Old Florida at its Finest
If old Florida is what you’re looking for you’ll find it tucked away along Florida’s North Gulf Coast in the quiet coastal communities of Apalachicola, St. George Island, Carrabelle, Eastpoint and Alligator Point. This area in rural Franklin County is known as Florida’s Forgotten Coast and it is a protected oasis with quiet beaches, wooded trails and scenic paddling sloughs. The environment is the economy here and folks enjoy fishing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, discovering heritage sites and, of course, eating fresh Apalachicola Bay seafood.
Here, nature provides the entertainment and the menu.
Oysters and Seafood
Gourmands generally agree that Apalachicola Bay oysters are the best in the world. They are plump with a mellow taste – unique because of the nutrient-rich environment in which they grow. Be in the right place along the docks and you could charter a trip and learn how to tong, cull and shuck your own lunch. These days, in addition to the “wild-caught” method of oyster harvesting, a growing number of oystermen are turning to aquaculture farming to sustainably grow and harvest oysters. Wild-caught or farm-grown, fresh oysters along with shrimp and daily-caught fish is available at more than 30 area restaurants and seafood markets.
Eat Where You Play
St. George Island restaurants feature casual fare with local seafood and friendly locals. You can relax beachside at the Blue Parrot Bar and Grill and enjoy a basket of steamed shrimp as you watch the dolphins play or experience the region’s largest open-air tiki bar at Doc Myers’ Island Pub. Paddy’s Raw bar on the bay side of the island is the site of an annual Pink-Out event which has become an annual island event.
Across the bridge in Eastpoint, watch the oystermen from the docks at Lynn’s Quality Seafood while you enjoy some of the region’s finest gumbo. Head east to Carrabelle and you’ll stumble across Fathom’s Steam Room and Raw Bar overlooking the Carrabelle River. Enjoy fresh fare and a beautiful sunset watching the boats unload their daily catch. East of Carrabelle, enjoy a round of golf at the Crooked River Bar and Grill followed by a meal at the Crooked River Grill.
In Apalachicola, the Owl Café and Tap Room are located in the heart of the town’s historic downtown district. Both eateries are at the epicenter of a culinary rebirth that has occurred in in recent years. The upstairs Café features relaxed yet upscale dining with an excellent selection of fine wines. Downstairs, the Tap Room features a similar menu but the atmosphere is more relaxed.
Apalachicola is very pet-friendly and there’s probably no place that’s more pet friendly than the Oyster City Brewing Company (OCBC). A brew pub located in the historic downtown, the OCBC features sidewalk benches and tables perfect to linger with your furry friend. The brewery uses local ingredients in its award-winning brews, including locally-harvested Tupelo Honey – a key ingredient in the brewery’s Hooter Brown Tupelo Honey Ale. OCBC is one of two local breweries in the county. The Eastpoint Beer Company overlooks the St. George Sound and also features craft beers.
Beer and food is event-worthy here – the Forgotten Coast hosts several annual culinary events including the Florida Seafood Festival, an Oyster Cook-off, rib cookoff and the region’s largest chili cookoff each Spring on St. George Island. St. George island also hosts an annual beer tasting event.
There are no high rises along Florida’s Forgotten Coast – just family-friendly vacation fare. Accommodations range from quaint beach cottages, luxurious gulf-front villas, historic inns, riverfront suites and more.
Discover more about Franklin County’s amenities, vacation getaway deals and restaurants, shopping and lodging at FloridasForgottenCoast.com/food.
Sidebar – What to Do Here
On the Water. Rent a kayak or bring your own to explore the many river sloughs, sandy coves and salt marshes and bay shallows of the area. Or, take a relaxing sunset tour of Apalachicola’s historic waterfront aboard one of several eco-tour boats. If you have your own boat, there are several public and private marinas to accommodate.
Wildlife. The area is part of a seasonal fly-over for several migrating birds and butterflies. The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve and Visitor Center in Eastpoint features a wooded boardwalk trail and touch tanks and displays for children to get up close and personal to marine life.
Beach. Beach lovers will appreciate that the St. George Island State Park Beach has ranked among the top in the country by Dr. Stephen Leatherman (a.k.a Dr. Beach). There are some great camping facilities and the park features nine miles of undeveloped shoreline and has some of the region’s finest birdwatching opportunities. Keen birders will enjoy the natural beauty of the area and be able to spot some magnificent birds, similar to if they were on a Costa Rica Focus tour. Binoculars are advised of course, and there is plenty of opportunity to see a vast variety of birds.
History. Take a self-guided walking tour of historic Apalachicola or rent a golf cart to see more than 900 historic homes and buildings identified in Apalachicola’s National Historic District. Climb the county’s two historic lighthouses at Carrabelle Beach and St. George Island and Carrabelle and get a bird’s eye view of the Forgotten Coast.