We were fortunate last week to have some time to drive down to the coast and travel along scenic Highway 98. We drove along the most southern point of the northwest portion of the Florida coast where the land meets the Gulf of Mexico. We drove as far west as Panama City, and then drove back, visiting Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, and then on to Apalachicola.
It has again turned cold in our area, but last weekend the days were perfect and almost Spring-like.
The skies were clear and the waters peaceful, calm, and so beautifully blue.
Many of the structures in Apalachicola have been renovated and in 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Apalachicola, "one of a dozen distinctive destinations in the United States."
Apalachicola was established in 1821 and was named after the Apalachicola Indians. By 1837, Apalachicola had become the 3rd largest port on the Gulf of Mexico behind New Orleans and Mobile. This port was one of the busiest seaports along the Gulf Coast.
In the 1800s when cotton was king, steamboats came into the Apalachicola port transporting cotton. During the Civil War, Union forces in an attempt to halt ships carrying needed supplies to the Confederacy, blocked the seaport. The town fell to the Union forces. There was later a lumber milling boom in the area. Then, Apalachicola became the center of the oyster industry in Florida.
Today shrimp boats and oyster skiffs are common sights in Apalachicola. More than 90% of Florida's oyster production is harvested from Apalachicola Bay. Tourism and seafood fuel the economy in this charming working fishing village.
Apalachicola has become a travel destination for many, with several hotels, B&Bs, shops, and boutiques. There are more than a dozen seafood restaurants, and even an old timey soda fountain.
The Gibson Inn
The Gibson Inn is one of the first sights that catches your eye as you cross over the Apalachicola bridge and drive into town.
The Gibson Inn was built in 1907 of native heart pine and black cypress and is now listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places, after being carefully restored in 1985. The Inn is inviting with the wrap-around Victorian-style porch with rocking chairs all around. There are 30 guest rooms all furnished with antiques. The restaurant serves breakfast and dinner, and is so popular reservations are highly recommended.
We took a walk around the Apalachicola Maritime Museum in the below photo. The Museum was founded to celebrate and preserve the rich maritime history of the area. The museum offers educational programs including boat building. While there you can sign up for historical tours, kayak trips, sunset cruises and multiple other activities.
One of the boats being built at the Museum.
There were some interesting photos in the museum.
This below photo shows oystering in the bay.
In the below photo is a shrimp boat docked at the waterfront.
A group of sea gulls resting on the seaport walkway.
The Dixie Theatre in the below photo was built in 1912 and is in the heart of the downtown area. It was fully renovated in 1996-98 and offers a variety of entertainment.
Some shops downtown.
I love the way they use oyster shells for landscaping mulch. They look so appropriate for a fishing village.
The below photo shows the historic Grady Building which was built in the 1880s to house a family operated hardware and ship supply store along the bustling riverfront. It also housed a bank and storage for the hardware store. The upper floors were shared by the Captain of the Port, a French Consulate, and a U.S. Customs office. It is located directly across from the riverfront.
There was a three year renovation of the Grady Building. The downstairs Grady Market features a collection of galleries and boutiques. The upstairs, overlooking the Apalachicola River, has been turned into four luxury suites with fully equipped kitchens. The suites are called "The Consulate" and are available for rent. There is a beautiful garden in the back of the building for parties such as wedding receptions.
As we left the downtown area we wanted to drive around and get a better look at some of the charming Victorian homes in the Historic District.
They call these homes Victorian, but I think some of them look like a combination of the Florida Cracker, Victorian and the Farmhouse look. I love the style of all of these homes. To me they look so warm and inviting.
Just scroll down and take a look at these charming homes.
Hurricanes come up through the Gulf of Mexico often brushing by, or even directly hitting Apalachicola. With that thought in mind it is surprising there are so many tree lined streets in the area. The trees have survived the storms nicely.
In the Historic District we saw the John Gorrie Museum.
In 1849 Apalachicola physician Dr. John Gorrie discovered the cold-air process of refrigeration and patented his ice machine. When Yellow Fever came to the area Dr. Gorrie felt his patients would recuperate faster if colder air flow could surround them. That was the incentive for him to develop the ice machine. A replica of his ice machine is on display in the Museum. He is given credit for laying the groundwork for air-conditioning.
We continued our drive through the Historic District. Many of these homes were originally the homes of sea captains, river pilots and sponge divers.
How about these beautiful trees!
This was an interesting tree in the below photo. If you look closely it is a Magnolia tree growing very close to an Oak tree. Can you tell which one is which?
When you back away you can see the Oak and Magnolia growing nicely intertwined.
And last we see this pretty gazebo in Lafayette Park down by the riverfront. This park was established in 1832.
They tell us the whole town is less than 3 miles wide .... It seemed bigger than that to me.
If we had the time we would have enjoyed staying in Apalachicola a little longer. It would have been fun going through the antique shops, and we would love to have dinner at the Gibson Inn and some of the other restaurants that sounded so good ... Maybe another time.
Thanks for coming along with us on our sightseeing trip through this charming little fishing village.
Wishing you well wherever you may be.