Florida’s Forgotten Coast

January 2021

By James Davis, Visit Florida

I’m drifting in a small flatboat in the shallows of Apalachicola Bay looking for flounder to gig, which means spearing it through its head. This is only after I get far too close to George Watkins’ Wewahitchka tupelo honey beehives for any sense of comfort. Tupelo honey fresh off the comb, a popular product in these Gulf Coast parts, is very tasty indeed.

This could be just a day in the life in this area of Northwest Florida. After all, Walton County is the region of the state largely referred to as “The Forgotten Coast.” And indeed, you could perceive the culture here to be more interior Southern living than tidal Florida.

Where there is a lack of glitz and glamour, there is an abundance of personality. Here perhaps more than elsewhere in Florida, you’re likely to find folks whose families have been in the region for generations. Think of it as a living museum.

The next morning, I hit Scenic Highway 30A for a leisurely drive through South Walton, heading ultimately for The St. Joe Co.’s WaterColor community, where the architectural styles and color palettes have been perfectly orchestrated by award-winning designers. WaterColor is “Nuevo Cracker” style, a look known for such pristine Southern charmers as Seaside, a nearby community of the same style that was chosen as the main setting for the movie “The Truman Show.”

Perhaps because of this pedigree, WaterColor is also a tour stop for the Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour, a festival of independent filmmakers who highlight community, adventure, culture, and environmental preservation in their works.

You can spend your days wandering restored properties and antiquing as leisurely as you like, but there’s also a tremendous variety of activities to be enjoyed, from taking in a live musical performance or event at the restored 1912 Dixie Theatre to attending the First Friday Art Walks in Ruskin Park at Seaside.

In addition, you can embrace the culinary arts in a completely organic sense by fishing and crabbing in the estuaries, then supping in fine style at Fish Out of Water in the WaterColor Inn & Resort, a David Rockwell-designed, 60-room, boutique hotel.

It’s all overlaid by some of the most incredible natural beauty that Florida has left. So wherever you decide to go — St. George Island for solitude, shorelines, and shrimp or Seaside for The Repertory Theatre’s fall play — rest assured that every experience on or near The Forgotten Coast will be remembered … flounder gigging, perhaps, aside.