While we spend a spend a majority of our time enjoying St. George Island, it’s our wonderful neighboring communities who also make the Forgotten Coast the panhandle’s best destination. So sometimes we like to stretch our legs and escape for a bit and being just a few miles to our east, Carrabelle makes for a pleasant escapade.
The area has some of the best hunting, fishing, hiking and camping on the coast, with over 750,000 acres of public forest where eagles, deer, blue heron, osprey and black bear can be seen, depending on the season. And that massive acreage includes nearby Tate’s Hell State Forest and the convergence of the Carrabelle, Crooked and New rivers, which are perfect for canoes and kayaks.
At Carrabelle Beach, Crooked River Lighthouse Park is a fun place to visit and experience a bit of history. It features the 103-foot lighthouse, where you can climb all 138 steps to the top for a great view of the area. The park also features a museum and, soon, will feature a centerpiece pirate ship known as the Carrabella II for kids to explore.
Craving a day of adventure? Dog Island is just a short jaunt to the south, by motor or paddle. The island is a fun place for adventure with pristine white sand beaches, good shelling, crabbing and shore fishing. Although it is now closed, the Pelican Inn is still there, reminding visitors that the island used to be inhabited. Now, it’s a prime destination for folks wanting a taste of pristine habitat, where hundreds of species of birds can be observed, and a picnic lunch is the best idea of the day.
For those who enjoy golf, hard-court tennis, aerobics and good food, the St. James Bay Golf Resort is open to the public and features the Crooked River Grill restaurant and a perfectly manicured 18-hole championship course.
Carrabelle is also home to a collective of local artists whose creations can be found throughout the area. And there are two main events each year, in addition to holiday celebrations like those at Christmas and the Fourth of July. Each August, the city hosts the Crab Cake Cook-off, which for the last three years has raised money to build the aforementioned Carrabella II. It’s a tasty chance to mingle and enjoy a variety of crab cake recipes using local seafood.
And the featured attraction each October is Lantern Fest, held at Crooked River Lighthouse. The glow from 123 lanterns will set the mood for an evening celebrating the lighthouse’s 123rd birthday. There’s dancing, Celtic music, star gazing with the Tallahassee Astronomical Society, children’s activities, delicious food and desserts, and special evening tower climbs at the tallest lighthouse on the Forgotten Coast.
It’s National Lighthouse Day!
Did you know that there is a National Lighthouse Day? It’s celebrated on August 7th each year, and is rooted in a 1789 Act of Congress. Although the St. George Island Lighthouse isn’t quite that old, it’s still a part of this important past.
On August 7, 1789, Congress passed an Act that provided for the establishment and support of lighthouses, beacons, buoys, and public piers. These help commerce and navigation, but also help improve public enjoyment of the nation’s waterways and coasts.
National Lighthouse Day was officially designated in 1989, recognizing the 200th anniversary of the signing of the 1789 Act and of the first Federal lighthouse being commissioned.
The original 1789 Act read:
Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
That all expenses which shall accrue from and after the fifteenth day of August one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine, in the necessary support, maintenance and repairs of all lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers erected, placed, or sunk before the passing of this act, at the entrance of, or within any bay, inlet, harbor, or port of the United States, for rendering the navigation thereof easy and safe, shall be defrayed out of the treasury of the United States: Provided nevertheless, That none of the said expenses shall continue to be so defrayed by the United States, after the expiration of one year from the day aforesaid, unless such lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers, shall in the mean time be ceded to and vested in the United States, by the state or states respectively in which the same may be, together with the lands and tenements thereunto belonging, and together with the jurisdiction of the same.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That a lighthouse shall be erected near the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay, at such place, when ceded to the United States in manner aforesaid, as the President of the United States shall direct.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury to provide by contracts, which shall be approved by the President of the United States, for building a lighthouse near the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay, and for rebuilding when necessary, and keeping in good repair, the lighthouses, beacons, buoys, and public piers in the several States, and for furnishing the same with all necessary supplies; and also to agree for the salaries, wages, or hire of the person or persons appointed by the President, for the superintendence and care of the same.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That all pilots in the bays, inlets, rivers, harbors and ports of the United States, shall continue to be regulated in conformity with the existing laws of the States respectively wherein such pilots may be, or with such laws as the States may respectively hereafter enact for the purpose, until further legislative provision shall be made by Congress. Approved: August 7, 1789
Origins of National Lighthouse Day:
Although we love and cherish our local lighthouses the Cape St. George Light and the Crooked River Lighthouse, National Lighthouse Day originated much farther north – in Rhode Island, in fact. There, Senator John H. Chafee sponsored a joint resolution in Congress on April 28, 1988, to designate August 7, 1989 as “National Lighthouse Day,” proclaiming that the resolution “Designates August 7, 1989, as National Lighthouse Day and calls for lighthouse grounds, where feasible, to be open to the public.” The resolution passed quickly, emerging from the Senate on July 26, 1988, and coming through Congress (sponsored by Rep. William J. Hughes, New Jersey) on October 21. Two weeks later, on November 5, 1988, President Ronald Reagan applied his “John Hancock,” and the Bill became law. The first National Lighthouse Day was observed on the 200th Anniversary of the original act, August 7, 1989.
In Recognition of National Lighthouse Day – Hon. William J. Hughes
HON. WILLIAM J. HUGHES
in the House of Representatives
WEDNESDAY, JULY 26, 1989
Mr. HUGHES. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call attention to a special occasion which communities all across America will be celebrating next week. August 7, 1989, marks the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Lighthouse Act and the commissioning of the first Federal lighthouse in the United States.
In honor of those events, I was proud to sponsor a resolution last year which designated August 7, 1989, as National Lighthouse Day. The celebration next week will provide some long overdue recognition for the important role which lighthouses played in the history of our country, and the values of safety, heroism, and American ingenuity which they represent. At the same time, I am hopeful that it will encourage communities and citizens groups around the country to rededicate themselves to the protection and restoration of these historic structures.
As America continues its technological progress into the 21st century, it becomes easy to forget the wholesomeness and serenity of preindustrial establishments such as lighthouses. The history they provide gives us the opportunity to step back in time and learn more about our country. The contributions they made to our society, from protecting our coasts to guiding our sailors, should continue to be appreciated and remembered.
I am proud to point out that there are three restored lighthouses in my congressional district in southern New Jersey. These three, the Cape May Point lighthouse, the Finns Point lighthouse, and the Hereford Inlet lighthouse, contribute greatly to New Jersey’s beautiful coastline.
The Cape May Point lighthouse, which was first lit on October 31, 1859, was reopened to the public in 1988 after being closed for 50 years. Today, with restoration virtually complete, its light once again shines bright, giving comfort to seamen nearly 19 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Hereford Inlet lighthouse was built in 1874 and is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture. Under restoration since 1982, it continues to provide North Wildwood with a valuable monument to Cape May County’s maritime history.
Last, the Finns Point lighthouse, located in Pennsville, is a 113-year-old marvel. It served as an aid to navigation along the Delaware River from 1877 until 1950, when the river channel was enlarged and deepened.
Unfortunately, not every lighthouse is as lucky as these to have been adopted by a local citizens group or community. Many have fallen into disrepair and desperately need support. For this reason, I have been pleased to join with other Members of Congress in sponsoring legislation to establish the National Bicentennial Lighthouse Fund in order to provide Federal assistance for local lighthouse restoration efforts.
Mr. Speaker, the National Lighthouse Day celebration on August 7, 1989, will indeed be a special event. I hope it further rejuvenates the spirit of these maritime institutions and the impressive restoration efforts which are now taking place in the many communities. It is important that future generations have the opportunity to learn more about and appreciate the unique role which lighthouses played in helping to build our great Nation. I hope that everyone will join me in supporting this effort in the months and years ahead. —
However, the National Lighthouse Day designation was, it turns out, only official for that one anniversary in 1989. Although lighthouses and lighthouse lovers around the country celebrate annually, Congress has yet to permanently designate August 7th as a recurring date to observe the importance of what the Lighthouse Foundation refers to as “America’s lighthouse heritage.”
In 2013, twenty-four years after the 1989 observation, a Senate Resolution passed that made August 7, 2013 “National Lighthouse and Lighthouse Preservation Day,” but again this was only a single-year designation. As the Lighthouse Foundation notes, “Over the past couple of decades, lighthouse leaders from around the country have worked tirelessly to convince Congress to permanently designate August 7 as National Lighthouse Day on America’s calendar, and though unsuccessful to date, those noble efforts continue. However, even without official recognition from Congress, the nationwide lighthouse community continues to ‘keep the flame of our rich lighthouse heritage burning bright. Each year, August 7 is celebrated as National Lighthouse Day, with lighthouse groups offering the general public a host of fun-learning activities to enjoy – including tours, cruises and presentations that pay special tribute to America’s lighthouses and their grand history.”
Here on St. George Island, we’re lucky to have a magnificent lighthouse to see and love every day of the year, and dedicated folks to protect and preserve it even without official Congressional designation. It’s a beacon for the Island, a piece of Apalachicola Bay history preserved for everyone to enjoy, and easily the best view around. So come on out next time you’re down, stop by the Lighthouse museum, and admire the majesty of the Cape St. George Light.
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.
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!
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!
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!
The Forgotten Coast is an enigma, a place unto itself and unlike any other, a haven for misfits and nonconformists, where those who march to the beat of their own drums can find solace in their peculiarity being matched by their neighbors’. It’s no wonder, then, that the area is home to shopping as unique as its residents. A prime example of the Forgotten Coast’s eclectic flavor is The Tin Shed, home “the most comprehensive maritime collection east of the Mississippi” tucked away in an eponymous shack in downtown Apalachicola.
You might recognize this spot from its iconic Buoy Wall. Aside from being a favorite photo opportunity for tourists and locals alike, it’s also popular with national publications. It was used as a backdrop for a shot in the 2012 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, and, more recently, was featured in Garden and Gun.
Inside, it’s like a museum where the relics are available for purchase. Everything nautical you can conceptualize is here: buoys, flags, signs, carvings, old charts, and more. You could spend hours perusing and barely scratch the surface. Unlike many souvenir shops, these items are authentic instead of kitsch, each with a long history and distinctive flair, so whatever you purchase is a one-of-a-kind addition to your home. It’s that attention to detail that has made for almost 20 years of success for The Tin Shed—they’ve even provided the decorations for several restaurants across the country!
So swing by The Tin Shed, get a shot of the Buoy Wall, and pick up something special to commemorate your trip. You’re guaranteed to find something as unique as the Forgotten Coast itself in this truly extraordinary shop!
The Tin Shed is located at 170 Water St. in Apalachicola and is open every day from 10 AM to 5 PM.
Artists of all mediums are inspired by the beauties of the Forgotten Coast. In addition to the many shopping opportunities in the region, our guests will discover eclectic art galleries and gift shops featuring unique offerings from local artisans, from sea-inspired jewelry to stunning photography that captures the island’s scenic landscapes. Keep reading, and we’ll dig into all that the region’s art scene has to offer.
Art On The Island
Eager to get a taste of the Forgotten Coast’s art without leaving the island? You’re in luck. Sea Oats Gallery, located at 128 E. Pine Ave, is a longstanding St. George Island favorite that displays an extensive collection of art created by dozens of local talents. The gallery was initially intended to house the work of local artist Joyce Estes, but eventually expanded to include the diverse work of other local figures.
Outfitted with a similarly diverse collection is Island Dog Beach and Surf Shop, situated at 160 E. Pine Ave. This popular island shop displays local art in the form of original paintings, photography and more, which visitors can purchase to bring home a piece of the Forgotten Coast itself.
The Cape St. George Lighthouse Gift Shop is a great place to find a variety of original artworks and unique souvenirs of your trip. The historic lighthouse, with its 92-step wooden spiral staircase, offers spectacular views of the sunset and full moon during its popular Full Moon Climbs (reservations are recommended; call 850-927-7745). The lighthouse also hosts arts festivals and other cultural events throughout the year.
Finally, local photographer Chip Sanders has made a name for himself with his stunning shots of the Gulf Coast’s waters. View his work in person by visiting his gallery at 139 E. Gorrie Drive.
Art Off The Island
If you’re willing to venture into the nearby community of Apalachicola, you’ll discover even more local artistry. Richard Bickel Photography at 81 Market St houses the excellent work of the business’s namesake, focusing on an array of photographs depicting the historic downtown district of Apalachicola. In addition to shots of local scenery, you’ll find striking images from around the world.
Jeweler Marilyn Brogan creates one-of-a-kind pieces from recycled gold and silver and re-purposed gemstones. View her creations in her one-woman studio at 118 Commerce St. in Apalachicola.
The Gallery at High Cotton is the creation space for artists Jenny Odom and Beth Appleton. Browse their studio at 230 Water St. in Apalachicola from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday.
Schedule a Visit to St. George Island
Experience the artwork of the Forgotten Coast with a sunny getaway to St. George Island. Resort Vacation Properties offers a massive selection of vacation homes catering to all group sizes and budgetary needs, and each rental is outfitted with amenities that will make your stay as comfortable as can be. Browse our properties to get started.