The Secret Romance of Florida's Forgotten Coast

    By Kara Franker

    Visitors to Apalachicola and St. George Island immediately know they're in a special place. 

    The luxury in this part of Florida is not what you'll find in the bigger cities and resort towns. Here, it's all about the laid-back atmosphere, authenticity, the gorgeous sandy shore and old Florida charm. It's a place to rekindle the romance with Florida's so-called Forgotten Coast. 

    I was inspired to check out Apalachicola Bay after reading an article in Florida Travel & Life entitled, Plan a Trip to Oyster Town, USA. My husband and I packed up the car in Miami and made the trek across the state to Northwest Florida. What we found was quite different than what we are used to in South Florida -- and enchanting.

    Where to Stay

    The Coombs House Inn is a romantic bed and breakfast in an elegant Victorian mansion. James Nathaniel Coombs, a successful entrepreneur, built the home in the early 1900s. It was famous for its black cypress wall paneling, nine fireplaces, a spacious entrance hall, ornate brass light fixtures and a carved oak staircase leading up to the second floor. 

    Lynn Wilson bought the mansion and embarked upon a major renovation that was completed in 1994. She furnished the house with antiques and paintings from the period, many from her personal collection. Now the mansion is an Apalachicola landmark, known for its golden yellow paint, colorful history, and of course, its appetizing breakfasts. 

    Where to Dine 

    Do you love to eat Florida oysters? There is a good chance they came from Apalachicola, where oysters are a legacy. Bay oysters are among the finest of the world. The town is dotted with family-owned businesses, tree-lined streets, a quaint city square and its fair share of decadent oyster resturaunts. Here are a few to sample:

    Where to Play 

    St. George Island is located a couple miles off the coast of Apalachicola. You drive over a causeway to get there and, let me tell you, it is truly an unspoiled beach. You are likely to walk for miles and not see another soul. In fact, St. George Island was just named the #4 Top-Rated Beach in America for 2012 by Dr. Beach, the foremost beach expert in North America.

    Did you know? The 2012 Sports Illustrated Swim Suit issue shot was shot in Apalachicola and St George Island.