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!

 

In the tranquility of the Apalachicola National Forest, you may spot an unusual sight for Florida’s Panhandle: a Union Jack, the famed flag of the United Kingdom, flying amongst the native pines. The flag is part of the Fort Gadsden National Historic Site—home to the ruins of two different forts, including one built by British troops during the War of 1812. The British recognized the importance of the area and built the first fort, known as British Post, on the banks of the Apalachicola River. British Post served as a local base for the British troops and as a recruiting station for their main allies—former slaves.

In fact, when the British troops left Florida in 1815, they left the fort to those former slaves. The “negro fort,” as it came to be called, became a haven for fugitive slaves, with the population growing from about 400 to as many as 800.

“Negro Fort” was controversial; it was technically beyond the United States’ territory and was seen by many to threaten the Southern institution of slavery. In July of 1816, the tension came to a head, and the freemen fired on an American ship, killing four U.S. soldiers. The American forces, along with their Creek allies, responded with an all-out attack, using a well-aimed heated cannonball to destroy the fort and kill all but 30 of the fort’s 300 inhabitants in an explosion heard as far away as Pensacola. The remaining freemen were returned to slavery.

Fort Gadsden History in St. George Island FL – Resort Vacation Properties

After the skirmish, the fort was deemed a pivotal location for war times, and Andrew Jackson, then Major General of the Seventh Military District, charged Lieutenant James Gadsden with rebuilding the fort. Jackson was so pleased with the work that he named the new edifice Fort Gadsden. The fort was used as a forward base for army movements during the First and Second Seminole Wars, then later as a base for Confederate forces during the Civil War.

After the Civil War, Fort Gadsden saw little usage until the 1960s, when the Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials established Fort Gadsden State Historic Site. In 1972, the Apalachicola National Forest obtained the site, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Fort Gadsden National Historic Site is a must-see for history buffs. The park features what little remains of both forts that called the area home, a cemetery, small exhibit, interpretive signs and walking trail, and a picnic area. A relic of our country’s complicated history, the Fort Gadsden National Historic Site serves as a stark reminder of where we’ve come as a nation while honoring those who lost their lives during one of our country’s most tumultuous times. For more information about the Fort, check out the USDA Forest Service.

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.

Memorial Day Weekend is the official start of summer, and what better way to celebrate than with a beach vacation? The long weekend means extra beach time, and you’ll beat the higher temperatures sure to come later in the season. Here are three of our picks for some perfect properties to spend your holiday weekend!

The modern masterpiece of Beach Ball offers unparalleled views of the Gulf with its panoramic windows overlooking the emerald waters. St. George Island’s famous pristine white sands are just a quick stroll away down a private boardwalk, and if you need an indoor break to cool off, the game room is stocked with ping-pong, air hockey, and a dartboard. Entertaining for the holiday is a breeze, too, with a grill, screened-in porch, and balcony!

Plantation Palace, offering a Mediterranean twist on the traditional St. George Island architecture, can host up to 20 overnight guests; however, it can accommodate up to 40 for daytime events, making it an ideal destination for a Memorial Day shindig. The private pool sits on a second floor balcony, offering unmatched views of not only the Gulf but also the sugary dunes leading up to the water. The two grills and fully upgraded kitchen make feeding your guests a breeze, and the elevator means no hauling suitcases up staircases!

If you’d rather skip the party and keep to yourself for the long weekend, check out Sea Song. This budget-friendly option sleeps 6 and boasts plenty of windows as well as a porch to enjoy the endless views of the waters of the Gulf. There’s a grill to get into the spirit of the holidays, and don’t forget Fido—this property is pet friendly!

Regardless of where you’re staying, be sure to swing by The Blue Parrot to kick off the summer with music, local seafood, ice-cold beer, and frozen drinks! For more info on what we have to offer you for the long weekend when it comes to home away from homes, give us a call today at 877-272-8206!

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!