Florida's Forgotten Coast
In the panhandle of Florida, there are a group of counties along the “big bend” area called the Forgotten Coast. This is old Florida. A way of life that has been based in timber and harvesting seafood from the Gulf for decades.
Tthe counties Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla comprise the Forgotten Coast. Cities like Panacea, Apalachicola, Sopchoppy, Alligator Point, Carrabelle, Port St. Joe and Saint Marks may not be on the travel guides, but their vibrant history and laid-back lifestyle go back to the 1800’s.
Florida’s value to the French, Spanish and English goes back to the days of explorers like Ponce de Leon, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Jean Ribault and Denys Rolle. The lifestyle in north Florida was harsh, but settlers who survived found the beauty and bounty Florida has to offer.
The fact is, despite the area’s lack of publicity, all three counties along the Forgotten Coast have some exceptional travel opportunities. You can stay at a haunted hotel in Apalachicola or experience the wide-open Gulf beaches on St. George Island. You can explore the rich seafaring history at the Carrabelle History Museum.
Port St. Joe is reminiscent of the days when Florida was shipping timber, salt, seafood and other exports to around the world at the turn of the 20th century. St. Marks takes you back to the 1700’s when the Spanish established a major trading post here. Sopchoppy’s history goes back to the Muskogee native Americans, plus you do not want to miss the annual worm grunting festival! Wakulla County is home to Wakulla Springs and a several decades old lodge still open today.
If you are a hiker or bird watcher, Tate’s Hell Wildlife Management Area has some great trails and a wide assortment of aquatic and land loving birds. There is even some fun trying to discover the legend of how Tate’s Hell got it’s name.
Most communities along the Forgotten Coast have museums, historical landmarks and forts or compounds established by Spanish explorers. The significance of the area to Florida’s growth, settlement and eventual prosperous future is rooted in this region.
Traveling through the Forgotten Coast is part of the fun. US route 98 meanders along the forests of Tate’s Hell south to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. In some places along Rt. 98, you are so close to the road you can literally throw a stone out the window of your car into the Gulf. Seafood and oyster shacks dot the roads along the Gulf.
Plan a day trip or weekend visit to the Forgotten Coast.