Sandra Scott Travels: Visit ‘What Florida Used To Be’

Last week I asked: What is there to do in Apalachicola?

oyster fishing
Oyster fishing

Go oyster fishing.

If you think, “Florida is not for me,” then check out the Apalachicola area.

It touts itself as “what Florida used to be like.”

The area south of Tallahassee on the Florida Panhandle is eighty-seven percent national preserves, state forests and protected lands with virtually deserted pristine beaches, and something for everyone – fishing, kayaking, museums, shopping, golf, swimming, or doing absolutely nothing.

It is the last vestige of Old Florida, a Florida that does not exist anywhere else – no high rise hotels, no traffic congestion making it the ideal place to relax, kick back, and do whatever tickles your fancy.

Apalachicola oysters are considered the best in the world.

Check out the variety of birds and wildlife on Wheelhouse Tours.

They are plump with a mellow taste that should be enjoyed raw untainted by sauces.

Oystering tours show visitors how commercial fishermen have been harvesting these delicacies for more than 150 years plus they will learn how to tong, cull, and harvest oysters.

They can even take home two bags. Or, enjoy bay, river, gulf or pier fishing for redfish, speckled trout, flounder, snapper, grouper, and king mackerel to mention a few of the fish waiting to be caught.

For a different kind of water experience rent a kayak, or bring your own, to explore the Carrabelle River or investigate the sandy coves and salt marshes of St. George Island State Park.

St. George Island State Park

Or, take a relaxing tour of Apalachicola’s historical waterfront and estuary with Captain Larry of Wheelhouse Tours.

Birds are everywhere but a hike in Tate’s Hell State Forrest, St. George Island State Park, or with a birding expert in the Apalachicola National Estuarine Reserve will tickle the feathers of all birders.

The Apalachicola National Forest is home to blue-headed vireos, pelicans, egrets, herons and boasts the world’s largest population of red-cockaded woodpeckers.

St. George Island State Park comprises nine miles of undeveloped shoreline, and features some of the state’s best shell hunting opportunities.

A sea turtle

Visit Cape St. George Isle with its diverse bird population especially during the spring and fall migrations.

Expect to see peregrine falcons, bald eagles, oystercatchers and snowy plovers.

The entire Franklin County is filled with wildlife including deer, bear, and other critters, but the most amazing are the sea turtles.

From May to November, the sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs as they have for more than a thousand years.

Viewers should be careful not to disturb the turtles.

St. James Bay golf course.

Keep house lights off in the evening as it confuses the turtles and don’t leave beach chairs on the beach overnight.

Golfers will love St. James Bay golf course.

It is an Audubon International “Certified Silver Signature Sanctuary” 18-hole, par 72 championship course with wetlands and water hazards present at every hole.

Wildlife spectators include herons, egrets and even an occasional lazy alligator.

Pick up a self-guided walking tour at the Apalachicola Chamber of Commerce or take an Olde Town Golf Cart Tour of Apalachicola from the Water Street Hotel.

Visit the 1838 Greek-Revival Trinity Episcopal Church, which was shipped in sections from White Plains, NY, by schooner and assembled with wooden pegs.

Trinity Episcopal Church

Interestingly the 1838 antebellum Orman House, which is beautifully situated on a rise above the river was constructed near Syracuse and shipped to Apalachicola.

The recently renovated Dixie Theater was built in 1912 and is once again hosting live theater.

At the John Gorrie State Museum learn about physician, John Gorrie, whose concern for his yellow fever patients motivated him to invent a method for cooling their rooms.

John Gorrie State Museum

More than 900 historic homes and buildings are in Apalachicola’s National Historic District.

Travel Trivia Tease™: What is the best Valentine’s gift?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!