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Charm & Nature on the Panhandle - Apalachicola Area?

Charm & Nature on the Panhandle - Apalachicola Area?

Mar 24th, 2011, 12:30 PM
  #1  
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Charm & Nature on the Panhandle - Apalachicola Area?

Will have a couple of days between visiting family in Orlando and heading up to Asheville. Thinking of some mix of quaint, charm, good seafood, a little off the beaten track, nature (birdwatchers) and seascapes.

The Apalachicola Area "sounds" like it could fit the bill from the little I've read so far. Would love to hear opinions of the town and nearby St. Joseph Peninsula State Park and St. George Island State Park.

Accommodation recommendations (with view?) and good local dining also appreciated.

Or ... do you have other destination suggestions? Thanks!
mat54 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2011, 12:45 PM
  #2  
 
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It's fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. Florida's Forgotten Coast. The little town of Apalachicola is very nice and there are some places to stay there. A few good places to eat. Some stores for wandering. A very nice historic little town. Then, stretching west toward Port St Joe are some of the best beaches - and definitely the best oysters - in Florida. As you drive you'll past St George Island (with lots of rentals, restaurants, etc), Indian Pass (my personal favorite) with not much except my second favorite restaurant in the world and one very unique (atypical) bed and breakfast and lots of beach houses to rent. Then you turn left to go out on the cape and head to Cape San Blas and the prettiest beach in the country (as designated by Dr. Beach) at St Joe SP. A few restaurants to eat on the cape - but the beauty of the place is GORGEOUS beaches, few people, and lots of nature. You can continue on to Port St Joe. If you go in July you can scallop in St Joe Bay, kayak all the time (including a freshwater river), but mostly just relax.

Check out Apalach. But in Indian Pass, here are my favorites -

www.indianpassrawbar.com

http://www.turtlebeachinn.com/
starrs is offline  
Mar 24th, 2011, 12:47 PM
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It would be quite a detour from Orlando to Asheville though. Closer to Orlando you'll find excellent birding at Ding Darling.
http://www.fws.gov/dingdarling/
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Mar 24th, 2011, 02:19 PM
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Port St. Joe State Park was one of the most beautiful places I have seen. The nature was unbelievable! I went there camping with friends. I am not really the "camping type," but I was in heaven there. The beaches were some of the nicest I have ever seen - including Hawaii. I would think that all of the beaches near there would be beautiful as well.
Paul is offline  
Mar 24th, 2011, 02:44 PM
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There are cabins for rent at the park. Not fancy - but an option to camping. There are a LOT of vrbo.com rentals on the cape and in the area.
starrs is offline  
Mar 25th, 2011, 03:22 AM
  #6  
 
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Two good resources for the area;

www.apalachicolabay.org - Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce

www.gulfchamber.org - Gulf County Chamber of Commerce
vbishop is offline  
Mar 25th, 2011, 04:29 AM
  #7  
 
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You go to Asheville via Atlanta

Panhandle way out of your way

if you will have a look at a map... mapquest.com

St. Marks Wakulla Springs very nice if you go though.
qwovadis is offline  
Mar 25th, 2011, 04:38 AM
  #8  
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Sounds wonderful! We'll only have a couple of days there, so I'm now debating the pros and cons of staying right in the town of Apalachicola (like the idea of moseying around some interesting shops and being able to walk to dinner) versus staying somewhere, perhaps more isolated (?), closer to/on on the beaches (also like the idea of early morning beach walks and evening on a balcony overlooking the sea).
mat54 is offline  
Mar 25th, 2011, 04:55 AM
  #9  
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By the way - I know the Panhandle is not "on the way" to Asheville. I use google maps extensively. We have a couple of days between leaving Orlando area and our booking in Asheville and wanted to do and see something different, something much less commercial and busy than the Orlando area. Never been to the Panhandle and it sounded worth a diversion.
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Mar 25th, 2011, 05:01 AM
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Look at the Turtle Beach Inn. Right on the water and right in the middle of...well, nothing. Which is what makes it so wonderful. Or a cabin at the state park if it's available. I'd spend a couple of hours in town, but that's about it. St George Island has some options, but more people there.

When is this trip? Which month?
starrs is offline  
Mar 25th, 2011, 06:27 AM
  #11  
cd
 
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If for a few days, I agree with Starrs on the Turtle Beach Inn in Indian Pass with Indian Pass Raw Bar right down the road....If longer, I would go with VRBO.com and take a beach house on Cape San Blas...beautiful, beautiful beach! We spend winters here. The camping area at the state park at the end of the peninsula also has georeous beaches! Apalachicola is a mere 30 min away and good to walk around town and explore the small shops. The downtown restaurants we like are: Boss Oyster, Papa Joes, and That Place Off 98. If you like oysters, you will find none better than this area.
From the Cape you will also find a 15min drive to Port St Joe a great little town that you can park your car on the main street and shop small shop after small shop! Our favorite restaurant here in Sunset Coastal Grill and dockside on the marina where you can also take trips out into the gulf. If going to the Port St Joe/Apalachicola area please stay on the beach somewhere! St George is a nice little island but just does not have the favor we like at the Cape/Indian Pass
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Mar 25th, 2011, 06:35 PM
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So Starrs,

What area of Cape San Blas do you recommend? I'm quite close to making my beach reservations...just a driving trip this time and I'm really wanting to go somewhere different!
Deb15July is offline  
Mar 25th, 2011, 08:20 PM
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Just about anyplace on the cape will be fine. Just about any place on the beach between Apalach and the cape will be fine.

I completely agree with cd. Stay at the Turtle Beach Inn for a weekend or so, but rent a house if you are staying longer. I've stayed on St. George Island* (nice, but can get crowded), in Indian Pass (just to the left of the TBI), on the cape just after the turn onto the cape and all the way down the cape just before the state park. All are great. The beach there is just...well, great. And it's the kind of place where you can spend a week in the summer and MAYBE see a dozen people on the beach at the same time - and that's as far as the eye can see. It's just a great place for a lazy beach vacation. Rental homes are nice because you can stock up on stuff for the kitchen and then drive in for dinner. I agree with cd on all of her restaurant recommendations. Of course, I could eat at IPRB every day. Okay, I DO eat at the IPRB every day

Keep in mind that if you want Tshirt shops, high rise hotels, mini-golf and that kind of thing...well, keep on driving to Panama City Beach because you aren't going to find ANY of the above in the area.
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Mar 26th, 2011, 06:42 AM
  #14  
cd
 
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As starrs has said, the Cape has no high rise hotels, it has a few condo buildings but it is a single family cottage peninsula. If you go, stay on the ocean side, the sunsets are amazing! There are houses on the other side of the street which are on the bay side, but stay on the ocean side, we sleep with our window open and you can hear the surf. There are no street lights so the night is very, very dark and if the next day is going to be nice, the sky is blasted with stars!. There are two small stores on the Cape, the Trading Post and Scallop Cove but they are for things you forgot when you did your shopping at the Piggley Wiggley in Port St Joe. The one and only grocery store 15 miles away. You can ride horses on the beach and you can rent kayaks on the bay side. You can also go fishing or sailing at the marina in Port St Joe. Mostly we just enjoy walking the beach or reading a book on the front porch overlooking the ocean. There are some houses there that have pools, most do not. Take a look at: http://www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals.../cape-san-blas
cd is offline  
Mar 26th, 2011, 08:13 AM
  #15  
 
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starrs and cd,
I absolutely don't want a Panama City Beach type place. We went there once with another family because that is where they really wanted to go, but with the caveat that we stay in a private home in Bay Point...away from the strip.

The areas you describe sound very much like Fernandina Beach on the east coast used to be. It is still not really built up, but it's changed quite a bit since we started going there over 20 years ago. I have tentatively reserved a place there again this year (it's where DH and DD want to go as we know what we are getting), but I'm still searching for someplace different. The advantage of Amelia Island over the panhandle area is that if DS thinks he can join us, the drive for him is 3 hrs on the east coast but almost 8 hrs to get to the panhandle.

I'll keep looking at my options. Thanks for the information.
Deb15July is offline  
Mar 29th, 2011, 07:54 AM
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I stayed in Apalachicola, walked to dinner, drove to St George State Park, loved it all. It is small and quaint, lots of rentals on St George. Great place to be! If you drive from Orlando, take the time and drive up 98 North, it is not the interstate and the drive is beautiful, you will see Florida in a whole new way.
MollyinFL is offline  
Mar 29th, 2011, 07:58 AM
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Well, given your route (Orlando to Asheville) Fern. may be the better option. What you REALLY should do is to take the ferry from there and stay at Greyfield on Cumberland Island. The rates include the food -

http://www.greyfieldinn.com/

Be sure to report back. It's high on my bucket list
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Mar 29th, 2011, 04:15 PM
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starrs,
You can go to Greyfield for dinner without staying there. I've not been, but my sister has been twice and really enjoyed the experience.

However, I think a visit to Cumberland is in order if you have any desire to see a wild, unspoiled area. It is really neat to see the wild horses and the ruins of the Dungeness mansion. Be sure to go in very comfortable cool clothing and don't bring too much to carry. Everything you bring onto the island has to be brought back with you...no garbage cans!
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Mar 29th, 2011, 04:18 PM
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I've been to Cumberland on day trips and love it. I really want to stay at Greyfield though. Thanks Deb.

The day trip or camper ferry leaves from St Marys GA.
The Greyfield ferry leaves from Fern. Beach.
It can be confusing.
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