Florida vs. Florida
April 6, 2009 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Taking a family vacation to the Florida panhandle, and I'm wondering if St. George Island is as nice as the Seaside area? I'm open to other suggestions as well...

My extended family takes a weeklong vacation to Grayton Beach/Santa Rosa Beach (near Seaside) every year near the end of July. We're thinking about trying somewhere new this year and have heard great things about St. George Island. Does anyone have any experience with this location? I've read on a couple of past threads that if we go to stay on the beach side, but that's about it.

I'm wondering if anyone who has visited both of these locations has an opinion as to which is better, or maybe even a different suggestion in the same area? Port St. Joe?

We are a family of 10 adults and 4 dogs, so child-friendly doesn't matter to us, pet friendly does. The less tourist-y the better, that's why we've stayed away from locations directly within the Seaside limits.

posted by Breo to Travel & Transportation around Florida (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm from Tallahassee, which is about 45 minutes north of Saint George Island, and can say that I personally prefer Grayton's sand, but the island will likely be more your style. It's very kid-friendly in that there are always lots of shells, dead things to poke, driftwood, etc. The island itself is touristy but only in the grungy old-Florida sort of way. The park is beautiful and can get busy but is about as exciting as you'd expect a state park to be. I'll try and get Horses, of Courses to chime in - her family rents a couple of beach houses every year and has a grand old time.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:41 AM on April 6, 2009

My family heads that way each year for a week as well and we stay at Cape San Blas (which is about 20 minutes East of Port St. Joe). We typically go earlier in the year (early May) to get off-season rental rates.

But it'd a gorgeous beach and pretty isolated. When we're on the beach, there often won't be anyone else set up within one hundred yards or so on either side. There's a mini-mart on the road that runs through Cape San Blas, but for much of anything else you have to drive into PSJ to stock up.

The beach on the gulf side is dog-friendly. I don't know if the bay side of the peninsula is or not, but I bet it is. Dog policy for rentals wil depend on the owner, but we've got a place that is allowing us to bring three.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:32 AM on April 6, 2009

I think that entire area is great and I'm not really sure which specific city or beach I like the most but if you want to go somewhere new then I think St. George would be a great place to try.

My family likes to rent houses in The Plantations for Thanksgiving. It is a gated community at the end of the island and most of the houses are quite large and fairly new. I think most of them would easily sleep ten. The rest of the island has a very different old-Florida feel and at first I was against the whole gated community thing but I have actually come to like it. The main section of the island is very open with few tall trees and not a lot of shrub so houses are very exposed. However, the houses in The Plantations are surrounded by woods and have a much more private and remote feel to them. My family also says that they are comparably priced to the other houses on the island but I've never personally looked into it.

I'm not sure how dog-friendly the rental houses are but dogs are fine on all of the beaches there (except maybe a small stretch that is a public beach but the only reason you would ever want to go there is to get a drink from The Blue Parrot and take it out on the beach with you). I am sure you could find somewhere that allowed pets with enough phone calls though.

My family easily finds outdoorsy things to do there. The island is wonderful for bike-riding because there is very little traffic and there is actually a dedicated bike path through The Plantations. You can rent really funny beach cruiser bikes if you aren't able to bring your own. Some of my family brings kayaks and goes kayaking in the bay and others like to go out to the old bridge between the island and the mainland to fish.

There are a few gas stations and restaurants and a small market on the island for essentials but you can also drive about 20 minutes to Appalachicola for a larger grocery store and lots of neat shops in a funky old downtown area.

To summarize, I can't really say that one area of the gulf is better but hopefully this will give you some more information about what St. George is like.
posted by horses, of courses at 11:33 AM on April 6, 2009

I am a big fan of SGI and I now prefer it over Seaside/Seagrove Beach. Why? We like to take our dogs with us, and SGI is pet-friendly. There are always a lot of dogs. We go in the off-season and I'd say half of the folks there bring their dogs. Also, it's so not developed. It reminds me of the beach towns I hung out in as a kid in California on the central coast (Morro Bay, SLO, Los Osos). Apalachicola is a neat funky little town. Owl Cafe is awesome for dinner. If you like oysters, you'll be in the right place. Do it! You'll love it.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:07 PM on April 6, 2009

Thanks very much for all the answers! I think we may end up trying the Plantations, it looks amazing.
posted by Breo at 10:21 AM on April 22, 2009

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