August brings soaring temperatures to St. George Island, but that doesn’t deter competitors in the St. George Island Sizzler 5K Race and One Mile Fun Run, held this year on August 5th. The Sizzler is perfect for beach-loving runners—instead of a t-shirt, participants receive a commemorative towel, and the finish line celebration is a sunset beach party at St. George Lighthouse Park complete with seafood and live music. While not required, costumes are strongly encouraged.

The awards, handcrafted by local artist Anne Eason, are as unique as the event, and will be given out to overall male and female participants in the Masters, Grand Masters, Senior Masters, and all standard age group winners.

The Sizzler is appropriately named, as the Forgotten Coast’s heat and humidity in August are a force to be reckoned with. Because of this, we recommend visiting runners adapt to the heat slowly and make sure to hydrate throughout the day leading up to this evening race. A water station will be provided at the halfway point. Organizers also advise to dress as coolly as local laws (and modesty) allow. The event will happen rain or shine, with only lightening as a potential cause for delay.

Sponsored by the Tate’s Hell Track Club, 2017 will be the race’s 20th and final year. All proceeds will benefit the Franklin County Humane Society, a not-for-profit facility in the Tate’s Hell woods from which the Track Club derives its name. The Franklin County Humane Society has been in operation since 1991 and continues to work toward its mission of relieving animal suffering, preventing animal cruelty, eliminating animal over-population, and promoting humane education to enhance the human-to-animal bond.

Registration offers a variety of prices and options, from the $35 Sizzler, which includes a towel, to the $15 Student rate. Discounts are available for military with valid identification. On-Site Registration is available for $40 and will include the towel, if available. All packets include a ticket to the Post-Race Party, and any available extra tickets will be sold for $15 on the day of the race.

There’s nothing quite like celebrating the Fourth of July at the beach. The hot dogs, cold beers, and all around good times we associate with America’s birthday are accompanied by the red of the sunset, the white of the sand, and the blue of the ocean. Apalachicola Bay residents love the holiday so much we celebrate for two days! Here are our favorite ways to spend Independence Day:

If you’re like us and can’t wait for the Fourth, head across the Bay to Apalachicola for the 6th Annual Independence Eve celebration on July 3! The party kicks off at 5 P.M. at Downtown’s Riverfront Park with food, beverages, a parade, and kids’ activities while musical guests Johnny and the Loveseats, featuring Voice contestant Johnny Hayes, rock out on the main stage. The evening finishes with a bang as a fireworks show illuminates the beautiful Apalachicola River.

For the holiday itself, there’s no better place to be than St. George Island! The annual parade welcomes anyone (including visitors!) with a costume or decorated vehicles and encourages all to join in the fun with water guns. Get your golf cart decorated, your trailers hooked up, and your squirt guns filled!

The St. George Island 4th of July Parade will start at 10:00 am in front of The Beach Pit on W. Pine Ave.
The route will proceed east down Pine Avenue, passing Paddy’s Raw Bar and turning right (south) on 3rd St. East.  It will turn right again on E. Gulf Beach Drive to head west and complete the route! Line-up starts at 9:30, with roll-out at 10:00 am sharp. Be safe and we’ll see you there!

Later in the day is the fireworks show, lighting up the sky and reflecting vibrant sparkles of color upon the water and sand. Our favorite spot to watch the show is from the deck at Blue Parrot Oceanfront Cafe where you can enhance the fireworks with a yummy seafood dinner, specialty cocktails, and live music.

And if you’d rather spend the Fourth of July celebrating America’s natural splendor, look no further than Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park—the go-to spot for kayaking, fishing, and swimming in the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The park closes at sundown, so you have all day to play in the sun, sand, and surf!

Check out our available listings for a home-away-from-home to retreat to once the Fourth of July festivities have ended! Our vacation rentals selection is accessible here.

For some, shopping is a chore; for others, it’s the best way to spend a vacation. If you’re in the latter category, we’ve got you covered here along Apalachicola Bay. With a variety of shops in the area, there’s something for everyone. Here are our top picks for shopping spots:

Artemis Gallery and Boutique

Centrally located in downtown Apalachicola’s High Cotton Building is Artemis Gallery and Boutique, one of the Forgotten Coast’s premier art galleries. This Apalach staple specializes in Florida Landscapes and folk art from local or regional artists. Almost every piece is original, but the Gallery and Boutique also carries prints from some of their artists, as well as beautiful boutique clothing, jewelry and accessories, unique gifts, and cards. Stop by anytime—Artemis is open 7 days a week!

Apalach Outfitters

Another option in downtown Apalachicola is Apalach Outfitters, a full-service specialty retail shop. Stop in for men’s and women’s clothing, but stay for all your supplies to enjoy the Forgotten Coast’s natural beauty, with fly- and in-shore fishing gear, paddleboards, and snorkeling supplies! This kid- and pet-friendly store is next to the Dixie Theater in the heart of Apalachicola’s Historic Downtown District.

Riverlily

Did you know Apalachicola has a haven for mermaids? Riverlily is the top spot to pamper the mermaid in your life, with bath and beauty collections from all over the world, as well as fashionable scarves, fabulous socks, fragrant candles, and fun hats. The true star of this shop, though, is the collection of beautiful vintage style earrings, made with hard-to-find antique beads and unique findings. No pierced ears? No problem! Every pair in the shop can easily be converted to clip-ons!

Shop Without Leaving St. George!

Don’t think you have to leave St. George Island to take advantage of great local shopping! With the largest collection of art along the Forgotten Coast and a focus on local artists and fine craftspeople, Sea Oats Art Gallery is a must for any St. George Island trip. Pet-friendly Sadie’s Seahorse is another top choice on the island, specializing in coastal chic with gifts, cards, flowers, and other special St. George Island finds. And if you forget your shades, no worries—Sadie’s is an Oakley distributor! Island Dog is another great option for both local art and quality shades – you’ll find a great selection of Suncloud styles.

For other recommendations, give our team at Resort Vacation Properties a call!

 

Apalachicola Sponges in St. George Island FL – Resort Vacation Properties The Forgotten Coast is home to a storied history of the sponge industry. In the late 1800s, a fleet of 16 ships called Apalachicola home, and seasoned sailors would strap on brass helmets and lead boots to harvest the region’s most profitable crop. After being harvested, the sponges were taken to the Apalachicola Sponge Exchange, where buyers would inspect and then bid on the sponges. From there, the sponges traveled across America, all the way from San Francisco to New York City. The thriving industry came to a halt in 1939, when over-harvesting and red tide led to a complete ban, and it was not until 2007 that sponging was again allowed in Apalach.

The demand for sponges today is notably different; Apalachicola Bay sponges are a niche product, often shipped to spas or companies with a “green” focus that value the renewable aspect of natural sponges. And the local company has a deep respect for this deep sea treasure—they make an effort to help protect the reproduction of sponges by always leaving three inches (the length needed for the sponges to regenerate) and squeezing the reproductive spores of the sponges while underwater.

Almost as storied as the sponge industry is today’s Apalachicola Sponge Company. The owners, Jerry and Joyce Garlick, are longtime residents of and contributors to the area—Jerry was a postal worker until 1995, and Joyce spent years working in the local seafood industry.

In 1995, they opened an antique business in the original Sponge Exchange building. Soon after, they looked into expanding into the natural sponge business. The rest, as they say, is history! Jerry is now the only sponge broker on the Florida Panhandle, and his company sells sponges all across the country. Visitors to the area are welcome in their store, now located in the historic Zingarelli Building across from The Owl Cafe in downtown Apalachicola. One of the most important (and enjoyable) missions of Jerry, Joyce, and the whole Apalachicola Sponge Company family is education about sponges. Apalachicola sponges, as stationary creatures, play an important role in gauging the Gulf’s health in addition to lending themselves to a multitude of eco-friendly uses!

You can learn more about the Apalachicola Sponge Company or make online orders at their website, or visit their store at 14 Avenue D, Monday through Friday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.

It’s hard to beat the fishing on St. George Island. Its location as a barrier island four miles off the mainland gives fishermen the unique opportunity to fish Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico in the same day, if they so choose. And each has its advantages—the Bay is home to more than 100 species of fish, while the Gulf gives opportunity for surfing and offshore fishing along the white sand beaches.

This love of fishing spans the Forgotten Coast region, and locals are proud to include children in our favorite sport. After all, fishing offers children a variety of life lessons, from patience and decision-making to the concept of the circle of life. Many charters, which make fishing hassle-free by including the required licenses, rods, reels, bait and tackle, welcome children. Some are even for children only!

A great way to celebrate the young angler in your life can be found just across the Bay in Eastpoint. The 17th Annual Fisherman’s Choice Youth Fishing Tournament will be held on June 10th, bringing together 200 children ages 16 and under to fish for both fresh and saltwater species. Entry is free and includes a free t-shirt. After the tournament, everyone is invited to attend a cookout at Fisherman’s Choice, the title sponsor and Eastpoint’s premier hunting and fishing supply store.

 

While artists have long painted outdoors, it was not until the mid-19th century that the practice became popular enough to be given a proper name—plein air painting. Since then, the tradition has become a style in and of itself; a painter sets off into the world to capture its beauty at that very moment. This tradition is naturally quite popular in areas blessed with natural beauty, including Florida’s own Forgotten Coast.

For ten days in May, the Forgotten Coast will celebrate the tradition of plein air painting with the 12th annual Forgotten Coast En Plein Air Invitational, when more than 20 nationally acclaimed artists and several hundred art enthusiasts come together for daily artist demonstrations, workshops, art sales, and a series of public receptions.

One of the world’s most prestigious plein art events, the festivities span over 100 miles along the coast from Carrabelle to Mexico Beach and place particular focus on the Forgotten Coast’s unique local culture—the people, places, and stories behind the plein air paintings.

Of course, activities are not limited to the experienced painters! Novices can partake too, with the festival’s Painting Stations, which offer a unique, one-on-one experience with Florida’s Finest Ambassadors and include all necessary supplies. To book your appointment, click here.

And if you fancy yourself more of a spectator, there are plenty of events to enjoy. The demonstrations will be held at a variety of locations and times, giving the artists ample opportunity to capture a variety of different lighting, including darkness! There are also a variety of receptions, “Lunch and Learn” lectures, and Collector’s Forums, but be advised reservations are required and spots are filling up fast!

The Forgotten Coast En Plein Air Invitational begins May 5 at 8:00 A.M. and lasts until May 14 at 5:00 P.M. For more information, such as a schedule of events, please visit their website today!

St. George Island and Franklin County are always actively involved in conservation and caring for their greatest assets—the stunning beaches and unique wildlife. Earth Day gives reason to highlight, celebrate, and educate about the area’s efforts. For example, did you know that the “Leave No Trace” Ordinance, which requires all beachgoers to remove all personal items from the beach by 9:00 p.m., serves a purpose greater than just clean beaches? It’s an important protection for St. George Island’s favorite guests—sea turtles!

The island is a popular nesting site for the endangered species, a responsibility we take very seriously. Between May 1st and October 31st, migrations of sea turtles come to our shores to lay eggs in the same nesting grounds where they were hatched, with some traveling as far as 1400 miles! Temperature of the surrounding sand determines the sex of the hatchlings, and it can take them up to a week to dig out of the RVP Turtlesnest. While a popular but disproven myth claims that sea turtles hatch during the full moon, they do emerge at night to make their way to the ocean, where only an estimated 10% survive to adulthood. Because of the rarity of sea turtles, St. George Island feels privileged to be a nesting site. Strict guidelines and federal regulations are enforced to help protect these precious creatures of the sea, so, if you’re lucky enough to see this miracle, please respect both the turtles and the law by not disturbing them!

 

 

If you find yourself on St. George Island for Earth Day and want to celebrate with education, there are two great options in the area. The FSU Coastal & Marine Lab in nearby St. Teresa hosts a free open house with a focus on the importance of improving human awareness of the tight connection between healthy ecosystems and healthy societies, such as the importance of estuaries and other wetlands in controlling air and water pollution. This event, open to all ages, is from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and more information can be found here.

Another opportunity to learn about estuaries can be found just across the bay at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center. Open Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., this non-profit organization features aquatic tanks, historical and cultural exhibits, and outdoor boardwalks—all with free admission! More information can be found here.

If “Life is a Highway,” what better way to celebrate a beach getaway than to check out some classic cars? One of the highlights of spring along the Forgotten Coast, a quiet stretch of beautiful, undeveloped beach spanning from the Gulf of Mexico to Apalachicola Bay, is the area’s eponymous car show.

The Fourth Annual Forgotten Coast Cruisers Car Show is held in conjunction with the Riverfront Festival in scenic Carabelle, Florida. Last year’s event saw 18 gorgeous models spanning the decades, and this year’s promises to be better than ever.

Registration is open to cars of any age, make and model, according to a promoter, and there are prizes in a wide variety of categories for cars of all ages. Among the numerous prizes will be awarded are Best of Show, Sponsors Choice, Top 10 People’s Choice, Late Model Award, Best Paint Award, along with a 50/50 drawing and many door prizes.

Presented by Bobby Turner, Jim Ward, the Forgotten Coast Cruisers, and the Carrabelle Chamber of Commerce, The Fourth Annual Forgotten Coast Cruisers Car Show will be held on Saturday, April 22, 2017, from 10:00 to 4:00. Registration is $10:00 the day of the show. For more information, email captmullette@gmail.com or visit the Forgotten Coast Cruisers Facebook Page.

Plan to stay with us during your automotive adventure! Check out available homes here.

 

Few things are as romantic as a beach sunset with your sweetheart. The sun slips beneath the horizon, the waves roll up on the shore, reflecting the brilliant hues of the last light of day, and—all at once—time seems to stand still. It’s hard not to feel like a love-struck teenager again in those magic hours between day and night, especially in a place as striking as St. George Island, so we’ve gathered our favorite romance spots for sunset seekers.

A classic sunset date is, of course, dinner. On St. George Island, it’s never a matter of choosing whether or not to witness the stunning water surrounding you, but rather choosing between the Gulf of Mexico or Apalachicola Bay. The view from The Blue Parrot’s patio is unparalleled for the Gulf, whereas Paddy’s Raw Bar offers stunning sunsets over the Bay. Back on the mainland in Apalachicola, the no-children policy at Up The Stairs makes it a great spot for a quiet, romantic night out, and their balcony offers a stunning view of downtown and the river.

Another romantic option is a sunset picnic. Pick up some local-caught steamed shrimp (and maybe a bottle of wine!) from the Piggly Wiggly or SGI Fresh Market and then stroll down to the beach. There are plenty of picnic facilities on the public beach, but we recommend doing as the locals do by bringing a blanket or towel. Aside from more options for location, sitting in the sand offers the opportunity to cuddle up and sneak a kiss.

While viewing the sunset from land is always lovely, you can attain a truly magical vantage point from the water. If your honey is on the adventurous side, consider renting a kayak from Journeys of St. George Island or St. George Island Outfitters for an evening on the Forgotten Coast you’ll remember forever.

Located in the middle of the Island, the Cape St. George Lighthouse has become an iconic landmark for St. George Island and the Forgotten Coast as a whole. This defining piece of architecture has a history just as remarkable as the views offered from its summit.

The Island’s original lighthouse was built in 1833 on the western tip of St. George. However, its location was difficult for ships coming from the east to see, so in 1846 it was determined that a new location would be sought out. The following year, Congress appropriated $8,000 to build a new lighthouse two miles to the southeast, repurposing many of the materials from the 1833 lighthouse in the process.

The second light would only last three years. After it was destroyed by a hurricane, construction began on a third structure—a lighthouse “built to last,” with a new location further inland and a foundation of pine pilings driven deeply into the sand in addition to cement walls made tapering from four feet at the bottom to two feet at the top. And last it did—for 153 years.

The next century brought change throughout the world and eventually to the Island’s little lighthouse; in 1949 the Coast Guard replaced the Fresnel lens with an automated light, eliminating the need for lighthouse keepers. Later in the century, the lighthouse bore the brunt of some devastating hurricanes. Hurricane Andrew changed the landscape of the St. George by reclaiming a large part of the surrounding beach in 1992, and three years later, Hurricane Opal moved the lighthouse from its foundation, giving it what would temporarily become its signature lean.

The community rallied around its beloved landmark, raising over $200,000 and restoring it to its former glory by 2002. However, by the spring of 2005, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico had once again reclaimed the structure. In October of that year, the lighthouse collapsed into the Gulf, ending its sesquicentennial watch over the Gulf of Mexico.

Thanks to the efforts of the St. George Lighthouse Association, a reconstruction occurred at the center of the Island. The St. George Lighthouse we know today opened in 2008, followed by a museum and gift shop in a replica of the Keeper’s House in 2011. You can now climb to the top of the lighthouse any day of the week except Thursday from 10 AM (Noon on Sunday) until 5 PM, or join in on the monthly full moon climb.