The Gulf Coast
By Melinda Bourgeois
There are so many amazing places to see around the world that we sometimes forget what's right in our backyard. As a camp owner on the Louisiana Gulf Coast in Grand Isle, we decided to venture out along Hwy 90 & Hwy 98 to explore Mobile, Pensacola, and Apalachicola! What I found most interesting and surprising was the incredible amount of history (Pensacola considers itself the 1st settlement in the new world, Mobile was founded by Iberville & Bienville or Apalachicola was the 3rd largest cotton port in the 1850) and the wonderful diversity of seafood restaurants.
As a native Louisianan, who somehow thought that we were the tops in chargrilled and oysters on the 1/2 shell, I was pleasantly surprised to find incredible opportunities everywhere for oysters along the gulf coast. From famous restaurants like Joe Patti's in Pensacola, and Wintzell's Oyster House in Mobile to multiple choices in Apalachicola.
Apalachicola: For a community of only 2,300 permanent residents, the choices were abundant: The Station Raw Bar, Owl Cafe, Up the Creek Raw Bar, Hole In The Wall Seafood, Half Shell Dockside, Up To No Good Tavern, The Franklin, Apalachicola Seafood.
Pensacola: McGuire’s restaurant, Joe Patti’s Seafood Market
We returned to New Orleans Via I-10, so we headed north on 98 towards Tallahassee stayed at the Walkulla State Park Lodge. Surrounded by 6,000 acres of pristine forest, the Lodge at Wakulla Springs is North Florida’s castle. Built in 1937 by industrialist Edward Ball, the Lodge is not only one of the most beautiful buildings of its period, but also one of the few where you can stay overnight. Located in the middle of Wakulla Springs State Park, the Lodge’s 27 rooms overlook one of the country’s largest springs. Whether you enjoy fine dining in the Edward Ball Dining Room or want to cool off with an ice cream at the world’s longest marble soda fountain, the Lodge’s timeless beauty surrounds you. Nature, luxury, history, and comfort—all can be found at the Lodge at Wakulla Springs.
Mobile: The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa: LOUNGE IN LUXURY AT OUR HOTEL IN DOWNTOWN MOBILE, ALABAMA Located in the heart of downtown Mobile, near an array of attractions such as the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, Mobile Civic Center and Mobile Alabama Cruise Terminal. After an adventurous outing, treat yourself to a rejuvenating massage and facial at our full-service spa. Experience even more relaxation in our accommodations boasting Southern style, complimentary Wi-Fi, plush bedding and room service.
Pensacola: New World Inn Featuring a boutique hotel with 15 rooms steeped in local as well as national history and ample space for celebrations large and small, New World Inn is proud to be part of the resurgence of Pensacola’s downtown scene. Originally constructed as a box factory serving the busy harbor and city center of Pensacola, the New World complex on South Palafox Street is just one of the many historical buildings that can be found in Downtown Pensacola. Many of the façades and wrought iron balconies that line Palafox are remnants of this long-gone era.
Apalachicola - Coombs Inn & Suites: One of the 30 Outstanding Small Inns in the United States”, by Travel and Leisure Magazine. A luxury boutique Inn nestled in the heart of the quaint fishing village of Apalachicola. The Coombs Inn & Suites is a luxurious Inn consisting of three elegant Historic Victorian Mansions located on the unspoiled Gulf Coast known as, “Florida’s Forgotten Coast.” For 20 years our visitors have returned to our relaxing, romantic accommodations for a quiet alternative to typical Florida hotels.
Though Mobile & Pensacola offer traditional hotels like Holiday Inns or Marriott’s, I found the small historic hotels unique with great rooms and service.
Apalachicola: is located just minutes to the pristine white beaches of St. George Island, and near Cape San Blas, Mexico Beach and WindMark Beach in Port St. Joe. Walking down, small and quaint with a nice park along river. Chapman Botanical Gardens, St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, John Gorrie Museum - 1st ice making machine, Maritime Museum, and the Raney House Museum - 19th century home. Walk or use a complimentary bikes to explore nearby boutique shops, museums, art galleries, and waterfront cafe’s serving fresh local seafood and world-famous Apalachicola oysters.
Across Bay in Eastlake & Carrabelle: World’s Smallest Police Station, Crooked River Lighthouse Park, Fort Gadsden, National Estuarine Research Nature Center (most closed on Sundays)
Mobile - Bienville Bites, a food walking tour in downtown. Enjoy everything from fried green potatoes, freshly roasted peanuts to Oyster Rockefeller, Bienville and chargrilled. Also make sure to explore USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.
Pensacola- Hop On /Hop Off that includes stops at Plaza Ferdinand, Historic Village with four museums, Quina House, Cemetery Tour. Enjoy the Saturday Market, micro-breweries, and art galleries downtown.
3-day Pensacola Pass includes the Lighthouse, Naval Aviation History and experience a flight simulator, 2- hour dolphin cruise, explore the historic village and its museums, ride the hop-on hop off tour, get you hands-on science at the Pensacola Mess hall, ride the ferry to Ft. Pickens. Also enjoy some of the world’s whitest beaches too!
At the age of seventeen, Bienville joined his brother Iberville on an expedition to establish the colony of Louisiana. Bienville explored the Gulf of Mexico coastline, he discovered around approximately 1699 as far up as into Mobile Bay which was not deep enough to go any further, founded Belle Fontaine they had discovered an artesian spring bubbling and leaping from the beach. This spring is now 300–400 feet out into Mobile Bay. Bienville played a huge role in founding part of the coast line in Mobile, Alabama
The history of Pensacola, Florida, begins long before the Spanish claimed founding of the modern city in 1698. The area around present-day Pensacola was inhabited by Native American peoples thousands of years before the historical era.
In 1818 the U.S. army attacked Indians living in Spanish Florida in what became known as the First Seminole War. Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821