With exciting activities around every corner, St. George Island culture and entertainment will provide you with endless things to do and learn. 

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.

Many vacation destinations require sprawling day-long expeditions to truly enjoy an area’s diverse natural beauty. But for folks staying on St. George Island, a quick drive to the north side of the SGI Bridge reveals the second-largest estuarine research reserve system in the United States.

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.

Open Tuesday through Saturday, ANERR features winding paths that incorporate pine flat woods, oak hammocks and freshwater marshes where cattails and sawgrass grow wild. It is a photographer’s dream with a variety of scenery at every turn, especially near Millender Park, a prime picnic area with views of Apalachicola Bay and the volunteer-made breakwater area.

There are signs posted to keep a lookout for black bears, and while it may be a rare occurrence to actually see one, it should give you an idea of how diverse the wildlife found in ANERR is.

The reserve’s Nature Center features 18,000 square feet of learning space including two working wet and dry research laboratories. It overlooks the Cat Point oyster bar, which is one of the most productive oyster bars in Apalachicola Bay. At low tide, tidal flats and parts of oyster reefs are exposed.

In the Education Center, there are three large water tanks representing the river, bay and gulf habitats found in the Apalachicola area. Each tank holds more than 1,000 gallons and houses a variety of native plant life and creatures.

For more than a century, Apalachicola and Eastpoint have been working waterfronts, fostering generations of fishermen whose industries have only been sustainable due to the health and productivity of Apalachicola Bay. The Education Center focuses on that aspect of local history, with exhibits showing the evolution of oyster industry, and more. A beautiful, 80-foot mural is also on display, depicting area ecosystems.

One of ANERR’s signature events revolves around National Estuaries Day each September. Activities include free, fun and educational stations for kids and adults including marine animal touch tanks, and estuary-themed games including Microplastic Match-Up, Reptile Round-Up and Pin the Tag on the Monarch. In addition to this, there are educational events held year-round.

ANERR is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and for more information call 850-670-7700 or visit apalachicolareserve.com.

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.

Whether your passion lies in creative writing or recreating natural scenery on canvas, St. George Island offers a winning combination of natural beauty and serendipity. Keep reading to learn about a few of the island’s most unique locations, each of which is sure to inspire your inner artist.

The St. George Island Lighthouse

The St. George Island Lighthouse’s prominent silhouette is well suited for the background of a watercolor painting – or as the setting of your budding romance novel! The iconic lighthouse is surrounded by a tranquil park, where you can relax at a bench or a picnic table and get your creative juices flowing; it’s also just a few steps away from a pristine beach.

St. George Island State Park

No visit to SGI is complete without a trip to St. George Island State Park, and for good reason – who can resist the chance to explore miles of undeveloped beach? You’ll have more than enough space to relax and take in the park’s unbeatable coastal scenery and endless stretches of pristine white sand. You’re sure to find additional inspiration when you explore the 3.5-mile trail through the park’s dunes and bay forest, featuring unspoiled, natural views.

The St. George Island Fishing Pier

Perhaps the only thing more enticing than gazing out at the sparkling water of Apalachicola Bay is spending a few relaxing hours enjoying the ocean breeze on the St. George Island fishing pier. This massive pier measures 600 feet, offering creative vacationers plenty of space to observe the water, as well as the impressive Bryant Patton Bridge.

Fuel Your Creative Side

Seeking to rekindle your artistic spirit? Look no further than St. George Island. Come delve into all that the island has to offer by booking a stay with Resort Vacation Properties today.

This time of year, the airwaves are full of monster movies and creature features trying to scare you, but on the Forgotten Coast, we don’t have to look any further than the waters of the Gulf of Mexico discover the weird and wacky! Did you know that although oceans cover 70% of the world’s surface, humans have explored less than 5% of them? But even that 5% has proven to be home to some eerie organisms. Here are a few of our favorite freaky fish of the Forgotten Coast:

One creepy resident is also a favorite dish of ours—flounder! This fish may be known for its tasty flavor, but it also possesses a very distinctive profile. In adults, both eyes are on one side of its very flat body. But it gets even weirder: they’re not born that way! Baby flounders have eyes on both sides of their bodies, but, as the fish grows from the larval to juvenile stage, one eye migrates to the other side!

The Sheepshead Fish looks like your average, run-of-the-mill aquarium-type fish. Its black and white stripes are both eye-catching serve as the impetus for their nickname “Convict Fish.” However, their appealing appearance ends when they open their mouths—which contain what look like human teeth! They have many rows of them, too, to help grind up their favorite foods: mollusks and bivalves.

Barracudas also call the waters of the Gulf of Mexico home. Their signature features, such as the protruding under jaw and razor-sharp teeth, are definitely creepy, but it’s their attraction to shiny things that sends shivers up our spines. If you plan to swim in a barracuda’s habitat, be sure to remove all jewelry and watches. The sheen reminds them of their natural prey, and they’ve been known to attack humans, thinking their glittering trinkets are food!

What are your favorite creepy creatures from the deep?

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.

Tiny housing is not just a popular current trend. Tiny houses, known colloquially as shotgun houses, of Apalachicola and the Gulf Coast area of Florida helped shape the area in a time when commerce and the port lifestyle was flourishing. These utilitarian homes were created to be practical and cheap, and have now become a symbol of our little corner of Florida.

Preserving and Embracing Apalachicola’s Rich Legacy

Shotgun homes sprang up in the early 1900’s as homes for mill workers along the Gulf Coast. The homes were built to be simple and straightforward. Each home had three rooms: the living room, kitchen and bedroom. The floor plan was not fancy, with one flowing into the other. The term shotgun home was coined because if you left the front door and the back door open, a shotgun blast could go through the home and not hit a single wall. More simply, a shotgun home was designed with oversized windows and when everything was open a nice cooling breeze would flow right through the home.

In the mid to late part of the 20th century, shotgun homes fell out of favor. These homes were too simple, too boring and were not thought of as adding to the aesthetic of the neighborhood. Many homes of this style were demolished. Homes were abandoned and the lush Florida fauna took over. Today there is a revitalization of these kinds of homes and the shotgun homes along the coast of Florida are being preserved and celebrated for their simple luxury and artistic efficiency.

PEARL’s Shotgun Houses

Not only a part of Florida history, but a part of Americana, the shotgun homes are a part of the Pearl’s latest exhibition. This local non-profit is made up of dedicated individuals working to preserve the rich history of the area, the people who settled here, and the way of life that made our little neck of the woods what it has come to be today.

When you are staying in the area at one of the fantastic St. George Island Resort Vacation spots, take a day to tour the area and see some of the restored historic homes. Once covered by brush and perhaps fallen into a bit of decay, the shotgun homes of Florida are being restored and being lived in and loved by families that may not otherwise have a place to live. Walking tours, photo exhibits, and interactive maps will help you navigate through the once booming mill town that helped our area flourish.

At Resort Vacation Properties, we’re all about accommodating our visitors with the comfiest homes and best beach and bay views on the Island! But, there’s one Forgotten Coast inhabitant that has a home far too small for guests—the sea turtle!

Turtles are one of the most revered and storied creatures in existence. Some groups of Native Americans believed that a turtle even carries the world upon its back. In cultures from other parts of the world, they can represent luck, endurance, and long life. Here on the Forgotten Coast, where many come to nest, we don’t have a particular mythology for them, but they are among our favorite guests. To help you get to know these fascinating creatures, we’ve compiled a list of little-known facts about our friends from the sea!

They’re travelers—and homebodies, too

Sea turtles can travel over 20 miles a day! Their greatest migration, though, is to home—some travel up to 1,400 miles to lay their eggs on the same shores where they hatched.

They navigate using the earth’s magnetic field (maybe)

Sea turtles can detect both the angle and intensity of the earth’s magnetic field. A new theory suggests that they use this ability to navigate, which is how they find their way back to where they hatched after years of being away.

Their sex is determined by outside factors

Unlike most creatures, their sex isn’t determined by genetics, but by outside factors—namely, the temperature of the sand outside of their nest. Warmer temperatures lead to mostly females, while cooler weather typically yields males.

They’re team players

Because it’s almost impossible for the hatchlings to make it out of the nest on their own, the hatching of one triggers the hatching of the rest. Even with all of the babies working together, it can take up to a week to dig out of their nests!

They’re night owls

When the babies finally make their grand entrance, it’s in the dark. They emerge at night and follow the light, which traditionally leads them to the water. Development along beaches has altered this, however, and oftentimes the lights from houses confuse the hatchlings. That’s why it’s important to turn off outdoor lights during nesting season!

They breathe air

Sea turtles are most often associated with their underwater adventures, but they actually breathe air! They’re champs at holding their breath—they can last 4-7 hours when they’re sleeping or relaxing! However, during physical activity, it’s a paltry 2-3 hours at best.

They can be geriatrics

A healthy sea turtle can live to be about 80, with some even surviving to be over 100! That means some of these incredible creatures even manage to outlive the human researchers studying them.

Unfortunately, our sea turtle friends are endangered. To keep the sea turtle population in existence, there are various laws in place to protect them. If you’re lucky enough to witness a hatching, leave the hatchlings alone and avoid using flash photography or any light. It’s important for them to find the ocean on their own, and, as they follow the moonlight to the ocean, other light will disorient them.