The Forgotten Coast has a history that spans centuries, and one of the reasons the area is so beloved by residents and visitors alike is the stories from long ago. They add character to match the sparkling water, sugar-white beaches and “island time” mentality that makes St. George Island and the adjacent communities so wonderful.

And whether you have an hour or a week to dive into the rich history of the coast, there are fascinating museums ready to tell interesting tales on topics ranging from WWII heritage to maritime intrigue.

 

Apalachicola Maritime Museum

103 Water St., Apalachicola. Open Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

The Apalachicola Maritime Museum provides a hands-on learning environment for all things nautical. Through programs such as boat building and restoration, historical tours, and educational programs, visitors are able to get an insider’s view into the three rivers that converge to become the largest river in Florida—the Apalachicola River. The main exhibit is the Heritage of Apalachicola, originally named the Quark, a 58-foot wooden ketch from the 1930s. Daily sailing adventures on both the bay and river are offered.

 

Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center

108 Island Dr., Eastpoint. Open Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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. ANERR features winding paths that incorporate pine flat woods, oak hammocks and freshwater marshes where cattails and sawgrass grow wild. The reserve also includes a Nature Center features 18,000 square feet of learning space including two working wet and dry research laboratories.

 

Camp Gordon Johnston World War II Museum

Carrabelle City Complex, 1001 Gray Ave., Carrabelle. Open Monday – Thursday 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., Friday 12 p.m. – 4 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

For World War II buffs, the Camp Gordon Johnston World War II Museum, in nearby Carrabelle, is a must visit. The camp was opened in 1942 as a training camp for Infantry Divisions and their support units in amphibious operations. In the following four years of operation, 250,000 men trained there before shipping out to both the European and Pacific fronts. The exhibit tells the story of the United States’ extensive effort during World War II through a widespread history of those who trained there, as well as photographs of daily life in the camp. Veterans who trained at the camp also contributed memorabilia, with everything from uniforms to souvenirs.

 

Cape St. George Light Museum and Gift Shop

2B East Gulf Beach Dr., St. George Island. Open every day except Thursday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., with additional hours for seasonal full-moon climbs.

Don’t think you have to leave St. George Island to get your dose of history! The Cape St. George Light Museum and Gift Shop is conveniently located in the center of our little island. This iconic landmark has a long and storied history, with four different iterations defining the skyline over multiple decades. The last structure, which stood for 153 years, was sadly destroyed in 2005, but the museum was built in its likeness. Now, visitors can learn about the history in the museum and replica of the Keeper’s House, as well as climb to the top of the lighthouse for unmatched views of the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Carrabelle History Museum

106 Avenue B Southeast, Carrabelle, Open Wednesday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., Thursday –  Saturday 10 p.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. 

The museum opened in 2009 and is located in the Old Carrabelle City Hall, which was built in 1933 as project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The museum has four rooms full of historic artifacts, a large entry hall for special displays and a workroom/office for the volunteers to process the incoming artifacts. The displays highlight local heroes, the early 1900s steamship Tarpon and Carrabelle natives who lived in the area thousands of years ago.

 

Crooked River Lighthouse

1975 Hwy 98 W, Carrabelle. Open Wednesday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m, Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Sunday 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Crooked River Lighthouse stood for nearly 100 years, illuminating the pass between Dog and St. George Islands. Newly restored, the 103-foot iron and steel lighthouse stands on the main land where it was originally built in 1895 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The lighthouse beams nightly with an acrylic replica of its original 4th-order Fresnel lens. The tower is open for climbs, and there is also the Keeper’s House Museum and Gift Shop along with an adjacent picnic area features a 70-foot wooden pirate ship.

 

John Gorrie Museum

46 6th St., Apalachicola. Open Thursday – Monday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. year-round, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The John Gorrie Museum chronicles the life of one of Apalachicola’s most famous residents, Dr. John Gorrie. A gifted physician and committed citizen of Apalachicola who served as postmaster, city treasurer, town councilman and bank director, Gorrie’s most famous contribution was a refrigeration unit for his yellow fever patients. This machine laid the groundwork for modern refrigeration and air conditioning. The museum honors his legacy by showing how one man can impact the world.

 

Orman House Museum

177 5th St., Apalachicola. Open Monday, Thursday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

This antebellum home was built in 1838 by cotton merchant and businessman Thomas Orman on the Apalachicola River. The house features details of both Federal and Greek revival styles with wooden mantelpieces, molded plaster cornices and wide heart-pine floorboards. Adjacent to the house are the Chapman Botanical Gardens, featuring a butterfly garden, other botanical features, walkways and open spaces. And there is also the Three Soldiers Detail, a bronze replica of the Vietnam memorial statue in Washington, D.C.

 

Raney House Museum

128 Market St., Apalachicola. Open 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sunday through Friday, and Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Originally constructed in 1838, four short years after cotton commission merchant David G. Raney moved to Apalachicola, the Raney House blends elements from Greek Revival and Federal-style architecture. The mansion, now a historic museum, is listed on the National Register of Historic Homes and contains furniture, documents, and artifacts of the 19th century.

Spring Break is a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of schools being out to string together quite a few days for an adventure. But many of us across the country wince at the thought of trying to relax with toes in the sand and the sounds of the surf in our ears during Spring Break. Because many Florida beaches are overrun with high school and college students who, while as welcome to enjoy area sands as we are, don’t necessarily do so calmly or quietly.

But St. George Island is the perfect location for Spring Break, for a number of reasons. First, it’s primarily a place for families, so many of the students bent on cutting loose head for other coastal towns. That keeps the beautiful sandy beaches free from huge crowds, and the negatives associated with them.

Which doesn’t mean it’s a time for isolation, either. Just like in other peak times, the businesses around St. George Island and the Forgotten Coast are open and ready to welcome their guests. Which means live music, art events, great food, and the sense of community that makes our coast the very best.

Plus, the weather in the early spring is ideal on the island, usually breaking into the 70s, making for pleasant sun-kissed days and cool nights where a fire in the fire pit is still a great idea, as is stargazing. And many of the homes we offer through Resort Vacation Properties can include a hot tub or heated pool, so you can enjoy a little dip in your swimsuit day or night!

Another major benefit to Spring Break vacations on the island is all of the incredible outdoor activities St. George provides. On any given day visitors can enjoy fishing — offshore and inland — kayaking, hiking, bicycling, window shopping and more, all within a few minutes’ drive. And there are several wildlife preserves, including St. George Island State Park and the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve across the bay, where birding and other observations help you revel in the natural diversity of the area.

Finally, one of the best and most underestimated pleasures of Spring Breaking on St. George Island is the ability to stay in. Our properties offer all you need to prepare an exquisite meal, especially with fresh seafood a short drive away and nearby stores offering all the fresh ingredients you need. And you can host an incredible movie night or even a get-together with neighbors, should you feel so inspired. Our homes have great decks, outdoor barbecue areas, and a host of gaming opportunities, all within sight or a short walk of the waterfront.

This Spring Break, the question shouldn’t be “Why should we?” but “Why shouldn’t we?” The entire island awaits you and the entire family, with all the positives and none of the negatives. To make it work, all we need is you.

A pair of signature Resort Vacation Properties homes, located inside the gated St. George Plantation, are among the highlights of this year’s St. George Island Tour of Homes. They are “Chasing the Sun” and “Camelot.”

According to the St. George Lighthouse Association, which sponsors the tour, its homes “showcase the distinct architecture, décor, landscape and vistas on the island, from the gated St. George Plantation on the West to the beautiful gulf views on the East End.”

The beautiful sunshine yellow beachfront home, “Chasing the Sun,” is a star of the Plantation, and was redecorated and renovated in Spring 2018. It features four levels of style and surprises, including peak floors, fireplace mantels recycled from a Kentucky barn and amazing beach vistas combine for comfort and dazzle.

Nestled in lush tropical vegetation, the warmly decorated “Camelot” is truly a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the real world. It is all elegant curves and unexpected angles. Rich furnishings, original art and a secret grotto evoke the feel of a mythic castle. It also features a beautiful lagoon pool and rock fountain.

From the St. George Island Tour of Homes:

The third home in the Plantation, “Pelican Peace,” is a lovely, lively, full-time home. The rooms are decorated in South African and Mexican themes, and include bright artwork throughout. Marble stairs, leather furniture, a black cypress dining table and an enviable kitchen exude elegant warmth.

“Eventide” is a brand new, elevated, two-story home designed to fit its coveted bayfront lot. Inside, the inviting and ingenious space is crafted to optimize every inch for leisurely living. Nautical and nostalgic décor create a serene space throughout, perfect for enjoying the days and glorious nightly sunsets.

“Rock Me On the Water” is a remodeled 1960s beach house filled with custom pieces made from reclaimed wood, metal siding and roofing. Opening a closed porch and combining four rooms created a large front room and sweeping porch facing the Gulf of Mexico and overlooking the custom pool.

The homeowners of “HappiNest” say “this is our before-and-after house.” Originally a three-room house, it is now a spacious, peaceful space with modern finishes. Sea green-blues and rust-coral accents add pleasing splashes of color. An Old Florida ambience still permeates this transformed home.

“East of Eden” is a grand house with an island heart. The main living area is a host’s dream featuring a rough-edged pine table and chef’s kitchen. Views from every floor are simply stunning. Outdoor luxuries include a seating area, second kitchen and full bath with galvanized tub.

The Plantation Clubhouse is once again on the tour and will present an exhibit of mixed media art by Beth Appleton, Jane Broddus and Judy Ehrhardt. Also open to tour participants is the Cape St. George Lighthouse and the Keeper’s House Museum and Gift Shop.

The SGI Tour of homes will be held Saturday, Feb. 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are available online at sgitourofhomes.com or at the Lighthouse Gift Shop at the center of St. George Island. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 on the day of the tour.

When you arrive on St. George Island, the one thing you can be sure of is that everyone wants you to have the best, most fulfilling vacation ever. From the shop owners to the park rangers and your fellow visitors, when we’re all happy, life is wonderful.

And nothing can turn a good day bad like trouble. Just like traffic officers enforce the rules to ensure safe passage on area roads, beach officials use a flag system to communicate the levels of safety, and danger, that exist in the Gulf of Mexico. After all, the safety and enjoyment of our public beaches are affected by changes in tide and surf conditions.

The warning flag system was developed by the United States Lifesaving Association, in conjunction with the International Lifesaving Federation to be an easy-to-understand guide to possible water hazards. The flags come in multiple colors: red, double red, yellow, green and purple.

Red flags are the most serious of the beach warnings and warn beachgoers of severe hazards in the water. A single red flag indicates the surf is high, there are dangerous currents in the water, or both. It’s still possible to swim under red flag conditions, but swimmers are expected to use extreme caution. A double red flag means that the water is closed to swimming due to conditions too dangerous for any swimmer.

Yellow flags indicate rough, but not life-threatening, conditions requiring caution. It means there’s the potential for high surf and dangerous currents and/or undertow. Swimmers in the water under a yellow flag should only swim near lifeguards and be mindful of their instructions.

Purple flags are specifically related to dangerous marine life, such as sharks, jellyfish and other creatures. It’s possible the purple flags can be flown along with another colored flag, and they are only put in place when dangerous sea life has been spotted. A purple flag does not mean the water is closed to swimming, but anyone entering the water should use caution and be on the lookout for dangerous sea life.

Green flags are our favorite, because they indicate conditions are clear. But it’s important to remember the environment can change quickly, so make sure you keep an eye on children, heed lifeguard instructions, and use general caution at all times.

Want an easy way to check the current water conditions before you head to the beach? Visit franklincountyparks.com/parks-recreation/beach-flag-warnings.

Look around the homes of most St. George Island vacationers, and you’d be hard pressed not to find a sunset family photo, framed and prominently on display. It’s only the most seminal image of any beach vacation, after all. And considering our island has some of the most amazing vistas, who wouldn’t want to preserve an amazing memory with their family on the sugar-white sands?

But how many times has this happened to you: the sun’s nearing the horizon or has just gone under, the skies are ablaze with colors straight off Monet’s palette, and everyone in the picture is drowned in shadow. So you do what everyone would, you edit the photo digitally to lighten up the faces and immediately lose the colors that took your breath away to start with.

Or maybe even worse, you leave it as is, and each time you look at the picture, you’re having to remind yourself who was there with you, because you just can’t tell.

The solution is so simple that you’ll never again have to deal with the problem. And better yet, your family photos taken at sunset will be nearly as breathtaking as the memories they chronicle.

First things first: whether taking the photo with a phone or a real camera, turn on the flash. It may take a few shots to get it right, but even a selfie can turn out great if you have what the pros call “fill light.”

What if you have a group larger than a selfie can capture, and you’re in a spot that’s secluded (which is exactly why you came to St. George, by the way). For less than $20, you can get a tripod that will hold either a cell phone or a camera. That way you can fit everyone in! Use the timer, and you don’t have that awkward pose where everyone can tell exactly who was holding the phone.

And if you can at all help it, don’t use a phone. A real camera, whether it’s a point-and-shoot model or a DSLR, can be purchased for a reasonable rate. After all, since you’re in the business of making incredible memories, don’t you want to capture them in the best way possible?

For the more discriminating eye, an on-camera flash is too much. It can flatten the subjects in the image, and in some early evening light, it can cast an abnormal pall on those being illuminated. So if natural light is preferable, consider a reflector. You can buy one on the cheap, but if you don’t want to go that far, consider a white towel or sheet.

Any reflective surface can do the trick, just move it around until you see the light brighten the areas you’re looking for.

Lastly, take a bunch of pictures. Even if you’re laughing or some folks aren’t looking at the camera, you’d be surprised how the most beloved images are the ones that don’t look forced and are far more candid. You came to St. George Island to relax, so all the pictures of you taken here should reflect that! Consider making it a tradition to snap that obligatory sunset photo, and prepare to be amazed at how your family grows and changes over the years of visiting gorgeous St. George.

We hear it all the time, from locals and visitors alike: “Apalachicola Bay oysters are the best.”

It’s not an opinion to Forgotten Coast diners — and those around the country, for that matter — it’s a fact. Compared to the bivalve competition, the award-winning oysters are cleaner and meatier, with a naturally mellow flavor that makes them the star of any dish or simply when they’re served naked on the half shell.

Our oysters are so good they are the cornerstone of some of the coast’s most successful restaurants and signature dishes. And they can be the rock stars of home kitchens everywhere, too. But if you’re going to don the glove and pick up the knife, then you need to make sure your skills are on point.

No one wants to be accused of butchering an Apalachicola Bay oyster.

Folks staying on, or around, St. George Island can pick up a sack of fresh oysters at several different markets, including Lynn’s, Best, Barber’s, and Island View across the bay in Eastpoint, and Water Street, Royalty, 13 Mile, Leavins and Allen’s in Apalachicola. Although market prices vary from season to season, on average a sack will contain between 12 to 14 dozen oysters and cost around $80.

Once you get the bounty back to your “shuckin’ station,” take a scrub brush and lightly scrub the shell of the oyster, just to remove any silt or sand to keep your presentation nice and clean. When it comes to gloves, we recommend one made of chain mail or another substance that’s puncture-proof should a slip occur. And use a good, sharp oyster knife, if you have one. If not, a paring knife will do, as long as it’s sturdy.

Here’s what you need to know about oyster anatomy. The bivalves have two specific shell halves, attached with a hinge. One is curved like a cup, and the other forms the flatter lid. On a hard surface, like a cutting board, you want to open them lid side up.

Gently slip the blade into the hinge, and wiggle it back and forth until you feel it open a little. Then slide the blade along the lid’s ceiling, which will disconnect the oyster’s abductor muscle and allow you to remove the lid. Then carefully move to the underside of the muscle to separate it from the cup side of the shell, leaving the oyster free-floating in its own juices. Clean off any pieces of broken shell, place it on a tray or serving dish and then repeat.

Beginners should be able to move through a dozen in about half an hour, but you can easily shave serious time off with practice. And if you’re serving them on the half shell, traditional garnishes include lemon wedges, horseradish, cocktail sauce, hot sauce, and saltines. But if you’ve gotten this far with your pride and reputation intact, serve them however you want!

And so you know the company you’re in as a successful shucker here on the Florida Panhandle, Panama City’s Honor Allen was the U.S. Oyster Shucking Champion in 2016 and 2017, shucking two dozen oysters in an average of two minutes at the national championship in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. In 2018, Allen placed 5th in the World Oyster Opening Championship in Galway, Ireland.

And while it’s not necessary to be the world’s best, with the right skills and amazing Apalachicola Bay oysters, you can be the best on your block in no time.

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.

There’s nothing we love more than the stories of generations of families staying with us on St. George Island. Folks who came here as children can often be found in the sand and surf with toddlers of their own, making memories that are by no means the same, but linked by love and location.

There are more than 300 homes in the Resort Vacation Properties stable, and they’re all family friendly, but what many might not realize is just how great the island and its amenities are for young families. First and foremost, all our properties are within walking distance of the beach or bay, and there are safe walking and biking paths throughout the island to make sure that wherever you want to go, you can get there with ease.

The busier beach towns may be great for college kids and older families, but a packed beach and bustling strip malls are daunting for parents of youngsters. They can have the metaphorical eyes in the back of their heads, but they can’t see everything, and the secluded beaches of St. George Island ensure they don’t have to. And considering how many young families also bring their family pets to the island, all of those same beaches — and many of our properties — are pet-friendly.  

Convenience is also a huge asset to families with young children. During a destination vacation, it’s a necessity. Whether someone (or everyone!) needs a nap or a timeout, or the provisions get low and an hour round-trip is just out of the question, keep in mind the island is only a mile wide, so no matter where you may be, you’re within a few minutes of everything you need. Traffic is rarely an issue, and since everyone here lives on “island time,” you can always head right back out and resume your regularly scheduled fun!

The best part about bringing the kiddos to St. George Island, as true now as it was generations ago, is that you get to build in them a love of island activities — like fishing, sandcastle building, kite flying, and so much more — in their formative years, so that when they grow up and have families of their own, they’ll keep the tradition going!

The Forgotten Coast will never be the same after Hurricane Michael.

That much we know to be true, because when the third most-powerful hurricane to ever hit the U.S. came ashore on Oct. 10, it eviscerated entire areas, including Mexico Beach, which was nearly destroyed. At least 35 people lost their lives in Florida alone, with 10 more perishing in Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia when it moved northeast.

But one thing those of us who live on, and visit, the Forgotten Coast have always known is that we take care of our own. And there is no shortage of need, so when someone asks, “How can I help?” the goal is to always have an answer.

Donations are the fastest, and easiest way to get help to those in need and there are several trusted organizations accepting contributions and serving families in the hardest-hit areas. All accept donations via phone or web. Participating organizations include:

Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-michael-donations.html/

Salvation Army: https://give.helpsalvationarmy.org/give/166081/#!/donation/checkout

Samaritan’s Purse: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/article/hurricane-michael-barrels-toward-florida-panhandle-please-pray/

Franklin’s Promise Coalition: https://franklinspromisecoalition.wildapricot.org/Make-a-Donation

Americares: https://www.americares.org/

Global Giving: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/hurricane-michael-relief-fund/

Volunteer Florida: https://www.volunteerflorida.org/emergency-management/#partners

 

For locals, who are in driving distance of donation drop-off locations, the items universally needed across the coast are:

  • diapers
  • paper towels
  • toilet paper
  • latex gloves
  • coolers
  • gas cans
  • box fans
  • tarps
  • batteries
  • bottled water
  • hand sanitizer
  • deodorant
  • personal hygiene items
  • first aid kits
  • baby wipes
  • batteries
  • flashlights
  • manual can openers
  • non-perishable, canned food including canned tuna, chicken or salmon, meals in a can (soup, stew, chili), and canned fruit in its own juice or water. Those with pop-up lids are best.

You’ll be so captivated by St. George Island that you’ll want to find the perfect memento to share with loved ones who are missing out on this little slice of paradise. No need to worry – there are plenty of ways to bring a piece of the island back for family members, friends and all the important people in your life. Keep reading to discover four favorite souvenirs that will put a smile on anyone’s face.

  1. Seashells

The miles of pristine beaches that draw visitors to the area are a treasure trove of seashells, and beachcombers will enjoy collecting these unique samples of nature’s artwork. Seashells are also great souvenirs for visitors who are on a tight budget.

  1. A nautical antique

The Tin Shed, located in Apalachicola, features a seemingly endless, sea-themed collection of clothing, wood carvings and other treasures. Your favorite history buff is sure to cherish a selection from the shop’s collection of antiques, and it’s hard to go wrong with a stylish T-shirt for any recipient.

  1. Authentic local art

The Forgotten Coast is home to a wide range of talented artists, whose creations include unique jewelry, pottery, watercolors, photography and beyond. Island Dog Beach and Surf Shop offers a variety of local artworks for souvenir hunters; other local art hotspots include Chip Sanders Gallery, Sea Oats Gallery and many more.

  1. Books

Two Apalachicola bookstores make it easy for vacationers to find the perfect gift for any book lover. Downtown Books & Purl boasts a wide assortment of classics and new favorites. Forgotten Coast Used & Out-of-Print Books, on the other hand, specializes in rare finds that are often regionally focused.

Come To St. George Island

Yearning to dig your toes into the sand? Schedule your stay on St. George Island with a Resort Vacation Properties rental home today – we have room for the whole family.