Hidden gems on Florida’s Forgotten Coast
Florida’s Big Bend Scenic Byway
If you’d like to see a bit of “Old Florida”, try taking a road trip along the Big Bend Scenic Byway (US Highway 98) that travels along Florida’s Gulf Coast. While traveling on the byway, you can explore scenic locations of generations past and present. You’ll travel through both forests and coastal trails along the beautiful gulf waters.
Apalachicola National Forest
While traveling along the Big Ben Byway, you’ll pass through the Apalachicola National Forest. It is the largest of the three National Forests located in Florida. It covers over 560,000 acres along the Apalachicola River. If you enjoy nature, make sure to visit the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Another must see is Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, which is one of the world’s largest and deepest fresh water springs.
Old Florida” fishing villages that serve up fresh seafood
This trail is alive with maritime history. There are many “Old Florida” fishing villages that serve up fresh seafood. The villages in this area are famous for shrimp, scallops, crab and oyster. It is very refreshing to see that there are no large hotel chains on this part of the Florida Gulf coast.
Here are some hidden gems that we found the Big Bend Scenic Byway
Downtown Port St. Joe, Florida
Port St. Joe is found on the shores of St. Joseph Bay. Port St. Joe is a beautiful little town that is rich in old Florida history and true southern hospitality.
You will find plenty of parks and playgrounds in Port St. Joe where you can bring your family take full advantage of the outdoor fun and enjoy it year-round. Many of the parks in Port St. Joe, offer trails, playgrounds and picnic tables.
Port St. Joe Marina has charter boats so you can go fishing and try scallop and oyster gathering. Two boat launch ramps are available if you would rather boating or just paddle along the historic coast.
In addition to shopping in the historic downtown, you can dine at one of the many restaurants in town that offer seafood fresh that is off the boat. There are also restaurants that serve southern favorites and small bistros with wine tastings.
Be sure to check out the charm of this wonderful little old Florida town.
Remember to watch for the festivals located in Port St. Joe throughout the year. Every February they have a Scallop and Music Fest and Winter Bay Day.
Cape San Blas Lighthouse, Port St. Joe
This historic lighthouse is currently going through a restoration project. This current (and fourth) Cape San Blas lighthouse was built in 1885. It has stood the test of time guiding ships to safe harbor. The Cape San Blas Lighthouse is a magnificent structure to see. On July 15, 2014, the Cape San Blas Lighthouse, two Keepers Quarters’, and Oil Shed were relocated from Cape San Blas to Core Park in Port St. Joe.
Apalachicola, Florida Historic District
While traveling down US 98 towards Port St. Joe, we were pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful fishing town called Apalachicola, Florida. This is historic town located along the Apalachicola River. The Apalachicola Historic District has over 200 historically significant buildings. The city of Apalachicola was established in 1831. Historical structures include the Chestnut Street Cemetery, Dixie Theatre, Sponge Exchange, and Consulate.
Seafood Restaurants in Apalachicola, FL
There are plenty of restaurants serving up fresh seafood. We stopped at the Seafood Grille in the center of town which served up some fresh seafood. We chose the world renown oysters and scallop meals from the large selection on their menu.
Shopping in Historic Downtown Apalachicola, FL
It’s a quaint little village with many unique little shops for you to bring back a memory trinket or some fine handmade local crafts.
Fishing Boats along the Apalachicola River
It really brings you back to the days of old when you walk along the pier to view the fishing boats along the Apalachicola river.
The links below will help you plan your trip. There is plenty to do in this unspoiled peace of heaven along Florida’s Gulf coast.
Places to stay:
Combs House Inn: http://www.coombshouseinn.com/
Water Street Hotel and Marina (pet friendly): http://www.waterstreethotel.com/
The Gibson Inn http://www.gibsoninn.com – A Historic hotel that offers Murder Mystery weekends throughout the year.
Old Country Farmer’s Market:
Apalachicola Farmers Market
Saint George Island, Florida
St. George is a barrier island 28 miles long and 1 mile wide at its widest point, is in Franklin County, Florida. St. George Island is adjacent to Cape St. George Island, also known as Little St. George Island. This hidden gem is connected to the mainland at Eastpoint, Florida by the 4-mile long St. George Island Bridge which spans Apalachicola Bay. You will find no large international hotels here, just cottage and condo rentals and small family owned Inns. St. George Island is a great place to bring the family and your dog, as the island is known to be very dog friendly.
St. George Lighthouse, St. George Island, FL
This beautiful lighthouse was originally built in 1852, but was destroyed by wind and waves in 2005. The rebuilt lighthouse rests on solid ground about nine miles from its old location, and is now open to the public. The Cape St. George Lighthouse is located where S.R. 300 dead ends after crossing the bay and arriving on the island. Visitors can climb to the top to view the coast from the lantern room.
Lighthouse Full Moon Climb at 2 Gulf Beach Drive, St. George Island, FL 32328
January – Phone: 850-927-7745
Festivities at Florida’s historic lighthouses in 2017.
Watch the sun set and full moon rise from the top of the Cape St. George Lighthouse on Wednesday, January 11 from 5:30-7:30 pm. Tickets are $15.00 per person, or $10.00 for St. George Lighthouse Association members.
Art from the Sea: Art Exhibit by Robert Simmons at 108 Island Drive, Eastpoint, Florida 32328
October through February
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