Seaside was the first and most famous of the planned communities that sprouted in South Walton County in the 1980s (www.sowal.com). If you only know it as the film set of the The Truman Show, youll be happily surprised. From nothing but palmettos and sand, weve raised a generation of artists and appreciators, says Eileen West, whose gallery of outsider art anchors Seasides Ruskin Place (www.eileenwestgallery.net). What should you do here? Grab a rental on the beach. The sand looks like snow, the waters emerald and deep blue, and we have these dune lakes that are geologically exquisite. Grayton Beach is the local mecca for bonfires and families. The Red Bar there: An institution. By day its a beach bar. At night, big bands play butt-rockin music in the back room (www.theredbar.com). Some of that music is performed by Wests husband, Franko Washboard Jackson. Recently the couple helped kick off the first 30A Songwriters Festival with more than 75 regional bands playing up and down the strip. The area is relatively new to the outside world and its beach towns are still inventing themselves. Its a work in progress, says West. Start with tabula rasa and build what you want.
Patricia Borns can be reached at email@example.com.