Apalachicola was named by Native Americans meaning, "the people on the other side." Apalachicola was incorporated as a port town in 1828 and called West Point. However, in 1831 it became officially known as Apalachicola. The River itself separates the Eastern and Central time zones. For thousands of years, Apalachicola was a major transport artery. Early on, cotton from plantations were shipped down river on steamboats and processed in large warehouses in town. Cotton was Apalachicola's main source of revenue. Later lumber from the numerous cypress and pine in the region were the main cargo. In the late 1800's Apalachicola', now famous, oyster industry began. Today Apalachicola produces 90% of Florida's oysters and is the only place in U.S.. where oysters can be harvested yearound. Apalachicola is also the headquarters of the United Nations Biosphere Reserve and Natural Estuarine Sanctuary established to help protect fish and other river wildlife. Some believe this is the reason why the Apalachicola oysters rank among the very best.
Along the banks and bayous of the Apalachicola River grow tupelo flowers. They bloom in April and in May honey bees swarm to the sweet white tupelo blossoms Tupelo honey is different from all other honey as it does not granulate... meaning it can't be refined. In 1979 a movie, Ulee's Gold starring Peter Fonda was filmed here. Some of the town folk served as extras and all the bees in the film are Apalachicola residents.
Where to Go
With over 540 miles of land, The Wildlife Environmental Area features paddling trails, hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, fishing, hunting and primitive camping.The best way to see this area is to paddle your way through. With over 11 different scenic paddling trails it has been named one of the top 12 places to paddle in the country. With it's scenic cypress and tupelo lined banks the trails are just as adventurous as scenic.
Visit Sand Beach loacated in this area and explore 100 plus miles of scenic trails. Wildflowers are at their peak in Fall as well as Cypress and Tupelo foliage. Due to the diverse river habitat, over 280 species of resident and migratory birds occupy this lush area. Swallowtail kites, red-cockaded woodpeckers, waders, warblers and more can be viewed.
With proper permitting hunting is allowed in the area. In Fall, squirrel, hunting is popular. In Spring turkey season runs from March 31 through April 26. Fox, wild hogs, possum and doves can be hunted year round.
Fishing the river is an enjoyable way to spend the day on the river. There are numerous boat launches and places to rent a boat in Apalachicola. Available to catch are large mouth bass, striped bass, bream and catfish. Fish the outgoing tide to the Gulf of Mexico for best results.
Visit the Historic downtown of Apalachicola. Stroll down Water Street along the river and view the large fishing vessels docked near the working fish houses. Walk past the old, brick cotton warehouses and the Maritime Museum which is the most comprehensive Maritime collection eats of the Mississippi.
On 6th street check out the John Gorrie State Museum. Gorrie was a physician in the mid 1800's and in 1851 invented a machine to keep his Yellow Fever patients cool. This then morphed into the first ice making machine. A replica of Gorrie's ice machine is on display. Thank you Dr. Gorrie!
The Dixie Theater is an interesting building in the historic downtown district. It was built in 1912 by a sponge diver and was the centerpiece of downtown for years. Restored in 1994 it features live professional theater, music and dance from January through March annually.
Be sure to visit the quaint local businesses such as the Oyster Catcher Boutique...a cute clothing store for woman and children and the Tin Shed, an almost museum like atmosphere with all kinds of maritime items for sale. With their ever changing inventory one can expect to see everything from diving helmets and sea chests to ship's wheel and propellers. This is a fun place to see and a great place to get a souvenir with everything from collectibles, antiques, decor and gifts.
Where to Eat
Caroline's river Dining has been serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner on the river for over 23 years. They feature the freshest seafood and spectacular views of the bridge and river. Try them for breakfast as you can watch the sunrise and dine in their one of as kind gazebo on the river. Their specialty and must try is the Oyster-town Signature Gouda Gouda Oyster Omelet. Featuring fresh Apalachicola oysters saute'ed with sweet, red peppers and onions folded into a 3 egg omelet and topped with Gouda cheese. The oysters are cooked perfectly and the cheese is plentiful. It is served with hash browns and a mad on premise biscuit. Not that daring?? Try the equally yummy, Lemon Drops 'N Berries which is 3 lemon infused buttermilk pancakes topped with blueberries and raspberry butter. Served with your choice of breakfast meat. Get the orange juice it is delicious and hand squeezed.
World famous Boss Oyster is next door. the have the freshest oysters and seafood you can buy. The oysters are captured and chilled directly on their boats brought in shucked and washed. Just like their motto states, "from bay, to belly." They also feature local gulf grouper which is guaranteed never frozen.
Tamara's Cafe is another locally owned restaurant where you can dine in a renovated 1920's building. This restaurant features a Venezuelan spin on seafood. Start with a bowl of Oyster Stew which features sweet fresh Apalachicola oysters in a spicy cream sauce. Next try Tamara's "Famous Crusted Grouper with creamy jalapeno sauce.
The Owl Cafe is in the heart of the downtown historic district.and as their motto states, "some folks are wise and some otherwise. Be wise." it is a must try. Get the Deep Fried Oysters accompanied by their Dijon horseradish sauce, yum! The Lump Blue Crab Cake Dinner comes from the blue crabs of the river. there are plenty of vegetarian and land lovers choices. and all entrees come with homemade bread, starch, vegetables and a house salad. They also have an extensive wine room with wines from regions all over the world.
Where to Stay
If you want to be part of all the river action stay at the Apalachicola River Inn.The 2 story building sits right on the river banks and every room has a view of the Apalachicola River. The upper rooms have French doors that lead out to your private balcony featuring birds eye views of the river. The are the larger of the rooms and feature either a king or queen size bed. The lower rooms provide more of an intimate setting on the river. They feature large glass windows and chairs that sit overlooking the dock. The perfect place to watch anglers try their luck. You can basically fish from your front door. The property also features a river cottage which has 2 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and a private deck for entertaining. The spacious bathroom also features a 72" round Jacuzzi for relaxation after a day of adventure. The best part...all rooms come with a gourmet, made to order breakfast and the rates are reasonable.
If you want to stay in the heart of the historic downtown, stay at The Gibson Inn Historic Bed and Breakfast. It features Old Florida style decor and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. The building consists of 3 stories, the 2nd and 3rd stories are comprised of king, queen and twin rooms. The first floor features Ira's Dining Room and an old time saloon. There is a huge front porch complete with rockers for people watching after dinner.
Local Tip: Apalachicola is home to the Florida Seafood Festival held every year in late October...it is the oldest maritime festival in Florida.
|Local Tip: If you visit Apalachicola during hunting season and are hiking the Wildlife Environmental Area make sure to wear orange clothing.|
Apalachicola is located along Florida's coastline in a stretch known as the Forgotten Coast. Undisturbed unaffected and protected. However, if you love nature, history, and the freshest seafood on earth...you won't soon forget your trip to Apalachicola and her river.
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