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By the Beautiful Sea

Want an escape? A trip to a paradise by the beautiful sea? Then come with me to Seaside, an idyllic planned community located on Florida's panhandle, beside one of the most beautiful beaches on earth. It is a place for dreams, romance, fun, and relaxation. If you think you are in a movie set, you aren't wrong; for Seaside first became famous when it was chosen for the set of the movie 'The Truman Show', released in 1998.

Earlier this week I returned from a visit to Seaside, and I have been reliving the experience, going through over 200 photos I shot over my four days there. We stayed in a delightful cottage named Natchez House, and it was only a short walk to the beach. The weather was cold, but the charming architecture more than compensated for that. Natchez House is shown in the first photo below:

Most of the cottages are vacation rentals, but there are some year round residents. Below is the community school and the interfaith chapel, where we attended church on Sunday:

Except for some common areas in the town center, there are no lawns in Seaside. All plantings are native vegetation. Among them are live oak, yaupon holly, coco palms, and loblolly pines. Also included are non-poisonous sumac, pampas grass, creeping fig, and, of course, sea oats. The orange fruit on the bush in the second row below are kumquats. Tasty! There was one tree I couldn't identify. It is shown in the last two photos. It reminds me of a sweet gum, but the balls aren't prickly. Could it be an osage orange tree?

(Follow-up note: Thanks to my fellow garden blogger, Floridagirl, who has identified the mystery tree for me. It is the American Sycamore!)

Of course, there would be no Seaside without the beach! Even in winter, the beach is extraordinary. White sands like this come from quartz and can be found in only a few locations around the world:

The sea was calm, and I did not see any evidence of last year's Gulf oil spill. I was amazed by a group of ducks paddling in the salt water, something I have never seen. I think the duck I saw is the Common Merganser, also called Saltwater Fish Duck and Sawbill Duck. Probably they are attracted by the marshes of nearby Topsail Hill State Preserve and Grayton Beach State Park. I also saw the more usual sandpipers. The photo of bird tracks in the following group shows the prints of both the mergansers and the sandpipers, together in the sand:

Every main street in Seaside has access to the beach through a pavilion, and each one is unique. I must have taken thirty shots of the Natchez Pavilion before I captured the following image at sunset. The beaches along the Gulf coast are famous for their sunsets:Such was the perfect ending. Pleasant dreams to you all!   Deborah

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Reader Comments (20)

How very beautiful Deb! I really must get to the beach some day!

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEve

We vacation in Seaside too!!! Your photos make me want to run pack :) Thanks for sharing!!

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFiddlewood Garden

This is exactly why I like to read blogs. Your images are beautiful, but mostly you took me to a warm place I can only visit via blogging. And I LOVE the architecture, thanks for including it.

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I agree with Donna above. I read bogs to visit other places and gardens, and the multitude of beautiful photos here took me to Seaside in a real and tangible way. I felt as if I was there. Enjoyed it thoroughly!

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

Big sigh.... How beautiful! I love the white sand! It is cold and dreary here so for the rest of the day I'm going to imagine I'm in Seaside!! Thanks for the micro-vacation!

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

looks like you had a lovely break Deb, I've never seen anything like the tree you don't know, those balls hanging from bits of string, it looks amazing, thank you for introducing me to plants I never knew before, Frances

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFrances

Dear Deborah, What a totally idyllic place. I am sure that you came away envigorated by the experience but I am certain that it would have been terribly difficult to tear yourself away from such a lovely place. The sea holds endless fascinations for me as it constantly changes and yet is so calming. Coupled with the white sand.....this is a fantasy!!

A belated but warmly sent Happy New Year!!

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEdith Hope

Ahhhhh ... I leave for Puerto Vallarta on Monday. Cannot wait. This Seaside looks truly beautiful – I LOVE LOVE LOVE that there are no lawns! Looks like a Merganser to me ... I saw one New Year's Day at our local state park here in NY – what a wide range! So enjoyed stopping here!

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthevioletfern

What beautiful photos!

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGinny

A beautiful place! I love the church. Your photographs are amazing, and really capture the beauty of the sun sparkling on the water and the hypnotizing nature of the sea.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Bay

PS Osage Orange has fruits that are large, about softball size, and as I recall do not have such long stems. We had a female tree at the back of our yard in PA.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Bay

So nice! It remind me so much of my country I am sure you had a good time.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfer

Deb, Wonderful post! I had read about this community years ago and then forgot all about it . . . till now. It sure looks idyllic! I glad to see there is no signs of oil damage.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

Such beautiful scenes at the beach and also I love the great looking cottages there. What nice holidays you have there!

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterp3chandan

Wow! Those photos are gorgeous! (I can see your very effective use of the ROT.) ; ) I especially love that shot of the pavilion at sunset. Wow! Could your mystery tree be an American Sycamore? You could tell for sure from the trunk. It would be peeling or mottled in color.

I loved that movie! How cool to visit the town where it was filmed!

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFloridagirl

*sigh*, I was sorry to reach the end of that post, I was transported, away from cold and grey. Lovely.

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet/Plantaliscious

I love Seaside! We attended a wedding there a few years ago, it was quite an occasion. Upon entering Seaside, the atmosphere lends itself to leaving your cares behind and just enjoy what is around you, classic beauty and the people around you. The house of worship is something to see. I love your pictures of it. Great post!

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Awesome.... (more please!)

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShyrlene

Thanks for the virtual escape to a sunny, warm beach ... a welcome diversion from winter-worn Connecticut. I love snow, and this winter has offered plenty of love, but I also love beaches and this one looks fantastic.

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjoene

I was just reading back through all your old blog posts today Deborah and I'm so glad I did, these photos are simply stunning! Trying to choose which one to use as my new desktop wall paper :)

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