Wakulla Springs Lodge

Country Inn
Memorable
One of the best
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In the heart of Wakulla Springs State Park, a 6000-acre wildlife sanctuary populated by manatees, alligators, and waterfowl, the Wakulla Springs Lodge is an amazing place to stay and to eat. “Welcome to the REAL Florida” reads a sign as you enter the park and wind through a canopy of hardwood forest towards the two-story Moorish-Deco edifice built in the 1930s and little changed since then. There are no TVs in guest rooms (but there is WiFi internet); the lobby ceiling is a glorious painted tableau that melds Teutonic folk art with Arabic and Native-American symbols and crests of Europe’s noble families; and the lobby walls are adorned with backlit transparency photos that show life at the lodge in the mid 20th century: bathing beauties frolicking, glass-bottom boats gliding over the spring basin. A placard at the front desk advises that the air conditioning system is unique, cooling the inn using pumped-in fresh spring water. Does that explain the sweet, moss-green scent that gives this place such a dreamy feel? Next to the original walnut-walled elevator (close the iron gate yourself, please) is a poster from the 1954 movie Creature from the Black Lagoon, which was filmed hereabouts to take advantage of the primeval ambience.

The setting is echt-Florida and the menu is an upscale reflection thereof. Dinner is a big-deal meal here, and priced accordingly, featuring such local delights as oysters, deviled crab, shrimp, and ham-laced navy bean soup that has earned legendary status over the years. But our favorite meal is breakfast. Bright and early, birds outside the great arched windows of the dining room are busy on their morning errands, providing a colorful backdrop to a table crowded with sizzled ham steak, cheese grits, biscuits and sausage gravy, and, best of all, fried chicken. The chicken is cooked when ordered (there’s a 25 minute wait), arriving at the table still too hot to handle. Its crunchy-chewy crust outdoes bacon as a luxury breakfast meat. This is fried chicken at its finest, and a reminder that northernmost Florida is America’s deepest South.

What to Eat
Wakulla Springs Lodge, Cheese Grits
Cheese Grits
Must-Try
Cheesy, creamy grits are superb.
Wakulla Springs Lodge, Fried Chicken Breakfast
Fried Chicken Breakfast
Must-Try
It's a good, good morning in the dining room of the Wakulla Springs Lodge.
Wakulla Springs Lodge, Hummingbird Cake
Hummingbird Cake
Must-Try
Hummingbird cake is loaded with pineapple and pecans and enrobed in banana cream cheese icing.
Wakulla Springs Lodge, Key Lime Pie
Key Lime Pie
Must-Try
Key lime pie is served upside down, but its flavor is right.
Wakulla Springs Lodge, Oysters Jane
Oysters Jane
Must-Try
Baked 'oysters Jane' arrive up to their eyeballs in butter, melty cheese, and herbs.
Wakulla Springs Lodge, Salad
Salad
Must-Try
Oranges and strawberries make for an exceptionally refreshing salad.
Roadtrips
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
7 stops | 154 MILES | 3 hr 14 min

Route 98 east of Panama City and south of Tallahassee borders what is known as Florida's Big Bend because it is shaped like the one in Texas. But unlike desert land west of the Pecos, Florida's Big Bend is lush: cool blue waters of Apalachee Bay to the south and Spanish moss-draped forest on the…

6 stops | 67 MILES | 1 hr 27 min

Big Bend Coastal Trail

Florida's Big Bend Coastal trail is a "rich heritage [of] barrier islands, sand dunes, beaches, bays, coastal marshes, and springs," as described by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. For seekers of Roadfood -- seafood in particular -- it is one of the most rewarding byways in the nation.

Apalachicola

Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
Yes
Outdoor Seating
No
Website

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