31 Hidden Gems to Explore on Florida’s Forgotten Coast

Boat Tours at Wakulla Springs State Park, Florida
Boat Tours at Wakulla Springs State Park, Florida | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

With its untamed wilderness, quaint fishing villages, and miles of uncrowded beaches, Florida’s Forgotten Coast offers the chance to escape the bustling tourist hubs and truly unwind. Stretching along the Panhandle from Port St. Joe to St. Marks, this area may not be on the radar for most visitors, but that just means more room for you to relax amid the scenic coastline. From exploring local history and catching sight of rare birds in coastal marshes to delving into homestyle Southern cuisine, there is no shortage of hidden gems awaiting discovery here.

1) St. Mark’s Lighthouse

St. Marks Lighthouse, Florida
St. Marks Lighthouse, Florida | Photo Credit: Flickr – anoldent

Address: 3443 Lighthouse Rd, Crawfordville, FL 32327

The historic St. Marks Lighthouse stands as an iconic beacon overlooking the serene Apalachee Bay in Florida’s Big Bend region. First built in 1831 to guide ships entering the port, the lighthouse has been through the Second Seminole War, Civil War, and destructive hurricanes, getting rebuilt and relocated over time. Now part of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, this picturesque lighthouse set against a backdrop of swaying grasslands and marsh still serves as an active, privately maintained aid to navigation. Visitors can climb to the top for panoramic views, learn about the history in the on-site museum and restored keeper’s quarters, and observe abundant wildlife along the refuge trails, making the St. Marks Lighthouse an ideal destination for nature and history lovers alike.

2) San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park

San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, Florida
San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, Florida | Photo Credit: Wikipedia – Tim Ross

Address: 148 Old Fort Rd, St Marks, FL 32355

San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park’s storied history traces back nearly 500 years to Spanish explorer Panfilo de Narvaez’s arrival in 1528, though the first fort was not erected on site until 1679. The flags lining the park entrance today reflect its multi-cultural past − from early indigenous inhabitants to Spanish conquistadors and British loyalists, Andrew Jackson’s troops in the 1800s to the U.S. Marine Hospital built in the 1850s for yellow fever victims. During the Civil War, Confederates seized control and established Fort Ward defenses until war’s end. Now a museum houses artifacts unearthed on site including centuries-old pottery and tools, with detailed interpretive displays and an 18-minute video fully recounting the various phases of fort occupation. Graced with riverfront access to scenic Tucker’s Point, the park provides fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities as well for modern-day travelers to experience the rich history.

3) Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

Wakulla Springs State Park, Florida
Wakulla Springs State Park, Florida | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

Address: 465 Wakulla Park Dr, Wakulla Springs, FL 32327

Home to the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring, the sparkling sapphire waters of Wakulla Springs in Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park host manatees, alligators, and abundant wildlife visible from riverboat tours or the diving platform overlooking the crystal clear 70-degree springs. The historic 1930s Spanish Revival-style lodge with its old Florida charm, painted ceilings, and remnants of bygone eras offers a window into the past. Visitors can plan events or even spend the night at the Lodge at Wakulla Springs. Book your stay on Hotels.com.

Wakulla Springs State Park, Florida  | Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.hotels.com/affiliates/the-lodge-at-wakulla-springs-crawfordville-united-states-of-america.JYRV9Um"target="_blank">Hotels.com</a>
Wakulla Springs State Park, Florida | Photo Credit: Hotels.com

The spring is known for having once hosted early Native Americans, mastodons, Hollywood film crews shooting classics like Creature from the Black Lagoon, and modern-day visitors who come to swim, spot wildlife, and experience both the natural beauty and rich history of one of Florida’s most treasured places. Be sure to take the boat tour and also stop by the Lodge for a famous “Ginger Yip”.

4) Wakulla County Historical Society

Address: 24 High Dr, Crawfordville, FL 32327

The Wakulla County Historical Society, founded in 1991, is dedicated to preserving and sharing the rich history of Wakulla County and surrounding areas. Located at the Wakulla County Museum and Archives in downtown Crawfordville, this volunteer-run organization oversees exhibits and collections housed in a rare unmodified 1949 art deco-style jail building. Visitors can get help from volunteers with genealogical research or explore the local heritage through artifacts and educational displays. By restoring historic buildings and serving as a repository for cultural items spanning generations, the Wakulla County Historical Society brings the unique history of this Florida Panhandle area to life.

5) Wakulla Beach Hotel Ruins

Wakulla Beach Hotel Ruins, Florida
Wakulla Beach Hotel Ruins, Florida | Photo Credit: Flickr – Capital City to the Sea Trails

Address: Turn off Hwy 30, south onto Wakulla Beach Road, ruins are at end of road.

The dream of founding a resort town called East Goose Creek at Wakulla Beach belonged to Daisy Walker in the early 1900s. Along with her husband, prominent Florida Senator Henry N. Walker Sr., the couple tapped into the area’s tourism potential by building a series of hotels, starting with a breezy, porch-lined lodge in 1920, then a cypress frame hotel closer to the shore in the late 1920s catering to summer swimmers and winter hunters that drew guests year-round until a damaging 1928 hurricane. Undeterred, the Walkers rebuilt an even grander columned, two-story lodge.

Wakulla Beach Hotel c. 1955, Florida
Wakulla Beach Hotel c. 1955, Florida | Photo Credit: Florida Memory

Daisy passed away in 1935 and back-to-back storms and the decline of the Senator’s open-range cattle ranch ultimately spelled the end for both the hotel business and the aspired-to town. The land lay fallow until Senator Walker worked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife in 1949 to incorporate the Wakulla Beach area into what is now St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, leaving only the hotel foundations as a trace of the lost getaway outpost the couple worked tirelessly to establish.

6) Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Otter Lake at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida | Photo Credit: Flickr – anoldent

Address: 1255 Lighthouse Rd, St Marks, FL 32355

Established in 1931 and one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the national system, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge protects crucial wintering habitat for migratory birds across more than 86,000 acres spanning three Florida counties along 43 miles of Gulf coastline. Within its expansive boundaries, 17,350 acres have received National Wilderness Area status from Congress. Encompassing coastal marshes, pine forest uplands, and freshwater wetlands, this rugged northwest Florida refuge provides sanctuary for abundant wildlife while offering visitors ample opportunities to experience nature through hiking, kayaking, fishing, and observing some of the nearly 300 species of birds that frequent this serene wetland ecosystem.

7) Gulf Specimen Aquarium

Gulf Specimen Aquarium, Panacea, Florida
Sea Turtle at the Gulf Specimen Aquarium, Panacea, Florida | Photo Credit: Flickr – Gary J. Wood

Address: 222 Clark Dr, Panacea, FL 32346

Established in 1963, the nonprofit Gulf Specimen Aquarium provides hands-on educational experiences revealing the captivating diversity of Gulf of Mexico marine life to over 20,000 annual visitors while also supplying species for research and serving as an aquaculture research hub. Through interactive touch tanks housing hundreds of fish, invertebrates, and algae, as well as turtle and shark exhibits, the lab brings the wonders of often overlooked small sea creatures to life for students and guests. As an operating collector and supplier for academic study across the country and abroad, Gulf Specimen Aquarium uniquely merges public outreach, commercial specimen harvest, and participation in conservation-focused scientific initiatives – using appreciation for the odd inhabitants of the northern Gulf coast to inspire environmental protection in all who pass through.

8) Ochlockonee River State Park

Ochlockonee River State Park, Florida
Ochlockonee River State Park, Florida | Photo Credit: Flickr – Florida Fish and Wildlife

Address: 429 State Park Road, Sopchoppy Hwy, Sopchoppy, FL 32358

Surrounded by restored longleaf pine forests and bisected by the tranquil Ochlockonee River, Ochlockonee River State Park is a gateway to experiencing “the Real Florida.” Nature trails allow visitors to spot wildlife like the rare red-cockaded woodpecker while a boat ramp provides easy access to fish for freshwater and saltwater species. Complete with campsites, canoe rentals, picnic spots, and a swimming area located at the scenic junction of the Ochlockonee and Dead Rivers, this state park lets you leave the modern world behind. Here, listening to songbirds in the forest or paddling the tea-colored waters, it feels as though time stands perfectly still along the banks of the Ochlockonee.

9) Bald Point State Park

Bald Point State Park, Florida
Bald Point State Park, Florida | Photo Credit: Flickr – Rachel Kramer

Address: 146 Box Cut Rd, Alligator Point, FL 32346

Spanning over 12,000 acres where Ochlockonee Bay meets Apalachee Bay, Bald Point State Park protects a vibrant diversity of coastal habitats along Florida’s Panhandle that provide rich wildlife viewing, birding, and nature photography opportunities. Situated on the scenic Alligator Point peninsula, the park features miles of picturesque marshland vistas, evergreen flatwood forests, and oak thickets which visitors can explore along hiking trails to spot everything from migrating monarch butterflies to wading birds and raptors. Two bayside beaches grant access to the water for swimming, paddling, fishing, or just relaxing atop the sugar-white sand. With ample amenities from picnic pavilions to a fishing pier, Bald Point State Park lets you enjoy the best of the Northern Gulf coast.

10) Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory

Address: 3618 US-98, St Teresa, FL 32358

The FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory opens its doors to all visitors – from curious locals to far-flung research groups – for tours, daily programs or week-long immersive environmental education. Set within pristine natural habitats boasting remarkable biodiversity along the Northern Gulf Coast, the lab provides unmatched hands-on marine resources. No matter one’s reason for visiting, the knowledgeable staff utilize the coastal setting as an interactive classroom for children and adults alike to discover firsthand the fascinating ecosystems thriving in the waters just offshore. With onsite directions and contacts below, this one-of-a-kind marine lab makes experiencing Florida’s rich marine life readily accessible to any eager explorer.

11) Carrabelle Bottle House

Carrabelle Bottle House, Carrabelle, Florida
Carrabelle Bottle House, Carrabelle, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 604 SE Ave F, Carrabelle, FL 32322

The evolving Bottle House art environment in Carrabelle has welcomed visitors to its whimsical creative structures since 2012. Guests can explore the Light House with its bottle and glass construction, the original Bottle House building, and newer additions like a large geodesic sphere sculpture symbolizing life phases. A kinetic light piece with spinning elements inspired by the artist’s past living in a dome aims to evoke a sense of motion and memories. Visitors are encouraged to return again and again to discover imaginative new installations as this roadside attraction continues growing organically over time when funding allows. Wandering the grounds reveals one surprise after another, with creative expressions emerging from every corner of the property for all ages to enjoy at this magical, ever-changing artists’ retreat by the sea.

12) Carrabelle History Museum

Carrabelle History Museum, Carrabelle, Florida
Carrabelle History Museum, Carrabelle, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 106 SE Ave B, Carrabelle, FL 32322

Housed in a 1933 historic government building, the Carrabelle History Museum opened in 2009 to showcase the coastal town’s rich heritage through community-donated artifacts. Generous locals have contributed thousands of items over the years, from midwife Tillie Miller’s medical bag to steamship relics and indigenous tools. Rotating exhibits highlight Carrabelle’s Local Heroes, the Steamship Tarpon that built the early 1900s town economy, and ancient First People cultures. As volunteers continually process genealogical records, household objects, old photos, work implements, and more into the collections, the museum continues expanding its glimpses into the lives that shaped this Florida Panhandle community. By preserving Carrabelle’s past in its very walls and the precious donated relics inside, the museum brings local history vibrantly to life.

13) World’s Smallest Police Station

World's Smallest Police Station, Carrabelle, Florida
World’s Smallest Police Station, Carrabelle, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 102 Ave A N, Carrabelle, FL 32322

Carrabelle’s quirky roadside police station originated in 1963 when the city moved a former phone booth onto Highway 98 to shelter the police call box from weather and tourists making long distance calls. Despite vandalism and storms over the decades, this novelty booth built by local telephone employee Johnnie Mirabella has endured as a landmark, attracting coverage in travel shows, films, and TV programs like “Real People,” “Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” “The Today Show” and “Johnny Carson.” While now retired from duty, the original chinaberry-shaded booth where the police call box once sat is on display as a nostalgic piece of Florida history, having long-charmed visitors. A replica phone booth continues the tradition working as Carrabelle’s iconic police outpost to this day.

14) Crooked River Lighthouse

Crooked River Lighthouse, Carrabelle, Florida
Crooked River Lighthouse, Carrabelle, Florida | Photo Credit: Flickr – jaystout

Address: 1975 Hwy 98 W, Carrabelle, FL 32322

First illuminated in 1895 after the original Dog Island Light’s destruction, the Crooked River Lighthouse, also known as the Carrabelle Light, long guided lumber vessels entering the channel west of Dog Island. Its grounds once included the keeper’s and assistant’s homes before automation ended manned operation in 1952, with all structures except the tower removed by 1964. After decommissioning in 1995, the Coast Guard planned to auction the historic lighthouse until the Carrabelle Lighthouse Association formed to save the late 1800s icon. Through extensive restoration and grants, the Association relit the tower, which now shines its original 1894 lens reacquired in 2020, serving as a rear range beacon overlooking the point. This last remnant of the Crooked River Light Station still stands sentinel over the bay, its red and white striped tower reflecting its century-old legacy as an indispensable coastal landmark.

15) Carrabelle Beach

Carrabelle Beach, Florida
Carrabelle Beach, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 1786 Big Bend Scenic Byway Coastal Trail, Carrabelle, FL 32322

Carrabelle Beach grants easy access to the soothing allure of Florida’s Forgotten Coast with its crescent of pearl-white sand lining Highway 98 west of downtown Carrabelle. Amenities like outdoor showers, restrooms, picnic pavilions, and plentiful parking accompany the convenience, letting visitors make the most of beach days swimming, sunbathing, or strolling the windswept shore. A historic marker commemorates WWII’s nearby Camp Gordon Johnston amphibious training site amid the unspoiled natural landscape. With quintessential beauty, family-friendly facilities, and its scenic coastal location, Carrabelle Beach offers the classic seaside escape for all to enjoy just steps from the roadside.

16) Camp Gordon Johnston Museum

Camp Gordon Johnston Museum, Carrabelle, Florida
Camp Gordon Johnston Museum, Carrabelle, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 1873 Hwy 98 W, Carrabelle, FL 32322

Spanning over 4,000 square feet, this admission-free museum documents the critical role of Camp Gordon Johnston in preparing amphibious forces for WWII’s D-Day, when the sprawling 1941 base brought a quarter million troops to the remote Gulf Coast for intense maneuvers. Packed with artifacts, archival materials, and military vehicles, exhibits chronicle the soldiers and “Alligator Navy” war machine that trained along twenty forgotten coastal miles until 1946. Funded by the Franklin County Tourist Council, the museum honors those who served at the now long-gone temporary city that returned to sandy shores and pine forest. By showcasing Carrabelle’s integral place in US war efforts, the Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum lets visitors discover an impactful but little-known slice of American and Florida history.

17) Tate’s Hell State Forest

Tate's Hell State Forest, Carrabelle, Florida
Tate’s Hell State Forest, Carrabelle, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 290 Airport Rd, Carrabelle, FL 32322

Spanning over 200,000 acres along Florida’s Gulf Coast, legend claims Tate’s Hell State Forest got its unusual name from 19th century homesteader Cebe Tate, who emerged from the swamp after 7 days lost while hunting, only to utter “My name is Cebe Tate, and I just came from Hell” before perishing. The biodiverse preserve with at least 12 distinct ecosystems ranging from pine ridges to titi thickets provides critical watershed feeding the New River and Apalachicola Bay beyond folklore. Visitors today can explore the rugged beauty and hidden hydrologic treasures of this aptly named forest, experiencing for themselves the rich diversity encompassed within an expanse once deemed hellish by a lone hunter a century before. Beyond legend, Tate’s Hell State Forest remains an ecological gem protecting invaluable habitat and freshwater resources across Franklin and Liberty Counties.

18) Take a Ferry to Dog Island

Dog Island on the Horizon from Carrabelle Beach, Florida
Dog Island on the Horizon from Carrabelle Beach, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 700 Marine St, Carrabelle, FL 32322

Located just 3.5 miles off Florida’s Forgotten Coast, nearly all of the 7-mile-long, mile-wide Dog Island constitutes a wilderness preserve under The Nature Conservancy, bookended by strictly protected bird nesting areas. Remote and primitive in nature, weekend ferry service provides visitor access with most arriving to stay at vacation homes on the island that otherwise has remained undeveloped since the former Pelican Inn hotel closed in 2016. Now lacking amenities beyond electricity, trash service, and a volunteer fire crew, the fragile barrier island has retained its peaceful seclusion despite facilities present during WWII when portions served nearby Camp Gordon Johnston. Requiring self-sufficiency and low-impact recreation from those who visit to experience the wildlife sanctuary in its natural state, Dog Island remains a pristine coastal time capsule reachable only by those willing to treasure its simplicity.

19) Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center

Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center, Eastpoint, Florida
Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center, Eastpoint, Florida | Photo Credit: Flickr – Florida Fish and Wildlife

Address: 108 Island Dr, Eastpoint, FL 32328

Just across the Gorrie Memorial Bridge from Apalachicola, the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve’s Nature Center immerses visitors in the interconnected environments comprising the Apalachicola River and Bay ecosystems. Life-sized exhibits like an oyster boat, watershed maps, habitat murals, and native wildlife tanks engage guests of all ages while the Bay Discovery Room offers hundreds of hands-on natural specimens to explore. Historical artifacts and oral histories detail traditional regional industries and those who worked them, from fishing to shipping. A 12-minute film tours the entire Apalachicola drainage spanning from southern Appalachian headwaters to the Gulf itself. Through multifaceted interactive displays, the Nature Center brings this dazzling watershed to life as one of Florida’s most ecologically vital places.

20) Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park

Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park
Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park, Florida | Photo Credit: Flickr – Katy Warner

Address: 1900 E Gulf Beach Dr, St George Island, FL 32328

Fronting historic Apalachicola Bay, Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park unfolds over miles of pristine barrier island landscape, offering visitors a strip of Gulf Coast paradise perfect for nature lovers and beach enthusiasts alike. Sugary white sand beaches provide space to swim, fish, kayak, and beachcomb while healthy salt marsh and vast pine forests invite hiking and wildlife viewing – sightings may include woodpeckers, eagles, dolphins, and nesting sea turtles. As the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico paints the sky and stars illuminate the night, it’s easy to see why this park is a favorite destination. With backdrops ranging from sandy shore to marshland to maritime forest, Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park provides access to the island’s quintessential natural beauty.

21) St. George Island Lighthouse, Museum & Gift Shop

St. George Island Lighthouse, Florida
St. George Island Lighthouse, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 2B E Gulf Beach Dr, Eastpoint, FL 32328

Perched along Florida’s untamed Panhandle coast, the iconic Cape St. George Lighthouse bravely stood guard over St. George Island for over 150 years before finally succumbing to erosion and collapsing into the Gulf in 2005, only to heroically emerge again in 2008 after reconstruction by the St. George Lighthouse Association. This new 72-foot tower along with the adjacent keeper’s house museum brings the rich maritime history of the island to life through artifacts and images detailing the original 1852 lighthouse’s tumultuous past, from its early days guiding ships into Apalachicola Bay to enduring storms and Civil War darkening. Now fully resurrected, the rebuilt beacon continues the legacy, its nightly beam slicing through the darkness to emblemize the island’s enduring coastal legacy for new generations of visitors.

22) John Gorrie Museum State Park

John Gorrie Museum State Park, Apalachicola, Florida
John Gorrie Museum State Park, Apalachicola, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 46 6th St, Apalachicola, FL 32320

Honoring Dr. John Gorrie’s legacy of innovation, the John Gorrie Museum State Park in Apalachicola explores the life of the physician who pioneered refrigeration and air conditioning technology in the 19th century. Gorrie first arrived in the then-bustling Gulf coast port in the 1830s, later inventing an ice-making prototype machine to aid his yellow fever patients by 1845. The museum displays a replica of this invention alongside exhibits about the history of Florida’s state parks and the storied past of Apalachicola itself. By profiling Gorrie’s local contributions and globally influential refrigeration advancements, the John Gorrie Museum State Park paints a portrait of a community shaped by this doctor’s Progressive Era impact whose cooling contraptions would forever change society.

23) Orman House Historic State Park

Orman House, Apalachicola, Florida
Orman House, Apalachicola, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 177 5th St, Apalachicola, FL 32320

Built in 1838 by prosperous cotton merchant Thomas Orman, the stately Orman House exemplifies 19th-century Federal and Greek Revival architectural styles with handsome details that made it a hub for Apalachicola’s business and social circles. Orman’s success helped transform Apalachicola into a major Gulf Coast cotton shipping port until the Civil War. Adjoining the house, Chapman Botanical Gardens created in the 1990s honor famed 19th-century botanist Dr. Alvan Chapman and offer walking paths, open green spaces, and a Vietnam Veterans Memorial. By touring this antebellum merchant’s home and adjacent gardens, visitors can glimpse Apalachicola’s fascinating past as a thriving port city fueled by the cotton trade and innovators like Orman and Chapman who left their mark during its height.

24) Raney House Museum

Raney House Museum, Apalachicola, Florida
Raney House Museum, Apalachicola, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 128 Market St, Apalachicola, FL 32320

Built in 1838 in the Greek Revival architectural style, the Raney House belonged to a prominent Apalachicola family until 1914 and now serves as a city-owned museum managed by the Apalachicola Historical Society. Listed on the National Register of Historic Homes, this stately dwelling’s 19th-century furnishings and exhibits profiling the Confederate Raney’s influential role locally during the Civil War provide a window into the life of this elite family when Apalachicola thrived as a shipping port. Artifacts and documents on display bring the site’s history to life, from the home’s construction to the wartime exploits of marine David G. Raney Jr. By touring this meticulously preserved antebellum house, visitors can glimpse Apalachicola’s fascinating past as both a Dixie port town and home to trailblazing families like the Raney’s.

25) Chestnut Street Cemetery

Chestnut Street Cemetery, Apalachicola, Florida
Chestnut Street Cemetery, Apalachicola, Florida | Photo Credit: Flickr – Karsun Designs

Address: 96 6th St, Apalachicola, FL 32320

As Apalachicola’s oldest burial ground dating back to the 1830s, the historic Chestnut Street Cemetery contains over 540 marked graves of prominent local figures, though many more remain unidentified. The site serves as a somber record of the area’s history, with tombstones ranging from plain slabs to elaborate marble monuments memorializing ordinary citizens and war veterans alike over nearly two centuries. Unknown graves denoted by simple wooden crosses and shell blankets underscore the limitations in documenting the past. By walking the grounds today, visitors can glimpse Apalachicola’s enduring legacy through these timeworn memorials to the lives and deaths making up the faded fabric of this Florida Panhandle community.

The Apalachicola Area Historical Society provides a Chestnut Street Cemetery Walking Tour Brochure that tells the history of the cemetery along with the location and stories of notable graves.

26) Apalach Ghost Tour

Apalachicola’s atmospheric streets lined with Victorian houses and its oldest cemetery have spawned paranormal tales that the Apalach Ghost Tour brings to life on guided walking excursions. Stopping at infamous locations reputed to host otherworldly visitors, the tour recounts ghostly lore and strange occurrences reported by both locals and visitors alike. Weaving through the after-dark city, participants visit historic haunts while hearing accounts of those who seem to linger behind, for an evening experience unveiling the purported supernatural side hiding amid old Apalachicola’s shadowy lanes and passageways.

27) St. Vincent Island Shuttle

Brown Pelicans in Flight over St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge
Brown Pelicans in Flight over St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, Florida | Photo Credit: Flickr – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Address: 690 Indian Pass Road, Port St. Joe, Florida 32456

Located just 18 miles west of Apalachicola, the pristine 12,300-acre barrier island of St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge offers refuge for both endangered wildlife and modern-day visitors seeking serene natural landscapes. Reachable only by shuttle boat, hiking trails and 9 miles of empty windswept beaches allow self-guided exploration of habitats like pine forests and wetlands that have supported life for over 2,000 years. Home to successful red wolf and Sambar deer breeding programs along with abundant native species, this unspoiled island managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service since 1968 provides critical conservation research opportunities as well as recreation like beachcombing, fishing, and seasonal birdwatching tours. St. Vincent Island offers the chance to experience a true panhandle wilderness paradise short on modern development but long on ecological beauty and tranquility.

28) Brokeatoe Horseback Riding on the Beach

Address: 240 Cape San Blas Rd, Port St Joe, FL 32456

As one of only three beaches in all of Florida permitting horseback riding, Cape San Blas provides a unique way to experience the shore. Voted one the best things to do on Cape San Blas, this horseback riding adventure offers families and visitors of all ages the opportunity to relax and safely enjoy the beautiful Gulf Coast shoreline while getting acquainted with gentle, well-loved horses. Conveniently located daytime trail rides depart from Salinas Park between Indian Pass and Cape San Blas, a short drive from area lodging. Riders can experience miles of pristine beaches and gentle waterfront trails on horseback, taking in spectacular scenery and creating lasting memories. Perfect for all experience levels from beginner to advanced, Cape San Blas Horseback Riding brings the coast alive at a peaceful pace open to all eager to discover the joys of horseback trips along Florida’s Gulf beaches.

29) T.H. Stone Memorial Saint Joseph Peninsula State Park

T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Florida
T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Florida | Photo Credit: Flickr – Ebyabe

Address: 8899 Cape San Blas Rd, Port St Joe, FL 32456

Stretching 20 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park protects a true coastal sanctuary where visitors can enjoy Florida’s beautiful white sand beaches and observe abundant wildlife. The long peninsula harbors essential habitat for nested shorebirds, sea turtles, and the endangered beach mouse while hosting guests in its scenic campground, cabins, and primitive camping within a designated Wilderness Preserve. From fishing in St. Joseph Bay to swimming along the Gulf Coast to watching fiery sunsets, this barrier spit teeming with nature offers relaxation through outdoor recreation. And with its tranquil setting far from crowds yet close to area attractions, T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park remains a treasured destination for experiencing Florida’s wild, untamed beaches.

30) Constitution Convention Museum State Park

Constitution Convention Museum State Park, Florida
Constitution Convention Museum State Park, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 200 Allen Memorial Way, Port St Joe, FL 32456

Constitution Convention Museum State Park commemorates the drafting of Florida’s first state constitution within the short-lived 1835 boomtown St. Joseph, once a Gulf Coast trading rival to Apalachicola. Though the frontier settlement lasted barely nine years, it hosted 56 delegates in 1838 tasked with composing the document that became Florida’s Organic Law upon statehood in 1845. Situated on 14 acres, the museum’s exhibits and replicated convention hall transport visitors back in time to observe life-size animated delegates debating formative clauses of the constitution as they hammer out the framework for statehood. Through historical artifacts and interactive displays recreating this pivotal event, the museum memorializes both St. Joseph’s fleeting prominence and the lasting impact of the seminal democratic process that unfolded within one small Panhandle town.

31) Cape San Blas Lighthouse

Cape San Blas Lighthouse, Port St. Joe, Florida
Cape San Blas Lighthouse, Port St. Joe, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Address: 200 Miss Zola’s Dr, Port St Joe, FL 32456

Perched on the precarious crook of Florida’s St. Joseph Peninsula, the iconic Cape San Blas Lighthouse has valiantly warned mariners of dangerous shoals since 1847, though relentless shoreline erosion forced relocation of the skeletal iron tower four times over its history before its final 2014 rescue to the mainland. Destroyed in storms and rebuilt in various forms over the decades, its odyssey includes burning by Confederates in the 1860s, salvaging a sunk replacement from the Gulf floor in the 1880s, and standing surrounded by waves in the 1890s as the sands shifted around its cast iron legs. After automation ended an era of dedicated keepers in the 20th century, the toll of time and weather continued, ultimately requiring a preservation effort to secure the beloved beacon. Now safe on shore yet still embodying the remote spit’s legacy, the resilient sentinel serves as an enduring emblem of both navigation and erosion along Florida’s ever-changing coast.


After uncovering so many secluded sights, mom-and-pop eateries, and Old Florida towns, you may just start wishing the Forgotten Coast would stay that way forever. Though development continues to creep in slowly, dedicated conservation efforts and proud locals striving to retain the authentic culture work hard to preserve the easygoing pace that defines this coastline. So come join the scattered visitors already in the know by venturing beyond the major resort towns to embrace these hidden gems for yourself. From paddling silently through cypress-draped river bends to beachcombing windswept dunes alone for miles, Florida’s Forgotten Coast promises room to roam free and make your own adventure wherever the sandy paths may lead you.

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