Apalachicola, Florida is about an hour and a half drive to the southeast from Panama City Beach. Its probably most well known for the oysters harvested in Apalachicola Bay which account for over 90 percent of oysters harvested in Florida each year.
It’s also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes. Tate’s Hell State Forest, Apalachicola National Forest, Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park, Cape Saint George Island Preserve and the St. Josephs Bay Aquatic Reserve are all close by. So, its easy to find great places, for hiking, fishing and boating.
In town be sure to check out the Orman House State Park and the Apalachicola Cotton Warehouses, home to the city’s History, Culture and Art Center. The historic squares in Apalachicola Historic District were part of the city’s original planing inspired by the layout of Philadelphia and City Hall is in a restored warehouse from the city’s heyday and has previously functioned as a store, a saloon, a police station and a firehouse. The historic Dixie Theater is a popular spot for live music and in November Apalachicola hosts the Florida Seafood Festival with live music, oyster shucking contests and great local seafood.
Apalachicola has a rich and storied past. The area was first settled by Native Americans at least four thousand years ago. Europeans including Panfildo de Narvaez first arrived in the 1500s and a Spanish settlement was built in 1705 . Briefly claimed by the British before the Revolutionary War, the area returned to Spain again until the First Seminole War when it was ceded to the United States. The town known as Cottonton was incorporated as West Point and finally later renamed Apalachicola in 1831.
The timber industry grew in Apalachicola after the Civil War with railroad creation driving Pennsylvania Tie Company’s logging operations in today’s Tate’s Hell State Forest. In 1903 the Apalachicola Northern Railroad was constructed and business thrived until deforestation and lowering demand led to an overall economic decline. Another local industry, seafood production had been been going on since before the Civil War. The incorporation of pasteurization allowed the export of oysters starting in the 1850s. Sponges were also an important export. Careful resource management has sustained an oyster industry that thrives to this day.