The stubborn chill of March in Washington, D.C. has me daydreaming about taking a break to search for spring. I happen to know about a sugary sand oasis in Florida where, in the same amount of time it takes to put your winter clothes in storage, you could be hopping into your rented convertible and motoring toward the idealized town called Seaside.
The Truman Show was filmed in this Florida Panhandle community in 1998 and you may feel like you’re on a movie set: It’s a perfect town, built on the principles of New Urbanism. Every street connects via walkways to the town’s center, and porches are close to the sidewalks to encourage conversation with passersby. You can shop for records and books on the square and hear a concert on the green. Points of access to the beach are framed by architecturally unique sculptural entryways. They’re impressive, but the real thrill is reaching the top of the stairway to find the Gulf Waters impossibly blue and shimmering. It’s the antidote to the D.C. wintery air that will not relent.
Oh, think of it: squeaky white sand under bare feet, a fruit shake from one of the Airstream trailers that serve as sidewalk cafes along the main strip, an outdoor breakfast complete with a Bloody Mary and beignets, and cruiser bicycle rides past candy-colored cottages.
Southwest Airlines has direct flights from BWI to Panama City. Don’t forget suntan lotion and your book club read. By the time you get home, you’ll be able to put those coats away until next year.