Let's say I am going on vacation. And I am planing to spend my vacation by the sea. Is there any difference between the following sentences?
I am going to the seaside.
I am going to the sea.
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The first is standard. You say you are planning to spend your vacation by the sea. The seaside is by the sea. So you are going to the seaside. 'Seaside towns' are towns by the sea.
If you are playing on a sandy beach and have built a castle, the moat will need to be filled with water. Before toddling to the water's edge with your bucket you might tell your playmates,
"I'm going to the sea."
Only when we are going right to the water's edge do we use that expression.
By the way, if you say you are going to sea it means you are about to sail away for a long period; or that you're joining the navy or becoming a pirate.