Our couple hundred mile journey on a segment of old Route 66 out west never allowed us the opportunity to stay in one of these throwback 50’s era motels just off the highway.
Here in Port St. Joe, though not much to write home about, we stayed at the Dixie Belle Motel. The Dixie Belle was all that she advertised, color TV and air conditioning. Plus, it was just a mile outside of the door that opens to the Forgotten Coast of Florida.
This smattering of little towns on the gulf side down the panhandle are sleepy, quiet and from what I understand a whole different world than the other parts of coastal Florida.
Cape San Blas protects the tiny village of Port St. Joe as it juts out into the gulf and boasts some of the best beaches in Florida as well as some of the best fishing. This duo happened to be caught on camera fishing in the nature preserve.
“Apalachicola? What brought y’all here? Well, we needed to get off the interstate and off the beaten path of Florida before we head to the well worn path called Disney World. That’s a sample conversation we had on several occasions here on this portion of the gulf coast of Florida. And boy, did we find a gem.
They call this part of Florida “The Forgotten Coast”. Even Floridians don’t ever come this way. Historic antebellum houses line the streets. Main Street looks the same as it did 100 years ago. The harbor boats haul in more shrimp and oysters than any other part of Florida. With a dozen oysters(pronounced oyshters) at $10, this platter was harvested that day and eaten up at happy hour.
Before oysters and shrimp, this was a steamboat depot for lumber, cotton, and sponges. Yes, sponges. “In the olden days” people used natural sponge and this is the coastal Florida town where they were harvested and shipped all over the world.
The other claim-to-fame for this historic town is John Gorrie. John Gorrie? You know, the guy who invented the ice machine. His invention helped those that suffered from the yellow fever outbreak of the 19th century and led to what is known today as air conditioning. Something so essential here in Florida they built this Ice Machine Museum to honor the legacy of this pioneer of refrigeration.
In Apalachicola we were fortunate to land this wonderful B&B for a couple days, The Coombs House. This house, built in the antebellum era of the 1830’s, was once considered the most elegant in all of Apalachicola. Today, it is still very elegant with its hand carved woodwork throughout and grand staircase AND it’s very comfortable.