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Florida is home to a variety of animals, and some of the species here are special to our area because of the estuaries and marine marshlands. St. George Island is a top destination for visitors who want to take a step back in time to enjoy a more pristine and natural island that’s not built up. The strict building codes that keep this island as natural as possible make it ideal for visitors who want a glimpse of an endangered bird or sea turtles making nests. Taking an estuarine walk is a great way to catch a peek of the natural flora and fauna of St. George Island.

Birding Enthusiasts

Birdwatchers have documented almost 300 bird species on the island, making this a prime destination for birders. Some of these species include threatened and endangered birds. The time of year you visit can play a role in what you see because of neotropical raptors and birds that use it as part of their migration route, such as tanagers, hawks, buntings, warblers and falcons. Other birds found in this area include marsh hawks, egrets, bald eagles, osprey and herons. Four pairs of bald eagles that actively nest on the island could be spotted on your estuarine walk.

Reptiles and Amphibians

There are several reptiles and amphibians that call this area home. Some of the potential species you could see include the gopher frog, several types of salamanders, Eastern indigo snake and several turtle species.

Turtles can be a big draw to the area. Scientists believe there’s a minimum impact on the turtles that nest on the island from the humans who live here and light pollution at night, but it’s not enough to keep the turtles from returning to the area to the delight of residents. However, the turtle nests on Little St. George Island have to be protected from predators, such as coyotes.

Loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles have been found on beaches in the area. Hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridley turtle also can be found in areas around the bay and other waters, but not by the beaches. Alligator snapping turtles also are here.

Mammals

St. George Island’s estuaries also are home to a variety of mammals. You can possibly see manatees, Florida mice, two species of bats and raccoons.

You just never know what you may come across during your estuarine walk, and each day may bring something different. Contact us today to talk about booking your upcoming vacation to see all the species that can be found on our pristine island.

If you have small children, had small children, or have ever seen small children from a distance, you’ll understand the desire to occasionally dine away from said children.

Don’t get me wrong; I love kids (I even have some), but sometimes you just want to enjoy a meal without your kids… and without anyone else’s kids either. Up the Stairs in Apalachicola gives you that opportunity.

But the real appeal at Up the Stairs isn’t just the lack of children (that’s just a bonus!).

Nestled above shops in the quiet fishing village’s historic district, this fine dining establishment combines fresh seafood, exceptional service, extraordinary signature cocktails, and a growing wine list to create an unforgettable dining experience.

House favorites like the crab bruschetta and crawfish as well as the shrimp and sausage gumbo reflect the unique flavors of Up the Stairs, where the freshest ingredients meet in the most interesting combinations. Shrimp Sambuca, Petit Curry Pot, and beef carpaccio also make an appearance on this anything-but-ordinary menu.

Up the Stairs is situated right in the heart of the village, convenient to shopping, museums, and the waterfront. So it’s a great place to refuel any time of the day or night. And if you’re not quite up for the whole dining experience, you can always choose to eat in the lounge, where you’ll find most of the same delicious dining room selections in smaller portions.

If you’re spending time on The Forgotten Coast – taking advantage of all the hidden gems you can uncover in the calm of winter – don’t miss Up the Stairs. The real star there is the food.

Or maybe the cocktails. Or the wine list. No, it’s definitely the food. I can’t decide; stop by for a bite yourself and let me know which one you decide.

Lunch and dinner served Wednesday through Saturday. Sunday brunch served 11am-3pm.

76 Market Street in Downtown Apalachicola.

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.

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.

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