(Photo by Scott Suchman)
Can you imagine a better swing? Visitors to the Florida Panhandle's "Forgotten Coast" spend weekends in Apalachicola hoping the rest of the world continues to bypass this sliver of fishing village untainted by eager land developers.
(Photo by Art Meripol)
Oyster Heaven: Apalachicola Bay is quite famous for its oysters. Chefs from Miami up to New York crave the freshest catch from the flock of small tonging boats in Franklin County. Boss Oyster Restaurant on Water Street serves up the day's batch, hand-shucked and prepared a dozen different ways in the pleasantly dingy spot. This dive was ranked by our sister publication, Coastal Living, as a Top 10 Oyster Bar. We are here to add another notch to the tally.
To buy a bushel for home cooking, try any one of these retailers in the area. Call ahead though. Once home, try this recipe for a killer appetizer. If not, I've never had a bad time with tabasco-cocktail sauce, saltines, and a fresh cut lemon wedge.
"They are fat, abundant, rich, and lusty. The oysters are both sweet and salty, and it's the interplay of the freshwater of the river and the salt water from the Gulf, forming an estuary, that makes the difference and sustains these vibrant oysters. It's about the confluence of that river and the Gulf of Mexico."
Go Back in Time: The seatown is historic, the Panhandle's Annapolis in a way, and the local Chamber website offers a comprehensive list of sites to visit. Perhaps it's the salty atmosphere, but the mood here feels retained, preserved, intact. Grab a walking map and see the old cotton warehouses, icehouses, and Victorian homes (one of which, the Orman, was built in New York and sailed down the Atlantic coast to it's current perch in the 1830's). Also, the Cape St. George Light, refurbished in the last couple years, sits center isle overlooking the spread of town like a guardian. This September, locals say, tours will begin again.
Wildlife 101: Few know that Franklin County boasts the second-largest estuary research spread in the US. Scientists learn more and more everyday at the Apalachicola Reserve, a branch of NOAA, and the local fishing boats and oystermen do much of their vital work in the protected, nearly 20,000-square-miles wide watershed. It's a tribute to science and industry working together for the betterment of the community. Visit the Market Street educational center to learn more and gain a fuller perspective on the area.
Where to Stay: The Gibson Inn, (right). If you aren't looking for the most modern property and you like to be in the center of things, this 1907 charm will sweeten your visit and lighten your financial load. Rooms begin at $105. SL editor Wanda McKinney tells us: "Ask for Room 101 if you want a quiet, private spot. It's located away from the well-known restaurant on one end of the building." Read her wonderful piece on what she deems "Florida's Quiet Side" before you go as well.