St. George Lighthouse in Florida

Visit the historic St. George Lighthouse. (Photo: Getty Images)

Weekend Getaways

Discover Why Low-Key St. George Is One of Florida’s Top Gulf Coast Weekend Escapes

Miles of uncrowded, unspoiled beaches make for great swimming, fishing, birding and kayaking on St. George Island, a paradisiacal oasis on Florida’s Forgotten Coast. Pair all that outdoor adventure with fresh seafood, stunning sunsets, live music venues and first-class shopping, and you’ve got an unforgettable vacation in paradise.

St. George Island — “SGI” to locals — is consistently rated one of the top beaches in the country, and for good reason. Find 28 miles of white sand and stunning turquoise waters off the Florida Panhandle in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Friday: Bike to the Beach and Feast on Seafood at Sunset

Stack of jelly donuts
Visit the historic St. George Lighthouse. (Photo: Getty Images)

Standing in line for fresh small-batch cake doughnuts from Weber’s Little Donut Shop is a St. George Island rite of passage and always worth the wait. Try the famous lemonade doughnuts, drizzled with citrus icing. Once geared up with half a dozen of the sweet treats (plus some other prepacked picnic staples for a little balance), grab a cruiser bike and head out for your first adventure on the island.

First, check out the 9 miles of undeveloped shoreline, dunes, coastal forests and salt marshes at St. George Island State Park. Then pedal for half an hour or so down Big Bend Scenic Byway Coastal Trail to Cape St. George Light Museum & Gift Shop, which was rebuilt and restored after the original 72-foot brick lighthouse toppled into the Gulf of Mexico in 2005.

After taking in the impressive views, find a spot to enjoy your beach picnic and head to the water for a refreshing dip. In the early summer, loggerhead sea turtles come ashore to dig nests and lay eggs along this quiet coastline, so be sure to tread lightly and be aware of these little critters while exploring any of the island’s beaches.

Once thoroughly sun-kissed, pedal back home in time to clean up for an ocean-view dinner at Blue Parrot Oceanfront Café. Enjoy a stunning sunset and a tropical cocktail, such as the in-demand frozen mango daiquiri.

If you’re game for a second frozen treat, Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream is known for having the biggest scoops on the beach and the friendliest service in town, so be sure to swing by after dinner.

Saturday: Pack Your Day With Outdoor Adventure

Person on a paddle board meditating
Connect with nature with a paddleboard meditation. (Photo: Getty Images)

Ease into your second day in paradise by heading out to your own private yoga session with Island Fit. Take your class with a certified instructor while stand-up paddleboarding, or enjoy a relaxing class on the beach. Island Fit also offers rentals, guided excursions and eco-tours with advanced booking.

After your morning zen, grab breakfast sandwiches and all the food and supplies you’ll need for afternoon adventures at Sparks & Sons’ Island Grocery before setting off in rental kayaks (Island Outfitters has single and tandem options) to explore the bay and nearby islands.

Explore Bob Sikes Cut, a crystal blue channel that separates St. George Island and Little St. George Island. If you brought your fishing gear, this is the best place to catch flounder. Be sure to remember your binoculars for great birding opportunities along your route, especially for migratory birds that make the island a pit stop on their journeys.

Back in town, browse eclectic art galleries, boutiques, and charming shops like Seaside Cotton and St. George Island Trading Co. for souvenirs before heading to dinner on the open-air patio of local favorite the Beach Pit. Serving up Texas-style barbecue and off-the-wall menu items like fried gator, the Beach Pit also offers to cook your fresh catch of the day if you bring it cleaned, fileted and on ice.

After dinner, wander over to Harry A’s for live music and cocktails in the courtyard, or Paddy’s Raw Bar for draft beer — the two are just blocks apart in St. George’s charming downtown district.

Sunday: Enjoy a Final Farewell of Oysters and Brews

Start the day off with freshly brewed, small-batch coffee from Bayside Coffee Co. before heading out for an unforgettable offshore fishing adventure with your very own charter boat — expert captain and crew included.

Get ready to hook snapper, grouper, amberjack, sea bass, mackerel, mahi-mahi, cobia, sharks and more. Outfitters like RC Fishing Charters and Island Charters have everything you need for inshore and offshore fishing as well as tripletail charters, dolphin cruises, sunset cruises and shelling trips. Just be sure to book your adventures well in advance.

draft beer flight
End the trip with a beer tasting. (Photo: Marriott International)

After the high seas, clean up and take a breezy 15-minute drive to the Oyster City Brewing Company in neighboring Apalachicola. It’s the type of place where you can order a craft beer and reminisce about your trip to St. George Island before one final seafood supper.

The owners of the Oyster City Brewing Company also run the Tap Room, right up the street from the brewery, a fabulous choice for your finale dinner. Apalachicola is the self-proclaimed oyster capital of the world, so don’t miss the chance to indulge in fresh oysters on the half shell.

Pair your oysters with duck confit fries, fish tacos, gator sausage and Panhandle crab cakes with jalapeño tartar sauce. It’s truly a feast to remember.

When you’re ready, keep the night going at High Five Dive Bar or Tamara’s Tapas Bar, which are both open late and often feature live local music.