CAPE SAN BLAS / INDIAN PASS / PORT ST. JOE / ST. JOE BEACH /WEWAHITCHKA
Apalachicola – Franklin County
It may be referred to as Florida’s forgotten coast , but after a few weeks of being back home, this beautiful part of the panhandle is still very much on my mind.
All my research indicated this part of Florida was remote and secluded. October is especially quiet as most tourists visit during the summer months. Previously, our vacations have been relatively fast-paced: long drives to get to our destinations followed by day trips and sight-seeing upon arrival. It took me a couple of years to convince my husband that we needed a quiet, relaxing holiday to unwind and recharge our batteries. We both work long hours in jobs that, at times weigh heavily upon us.
Cape San Blas was the perfect place to shake it off!
Although remote, it was not exclusive, and although we chose not to do an enormous amount of sight-seeing, we were made to feel welcome by the locals wherever we chose to venture. The pride they have for this little piece of heaven is evident, and they were happy to share information and make suggestions that only added to such an incredible experience. One thing we noticed immediately was how pet-friendly the area is. Exception for State Parks, dogs on leashes are welcome to enjoy the sights and interact with their owners. Bring a few training leashes for active dogs!
For Dog Visitors:
- Port City Trail is a nearly four-mile stretch wandering through the town
- Bay Walk Trail runs between Port St. Joe Marina and Fran Pate Park with picturesque views of St. Joseph Bay.
- Restaurants with Pet-friendly patios (The following offer veggie options)
- Port St. Joe
- Krazy Fish Grill
- Triple Tails
- bin 4 eleven coffee house
- Apalachicola (Franklin County)
- Up The Creek Raw Bar
- Oyster City Brewing Company (beer is vegan!!!)
- Pet Shops – perfect for Fido to pick up a souvenir for Fifi
- Bow Wow Beach Shop – Port St. Joe
- Oysterbones – Apalachicola
- St. Joseph Bay Humane Society – please stop by and paw it forward
- BEACHES, BEACHES, BEACHES
We felt right at home in our pet-friendly accommodation.
Sweetwater Cottage is only steps from the beach with a clear view of the sand and sea from it’s screened-in porch.
We could not have asked for more! This bungalow was the perfect retreat for my husband and me, and our dogs. The sunlight filled this home during the day, and we enjoyed sitting on the swing or eating at the table on the porch. The dogs LOVED finding sun spots from which they relaxed and enjoyed the view!
Leslie is an incredible hostess – reach out to her before booking, and you will know what I mean. Even though a binder and brochures are provided at the cottage, Leslie enjoys speaking with guests, in person, to share her knowledge of the area.
The area is also home to an abundance of wildlife: Bears, Loggerhead Turtles, and Eagles to name a few. The locals cherish the nature occurring in their backyards and beaches. The “Leave No Trace” ordinance is an outline of all the rules put in place to protect their local treasure.
Although there did prove to be several activities and excursions at our destination, we stuck to our plan and relaxed. Visits to Port St. Joe and Apalachicola to sample local cuisine and some retail therapy were about the most effort we made (this trip – stay tuned for part two).
The area is unspoiled by big box-stores. Instead, we discovered several boutique-style shops and several pet-friendly patios. It was as if we had stepped back in time. A large grocery store in Port St. Joe may be the exception although not seeming out of place and not without charm. Community member George W. Duren’s Piggly Wiggly is fondly referred to by locals as ‘the pig.’ During our stay, The Pig had it’s grand ‘re-opening’ and hosted a fundraising event for the local humane society – making this large shop even more endearing to this tourist!
Water enthusiasts will appreciate the variety of interactions available on an equally varied selection of waters (say that ten times, fast):
- fishing and sightseeing boat tours and charters also available
On dry land:
- horseback riding on the beach
- family days at more than a dozen parks
- biking and walking trails
- retail therapy in Port St. Joe and Apalachicola (drive to St. George Island and visit Island Dog Beach and Surf Shop)
- art studios
When not exploring Port St. Joe or Apalachicola, we walked the beaches of powdery white sand. On more than one occasion we had the pleasure of seeing dolphins play, and we enjoyed watching our dogs run in and out of the sea at the same time. In vacations past, we would have to drive for miles to find the nearest pet-friendly beach.
This was Jack’s first ever vacation. He was formally used as a breeding dog in a puppy mill before we rescued him. We wondered if it might be too soon for him and considered postponing our holiday. Other than a few anxious moments, Jack was relaxed and happy. I would say he enjoyed the trip!
Shelling, Bonfires on the beach, watching the most beautiful sunsets followed by an encore of sparkling stars fill the sky…my perfect vacation!
This slower pace allowed us the opportunity to relax and reflect on all that is important in our lives. I can’t wait for our next visit to this beautiful destination along the panhandle’s gulf shores.