Apalachicola-Florida's Quiet Side

Explore Apalachicola, the fishing village with a mind of its own and good times to share.
Wanda McKinney

On the Water
Several local guides offer estuary tours by boat, which are thrilling for visitors. "Everyone is looking for old Florida," says our tour boat captain. "There's not a lot of it left." For the next two hours, you'll see it and learn about the estuaries and bays and delicate ecology that allows oysters, fish, and birds to thrive in this rich gumbo of freshwater and salt water.

The boat glides through swamps, drifting past Ogeechee tupelo trees, the source of tupelo honey. You'll find yourself looking up to see the ever-present brown pelicans winging across the sky and ospreys building their nests.

Shop Talk
Once you're back on land, put on your walking shoes, and wander around Apalachicola. Stop in at Downtown Books for a great selection of regional volumes as well as a knitting shop tucked away in the back. For one-stop, fun shopping, peruse The Grady Market, where you can pick up some plastic cups dubbed "Weekend Waterford." And you can snag the perfect item for your beach house (or wishful beach house) at Blue Beach + Home or Avenue E. Order a thick milk shake at Old Time Soda Fountain. Here you'll also find just the right Apalachicola souvenir. No, it's not the coconut monkey or kitschy puka beads. It's a jar of locally harvested tupelo honey, guaranteed to remind you of Apalachicola with every sweet taste.

For more information on Apalachicola and St. George Island, visit www.apalachicolabay.org, or call [850]653-9419.

The Best Bivalves
You won't find sweeter, tastier oysters than the ones pulled from the waters around Apalachicola. Ninety percent of all oysters served in Florida come from this bivalve-rich spot. But seafood lovers and fishermen delight, too, in the other shelled and finned creatures that fill the area's bay, river, and nearby Gulf. A total of 180 species of fish call this coastal spot home.

When You Go
Gibson Inn: 51 Avenue C; www.gibsoninn.com or [850] 653-2191.
Water Street Hotel & Marina: 329 Water Street; www.waterstreethotel.com or [850] 653-3700.
Rentals on St. George Island: www.collinsvacationrentals.com or www.resortvacationproperties.com.
Avenue Sea: 51 Avenue C; [850] 653-2193.
Owl Cafe: 15 Avenue D; www.owlcafeflorida.com or [850] 653-9888.
Tamara's Cafe Floridita: 17 Avenue E; www.tamarascafe.com or [850] 653-4111.
Papa Joe's Oyster Bar & Grill: 301-B Market Street; www.papajoesoysterbar.com or [850] 653-1189.

"Florida's Quiet Side" is from the February 2007 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.