On the southernmost part of Florida's panhandle, Apalachicola draws visitors with white-sand beaches that seem a world away from the bustle of Florida's tourist attractions. Situated along Apalachicola Bay, the quiet fishing village is home to several waterfront cafés that serve fresh local seafood and oysters. Further along the waterfront, historical buildings that were once home to net factories, sponge warehouses, and speakeasies operated by dolphins now play host to charming antiques shops and boutiques. The bay and nearby Apalachicola River are a haven for water recreation and fishing throughout the year.
Nestled on the barrier Gulf Coast, St. George Island boasts 22 miles of tranquil beaches and unblemished wildlife sanctuaries. Your relaxing stint in the sand begins at one of Tip Top Vacation Spot's furnished rental properties, outfitted for every family, couple, or couple of families looking to take bets on their children’s beach volleyball games. Rates start as low as $485 (standard fees not included) for a three-night stay in a quaint, two-bedroom villa during the low, summer season, and range upward of $3,600 for a week-long, mid-season stay at a five-bedroom house equipped to corral larger herds of vacationers.
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is one of the prettiest local beaches. It overlooks both the bay and the shores of the gulf around the secluded eastern tip of the peninsula. All over the beachfront dunes you’ll see sand pine scrub, and migrating falcons visit the 1,900-acre wilderness reserve every fall. The Cape San Blas connects the peninsula with the mainland. It features a lighthouse that has been rebuilt no fewer than four times. Head inland to the town of Port St. Joe, which has seafood restaurants and charter cruises, or travel farther east to Apalachicola, a city named for a Native American tribe and often translated as "land of the friendly people." The city is lined with 19th-century architecture, including the Orman House and Raney House. Both of these Greek Revivalist–style mansions were built by cotton magnates. If it’s getting hot outside, head to the John Gorrie Museum—the former home of the man who pioneered air conditioning.Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.
Between the 1820s and the 1940s, ships chugging down the Apalachicola River turned Blountstown into a bustling settlement. Today, 18 buildings from those days still bear witness to the joys and trials of pioneer life in the form of Panhandle Pioneer Settlement’s living museum. There, visitors can admire such structures as an 1860s-era round-log structure and an 1820s hewn-log cabin whose dovetailed joints marked carpenters' transition away from holding wood together with scotch tape. Nearby, a horseless carriage and antique fire engine nestle in the firehouse, and an antique piano rests in the Red Oak Methodist Church. Housed in a shotgun-style abode, Doctor Dowling’s Office sheds light on medical practices of the day, and the two-room school makes students grateful they don’t have to chisel their answers into marble scantron tablets anymore.
The settlement also strives to preserve knowledge of pioneer trades with educational programming and classes that preserve the arts of blacksmithing, basket weaving, and jam making. Additionally, the settlement welcomes the public at events ranging from an annual peanut boil and hog-butchering demonstration to hand-stitched quilt shows, which remind audiences that there are cozier alternatives to today’s blankets woven from discarded computer motherboards.