Fall and winter mean many things on St. George Island and throughout America, and one of the highest on that list is football. College and pro football make the end of the year — and the beginning of next — absolutely magical for many.

Game-day viewing is a favorite activity for our guests, which is one of the many reasons there are so many flat-screen televisions in the homes rented through Resort Vacation Properties. But what if you want to throw on a jersey, get out and about and root with, or against, other Forgotten Coast fans? Lucky for you, there are options galore.

At Paddy’s Raw Bar on East 3rd Street, they have the NFL Sunday Ticket, multiple TVs at the bar and on the porch, and a nice view of Apalachicola Bay. That pairs well with bucket beer specials, barbecue nachos, and their signature oysters.

Speaking of deals, Doc Myers’ Island Pub and Sports Bar on nearby Pine Avenue has game-day wings on special to go along with 13 TVs showing all the games.

Across the street, the Beach Pit is another great destination, open ’til 10 p.m. They have multiple TVs and some of the best BBQ on the Forgotten Coast, plus they’re one of the only places you can watch Monday Night Football and come back for a full Tuesday morning breakfast.

In Apalachicola, the Station Raw Bar has happy hour deals and a loaded salad bar, which equals a balanced diet, if you ask us. And the Taproom at the Owl Cafe offers a smorgasbord of local craft brews with TVs on every wall. One of our favorite ways to spend a football Sunday is to have a late brunch at the Cafe, and then watch multiple games with a cold one around the corner at the Taproom.

Getting away from it all doesn’t have to mean missing the big game! Pull up a chair at one of these local watering holes, and be sure to strike up a conversation with the fans around you. After all, no watch party is complete without good food and great company—and St. George Island has plenty of both.

Every year, sea breezes bring a bounty to St. George Island and the greater Forgotten Coast. Whether it’s to provide a lift to the summer heat, pollinate the gorgeous flowers, or carry the scents of sumptuous meals to come, more often than not coastal winds help make the area more enjoyable.

These coastal gusts also bring us a host of winged creatures that infuse every day with color and variety. Bird and butterfly watchers flock to the region with binoculars, cameras, and notepads, ready to celebrate and chronicle the insects and animals who either call the Florida Panhandle home or stop by every year for a week or two on their way to other parts of the world.

And the beauty of being a birder — or a butterfly-er — is that anyone who appreciates them can participate. Just an hour or two over the course of a vacation can make all the difference if you know where to look and what to look for.

As they rely on sugary nectar to live, many species of butterflies flock to colorful flowers, but did you know they can prefer mud puddles and riverbanks as well? And some don’t go near flowers at all, favoring rotting fruit or even tree sap when it comes to lunch. And that means St. George Island, its state park, and the bike paths and hiking trails in and around the Apalachicola area are perfect places to find monarchs, long-tailed skippers, swallowtails, and dozens more species.

Going fishing in the mornings or afternoon? Keep a look out and a field guide handy so you can check off the types of winged creatures you’ve seen. It will boggle your mind how many different species you can see even in a few hours. And while spring is a good season for butterflies, late summer and autumn are when the larger ones get out and about.

For birders, flying friends abound all year long in our area, and southwestern Franklin County is actually home to Apalachicola Bird Island, a strip of land right off the St. George Island Causeway. Other areas, such as Gulf Island State Park, St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge and the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve are prime places to seek out shorebirds, migratory birds, and woodland species.

Nearly 300 native species have been identified, including the endangered piping plover, as well as black rails, boat-tailed grackles, merlins, Peregrine falcons, least terns, and American oystercatchers, to name a few.

A broad diversity can be seen by powerboat, kayak, and canoe around Apalachicola Bay and the Apalachicola River, and along the hiking trails in the above parks and reserves — as well as in Tate’s Hell State Forest and Bald Point State Forest.

Staying on St. George Island for your vacation? Consider putting out a birdhouse or feeder to see who you might get as a visitor. You have plenty of places to seek out the feathered flocks; why not let a few come to you, too?

Want a unique tale to tell the folks back home, and something truly special to do during your stay on the island? Consider scalloping.

These tiny-yet-delectable mollusks grow in the grassy beds on the eastern end of St. George Island, and elsewhere along the Forgotten Coast such as St. Joseph Bay. Scallop season in Franklin County — home to Apalachicola and St. George Island — are in season from July 1 to Sept. 24; and in Gulf County (St. Joseph’s Bay), the season is shorter, running from Aug. 17 to Sept. 30.

Scalloping is an awesome activity for the whole family and requires very little in terms of gear. First, you’ll want to obtain a Florida saltwater fishing license, which can be had for a very reasonable $17 and is available at myfwc.com. After that, all you’ll need is a mesh net, a snorkel and mask, and a dive marker.

The dive marker is very important, as it alerts boaters in the area that there’s snorkeling going on. The dive marker is an orange or red float that’s towed around the snorkeler, and it’s required when shore snorkeling inland around St. George Island and in St. Joseph’s Bay.

You can scallop on your own, or through one of several different outfitters along the coast.

Scallops are usually found in 2 to 6 feet of water, and the ideal time to catch them is during a slack tide, when the grass blades are standing upright. Their shells have distinctive blue or purple “eyes” along the ridges and tiny hairs at the opening. And it’s important to note you have to actually catch the scallops, it’s definitely not like harvesting other shellfish such as clams or oysters. They’re tough to spot, but you can catch bay scallops either by hand or using a net.

The little mollusks are quick, however. They have powerful adductor muscles, which also make them such delicious eating, but they can pinch hard and it’s no treat if you have a finger nearby. And these bivalves are likely to try and flee if you’re looking to bag them. Be warned—they will try to escape by squeezing their shells together, shooting out a jet of water to quickly propel them across the bay’s floor.

The beauty of scalloping while snorkeling is that there’s so much else to see other than what you hope to put on a plate later in the day. There’s a host of other sea life to experience just below the water’s surface, such as seahorses, rays, starfish, sea urchins, and spider and horseshoe crabs.

An immensely successful scalloping trip means catching the limit, which is up to two gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell, or one pint of scallop meat, each day during the open season. Recreational scallopers can’t possess more than 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or a half gallon of meat aboard any boat, and the scallops cannot be sold for commercial purposes.

But you don’t want to sell these delicious morsels, you want to take them home and cook them. First, you’ll want to shell them with a small paring knife, and then clean all the debris and side muscle away from the prize, which is the round white muscle. Once those muscles are all that’s left, heat some butter, garlic and lemon juice in a skillet and sauté them for a few minutes on each side. Or you can toss them with seasoning and Panko breadcrumbs for a savory baked dish to be served over crusty bread.

Either way, you’ll feel like a world-class diver and chef, all for having a day’s fun with your family!

“This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful. In a word, more alive.” — Alice Waters

The restaurants of St. George Island aren’t just spaces where tasty dishes are served in flavors as varied as the wildlife they’re surrounded by, they are places where strangers become friends. And it’s not just meals we gather over, but songs, bingo cards, and trivia slips.

On the island, you’re not required to entertain yourselves, although that’s certainly your right, and if you want to relax and share fellowship at the same time, there’s fun to be had every night of the week—and most of the time without charge.

If your week — even one spent on vacation — begins on Monday, then Paddy’s Raw Bar (at Gunn Street and East 3rd) is where things get lively. Trivia conducted under the theme “Eat. Drink. Think.” is held on Monday nights around 7 p.m., and live music is offered there most other nights as well, beginning around 6 or 7 p.m.

Tuesdays are a great night for socializing on St. George and in the area. There’s Trivia Night with Coach starting around 7 p.m. at Doc Myers’ (East Pine Avenue and West 1st) or Trivia with Skip at Tamara’s Tapas Bar in Apalachicola, also around 7 p.m.

Harry A’s is the place for karaoke on Tuesdays, around 7 p.m., and about that same time on Wednesdays challenges the island’s sharpest minds — imported or native — with trivia.

Live music is also available most nights of the week, especially Friday through Sunday, and Doc Myers’ offers a late-night DJ party most weekends, going until well after midnight.

There’s always somewhere to go on St. George Island. After all, fun awaits you at every turn! But the hidden benefit of our properties is that you can have just as much fun by extending an invitation to your friends and neighbors.

Porch time is a uniquely Southern concept. When we look at our properties, we’re just as proud of their porches as their spacious bedrooms, decks and breathtaking views. So with the season upon us, it’s time to plan the ultimate summertime porch party.

First, you have to set the mood. Bluetooth speakers are inexpensive and available at nearby shops, so grab one and spend a few minutes putting together an upbeat, festive playlist. Internet radio is a great source for limitless streaming music, too, so you can offer your guests a wide range of musical styles.

Want to be the talk of the neighborhood? Keep a small bucket full of hand fans in a highly visible place on the porch. Folks won’t want to be handed one right after the welcoming hug or handshake, but they’ll appreciate having one handy when things get hopping and folks want to stay easy and breezy.

And because you’re only going to invite people who like you and want to have a good time, make sure you have a good-sized serving table positioned nearby, with a couple of coolers underneath it, full of ice. Folks are likely to bring something to drink or to nibble on, and the sooner you give them a place to set it down, the sooner everyone can enjoy it. And make sure you keep a “clean” cooler for beverage ice—you’ll go through a lot of it!

Speaking of beverages, Florida has some of the best signature cocktails in the world, because so many of them have evolved from recipes created around the world! Nothing says “welcome to our own private island” like a distinctive drink of your own creation. From the fuzzy navel to hurricanes and rum runners, the sky’s the limit when it comes to refreshments. Just remember to keep them light, cold, and colorful, with some fresh fruit for a garnish. And it never hurts to keep a decanter of 12-year Scotch handy, as well, because there’s always at least one guest who has simple, yet refined, taste.

A festive soiree is a fantastic way to show off your tastes as host and hostess, especially when it comes to food. Remember, this isn’t an expansive sit-down supper. You want your guests to be just as comfortable noshing while leaned against the railing as they are in a porch swing. Hors d’oeuvres and tapas are all the rage for these events, because they can offer a tour of delicacies without weighing anyone down. Melon balls are easy, tasty and look great on a table, and for the veggie lovers, consider putting a few teaspoons of ranch dressing in the bottom of a clear cup and standing carrot sticks and celery in them.

For the savory-loving guests, you can create grilled sirloin and portobello mushroom sliders, served with artichoke hearts stuffed with cream cheese, chives, and roasted garlic.

The beauty of a stellar porch party is that there are no wrong choices as long as you surround yourself with the people you like—and maybe even a few new faces, too. If you want to take it to the next level while learning a bit more about your guests, consider breaking out a few games.

As long as you’re all laughing and engaged with each other, you’ll set the standard for epic St. George Island shindigs!

While vacation can be a time for excess, those living a healthy lifestyle — or trying to start — will find plenty of opportunities to “live right” on St. George Island.

It all starts with the drive in, along the four-mile St. George Island Bridge. Longtime visitors have described the traverse as “letting the real world go for a spell,” and the approximate five minutes of travel time is the perfect excuse to cue up your favorite song or just roll down all the windows to hear what the coastal winds have to whisper.

The body’s health starts with the mind, and by the time the iconic lighthouse comes into view, you’ll be primed for the best of times.

Before you head to your property, or favorite spot on the sand, stop in at the Piggly Wiggly Express or newly refurbished SGI Market for some fruits and vegetables, which will keep your snacks and meals low-calorie and high-energy.

And when you’re ready to use some of that energy, St. George Island has a 21-mile walking/jogging/bike path that spans most of the island. And while the island is home to many 5k charity races throughout the year, you don’t have to pin a number on your shirt to get your heart rate up and treat your body right.

Prefer wheels to heels? You can rent bikes at one of many island shops, like Journeys, Island Outfitters, and Island Adventure. Just remember your helmet! And while you’re at those fine businesses, reserve your kayak, paddle board, or canoe for some other fun outdoor activities. You can paddle over to Little St. George Island, up the Apalachicola River Blueway or a number of other places near the island. Bring a fishing pole and you might just catch dinner, too.

But if you’re not someone who usually harvests from the sea and you’re looking for healthy dinner options at our local restaurants, you’ll find there are plenty of healthy selections at most of our eateries. We recommend having your shrimp and oysters grilled or blackened — or on the half shell, of course — and most dishes can be served with steamed vegetables or wild rice on the side. And you can always skip the bread and have a heart-healthy glass of red wine instead!

And should you be ready for some low-impact fitness and relaxation, what could be better than a light hike, walk down the beach, or morning yoga session? The island has 28 miles of beach, with access points throughout. And there are hiking options on Little St. George Island, at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, and at the East Hole tract at the end of 6th Street on the island.

And now you can enjoy yoga sessions several days during the week thanks to the St. George Island United Methodist Church and Island FITSUP!

With all these choices, there’s a good chance you’ll be heading home across the bridge at the end of your stay even healthier than when you arrived.

Two primary reasons for renting from Resort Vacation Properties are location and amenities. As you already know, there is no better place than St. George Island and the greater Forgotten Coast to relax and enjoy the many benefits of “island time.”

As for amenities, considering the beautiful weather coastal Florida is known for, everyone wants to know about the swimming pools at our properties. Time on the beach and in the Gulf of Mexico is wonderful, but sometimes you and your guests want to enjoy a dip in private.

Here are five of the coolest pools available through Resort Vacation Properties, including one in exclusive St. George Plantation. They’ll make you want to grab a towel and a cool drink and head poolside right away!

  1. Aisle of Palms — The pool at Aisle of Palms is the signature outdoor attraction of this beachfront home located on the east end of the island. It is a remarkable 60 feet long by 20 feet wide and includes a spillover spa. There is plenty of room on the adjacent deck for pool parties of any size and it is all close enough to hold a conversation with guests on the numerous balconies of the five-bedroom, five-bath home, which sleeps 18.

    Aisle of Palms pool deck, St. George Island

    Aisle of Palms has a luxurious pool deck

  2. A Glimpse of Heaven — What is 40 feet long, screened in, with a giant dolphin fountain and an outdoor kitchen? The pool at A Glimpse of Heaven, of course. This covered pool is adjacent to an opulent living area, complete with a half bath just for pool guests. It’s like having a giant swimming pool at one end of your amazing living room!

    A Glimpse of Heaven screened pool area, St. George Island

    Screened pool retreat with leaping dolphin fountain at A Glimpse of Heaven.

  3. Camelot — King Arthur would approve of the lagoon-style pool at Camelot, complete with its own waterfall. Nestled in luxuriant tropical flora, the pool is a short walk from the beach, and both the covered and open decks overlook its curvy expanse. It’s a fantastic place to read, relax and sunbathe . . . simultaneously!

    Tropical pool at Camelot on St. George Island

    Tropical splendor and seclusion by the pool at Camelot.

  4. Resort Village — The tropical community pool located in our Resort Village inside St. George Plantation could be called a lake if it weren’t for its crystal-clear water. The expansive pool serves four premium properties: Coral Sands, Good Day Sunshine, Isla Callada and Between Tides. And it is large enough, and exquisitely designed, to allow for privacy no matter who’s taking advantage of its relaxing waters.

    Resort Village pool, St. George Island

    Luxurious oversized pool in Resort Village

  5. Solitude— The pool at Solitude is close enough to the beach that you might be tempted to cast a fishing line into the Gulf, although it’s still delightfully private. Located on the East End, the seven-bedroom home features a screened-in porch adjacent to the pool, which includes a six-person hot tub and private deck. The property may be called Solitude, but for those granted exclusive access, it is definitely a place to unwind and socialize.
    Solitude pool beachfront St. George Island

    Beachfront luxury at Solitude

     

    But if none of these suit your needs, we have many other pool homes available at Resort Vacation Properties. Browse them here, or contact us today for help finding your perfect pool home vacation destination!

If you’re like me, the phrase “spring break at the beach” brings back nightmares of partying college students waking your sleeping angels in the middle of the night. Beaches crowded with Frisbee-throwing, sand-kicking high schoolers. Long, slow drives through town behind a parade of spring breakers cruising for chicks.

Ok, maybe that last one was from a Frankie Avalon movie, but you see where I’m going.

Spring break at the beach can seem anything but relaxing. But if that’s your perception, you’re at the wrong beach.

Picture, instead, a spring break filled with all the reasons you go to the beach in the first place: those sugar sand beaches, the emerald waters, that mind-blowing sunset. Plus, instead of college kids, you’re surrounded by, well, MUCH-needed solitude.

On St. George Island on Florida’s Forgotten Coast, you can rent a gorgeous beach cottage for just you and the kids, a massive waterfront mansion to accommodate the whole extended family, or just about anything in between. Each Resort Vacation Properties home includes everything you need for a comfortable stay… even those things you usually have to stuff in the car, like beach umbrellas and chairs, kayaks and bicycles, even cozy spa-style robes.

Many properties also include hot tubs, swimming pools, and epic decks Plus, fully equipped kitchens and outdoor grills make it easy to host huge beachside suppers and avoid restaurant crowds. A quiet evening on St. George could start with an outdoor game of corn hole, followed by a homemade dinner of fresh local seafood, and finish off with a favorite family board game and a bit of stargazing. You won’t believe how many glimmering stars you can see without all the light pollution from the big city!

Most homes even include a washer and dryer so you can pack less, avoid musty bathing suits, and eliminate fights over who has to use the wet towel.

While St. George Island is not the place to find chain restaurants or bungee jumping rides, it is a great place for fishing, hiking, cycling, and relaxing. You’re just a stone’s throw from the St. George Island State Park, where birding and wildlife watching are favorite pastimes.

This year, make your SB about actually getting a break. Find a list of available homes to facilitate an unforgettable Spring Break on the Forgotten Coast here.

For some, the joy of fishing is the thrill of the chase. For others, it’s beating last year’s record catch. Still others love the meticulous selection of lures and other gear. But whichever is your favorite part, I’m guessing the peace and solitude are what keep you coming back.

Unfortunately, peace and solitude can be hard to find in northwest Florida… unless you head to the Forgotten Coast in late winter and early spring.

This time of year – before the tourists head back to the Gulf Coast – the water starts to get a little warmer and the fish start to venture out of the rivers and creeks, down the shallow waters of the oyster bars in Apalachicola. All along the east end of St. George Island, where the deep tidal currents run,

Shallow oyster bars and deep tidal currents make for good fishing on the east end of St. George Island, and it will only get better as the surface water continues to warm. This is the time of year to catch monster speckled trout on top of oyster bars very early in the mornings using top-water plugs. In fact, the big fish get so shallow that many seasoned anglers will actually get out of their boats to wade along the sand bars.

Catch and (careful) release is important when you do hook a big one, because these fish are carrying the future of fishing. As surf temperatures rise to 65 degrees and above, you’ll find whiting and possible early scouts of Spanish mackerel and the prized pompano.

As we get closer to spring, the winds pick up and make fishing difficult. But with steady warming along the beaches, you’ll find improving action – especially along St. George Island and the east end of St. George Island State Park.

Just like any other time of year, your best opportunities will always be in the first third of a tide change and, generally, when the tidal current is fastest. Along the beach, you’ll catch Spanish mackerel and ladyfish on top-water plugs and spoons; pompano, mackerel, and flounder on silver-headed jigs; and trout and mackerel on slow-sinking twitch baits. You’ll see more whiting and flounder very close on the beaches, just behind breaking waves; sliver-headed jigs work well here, too.

Now is your chance to get in some quiet time along Florida’s Forgotten Coast – just you and the fish – before Spring Breakers arrive.

Tight lines!