Taylor County, Florida
LOST IN Taylor County: Florida’s Hidden Gem
Discover the “Real” Florida with a trip to the Nature Coast
Welcome to the enchanting world of Taylor County, Florida – a place where untouched coastline, thriving marine life, and rich local culture come together to create a paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Nestled on Florida’s ‘Nature Coast,’ Taylor County offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of crowded beaches and theme parks. There are plenty of secluded spots to enjoy the natural beauty of the sunshine state. So leave your worries behind, turn off your devices, and embrace the tranquility that defines this slice of paradise.
Taylor County boasts an astonishing 46 miles of untouched gulf shoreline, making it a paradise for anglers, shell collectors, and nature lovers. You can explore a peaceful river retreat away from the crowds, an “Old Florida” experience where time seems to slow down, and the beauty of the botanical surroundings takes over the senses. Thousands of families travel to these parts every year to spend the summer on the river, and there are all kinds of ancient artifacts to discover. Did you know indigenous people lived in Florida’s Nature Coast as far back as the Pleistocene Era?
Taylor County’s beating heart lies within the local businesses that have become an integral part of the community. One such gem is the Sea Hag Marina, a family-owned establishment that prides itself as being the largest and most well-equipped full-service marina on Florida’s Big Bend. Charter captains and boat rentals provide access to the captivating waters, while the marina itself stands as a testament to the area’s deep-rooted maritime heritage, with an impressive store with everything you need including an extensive stock of rods, reels, artificial lures, dive gear and supplies, fishing line, clothing, and of course scalloping supplies.
Known as the Scallop Capital of the Gulf Coast, the Steinhatchee River and Deadman Bay offer a unique opportunity for a one-of-a-kind underwater adventure. During the open season from June to August, visitors and locals alike converge on the Nature Coast’s unique waters searching for the elusive bay scallops. Scalloping doesn’t require any special skill or experience, and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It’s often described as “like an Easter egg hunt under the water.” Armed with snorkel masks and fins, you will dive into waters ranging from 3 to 7 feet deep where these tiny shellfish dwell, and explore the abundant scallop beds. So put up your dive flag, put on your gear, and jump in! The whole area comes to life from June until Labor Day in September. There are plenty of rental houses and lodging available along the river, but book early! Some places suggest reservations upwards of a year in advance.
After your first successful scallop hunt, it’s time for you to indulge in the delicious bounty. Whether you choose to nibble on raw scallops fresh from the bay or prefer them cooked to perfection, the culinary possibilities are endless. Bay scallops on the half shell, grilled with butter and garlic, create a mouthwatering treat that captures the true essence of the region. Once you are done catching scallops, cleaning them can be a chore, but don’t worry! Sea Hag Marina has an excellent cleaning facility and often you can find someone willing to clean your catch for a small fee. (It’s well worth every penny.)
No visit to Taylor County would be complete without sampling the local treats available from Johnson’s Bakery, hitting the spot since 1954. Offering a delectable array of donuts, sticky buns, cinnamon nut rolls, and classic gourmet delights, Johnson’s Bakery serves over 175 dozen donuts just on the weekends alone! Johnson’s treats have become an integral part of the town’s identity. Don’t miss your chance to try their sinful cinnamon buns and the most delicious apple fritters you’ll ever come across!
If seafood is more what you crave, experience the essence of old Florida seafood at Deal’s Oyster Restaurant, a local institution since 1961. “The finest people in the world come through that door” is what you’ll hear when you step inside Deal’s Famous Oyster House. With Southern hospitality and service at its finest, Deal’s also boasts the best and freshest seafood in town. Treat yourself to some authentic Southern cuisine, savoring dishes like fresh oysters, blue crab, and fried catfish. Everything is freshly made; you can even watch them cracking the oysters at the bar. As you dine, soak in the timeless charm and inviting atmosphere that captures the true spirit of North Florida. –A must-visit for history buffs and foodies alike!
Unleash your adventurous spirit with an exhilarating airboat ride through Hagen’s Cove, a recreation area that provides panoramic views of the pine islands. The powerful airboats allow you to explore miles of grass flats and hidden corners inaccessible by regular boats, allowing you access to catch more fish than you thought possible. With top speeds of 70 mph, you’ll slide and glide through the sawgrass with power and stability, riding on the wild side, and truly getting LOST IN an entirely new perspective of this captivating region, discovering new places you’ve never seen.
What better way to end a day of outdoor adventure than taking in an unforgettable sunset at the Big Bend fixture Roy’s Restaurant, where you can savor that “Old Florida” seafood vibe, feasting on tender gator tail and hush puppies, and be sure to wash it all down with Roy’s signature drink, the “Sleezy Wheezy”! What are you waiting for? Whether you’re looking for a slower pace, fast thrills, outdoor adventure, or just the relaxed charm of a bygone era in the wilds of Florida, Taylor County is sure to offer you memories that will last a lifetime.
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