Head north and west from just about all of Florida and you’ll find our favorite region in the Sunshine State—the Forgotten Coast. Last time I posted, we had visited Cedar Key—a cool, laid-back town with plenty of places to relax. Well, we moved a little farther up the coast, around the bend and into the Apalachicola region where the forests abound right up to the white sandy shores along the the Gulf.
If you’re looking for Old Florida, the Florida where you can pull over at a trailer with a homemade sign and buy some of the best seafood your tastebuds can comprehend, then this is the place. Rural, rustic and utterly welcoming, this stretch of land just south of Tallahassee is the best of the state.
We stopped at Hamaknockers—a real Florida barbecue joint. (Now the difference from the Carolina style sauce is in the base: North Carolina is vinegar-based; South Carolina is mustard-based; Florida is ketchup-based. I won’t get into the silly which-is-better debate because all are delicious in their own way and each has their time and place.)
We made a day trip into the town of Apalachicola where we stopped at a brewery and they pointed us across the street to the Owl Cafe. Order the duck fries they told us. That was sage advice. Handcut fries topped with gruyere cheese and fried duck meat. Damn. We struck up a conversation with a local named Jeff, who invited us back the next night. He was playing with his band at Tamara’s Tapas Bar. So we stopped by and, man, these guys could play. We had some great drinks and spent a full evening taking in the town.
Unlike the more southern parts of Florida where the beaches were crowded and not-so-friendly, we pretty much had the beach here to ourselves. Dolphins swam by. You could hear the waves and the birds. They allowed dogs on the beach! (Not St. George Island though. It is worth visiting, but they are adamant about no dogs on the beach.)
Speaking of dog-friendly: We found a museum that allowed dogs too—the Marine Specimen Lab in Panacea. This interactive, nonprofit museum was a ton of fun. You could pick up crabs and sea slugs and starfish. They rescue turtles and have stingrays and sharks. If you’re in the area, it is well worth visiting.
As usual, Miracle tried to find some odd sights and succeeded with the glass bottle house. I’d try to add more photos, but the internet is lacking per the usual for the United States.