats available. I also second the Botanical Garden.

March 2, 2020 12:38 pm

I live in Panama City, and 30A is about a 30ish minute drive from my house. I LOVE Watercolor — it’s my favorite of all the stops along 30A. There are amazing trails to walk/bike with beautiful stops and views along the way. One thought on the airport — Panama City’s airport is only about a 15-20 min drive from 30A. Watercolor is a long drive down 30A, so, once you factor in the drive down the road, it’s maybe 30-40 min from the airport — but it’s probably your closest option. Not a huge airport, but it’s practically brand new, and, from what I hear, not too shabby. Have fun — it’s beautiful here!

Megan Harrington
March 9, 2020 12:54 pm

Just seeing this, but I think you guys should totally forego Greenville and come to Cola for a visit and free stay at the Harrington B&B!!