Apalachicola is located in the northwest Panhandle of Florida on the Apalachicola Bay, at the mouth of the Apalachicola River. Considered to be one of the last remote areas in the state, it is often referred to as “The Forgotten Coast.” Travel to Apalachicola continues to increase as tourists seek to experience “Old Florida”, describing smaller coastal communities along the Gulf Coast. Apalach is accessed by auto via US Highway 98, by boat along the Intercoastal Waterway, by private plane at the Apalachicola Municipal Airport, and by commercial airlines to Panama City or Tallahassee.
In the early 19th century, before the development of railways in the Gulf States, Apalachicola was the third busiest sea port on the Gulf of Mexico. By the beginning of the 20th century, sponge trade was the major industry, attracting immigrants from around the world, followed by lumber exportation to England and the East Coast. Today, Apalachicola is still the home port for a variety of seafood workers, including oyster harvesters, shrimpers, and fisheries. The Apalachicola Bay is one of the last great protected estuarine sanctuaries. The rare ecosystem provides oysters with the ability to grow to full harvest size in only 9 months, the fastest growth rate in the world. Because of this, more than 90% of Florida’s oysters, and 10% of the nation’s oysters are harvested from the Apalachicola Bay.
“Apalach”, as the locals call it, has a vibrant history and rich maritime culture that can be experienced through the working waterfront with shrimp and oyster houses interwoven with eclectic shops housed in meticulously restored turn of the century buildings, including the Bowery Building. The Bowery Inn is nestled in the heart of this area less than a block from the Apalachicola River, and within walking distance of all downtown shopping and nationally renown restaurants, and more than 900 historic homes and buildings listed in the extensive National Register District. This makes the Bowery Inn a perfect stay for visitors who want to stay downtown exploring all the downtown and historic district have to offer.
The closest beaches are on St. George Island, about a 15 minute drive from Apalachicola. From the Bowery Inn drive 1 block East to Market Street, drive straight thru the blinking caution light at the corner of the Grill Restaurant. Follow HWY 98 through town and onto the Apalachicola Bridge. When you cross the bridge, take your first RIGHT in Eastpoint (directly past the Cypress Corner Fruit Stand). Continue to the “Y”, veer RIGHT onto the St. George Island Bridge. You will arrive on St. George Island.
Lighthouse park behind the lighthouse-
When you get to the island stop sign, turn right and then left into convenient island parking. The public beach is not only easy to find but there are bath house facilities, covered pavilions for picnics, a playground and ball court for the younger generations. The Cape St. George Lighthouse and lighthouse Keeper’s House are also located in nearby Lighthouse Park. Like most beaches in Franklin County this beach gently slopes and, although there are no lifeguards on duty, the surf requires only normal caution to be fun for the whole family. Naturally you should use caution on any beach during rough weather, but difficult swimming conditions are a rarity here.
St George Island State Park At the lighthouse take a left onto Gulf Beach Drive and drive till you reach the park entrance. St. George Island State Park beach, located at the far east end on St. George Island, was ranked in the Top 10 by Dr. Beach. At nine miles in length, this is the longest beach front state park in Florida. And you have a lot of choices how to enjoy it. There are two large beach use areas with ample parking, picnic pavilions, beach house facilities, grills and boardwalks. This beach is renowned for its soft, white sand, gentle surf and softly-sloping bottom that makes for easy beach enjoyment for the whole family. If you would like more privacy there’s plenty of beach that is easy to get to. A number of small pull-off parking areas provide boardwalk access all along the length of the beach. Fishing is a common activity with spring bringing locally famous runs of pompano and Spanish mackerel, while the fall months bring redfish and speckled trout. Pets are allowed on leashes in parking lots but not on the beaches. Alcohol is not allowed in the park. There is an entrance fee and please observe the speed limit rules as they are enforced. When you bring the family to St. George Island State Park you’ll find Florida beaches the way they used to be.
Both provide public access to the beach with restrooms, picnic tables, and other amenities. And, most of the north/south roads on the island provide a public access to the beach.
The closest boat launch is at the Apalachicola Bridge. From the Inn, drive ½ block to Water Street (it runs along the river). Keep driving under the bridge, The marina will be on your left. Locals call this marina the “10 Foot Hole”.