Where the Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay come together sits the town of Apalachicola, founded in 1831. Once the third largest port on the Gulf of Mexico, Apalachicola’s economy has followed the industries that marked this part of the country—first cotton, then lumber and now seafood. Known by locals simply as “Apalach,” the town has long centered around its maritime community. The working waterfront still sends out fishermen and shrimpers regularly. The town has also done a superb job of preserving its historical buildings, with more than 900 on the registry. With the bay in one direction and the river in another, it makes the perfect landing spot for a weekend away.
What to Do
A getaway in Apalachicola most likely centers around history and water. Start with a stroll through the historic waterfront between 17th and Jefferson Streets, where many of the buildings that once served the cotton and lumber trades now host boutiques, eateries and art galleries. Don’t miss the 652 designated historic sites in the district.
When it’s time to head out on the water, hire a fishing charter for the day. Locals rave about Captain JB Charters (850.323.0566; captjb.com), helmed by an Apalachicola Bay native. Local waters are famous for their speckled trout, redfish, flounder, sheepshead and black drum all year ’round.
Where to Eat
Though Apalachicola oysters are off the menu until 2025—the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a ban in effect in order to give the bay a break—there’s still plenty of fresh local seafood. Try the Station Raw Bar (53 Market Street, Apalachicola; 850.653.8237; thestationrawbar.com) for gulf shrimp. Quirky bonus: It’s housed in a converted gas station. For a dining experience that’s a touch more upscale, try The Owl Café (15 Avenue D, Apalachicola; 850.653.9888; owlcafeflorida.com). The menu features refined dishes with a hint of Florida flair. Don’t miss the duck confit fries with crispy prosciutto and the gator sausage creole over grit cake.
Where to Stay
Apalachicola’s local rental scene is big on historic charm. Visitors can rent the three-bedroom, 1,400-square foot Majestic Jewel of Apalachicola (73 Avenue E, Apalachicola; 850.288.1000; majesticjewelofapalachicola.com), built in 1908 by a local dry-goods baron. Don’t need an entire house? The beautifully appointed Bowery Inn (161 Commerce St., Apalachicola; 866.810.5353; theboweryinn.com) offers four unique guest rooms in a historic setting. With hardwood floors and the original clawfoot tub in the master suite, the inn strikes the right balance between Old Florida charm and modern taste.
Apalachicola is a far piece from Southwest Florida; the town sits in the panhandle between Tallahassee and Panama City. Luckily, the Apalachicola Regional Airport (8 Airport Road, Apalachicola; 850.290.8282) is open for public use. Both jet charters and private jets can access the airstrip, meaning less time in transit and more time taking in the wonders of this area.