When our Editor-in-Chief, Shelly Brown, bought a home on St. George Island, we could not wait to explore. The quiet beach felt almost untouched—like a well-kept secret, welcoming us without the hustle and bustle we typically expect of beach towns. It led us to wonder… what other gems are hiding along the southern coast? Go ahead and pack your bags—you’ll want to enjoy island hopping and beach bumming all summer long!
Gulf County, Florida, Designed by Nature
Although staying on Black's Island will surely have you unplugged and relaxed, if you're looking to get off the island, exploring the land in Gulf County will be a treat for your whole group. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. That’s what makes Gulf County sunsets so special—it’s the only county in the Florida panhandle with a westward-facing sunset view. The county, a little off the beaten path, has no high-rise condos, meaning visitors get an unobstructed view of the scenic sunsets. It’s magic to witness, but it’s just scratching the surface of what makes Gulf County unique.
No matter what your dream getaway looks like, you can find it in Gulf County. The county is surrounded by water—the pristine St. Joseph Bay, the Legendary Dead Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, St. Joseph Canal, and the Intracoastal Waterway. Each location gifts you a different experience, but all of them have the calming and healing effect of being near water. It’s a place to reconnect with Mother Nature and rejuvenate your soul.
Built by generations of fishermen and mill workers, the hub of it all is the historic Port St. Joe. Located on the water, its coast is lined with inns, shops, and restaurants—but what you won’t find is a crowd. The pace is slower and less hectic than many seaside towns, but it doesn’t lack charm. It’s picturesque and quaint—encompassing everything a restful vacation should be.
Known for a laid-back lifestyle, Gulf County is a place where everyone is welcome. Whether you're looking for a family vacation, romantic getaway, or just a place to get away from it all, in Gulf County you can find the place that speaks to your soul.
Private Bungalows ($$) - Enjoy a private vacation home situated along a meandering cedar boardwalk. Each residence features a fully-equipped kitchen and balconies with stunning views of the idyllic beaches.
Black’s Island Hotel ($$) - The brand new Mainland Hotel Rooms are luxe and comfortable accommodations with a kitchenette, two queen beds, and a bunk bed.
Water’s Edge RV Park ($) - Located in Indian Pass, just a quick trip from Black’s Island, the park offers 16 breezy and spacious pristine RV spots. Connect with wildlife and enjoy the laid back lifestyle.
Uptown Raw Bar ($$) - Enjoy freshly shucked raw oysters to chargrilled steaks and everything in between in the heart of Port St. Joe.
Indian Pass Raw Bar ($) - Don your best flip-flops and tank tops and enjoy the casual atmosphere, great food, and friendly service. Don’t miss the baked oysters!
The Haughty Heron ($$) - Enjoy a bottle of wine, cocktail, or cigar while soaking up the refreshing salt air overlooking beautiful St. Joseph Bay. Sit back and relax in the beer garden while listening to incredible live music.
Beach Day ($) - Spend a day hanging out on the sand. Rent a kayak or paddleboard, build a sandcastle, and enjoy the outdoors!
Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center - Check out the interactive experiences for visitors to connect with the local sea turtles and coastal habitats.
Constitution Convention Museum State Park - The museum, which sits on a portion of the park's 14 acres, commemorates the work of the 56 territorial delegates who drafted Florida's first constitution in 1838.
St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve Center - The preserve contains 19 known archaeological and historical sites, dating from prehistoric times to the 20th century.
The Joe Center for the Arts - Check the calendar to find out about art shows and exhibits, as well as other family friendly events at the arts center.
Gulf County is fun for the whole family—including your dog! The beaches, as well as many of the restaurants and shops, are pet-friendly. That means you don’t have to leave your furry friend at home—but don’t forget to bring your leash!
Gulf County is the only county in Florida with two time zones, Eastern Standard Time (EST) and Central Standard Time (CST). Keep that in mind if you make dinner reservations in a Gulf County community different from the one you’re staying in!