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A Prosperous Past Enriches the Present in Apalachicola

by S. Lynne on August 6th, 2013

The spirit of Old Florida is still alive along the wide, tree-lined streets of Apalachicola. Situated between river and bay, the town has been a busy commerce center since the 1830s and was once the third largest shipping port on the Gulf Coast.

Before the Civil War, cotton grown in the surrounding areas was stored in Apalachicola warehouses until it could be shipped to the Northeast and Europe. Today, many of the same buildings house a mix of shops, restaurants, art galleries, museums, and other businesses.

Apalachicola-Old-Fishery-FactoryStill a working port, Apalachicola boasts more than 900 historic homes and buildings, many of which can be viewed on a walking tour of the town (For a map, visit High points include the Dixie Theatre, built in 1912 and still in use; the pre-Civil War Orman and Raney mansions; Trinity Episcopal Church, and the Sponge Exchange. At the John Gorrie State Museum, visitors can see a replica of the ice machine Dr. Gorrie developed to cool the temperatures of patients with yellow fever. His invention was the basis for the ice industry and the forerunner of modern air conditioning.

apalachicola airboat tour rwt900The surrounding countryside is as rich in natural resources as the town is in history. The Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay offer great fishing for both freshwater and saltwater anglers. And the cypress swamps, marshes, and bayous of the Apalachicola Estuary system — teeming with birds, gators, and other wildlife — invite endless opportunities for exploration by boat. There are plenty of outfitters offering everything from kayak rental to airboat ride excursions.

Two nearby state parks — on St. George Island and at Cape San Blas — offer miles of undeveloped shoreline and dazzling white-sand beaches, perfect for swimming, fishing, boating, snorkeling, shelling, and hiking.

apalachicola art gallery rwt900Apalachicola also boasts plenty of places to eat. Not surprisingly, fresh seafood, including the famous Apalachicola Bay oysters, are the specialty of the house at many local restaurants. The town is also home to several bed-and-breakfast inns, including the award-winning Coombs House, plus the new Water Street Hotel and Marina. Both properties are pet-friendly and offer luxurious accommodations within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and other local attractions.

To learn more about Apalachicola, and to book reservations, visit

apalachicola river rwt 900

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