The place y’all from?” a man sporting a baseball cap and weathered tan skin asked us seconds after walking by means of the restaurant’s door. My coworker and i exchanged glances–“Is it actually that apparent we’ve by no means been here earlier than?”–before answering.
Suddenly conscious of our dressier outfits after noticing everyone in shorts and t-shirts, we admitted we were from Birmingham.
“That is an awesome metropolis!” The man exclaimed, then proceeded to ask us what brought us to St. George Island. After explaining why we were there, we came upon that this man and his household had been coming to St. George from Atlanta for years. As he completed up his dinner, he waved to us on his way out the door.
“Do not inform too many people about it,” he said with a wink.
On St. George Island, part of Florida’s “Forgotten Coast” (as locals name it), it is the laid-again, real vibe that keeps these who are in on the secret coming again year after 12 months.
Located east of 30A, it takes only about an hour and a half longer to get to St. George Island than it does to the more common beach vacation spot. A thin strip of barrier island (28 miles lengthy and 1 mile broad), St. George offers a secluded escape. It does not have all of the amenities that different, extra business destinations have–but that is a part of its enchantment. You will not see any excessive-rise condos. You won’t see planes flying overhead advertising “All-You-Can-Eat Shrimp.” You will not must combat crowds to discover a spot on the seashore. And you certainly will not have to dress up for dinner.
With just six full-service eating places on the island, as well as two markets, a donut store, ice cream store, and coffee cart, St. George isn’t pretending to be something it isn’t. It is a downright laid-back seashore destination that harkens back to the Florida of years previous, before builders bought up land and stacked condos like building blocks.
It’s peaceful–with tall sea oats blowing within the breeze, framing golden sand and deep blue water. Colorful seashore cottages and tall Spanish-style homes line either side of the one primary road that runs the size of the island. At one end is St. George Island State Park, a preserved space with untouched beach, winding strolling trails, and views of the bay. Greeting you as you come onto the island is a stark white lighthouse framed by palm bushes and bougainvillea. A reconstruction of the unique lighthouse (which fell after weathering hurricanes), in the present day you possibly can climb the new lighthouse for a panoramic view.
Just over the bridge from St. George Island are Eastpoint, Florida, and Apalachicola, Florida, neighboring communities which can be residence to Tupelo honey and the well-known Apalachicola oysters. Due to brackish water, the oysters in the world are true perfection: creamy, buttery, and never too briny or fishy. Strive them at Lynn’s High quality Oysters in Eastpoint. You need to walk through the kitchen to get to the patio, however do not let that flip you off. The deck has stunning views of the bay, where you can watch the oyster farmers are available in from a day’s work. Order the oysters uncooked to taste them in their glory, or combine and match with a combo dozen–the Baked, with garlic and parmesan, and the Margherita, with mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes, are each phenomenal.
You can even discover the signature oysters at a lot of the restaurants on the island, including Blue Parrot Oceanfront Cafe, the one oceanfront dining in St. George; Paddy’s Uncooked Bar, an open-air restaurant that becomes a chill hangout at night time; and Harry A’s, a restaurant with a big outside bar that hosts karaoke a couple of nights of the week. To get a taste of Tupelo honey, head to Apalachicola Seafood Grill, in downtown Apalachicola, the place the sweet golden honey is used in signature frozen margaritas. Pop into any store in the city, like “The Shop” or the “Apalachicola Sponge Firm,” and you’ll be in a position to purchase some honey to take house.
While you are in Apalachicola, you can take an eco-cruise with Captain Skip Shiver, a retired legislation enforcement officer and sheriff, who now flips houses in the realm and leads boat tours to introduce tourists to the beautiful locale. Hop aboard the elegant wooden “Miss America” and cruise down the Apalachicola River. Alongside the way in which, Captain Skip will level out river lilies, stubby cypress knees, and wildlife including birds and alligators. On the 2-hour tour, you may feel like you’re in the Amazon as you cruise past trees dripping with Spanish moss and tall grasses hiding baby gator nests.
Of course, the rationale you’re at St. George is for the seaside, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy it. If you’re renting a house by means of Resort Trip Properties, certainly one of the foremost rental companies on the island, they will set you up with beach chairs and umbrellas throughout your stay. The corporate gives the “Free Beach Gear Program,” which gives paddleboards, kayaks, lounge chairs, seashore wagons, bikes, and more freed from charge to those renting. Renting one in every of the many homes on the island, from condos good for couples to multi-story homes suited for big families, is the most effective technique to expertise St. George for the first time–but when you’re like many visitors, the island will proceed to attract you back for years to come back.
For a lot of Birminghamians, St. George Island has change into a lovely seashore vacation spot that is inexpensive, stunning, and provides the privateness they’re looking for. Lynn Cassady, who has been traveling along with her husband to Apalachicola from Birmingham for four a long time, bought a home on the island in 1997. Situated within the Plantation improvement, a gorgeous group on the west end of the island, their house in St. George was all the things the Cassady family needed in a trip destination.
“We had been traveling to Apalachicola for fishing and food for 40 years,” Lynn says. “Once we needed to find a spot at the beach, we selected St. George because it provides one thing for the whole family, including a sugar white seashore, unbelievably contemporary seafood, peace and quiet, and the very best fishing in the United States.”
Lynn additionally reiterates that the reason they chose the island was because the beaches are “far, far, far less crowded” they usually love the “Outdated Florida peace and quiet.”
Jim McLaughlin, another Birminghamian and St. George Island homeowner, was additionally drawn to the realm first for its fishing.
“We had been touring for years to St. George and we cherished the concept of getting our own spot on the island,” Jim says of what factored into the decision to purchase. “We actually benefit from the laid-back feel and slower pace. It reminds me of the times when I used to be a child and we went to Destin when it was nonetheless a small, sleepy fishing village withbeautiful beaches.”
Jim, who has 5 youngsters and has owned a house on the island for 13 years along with his brother and parents, appreciates the family-feel of the world.
“The beaches are great and are never very crowded,” Jim says. “You’ll be able to take your children and allow them to roam all around the beach and all the time feel protected. Because there are usually not a variety of venues for leisure (film theaters, water parks, etc.), you spend a lot more time together as a household, which we actually value. It is a good place for building family reminiscences.”
For Lynn, cherishing household memories was a most important think about purchasing a house.
“Prior to now twenty years, the way in which we use our home has changed as our children have grown up, however the island has remained relatively untouched,” Lynn explains. “We chose to personal a house on the beach versus renting every year as a result of we wanted to create reminiscences for our children.
“Our first decade going to St. George was full of days at the seashore, gathering sea shells, studying to journey bikes on the private bike paths, consuming recent seafood at residence, and watching the dolphins play within the water.
“Because the children grew to become teenagers, the home turned a gathering spot for their bigger groups of mates. The island presents a really safe atmosphere for younger adults to have fun and loosen up however nonetheless be inside the circle of family time centered around the seaside.”
Now that the couple’s kids are young adults (ages 22, 25, and 28), the home is the center for quick weekend escapes from school and work for the children. Lynn and her husband, Ed, are beginning to enjoy the island extra in the spring and fall months.
“We’re meeting an increasing number of people who are calling St. George their everlasting dwelling, which suggests there are regular golf groups, tennis matches, guide clubs, and bridge groups, if you’re searching for less time on the beach and more time close to the seashore,” Lynn says. “St. George’s beaches are dog-pleasant, so there’s simply a very laid-back and friendly environment on the seashore with all the families and canines.”
For many homeowners and guests to St. George, it’s that actual ambiance that drew them to the island. There is not any pretention–just a tranquil escape the place you may create lasting reminiscences.
“I have a painting in my office [in Birmingham] of the trail that results in the seaside from our house on St. George,” Jim says.