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.

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!

Winter at the beach brings a quiet serenity that’s perfectly suited to the introspection of a New Year’s resolution, the reawakening of the early spring, even the romance of Valentine’s Day.

No matter what you’re celebrating, you won’t find a more perfect place to toast the sunset – or the sunrise (hey, we don’t judge) – than St. George Island on Florida’s Forgotten Coast.

I can certainly recommend a few places to find a quiet place with a view of the Gulf, but honestly you’d have a harder time finding a place that doesn’t sparkle with coastal magic.

  • Up the Stairs in Apalachicola, an upscale, quiet dining location to get away from the bustling crowds (21+ only).
  • Gormley’s at the Gibson, set in the Historic Gibson Inn in downtown Apalachicola.
  • Apalachicola Ice Company, where you can enjoy a beer and some live music in the courtyard
  • Bowery Station, complete with outdoor beer garden and live music.

Of course, these are just a few of your options. All along Highway 98 – otherwise known as the Big Bend Scenic Byway Coastal Trail – you’ll find a string of quaint, small towns that feel like you’ve stepped back in time to old Florida: from Port St. Joe to St. George Island, Apalachicola and Carrabelle. Each one offers its own unique selection of bars and restaurants that are peppered with patios, balconies, verandas, terraces and decks perfect for you to behold the sunset, the surf or just the people walking by.

And if you really want to get away from the crowds, grab a bottle of bubbly and settle in somewhere cozy on St. George Island. You can drink a toast to new beginnings with someone you love. Our selection of rental homes is rife with decks and patios ideal for reflecting on all that the new year holds in the glint of a perfectly blush-colored sunset set to the melodies of rolling waves. Cheers!