Photography and story by Jessica Chatterton
Make a day of exploring the Forgotten Coast by taking the inland drive to the gorgeous St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and meandering your way back to Panama City along scenic Highway 98. Start by visiting the historic St. Marks Lighthouse and the nearby trails. Then head to Panacea for a great seafood lunch at Poseys Up the Creek Steam Room or dine with a view at Mad Anthony’s Waterfront Grille and Oyster Bar. Stop by the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab And Aquarium to learn more about the amazing sea life of the Gulf of Mexico. This unusual place has open air tanks with examples of just about every marine creature that can be found on the beach as well as sharks, rays, horseshoe crabs, and even rescued sea turtles. The drive west from Panacea takes you along beautiful stretches of undeveloped coastline, often with unobstructed water views. This route will take you through many small towns such as Carrabelle, Apalachicola, Port St. Joe, and Mexico Beach, each with shops and restaurants to explore. Watching the sunset from Toucan’s in Mexico Beach is a perfect way to conclude a day of exploring the Gulf Coast before heading back to Panama City.
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