Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Oysters and Tan Fannies in Historic St. Andrews, Florida

Some friends told us about an oyster restaurant in the historic town of St. Andrews so obviously we had to go.  We had driven by the “Historic St. Andrews” sign a few times before while getting the RV serviced in Panama City but paid no attention to the little bay front town established in 1827.  Of course, that changed when we had a restaurant recommendation in hand.  As the day unfolded we discovered there is more to this town than just food.  But first we had to try the grub at Hunt’s Oyster Bar




With our appetites satiated on baked oysters, buffalo shrimp and onion rings, we quickly texted our friends to tell them how culinarily satisfied we were at this legendary family-owned restaurant.  A quick text back said they were pleased we liked the joint but to stay away from “Tan Fannies.”  Wait, this is Florida and there are supposed to be tan fannies everywhere, in fact, I would like to have a tan fanny.  We were confused about their strange warning . . . until we walked out the front door and looked across the street.  Thanks for the head’s up . . . maybe I don’t need a tan fanny after all.
 
A topless bar was not what we expected in the historic district.
But, I will admit that I love that name for a strip club.
With Tan Fannies and oysters crossed off the list of things-to-do (for different reasons, of course) I was determined to maintain my reputation of finding the towns best attractions.  Betsy thought we were done with the town once seafood was in our bellies and we took a stroll along the waterfront and marina, but not so fast I said.

We have not seen the Panama City Publishing Museum or the four-headed palm or the 250-year old oak tree or the historic church and bank.  I got a puzzled look about the four-headed palm so off we went for a look.   


This rare four-headed palm is called a "pindo palm."  While it looks like it is growing through playground apparatus, that structure is there to support the palm branches.  Why is looks so weird and has such an odd shape may be because it used to be growing next to the sewage treatment plan and was transplanted here!


Also located in this park is a 250-year old live oak that majestically dominates the park.  The tree is called the "Old Sentry" and the plaque reads, "It was standing during the War Between the States as if a sentry standing guard over Old St. Andrews Bay."


Native Americans had long inhabited this area living off the bounty of the rich sea.  The first European settlement came in 1827 when retired Georgia Governor John Clark and his wife built a home on Beach Drive along the bay.  Few people resided in the area during the early years.  They earned a living making salt, fishing, and providing room and board to vacationers who came to the area for the excellent fishing and “healthy sea baths.”  By the mid 1800's the summer population was between 1,200-1,500.  The old Clark home was converted to a hotel known as the “Tavern” and more businesses followed.    

Salt making was always a large part of the town’s history and during the Civil War it was a strategic supplier of salt to the Confederate troops, which made it a target for the North.  Many raids were made in the area by Federal troops and eventually the town was destroyed in 1863.  The town rebuilt and once again flourished with salt, fishing, boat building and shipping along the gulf coast.  St. Andrews became annexed to Panama City in 1927.  In the late 1980's St. Andrew received a number of grants to help revitalize the area which has allowed it to retain its charm and historical character.

After walking through the park we strolled around the main street to see some of the historic buildings that the town proudly has restored.  One of the oldest town buildings still standing is the historic St. Andrews Church, completed in 1887.  


The Bank of St. Andrews was the first bank in Bay County and has served as home to many businesses over the years and is once again a bank.


Last but not least was a stop in at the Publishing Museum and Visitor Center.  The Panama City Publishing Company building was constructed in 1920 by George Mortimer West.  West was a publisher, writer, horticulturalist, economist, and entrepreneur who is credited as the "founding father" of Panama City and making it an economically viable city.  The building is beautifully restored and has interesting displays from the city's past and printing history.




The fog finally burned off and the sun shone on the beautiful bay front town.  A trip to St. Andrews turned out to be a great outing and offered a lot more than just oysters. 


3 comments:

  1. Okay, you need to explain something to me. How does one get a tan fanny when sunbathing topless? I'm very puzzled... ;c)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the hottest virtual strippers on my taskbar.

    ReplyDelete

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