Vintage Florida with a Salty Twist
Ask anyone who has visited Apalachicola, Carrabelle, and St. George Island and they’ll say “this is vintage Florida the way it used to be”.
Franklin County, an hour south of Tallahassee on Florida’s Northern Gulf Coast, is nearly 90% national and state forest – a protected oasis with quiet beaches, wooded trails, and scenic paddling sloughs. The environment is the economy in Franklin and folks enjoy nature’s salty bounty in the form of fishing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, discovering heritage sites, shopping, and of course, eating fresh Apalachicola Bay oysters and seafood.
The string of coastal communities that stretch along the coast from Alligator Point to Apalachicola are the last vestige of Old Florida – a Florida that doesn’t exist anywhere else anymore – no high rise hotels, one traffic light in the entire county, and a place where people still wave as they pass on the street.
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. Oystermen here have been harvesting these delicacies for more than 150 years – it’s a multi-generational occupation that is dwindling but still fiercely protected by locals and newcomers who see the value in preserving the heritage and culture of the area’s seafood industry. 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. Or, enjoy bay, river, gulf, or beach fishing for redfish, speckled trout, flounder, snapper, grouper, and king mackerel to mention a few.
Love 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. Alternatively, take a relaxing sunset tour of Apalachicola’s historic waterfront aboard one of several eco-tour boats. Have your own boat? There are several marinas to accommodate.
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. There are accommodations throughout the county to suite every taste – from beachfront mansions to cozy cottages, historic inns, and modest hotel fare.
Wildlife abounds – 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, touch tanks, and displays for children to get up close and personal to marine life. Of all the wildlife in Franklin County, some of the most notable are the protected sea turtles that visit area beaches annually to lay their eggs.
Beach lovers will appreciate the St. George Island State Park Beach – it’s ranked the third best beach in the country by Dr. Stephen Leatherman (a.k.a Dr. Beach). The park features nine miles of undeveloped shoreline and has some of the region’s finest birdwatching opportunities and camping facilities.
The towns of Apalachicola and Carrabelle feature unique boutiques and fine restaurants. The area’s beauty has inspired a thriving artistic community and a fresh blossom of art galleries. The area hosts several art events including an annual en Plein air event, as well as several other events including the annual Florida Seafood Festival, an Oyster Cook-off, and Chili Cook-off on St. George Island.
Franklin County is indeed vintage Florida with a salty twist. Learn more at Saltyflorida.com