The tiny town of Apalachicola- or "Apalach", as it's known by locals- sits at the confluence of river and sea on the Forgotten Coast along Florida's panhandle, 60 miles east of Panama City. Moss-draped oaks line wide streets and shade stately Victorian houses, and the surrounding waters produce top- notch seafood, including shrimp, blue crab, and 90 percent of Florida's oysters. With its vibrant 200-year-old histor y and rich maritime heritage, the hamlet offers boaters an authentic taste of old Florida culture, and the National Trust for Historic Preser vation recently chose it as one of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations.
What to eat
White-tablecloth Owl Cafe (15 Ave. D, 850-653-9888) has a knock-out roast grouper with capers and artichoke hearts and an excellent wine list.
Dockside Boss Oyster
Dockside Boss Oyster (125 Water St., 850-653-9364) serves up the eponymous bivalves 17 different ways-a la "Captain Jack" means heaped with bacon, jalapenos, and hot sauce.
Caroline's River Dining
Caroline's River Dining (123 Water St., 850-653-8139) is a great spot for brunch: buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy, and frisbee-sized pancakes.
Papa Joe's Oyster Bar & Grill
Relaxed and friendly, Papa Joe's Oyster Bar & Grill (301 B Market St., 850-653-1189) has one of the area's best raw bars.
Apalachicola Seafood Grill
The Apalachicola Seafood Grill (100 Market St., 850-653-9510) is famous for the "biggest fried-fish sandwich in town."
What to do
The Dixie Theatre
The 1912 Dixie Theatre (21 Ave. E, 850-653-3200), lovingly restored in 1997, now hosts first-run movies and live performances January through March.
Kayak the forgotten coast to discover the area's marine life and coastal birds. Apalachicola Bay produces 90 percent of Florida's oysters and is the last place in the United States where wild oysters are still harvested by tongs from small boats.