Wakulla — the ‘other’ Florida

06/07/2012  |  Pam Portwood Director, Wakulla County Tourist Development Council

Open the door to a world of natural wonders far beyond the hustle and noise of man-made attractions. Come explore, relax, refresh, and discover the wondrous treasures found only in the unspoiled “other” Florida. Everything here moves to the sounds of softer, quieter music so the rare birds and animals who live here aren’t disturbed. They greet you along the banks of the Wakulla River or the marshes surrounding the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Be amazed at the diversity of scenery, places and experiences that await the guests of Wakulla County. Smiles and friendly people are the norm. It’s a “come as you are” kind of place — very down home and very, very proud of America’s service men and women. R&R meets Fun in the Sun in the Summer Wonders of Wakulla.

Need to cool off?

Wakulla Springs is one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world. The clear spring waters are a cool 69 degrees year-round — refreshing the body and the spirit! Riverboat tours give nature lovers a unique glimpse of Florida wildlife. Surrounded by nature, including canopies of oak, hickory, and beech trees, the natural spring, and Florida wildlife, the Wakulla Springs Lodge offers an old southern feel and a peaceful getaway for family vacations or a perfect retreat for those that just want to “get away from it all.”

Paddle a kayak or canoe along the crystal clear waters of the Wakulla and St. Marks Rivers or the the reddish-brown water of the Sopchoppy River, where deer can often be seen along the shore or swimming across the river. Local outfitters and “Certified Green Guides” can enhance an already amazing adventure.

In the mood for a little history?

Take a bike ride along the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad Trail to the San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park. The bike trail follows an abandoned rail bed and stretches 16 miles through dense pine forests and quite rural communities before ending in the small coastal town of St. Marks. Established in 1528, St. Marks is home to the San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park. The historic fort offers a well-marked trail that leads visitors on a journey through the historic fortification ruins.

How about some family fun?

The quaint fishing village and historic small town of Panacea offers a unique experience for “children of all ages” at Gulf Specimen Aquarium and Marine Lab. On a quiet back street between the highway and the bay, a collection of open touch tanks, aquarium displays, and dioramas provide a close look at the enormous diversity of Big Bend sea life. Dig into the sand at Mashes Sands Beach or enjoy an unbelievable sunset at Shell Point Beach — or, how about a picnic lunch at one of Wakulla’s many waterside parks — like Newport Park, Wakulla River City Park, Woolley Park, and Otter Lake.

Let nature takes its course...

Experience Florida as it was hundreds of years ago by visiting the preserved natural lands in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and the Apalachicola National Forest. The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge provides more than 68,000 acres of land, and 31,000 acres of bay that is home to a variety of wildlife. Internationally recognized for its more than 300 species of birds, outstanding nature trails and viewing platforms offer the perfect stage for nature photography and wildlife viewing. And speaking of views, the St. Marks Lighthouse, built in 1832, is still in use and stands overlooking the marshes and inland ponds on one side and Apalachee Bay on the other. Take a deep breath and experience the awe-inspiring views that are like no other.

The Apalachicola National Forest is the largest of three National Forests located in Florida, and covers nearly 570,000 acres between Tallahassee and the Apalachicola River. A quiet walk along the many forest trails will calm the mind and refresh the spirit. Enjoy a horseback ride through the wooded countryside of open pinelands interrupted by wet and scenic titi bays that are studded with a variety of wildflowers. The Florida Scenic Trail also winds through the forest and leads to recreational facilities like Porter Lake, the quaint town of Sopchoppy (home of the Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin’ Festival) and the Ochlockonee River State Park.

If all this isn’t enough ...

Go fishing. Wakulla County is located on the Natural North Florida Fishing Trail and offers boundless opportunities for fishing of any kind (except ice-fishing). Charter boats and guides are readily available for offshore, bay, lake, or upriver fishing. Kayak fishing is one of the most popular activities in the area and for those without a boat — fishing piers and surf fishing offer a good shot at bringing home the catch of the day.

Go golfing. The Wildwood Golf Club’s 18-hole championship golf course features a challenging layout, mixing water and sand traps to provide golfers a variety of challenges while rewarding smart play. The par 72 layout is nestled among rolling hills and ancient oak trees. Four sets of tees accommodate and entertain players of all ages and abilities – perfect for an afternoon round or a weekend foursome.

So, whether it’s a weekend, a week, or month — R&R in Wakulla will open the door to a world of memories. Lodging opportunities are available for any budget and travel planning is simple on VisitWakulla.com. Explore, relax, and refresh in Wakulla — The Natural Place to Be in Florida.

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