It feels like a long haul between Panama City Beach and here. Add an odd name and a town's below-the-radar reputation to that long drive and you may be tempted to skip Apalachicola. But you shouldn't. It's a weirdly fascinating town that, for some reason, has a growing cosmopolitan veneer. And that makes it worth a visit.Meaning "land of the friendly people" in the language of its original Native American inhabitants, Apalachicola—known in these parts as simply Apalach—lies on the Panhandle's southernmost bulge. European settlers began arriving in 1821, and by 1847 the southern terminus of the Apalachicola River steamboat route was a bustling port town. Although the town is now known as the Oyster Capital of the World, oystering became king only after the local cotton industry flagged—the city's extra-wide streets, built to accommodate bales of cotton awaiting transport, are a remnant of that trade—and the sponge industry moved down the coast after depleting local sponge colonies.But the newest industry here is tourism, and visitors have begun discovering the Forgotten Coast, as the area is known, flocking to its intimate hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, dining at excellent restaurants, and browsing in unique shops selling anything from handmade furniture to brass fixtures recovered from nearby shipwrecks. If you like oysters or want to go back in time to the Old South of Gothic churches and spooky graveyards, Apalachicola is a good place to start.
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Things You Can't Miss
Tour this antebellum mansion built overlooking the Apalachicola River by a cotton merchant. Don’t miss the adjacent butterfly and botanic garden.
Yvette Cardozo / Alamy
Cruise for a few hours in air-conditioned splendor. Capt. Gill will tell you all about the Apalachicola River ecosystem and its great biodiversity.
Stephen Alvarez/ National Geographic Creative/ Getty Images
This establishment has its own harvesting boat to make sure your oysters are kept chilled every step of the way “from bay to belly.”
Yvette Cardozo / Alamy
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Pay homage to the father of refrigeration and air conditioning in the state that might have been left to the alligators and mosquitos without them.
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Find sweeping views of the Apalachicola River estuary on this mostly boardwalk nature trail. Pass through a succession of four coastal habitats.
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Savings on British Airways and Vacations by Rail
Shared Trips to this Destination
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