Apalachicola, FL Getaway
Zach is a really good gift giver. In the world of gift giving he is a total rock star, and I’m, well...I’m mediocre at best...but I try! For Valentine’s Day this year, Zach gave me an IOU of sorts, and told me to stay tuned. A couple of weekends later he told me we would be leaving on Friday morning, and gave me a loose guideline of what to pack. That morning, we took off and I could tell he was trying to confuse me. He flew a little to the West while gaining altitude, and then took off towards the Southeast. I was sitting up front with my headset on, so I could hear him talking to ATC. They went over the flight plan and then ATC comes on and says, "N1UG you can go ahead and go direct Apalachicola". The look on Z’s face was priceless! The one time he didn’t want cleared direct destination! He had carefully planned the flight plan so that I wouldn’t guess the area we were headed to. The guy didn’t even use the airport code. He just said the city name. So within 10 minutes of taking off, I knew exactly where we were going.
Apalachicola, FL is a small town on the Gulf Coast of Florida and is known for their wonderful gulf oysters! I used to have family that lived in Panama City, FL so I’m pretty familiar with the area but I had never actually spent any time in Apalachicola.
After about a two hour flight, we landed at the Apalachicola Regional Airport (KAAF). Zach had a car rented, and the FBO had it waiting on us. We had a few hours before we could check into our hotel, so we decided to drive to the West . I wanted to show him one of my very favorite beaches. It is also a beautiful drive up the coastline! As I mentioned earlier, I used to spend a lot of time in Panama City, and I even lived there one summer. That summer instead of going to the tourist filled Panama City Beach, I would often head to Mexico Beach. It’s a quiet little town along Hwy 98 on the Gulf Coast, just to the East of Tyndall Airforce Base. We had lunch at Toucans. It is a cute little restaurant right on the beach that has been there for as long as I have been visiting the area. The menu is what you would expect for a beachside bar. Fried food, sandwiches, and of course oysters and good beachy drinks!
After lunch, I knew I had to take Zach to one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. If you continue to drive West on Hwy 98 just outside of Mexico Beach there is an indistinct road marked by only a tiny little sign that says Crooked Island Beach. This beach is located on Air Force property, but it is open to the public. You drive down a little dirt road to a parking lot, and walk out across a long boardwalk to find a beautiful stretch of sand that is completely untouched. It’s a gorgeous place where you can fish, swim, or just go for a nice walk and see what treasures you can find! We did exactly that and found lots of sand dollars and beautiful shells. We also saw several sand crabs, one of which Zach didn’t see until he almost stepped on it! He did a nice little startled dance to get around it and I got a good laugh! If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend a trip to this gem that is a bit of a secret treasure on the Gulf Coast.
After that we took the scenic drive back to Apalachicola and checked into our home for the weekend, the Apalachicola River Inn. This quaint little B&B has been around for almost 30 years and sits right on the river. I’m going to be honest, my first impression when we pulled up to the place wasn’t stellar, but I know my husband and I knew he wouldn’t have booked us a dump for a romantic weekend away! The outside is deceiving and our room, while a little dated, was clean and comfortable and offered a beautiful view of the river and most importantly to me, it was a perfect location for exploring the town.
We set out to explore the town, all of which was very walk-able from our hotel. This town truly has a small town feel. All of the local shops and restaurants have a familiar, comfortable feel about them, and all the locals that we encountered were quick to recommend a place to eat or a shop to visit. Another notable quality is that this is an exceptionally pet friendly town. Our first night for dinner we went to Owl Café, and ended up sitting outside. This is a very nice restaurant with a casual feel, and there were at least three, four-legged friends accompanying their humans for dinner that night! We had an excellent seafood dinner that, of course, began with oysters on the half shell for an appetizer. Service was great and wine selection was top notch!
That evening we returned to Apalachicola, and once again set out to explore a little more. We found ourselves in the middle of a small festival that was followed by the Mardi Gras Barkus Parade. I told you this is a very friendly pet town, and I’m pretty sure almost ever 4-legged resident of the town was a participant in the parade. It was so much fun! There were local vendors set up around town and a band playing. We found out that this is an annual event that is a huge fund raiser for the local animal shelter.
We ended up having dinner at Up The Stairs which is an establishment that caters to the "21 & up" crowd only. We once again sat outside in the beautiful weather. We enjoyed another seafood dinner and I enjoyed a nice martini! We strolled through town on our way back to the hotel and found ourselves outside of a local brewery. Here we had one of our most memorable moments of the trip when a stranger came up and put a parrot on my shoulder! I’m not a huge fan of birds, but luckily this one was pretty well behaved. This guy was a local and obviously very well known around town. He told us he owns several exotic birds and the one he had with him is his most friendly one. On Sunday morning we enjoyed a breakfast at our hotel overlooking the river and got checked out so we could wrap up our trip and head home.
I very much recommend this area for a long weekend for any of our flying friends looking for a great general aviation destination! The airport was easy in and out, and allows access to several destinations. You can easily get to Apalachicola, St. George Island, Port St. Joe, or even Mexico Beach. The weather in February was perfect with highs in the mid 70s. We have pretty cold winters in Tennessee, so the warm weather in February was a nice treat! Apalachicola is a charming little pet friendly town that has excellent seafood and a laid back vibe. It was a perfect, romantic Valentines getaway weekend!