The term ‘Florida’s Forgotten Coast’ was first coined by the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce during the early 90s, and refers to the areas of the Florida panhandle that are often forgotten by tourists: St. George Island, Carrabelle, Alligator Point, Eastpoint, and of course, Apalachicola. This part of the state has so much to offer visitors, from the pristine beaches of St. George Island, which are much less crowded than the beaches in more popular parts of Florida, to the winding and peaceful waters of Crooked River, where kayakers can watch for the migratory birds that fly there in the winter. Visitors can charter a fishing boat, sail into the sunset, enjoy some famous Apalachicola Bay Oysters, or explore some of Florida’s history in this region for a vacation which - despite the name - will not be easily forgotten.
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1.Apalachicola Historic District
© Apalachicola Historic District
The town of Apalachicola is an old one, which has a place on the National Register of Historic Places, and evidence of its history can be seen in the buildings around town, which date back to the 1830s. On a scenic walk through Apalachicola’s town center, visitors can spot a number of historic homes and structures, including cotton warehouses which were used to export the masses of cotton that came in and out of the ports, and many old houses which date back to the Antebellum period. There are 652 historic buildings in Apalachicola, and every year in May, the Trinity Episcopal Church hosts walking tours which point out many of the most notable ones.
86 Water St, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 855-272-5224
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2.Apalachicola Maritime Museum
© Apalachicola Maritime Museum
There are three rivers that come together to form the Apalachicola River, which is the largest river in the state of Florida. At the Apalachicola Maritime Museum, visitors will have the opportunity to learn about this resource and the effect that it has had upon Apalachicola’s history. The museum uses activities like boat tours, kayak trips, sunset cruises, and other adventure activities to teach its guests about the river and about the ecosystem that allows it to thrive. Many of the activities at the Apalachicola Maritime Museum are suitable for children and adults, making it a great option for families in the area.
103 Water St, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 850-653-2500
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3.Apalachicola Chocolate & Coffee Company
© Apalachicola Chocolate & Coffee Company
Open Sunday through Wednesday from 8am until 6pm, and on Thursday through Saturday from 8am to 10pm, the Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company is a must for those with a sweet tooth. The Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company makes all their own sweets, which include handmade truffles, fudge, caramels, chocolates, and more. There’s homemade ice cream and gelato served on waffle cones, pastries, breads, and cakes for special occasions, and even real New York bagels which are imported straight from the source. Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company also serves delicious coffee from their house-roasted beans, and some great soups and sandwiches for lunch.
75 Market St, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 850-653-1025
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4.Apalachicola River Paddling Trail System
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There are nearly one hundred miles of paddling trails on the Apalachicola River, with trip options for paddlers and kayakers of all ability levels. A laid-back trip down the Apalachicola River is a great way to explore the area and see some beautiful nature; often it is common to spot wildlife in the water and at the river’s edges, as well as anglers fishing in the river and hunters on the shores. Some suggested trail options Graham Creek and East River, where kayakers will find groves of cypress trees that turn a brilliant gold in autumn, or Cash Creek, where birdwatchers often enjoy a paddle to spot birds fishing and nesting, and dolphins often play in the waters.
29°51'13. 84°58'23., 8 US-1 BUS, St. Augustine, FL 32084
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5.Bald Point State Park
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Bald Point, located on Alligator Point along the northern Gulf Coast of Florida, is one of the most scenic parks in the state. With over four thousand acres of land including coastal marshes, and forests filled with pine trees and thickets of oaks, Bald Point State Park is a natural haven, particularly for bird watchers, who love the place for the wide biodiversity it offers and the huge variety of bird species which can be spotted there. Perhaps most notable are the migrating raptors, including bald eagles, which head south for the winter and call Bald Point home during the colder months. It is also a spot on the migratory path of Monarch butterflies, which flock to the area by the thousands in the right season.
146 Box Cut Rd, Alligator Point, FL 32346, Phone: 850-349-9146
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6.Big Bend Scenic Byway
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The 220 miles that make up Big Bend Scenic Byway are more than just a road, they are some of the most scenic and beautiful parts of the state. In the areas on either side of the highway, there are over 2500 species of plants and 300 species of birds that have been spotted and call the area home. The Scenic Byway is also bounded by many parks and wildlife areas, which also offer their own host of natural beauty. A drive along the Big Bend Scenic Byway will show drivers the coast as well, and along the way it’s easy to stop in some of the many towns near the highway.
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7.Aunt Ebby's Ice Cream
© Aunt Ebby's Ice Cream
Ice cream and the beach are one of those classic combinations that can’t be beat, and at Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream, customers can revel in what the company calls the ‘biggest scoops on the beach’. Guests at Aunt Ebby’s can choose from a wide variety of flavors, cones, and toppings, and enjoy their tasty cold treat at one of the indoor tables with the AC on high, or out on the deck at a picnic table, with beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico. Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream is open daily from 1pm until 9pm.
147 E Gulf Beach Dr, St George Island, FL 32328
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8.Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum
© Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum
In 1942, Camp Gordon opened as a place to train “amphibious” soldiers under the US Army Engineer Special Brigades. More than a quarter of a million men trained at Camp Gordon Johnston, and these soldiers went on to fight in World War II, where they staged amphibious invasions including D-Day at the beaches of Normandy. Their training and achievements are memorialized at Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum, where visitors can see photographs and documents pertaining to the camp, as well as uniforms, equipment, and other artifacts brought back by veterans after the war ended.
1873 Highway 98 West, Carrabelle, FL 32322
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9.Cape St. George Light
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First built in 1833, Cape St. George Lighthouse on Little St. George Island stood for centuries as a literal beacon of light to ships at sea. But in 2005, the original Cape St. George Light collapsed and fell into the Gulf of Mexico. Beach erosion and relentless waves of the sea were the culprits, and after the lighthouse fell, the St George Lighthouse Association worked tirelessly to gain funding to rebuild. Using as many of the original materials as possible, they finally reconstructed the lighthouse using the original plans from the National Archives. Inside the lightkeeper’s house, which was also reconstructed according to the original plans, there is a small museum that tells the history of the place. Visitors can explore the museum, walk the grounds, and even climb to the top of the lighthouse for a great view.
2B, E Gulf Beach Dr, Eastpoint, FL 32328, Phone: 850-927-7745
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10.Carrabelle History Museum
© Carrabelle History Museum
Since 2009, the Carrabelle History Museum has collected photos, documents, keepsakes, furniture, household goods, and other artifacts to preserve the history of the the community. The museum is located within the old City Hall of Carrabelle, and contains four rooms of educational and cultural exhibitions. Some highlights of their collection include Tarpon, a historic steamship, and a display pertaining to the Native Americans who once called Carrabelle home. Visitors can come to the museum during its opening hours on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Admission to the museum is free but they always accept donations.
106 SE Ave B, Carrabelle, FL 32322, Phone: 850-697-2141
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11.Crooked River Lighthouse and Museum
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The 103-foot tall iron lighthouse that is Crooked River was built in 1895, and has stood at this place in Carrabelle ever since. The lighthouse contains 138 steps to the top, and visitors over 44 inches in height can pay a $5 fee to make this climb today to see the great views from the parapet. The museum and gift shop at Crooked River Lighthouse are located in the keeper’s house, and are free for visitors. Inside they will find exhibits about the lifestyle of a lighthouse keeper, different types of lighthouses, and the different beacons that are used to light them. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon until 5pm, and the lighthouse climb is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon until 4pm.
1975 Hwy 98 W, Carrabelle, FL 32322
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12.Fort Gadsden Historic Site
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Fort Gadsen was known as Prospect Bluff when it was first built during the war of 1812. It was the site of a horrific massacre, in which guns from a ship hit the ammunitions room and caused a massive explosion. A new fort was built on the site of the ruined old one in 1818, under the supervision of Lt. James Gadsden, as a US base inside Spanish territory, and it remained an active fort until 1821, when Florida became part of the United States. The fort is long gone, but in its place is a peaceful park-like area that is accessible by road or by paddling along the Apalachicola River.
Wewahitchka, FL 32465, Phone: 850-670-8616
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13.Gunner Pontoon Rentals
© Gunner Pontoon Rentals
At Gunner Pontoon Rentals, visitors can take a pontoon or other boat, as well as a kayak or paddle board, out into the bay. Gunner Pontoon Rentals is close to Dog Island and St. George Island, so guests can explore these two beautiful parts of the Florida coast, spotting fish and dolphins along the way, with up to 11 passengers. While aboard, guests can enjoy the sun and water as they swim, fish, dive for scallops, or just relax as they see the coast from the gorgeous waters. Gunner offers full day rental (8 hours) and half day rentals (4 hours) for power boats, pontoon boats, kayaks, and paddle boards, and customers are responsible for their own costs of fuel.
1012 NW Ave A, Carrabelle, FL 32322, Phone: 850-570-3122
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14.John Gorrie Museum State Park
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When the young doctor John Gorrie moved to Apalachicola in the 1830s, he became a prominent member of the community, and held positions such as postmaster, bank director, and town councilman. But in 1841, he became concerned for his patients suffering from yellow fever, and worked hard to create methods of cooling their sickrooms. This man’s work eventually produced a machine that created ice, and it became the foundation for modern refrigeration and air conditioning. At the museum, visitors can learn about Gorrie’s life and work, and see examples of some of his inventions. The museum is open Thursday through Monday, from 9am to 5pm.
42 6th St, Apalachicola, FL 32320
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15.Journeys of St. George Island
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St. George Island, a 22 mile barrier off the coast of the Florida mainland, is simply beautiful, with miles of sandy beaches that are practically empty compared to some of the more popular beaches on the mainland, and crystal clear Gulf waters. The Gulf near St. George Island is packed with fish, and the marshes near the shore are a haven for migratory birds and therefore bird watchers as well. With Journeys of St. George Island, guests can take advantage of the experienced and knowledgeable guides, who will take them on a fishing charter, or a guided tour on boat, kayak, or stand up paddle board to see the wonders of the area, and show them the best spots for fishing.
240 3rd St E, Eastpoint, FL 32328, Phone: 850-927-3259
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16.Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park
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Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park is a wordy name, to be sure, but the place itself is pure simplicity and beauty. The park takes full advantage of the gorgeous nature of the barrier island, and visitors here can enjoy beaches of blindingly white sand, with dolphins swimming and jumping just off shore, and marshes where birds wade to catch fish. On land there are trails which wind through forests of pine trees, and in the water there is ample opportunity for fishing. Shelling and combing the beach are common here, and during certain seasons, it’s not uncommon to find sea turtles nesting on the beach, and migratory birds making their winter homes in the park.
1900 E Gulf Beach Dr, St George Island, FL 32328, Phone: 850-927-2111
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17.Historic Apalachicola Walking Tour
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The town of Apalachicola was first developed during the 19th century, in the 1830s, and it bears distinction because so much of that original town is still fully in tact todayl, including the layout, with easily walkable streets lined with trees. A walking tour of Apalachicola will highlight the maritime industry which has long been its lifeblood, with a waterfront, oyster houses, ice houses, and packing plants for shrimp, as well as the cotton warehouses where cotton was stored before being exported from Apalachicola’s ports. Walking tours will also point out notable historic buildings and houses, many of which are nearly two centuries old.
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18.La Lutra Tours
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Certified Green Guides at La Lutra Tours will take guests on the adventure of a lifetime as they canoe down Crooked River, comb the beaches for shells and other treasures, and explore everything that coastal Florida has to offer. With La Lutra Tours, customers can choose to take a guided kayak or electric canoe trip on the winding river waters, where they can take their time poking around and watching for fish, or floating down the river watching birds pass overhead. They can also choose to take a beach tour, where guides will help them discover signs of life on the beach, including sea turtle nests, tide pools full of sea urchins and crabs, and more.
P.O. Box 598, Carrabelle, Florida. 32322-0598, Phone: 850-661-2461
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With Allegro Sailing, visitors to the Florida coast can get a great view from the water. These captained, chartered boat rentals are here to serve a variety of needs from their customers. Guests can choose to go on a half or full day fishing excursion with a seasoned guide who knows all the best spots, or take the whole family on a cruise to see the coast and the islands. Full day trips feature an island barbecue stop midway through, and there are even some gorgeous sunset cruises and full moon rising cruises for an even more unique experience. Cruises take place on either a powerboat or a 30 foot long catamaran.
1648 Alligator Dr, Alligator Point, FL 32346, Phone: 850-766-3227
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20.Natural World Charters
© Natural World Charters
Natural World Charters provides an amazing opportunity to do some fishing in Florida’s coastal waters, led by an experienced captain who will provide the best possible experience for his guests. Whether you’re an experienced fisherman looking for a very specific type of catch, or a total newbie looking to try out a new sport while on vacation, Natural World Charters has the ideal trip for you. Guests can charter a full day or a half day trip for up to four anglers on a 24 foot long Morgan Sportfisherman called EAGLE. If fishing doesn’t sound interesting, Natural World Charters also offers eco tours on Dog Island, where up to 6 passengers can go shelling, learn about the history of the environment around them, and spot dolphins and birds as they explore.
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Orman House was built in 1838 by Thomas Orman, and it is a grand white house with bay windows and a sweeping veranda that overlooks the Apalachicola River. Orman was one of the foremost figures of Apalachicola’s history, and it is largely due to him and his cotton trading that helped put the town on the map as a major merchant port. The house is open for visitors Thursday through Monday, from 9am until 5pm, for $2 per person. Adjoining the house is Chapman Botanical Gardens, which features many beautiful flowers, peaceful walkways, and a butterfly garden. There are picnic tables in the gardens where guests can sit and relax as they enjoy a snack and the nature around them.
177 5th St, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 850-653-1209
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22.Oyster City Brewing Company
© Oyster City Brewing Company
Apalachicola sometimes goes by another name: Oyster City, for fishing community and the famous Apalachicola Bay Oysters which are found there daily, and shipped all over the country where they are served in some of the finest restaurants in the US. Oyster City Brewing Company celebrates this history and industry, with great beers that compliment the salty oysters very well. With a wide variety of beers to suit any occasion, like First Light of Day, a summer ale to take the edge off of the hot and humid Florida days, Oyster City Brewing Company is a great place to stop and enjoy a fantastic beer during any vacation.
17 Ave D, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 850-653-2739
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Built in 1836, Raney House is a Greek Revival style mansion with stately white pillars on its front porch, and is part of the National Register of Historic Places. Raney House was owned by the Raney family, whose three sons served in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Their house was turned into a museum in 1973, and it contains artifacts, furniture, documents, and other goods from the 19th century to depict how the family might have lived and what life was like at the time. The Raney House Museum is open to guests Sunday through Thursday from 1pm to 4pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 4pm, and though donations are always accepted, admission to the museum is free.
128 Market St, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 850-653-1700
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24.St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge
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St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge was originally created to protect waterfowl and other migratory birds in the area and preserve their habitat. Since 1968, this massive, 12,492 acre refuge, which includes two islands and two mainland areas, has been a peaceful place for wildlife and humans alike. Bald eagles, sea turtles, red wolves, and other endangered species call this area home, and the various ecosystems, like the natural barrier island sand dunes or the salt marshes, serve as excellent habitats for these creatures. Visitors are welcome to explore the refuge, which has a number of great walking and hiking trails, or go kayaking or fishing on its waters.
3100 County Rd 30A, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 850-653-8808
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25.Weber's Little Donut Shop
© Weber's Little Donut Shop
Weber’s Little Donut Shop is not aptly named - the shop really is tiny, but visitors to St. George’s Island should make a point of looking for it anyway. This little shop with its corrugated metal walls packs a huge punch, with amazing donuts that are only $1 each. Weber’s Little Donut Shop makes cake donuts, so they are all pretty dense and flavorful, and they are made fresh every single morning. Lucky customers who arrive right at 7 or 7:30am when it opens might even find that their pastries are still hot from the fryer!
2702, 65 W Gorrie Dr, St George Island, FL 32328
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25 Best Things to Do on Florida’s Forgotten Coast
- Apalachicola Historic District, Photo: Apalachicola Historic District
- Apalachicola Maritime Museum, Photo: Apalachicola Maritime Museum
- Apalachicola Chocolate & Coffee Company, Photo: Apalachicola Chocolate & Coffee Company
- Apalachicola River Paddling Trail System, Photo: Courtesy of soupstock - Fotolia.com
- Bald Point State Park, Photo: Courtesy of wildnerdpix - Fotolia.com
- Big Bend Scenic Byway, Photo: Courtesy of zjk - Fotolia.com
- Aunt Ebby's Ice Cream, Photo: Aunt Ebby's Ice Cream
- Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum, Photo: Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum
- Cape St. George Light, Photo: Courtesy of kichigin19 - Fotolia.com
- Carrabelle History Museum, Photo: Carrabelle History Museum
- Crooked River Lighthouse and Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Henryk Sadura - Fotolia.com
- Fort Gadsden Historic Site, Photo: Courtesy of ant - Fotolia.com
- Gunner Pontoon Rentals, Photo: Gunner Pontoon Rentals
- John Gorrie Museum State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Takayuki Miyauchi - Fotolia.com
- Journeys of St. George Island, Photo: Courtesy of itsallgood - Fotolia.com
- Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park, Photo: Courtesy of kellyvandellen - Fotolia.com
- Historic Apalachicola Walking Tour, Photo: Courtesy of Dmytro Flisak - Fotolia.com
- La Lutra Tours, Photo: Courtesy of Gribanov - Fotolia.com
- Allegro Sailing, Photo: Courtesy of surfmedia - Fotolia.com
- Natural World Charters, Photo: Natural World Charters
- Orman House, Photo: Courtesy of zhu difeng - Fotolia.com
- Oyster City Brewing Company, Photo: Oyster City Brewing Company
- Raney House, Photo: Courtesy of fotodays - Fotolia.com
- St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Courtesy of wolfenstain3d - Fotolia.com
- Weber's Little Donut Shop, Photo: Weber's Little Donut Shop
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of evenfh - Fotolia.com