Many vacation destinations require sprawling day-long expeditions to truly enjoy an area’s diverse natural beauty. But for folks staying on St. George Island, a quick drive to the north side of the SGI Bridge reveals the second-largest estuarine research reserve system in the United States.

The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center — or ANERR, as the locals call it — features more than 1,300 species of plants, 131 species of fish, and 50 species of mammals within 246,000 acres nestled along Apalachicola Bay.

It’s great for nature lovers who enjoy sightseeing, and the more curious who want to learn more about the environment around them.

Open Tuesday through Saturday, ANERR features winding paths that incorporate pine flat woods, oak hammocks and freshwater marshes where cattails and sawgrass grow wild. It is a photographer’s dream with a variety of scenery at every turn, especially near Millender Park, a prime picnic area with views of Apalachicola Bay and the volunteer-made breakwater area.

There are signs posted to keep a lookout for black bears, and while it may be a rare occurrence to actually see one, it should give you an idea of how diverse the wildlife found in ANERR is.

The reserve’s Nature Center features 18,000 square feet of learning space including two working wet and dry research laboratories. It overlooks the Cat Point oyster bar, which is one of the most productive oyster bars in Apalachicola Bay. At low tide, tidal flats and parts of oyster reefs are exposed.

In the Education Center, there are three large water tanks representing the river, bay and gulf habitats found in the Apalachicola area. Each tank holds more than 1,000 gallons and houses a variety of native plant life and creatures.

For more than a century, Apalachicola and Eastpoint have been working waterfronts, fostering generations of fishermen whose industries have only been sustainable due to the health and productivity of Apalachicola Bay. The Education Center focuses on that aspect of local history, with exhibits showing the evolution of oyster industry, and more. A beautiful, 80-foot mural is also on display, depicting area ecosystems.

One of ANERR’s signature events revolves around National Estuaries Day each September. Activities include free, fun and educational stations for kids and adults including marine animal touch tanks, and estuary-themed games including Microplastic Match-Up, Reptile Round-Up and Pin the Tag on the Monarch. In addition to this, there are educational events held year-round.

ANERR is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and for more information call 850-670-7700 or visit apalachicolareserve.com.

Isn’t it wonderful to have all your family and friends under one roof in one of the most beautiful places on earth? That’s the advantage of staying on St. George Island with Resort Vacation Properties.

Some of our most inviting, large-capacity homes are within walking distance of the beach and have amenities sure to excite every member of your group. Take the people you love the most, mix them with ample measures of sunshine, sea breezes, and delicious meals, and you’re sure to have an experience like none other. All you have to do is decide which backdrop you prefer for whatever mood you may find yourself in!

Here are five examples of our large family homes, waiting for you and yours:

  1. 1st to the Beach — This 5-bedroom jewel on Sunset Beach sleeps 18 and is sure to bathe them all in natural light throughout the day. The decor carries the flavor of Tuscany, and from the cast-iron handrails up the staircase to the tile floors and wall hangings, you’ll feel as though the horizon might lead to the Mediterranean Sea instead of the Gulf of Mexico. The two master suites each have their own private balcony, and the 6-person hot tub is the perfect place for sunset cocktails in the evenings. With a private boardwalk to the beach and access to a community pool, this house has it all.
  2. Amore Di Sole — Spend a few minutes at this luxurious property and you’ll understand how its name translates to “Love in the Sun.” The centerpiece of Amore Di Sole is the expansive screened-in lanai with its 15×25-foot pool, which can be heated for your extended comfort. Even the hot tub is under cover, so privacy is kept at a premium for everyone in your group. Located right across the street from the beach, this home sleeps 16 and participates in the St. George Plantation amenities program, which includes two community pools, tennis and pickleball courts, the Plantation Clubhouse and fitness center, nature trails, access to Bob Sikes Cut, and more. And just to sweeten the deal, we’ve recently added an elevator for your convenience.
  3. Ohana — Also located in St. George Plantation, this is the place to make memories that will last forever. With three levels, hardwood floors throughout and seven bedrooms sleeping a grand total of 20, Ohana is the place to bring everyone together. The porches are amazing here, with rocking chairs and chaise lounges to enjoy the sunsets and the natural wonder evident throughout the Plantation. There are three master suites, a chef’s dream of a kitchen, and a game room with a 65-inch flat screen HDTV, Xbox with games, Foosball table, books, a DVD library, full bath and a queen sleeper sofa. Then there’s the 15×25-foot pool, hot tub, elevator, and array of beach toys and family-friendly items for when it’s time to hit the beach at the end of your private boardwalk. With all that, it’s easy to unite an entire family, right at the water’s edge.
  4. An Island Breeze — What’s not to love about a recently renovated home with breathtaking, unobstructed views from every room? Located in West Gulf Beaches, An Island Breeze offers plenty of just that for up to 14 guests. There’s so much new here, you’ll feel like it was customized just for you. The spaciously remodeled kitchen features new cabinets, pantry, granite countertops, new double-oven stove, and two sinks to take care of your group in the best way possible. And you can enjoy sunbathing and stargazing in the new hot tub and splashing around in the 11×24-foot private pool with the ample privacy 27 palm trees provide every day.
  5. Aqua Vista — Start every day staring at the Gulf through the main living area’s 30-foot windows, and your vacation will include nothing but great days. Even the third-floor loft shares the view, which you can enjoy on the top floor while you play pool, Foosball, Xbox or watch movies and have drinks thanks to the large flat-screen TV, fridge, and more. The beachfront home sleeps 16 and will allow two 20-lb. dogs, should your furry friends want to come along. With a private pool on the property and a gorgeous beach at the end of the boardwalk, inside and out this is a palace for you and yours.

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!

I admit it: Pizza makes me happy. To some, it’s just bread, sauce, and cheese. But to me, it’s the perfect food.

It’s great hot or cold, fresh or leftover. And with the right selection of toppings, you can please even the pickiest eaters (just don’t ask me to add pineapple).

That’s what makes pizza the perfect vacation vittles. Whether it’s just you and your significant other, a gaggle of pre-teens, or four generations in a rented beach house, pizza satisfies everyone. And the best place to go on St. George Island is BJ’s Pizza and The Island Sushi Company.

As the name implies, pizza is kind of their thing. You can build your own with over 16 possible toppings or try one of their specialty pizzas, like the local favorite shrimp pesto pizza, piled high with mozzarella cheese, shrimp, sliced tomato, scallions and pesto on a homemade pizza crust.

Another local favorite is not quite what it sounds like: buffalo chips. It’s homemade pizza dough covered in a blanket of hot wing sauce and parmesan cheese, then baked until crispy and served with ranch dressing. Yum on all counts.

Now, I’ve heard there are people who don’t actually like pizza (though I don’t think I’ve actually met one). For those folks, BJ’s offers a whole array of subs and sandwiches, from a traditional BLT to a mushroom Swiss burger. You’ll also find salads, appetizers, calzones, and Blue Bell hand-dipped ice cream.

If you’re looking for a real departure from pizza, The Island Sushi Company is right next door with everything from basic rolls to their own specialties, like the Island Bliss: spicy tuna, cilantro, jalapeno, and cream cheese.

So if you’re tired of wasting valuable vacation time asking, “What’s for dinner?” and getting crickets in return, just pile in the car and head to BJ’s Pizza. Your smart suggestion for the best ‘za on the island is certain to make you the vacay MVP!

Florida is home to a variety of animals, and some of the species here are special to our area because of the estuaries and marine marshlands. St. George Island is a top destination for visitors who want to take a step back in time to enjoy a more pristine and natural island that’s not built up. The strict building codes that keep this island as natural as possible make it ideal for visitors who want a glimpse of an endangered bird or sea turtles making nests. Taking an estuarine walk is a great way to catch a peek of the natural flora and fauna of St. George Island.

Birding Enthusiasts

Birdwatchers have documented almost 300 bird species on the island, making this a prime destination for birders. Some of these species include threatened and endangered birds. The time of year you visit can play a role in what you see because of neotropical raptors and birds that use it as part of their migration route, such as tanagers, hawks, buntings, warblers and falcons. Other birds found in this area include marsh hawks, egrets, bald eagles, osprey and herons. Four pairs of bald eagles that actively nest on the island could be spotted on your estuarine walk.

Reptiles and Amphibians

There are several reptiles and amphibians that call this area home. Some of the potential species you could see include the gopher frog, several types of salamanders, Eastern indigo snake and several turtle species.

Turtles can be a big draw to the area. Scientists believe there’s a minimum impact on the turtles that nest on the island from the humans who live here and light pollution at night, but it’s not enough to keep the turtles from returning to the area to the delight of residents. However, the turtle nests on Little St. George Island have to be protected from predators, such as coyotes.

Loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles have been found on beaches in the area. Hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridley turtle also can be found in areas around the bay and other waters, but not by the beaches. Alligator snapping turtles also are here.

Mammals

St. George Island’s estuaries also are home to a variety of mammals. You can possibly see manatees, Florida mice, two species of bats and raccoons.

You just never know what you may come across during your estuarine walk, and each day may bring something different. Contact us today to talk about booking your upcoming vacation to see all the species that can be found on our pristine island.

Nothing beats autumn at the beach. The emerald water turns a little grayer, the sun is a little lower, the breezes are a little cooler. The crowds are even a little sparser.

But the best part of fall in the Panhandle is the Florida Seafood Festival.

Now in its 54th year, this two-day celebration is the state’s oldest maritime festival, drawing thousands of visitors to the historic town of Apalachicola on November 3rd and 4th!

The Festival is held at the mouth of the Apalachicola River under the shady oaks of Battery Park. This confluence of the river and the Gulf of Mexico form an estuary that gives the local oysters their distinctive salty-sweet taste. Some call these the best in the country, and in fact, nearly 90 percent of all oysters served in Florida come from this spot.

Of course, oysters are king at the Seafood Festival, but there’s more to it than just eating (though that’s really enough, isn’t it?). The festival also features arts and crafts exhibits, plus other seafood-related events including the Oyster Eating and Oyster Shucking contests, Blue Crab Races, a downtown Parade, 5k Redfish Run, and the Blessing of the Fleet.

There’s also musical entertainment with headliners I Am They, a Christian music group performing Friday, and country music star Jerrod Niemann on Saturday.

The entire event is free and open to the public, so just head over to Apalachicola and enjoy the fun!

Go time-traveling when you explore the quaint shops and eateries of St. George Island and nearby Apalachicola. Each town offers charming spots that will make you feel that you’ve been transported to the past. Whether you’re a history buff, foodie or shopping fanatic, the Forgotten Coast is the perfect place to find a touch of nostalgia! Keep reading to learn more about a few of our retro-themed local favorites.

The Old Time Soda Fountain

Serving the Forgotten Coast since 1905, The Old Time Soda Fountain, located in Apalachicola at 93 Avenue B, offers visitors a chance to take a seat at an old-fashioned counter and enjoy delicious treats, Blue Bell ice cream and much more. Guests will also want to check out the gift shop to browse souvenirs for friends and family back home.

The Tin Shed

This local favorite has earned a sterling reputation among antique collectors, and for good reason, because it’s jam-packed with a captivating assortment of nautical treasures, including ship wheels and floats, locks, keys, maps and flags. However, the collection isn’t restricted to maritime pieces. Take a look for yourself by visiting The Tin Shed at 170 Water Street in Apalachicola.

Bowery Station

Situated at 131 Commerce Street in Apalachicola’s Bowery district, Bowery Station offers ample historic charm alongside craft beer and wine served at a classic wooden bar. Patrons will feel right at home as they enjoy live music and relax at the inviting outdoor beer garden. There’s always something happening at Bowery Station, so be sure to check out their schedule of events.

Apalach Outfitters

If you’re planning a day of shopping, be sure to visit Apalach Outfitters at 32 Avenue D. The shop offers outdoor apparel from noted brands for both men and women – just look for the distinctive, historic building with pine doors, a tin roof and many other vintage details. Interested in a fishing trip? You won’t want to miss their selection of fly-fishing and light-tackle gear before setting sail.

Peer into the Past

Enjoy a walk down memory lane by exploring the Forgotten Coast’s historic shops, restaurants and landmarks. With so many places to see, events and shopping and dining opportunities, the only difficult part of planning a trip to St. George Island with Resort Vacation Properties is deciding what to do first.

When Halloween is on a weekend, it’s often observed on that day alone. But when it happens to fall on a weekday, it’s only proper form to celebrate the whole weekend leading up to the spookiest day of the year. This year, Halloween falls on a Tuesday, meaning this year is one we celebrate Halloweekend! That just leaves the question of how to spend it!

Just across the bay in Apalachicola are three different options to make your Halloweekend so much fun it’s frightening! All of these events are happening Saturday, October 28—it’s just up to you to decide!

A non-traditional way to celebrate Halloweekend is with the award-winning Autos and Oysters Auto Show in Apalachicola. Prizes are given to Top 50, Best of Show, Club Participation, and Sponsor’s Choice, but a category our guests might win is Greatest Distance Traveled. If you want to vie for that prize, head over to Riverfront Park between 9 AM and noon with your $20 registration fee. For those who just want to peruse the cruisers, admission is free, and the show is open to the public from 10 AM to 4 PM.

If you’d rather celebrate with a quiet night in, look no further than your own home away from home. You can craft something truly wonderful in the fully equipped Resort Vacation Properties kitchens, and many of our properties have DVD players so you can watch a scary (or not so scary!) movie. The Apalachicola Farmers Market is a great place to pick up fresh, local produce and seafood for a yummy dinner. Stop by to meet our local farmers, fishermen, and artisans at the Millpond Pavilion Market Street every second and fourth Saturday from 9 AM till 1 PM!

If you’re a fan of a more ghastly Halloween celebration, Apalach has you covered, too. Saturday evening from 6:30 to 8:30, the Apalachicola Area Historical Society hosts its biannual Ghostwalk in the Chestnut Street Cemetery. Wander through history as locals regale the stories that make the Forgotten Coast so unique, all while dressed in creepy cool attire from the time period. All proceeds go to the preservation of this historic cemetery.

However you choose to celebrate, it’s sure to be an epic Halloweekend on the Forgotten Coast! Ask one of our friendly team members for further insight to what you can get up to while you’re here this fall!

There’s nothing quite like enjoying a cool summer treat on St. George Island. Our vacationers can’t resist the allure of delectable ice cream flavors paired with unparalleled ocean views. Here are just a few of our favorite destinations for ice cream and other savory desserts.

Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream

Located at 147 East Gulf Beach Drive, Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream is a St. George Island classic. Flavors vary seasonally, which makes it easy to discover new favorites, and seating is available on the deck and indoors, with air conditioning to help you beat the heat. Once you’ve finished your snack, enjoy a stroll to explore the nearby businesses, including Island Emporium and Island Outfitters.

Sweet Surf

A more recent addition to St. George Island’s eclectic collection of eateries, Sweet Surf offers soft-serve ice cream along with a plethora of treats guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth. Options include Italian ice, root beer floats, milkshakes and much more. Sweet Surf is conveniently located at 41 East Gulf Beach Drive, right next to St. George Island Trading Co. and just a few steps from the St. George Island Lighthouse.

Off the Island

When you explore the nearby city of Apalachicola, you’ll also discover mouth-watering desserts. Visit The Old Time Soda Fountain at 93 Market Street for ice cream and treats, or stop by the Apalachicola Chocolate & Coffee Company to enjoy homemade gelato, as well as chocolate, pastries, cookies and other irresistible sweets.

Come to the Forgotten Coast

For travelers and their taste buds, St. George Island has plenty to offer. Experience the sweetness of the Forgotten Coast by booking your stay with Resort Vacation Properties today.

Nothing brings together a group like live music—dancing, singing along, and rocking out can turn strangers into friends over the course of just a few hours. As friendly as the Forgotten Coast is, it’s no wonder the area has plenty of hotspots to get your live music fix!

Blue Parrot Oceanfront Café (68-A Gorrie Dr.) offers unrivaled Gulf views to accompany their summer weekend concerts, and this Island staple is pet friendly, so Fido can tag along, too!

Stop by the large, outdoor courtyard at Harry A’s (28 Bayshore Dr.) for live music and karaoke and stay for the mouth-watering seafood offerings on their menu—don’t miss the seared ahi tuna!

At Paddy’s Raw Bar (240 E. 3rd), you can take your live music with fresh Apalachicola Bay oysters and one (or more!) of their sixteen draft beers.

If you’re looking for something more low-key, head over to Sometimes It’s Hotter (112 E. Gulf Beach Dr.) on Thursday evenings for Circle of Friends, a weekly music and cash beer and wine bar event.

Across the Bay are even more options as Apalachicola is home to two fantastic spots. Tamara’s Tapas Bar (73 Market St., Apalachicola)’s motto “Eat, Drink, Bond” rings true with tasty tapas, mouth-watering cocktails, and live music on weekends. Over at Bowery Station (131 Commerce St., Apalachicola), a beer and wine bar with a taste of old Apalach, there’s live music every pumping every night, including Wednesday’s open mic night.

Venturing further along the Forgotten Coast to Carrabelle is one of the area’s mainstays: Harry’s Bar and Package (306 Marine St., Carrabelle). This Carrabelle mainstay has been in operation since 1942 and offers distinctively New Orleans flair in their popular courtyard. The attached Marine Street Grill offers a small but scrumptious selection of sandwiches, salads, and starters. Also in Carrabelle, you’ll find Fathom’s Steam Room and Raw Bar (201 St. James Ave, Carrabelle), where you can enjoy waterfront views as you sip, savor, and sway along to their band du jour.

Wherever you head to hear tunes on the Forgotten Coast, you’re in for a treat. With plenty of island talent and laid back beachy vibes from SGI to Carrabelle and back, there’s no shortage of coastal revelry at these live music hangouts!