Leave the park and continue southeast on 267 until you get to US 98 and the little town of Newport. Turn east on 98 and be sure to check out Outz's Too. Outz's is an oyster bar and beer joint on US 98 right before the Wakulla River Bridge. It's a popular spot for bikers and has an outdoor stage and beer garden, of a sort. The original Outz's was torched years ago by a serial arsonist who has been slowly burning Newport down for the past ten years or so. Outz's is a local institution and you should stop if you like smoked mullet and your standards are not too high.
Just on the other side of the bridge is Highway 59. Turn south and ride down to the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. Pay the $5 to get in and ride all the way down to the old St. Marks Lighthouse at the end of the road. The lighthouse sits on the edge of a beautiful salt marsh and the Gulf of Mexico. It's probably the most photographed object in the entire Big Bend area.
The refuge is also one of the best places on the Gulf Coast to see migrating birds. In the winter the pools are full of ducks and wading birds. Get off your bike and hike along the impoundments. Watch out for the alligators.
Ride back to US 98 and turn west. When you get to 363, turn south and ride down to the little town of St. Marks. St. Mark is a little fishing town that sits at the junction of the St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers. Stop at the San Marcos de Apalache Historic Park and see the remains of the old Spanish fort first built in the 1600's. St. Marks is also a haven for weekend bikers. Sit outside at the St. Marks Cantina and watch the whole town ride by or have lunch over the water at the Riverside Cafe.
(River Side Cafe)
I am sad to report that Posey's Oyster Bar is no more. Posey's was a landmark in town for many years. It was a lopsided, ramshackle old two story wooden building that sat right on the river and served oysters, smoked mullet and cold beer to all comers. Hurricane Dennis flooded the building and it was such a hazard even before the hurricane that the county closed it down. It's still there, boarded up and abandoned, waiting for the Newport arsonist to finish it off.
Ride north out of St. Marks and back to US 98, and then head west through Medart and on to Panacea. Panacea is another little fishing village that started out as a tourist attraction around the turn of the century. People came to bathe in the mineral springs and stay at the nearby hotels. The last of the old hotels burned years ago, but you can still see what's left of the mineral springs.
Take a left turn past the mini mall and ride down a couple of blocks to Hook Wreck Henry's for food and drink. Henry's has an excellent deck over the water. If you're hungry for barbeque, drive down 98 a few more miles and stop at Hammerknockers
Continue west on 98 and once you've crossed the Ochlockonee River bridge, you're about to enter the best part of this ride. The highway hugs the coast for the next 25 miles or so. It's tough to keep your eyes on the road as you sweep around one curve after another, each one affording a different view of the bay.
Several miles across the bay you'll see Dog Island, home of the famous "White Trash Bash". One day each summer, thousands of partygoers descend on Dog Island by boat. (there's no bridge) They anchor off the beach and drink and party all day. It's becoming a real pain for local law enforcement who have to keep thousands of drunken boaters from killing each other.
Great ride & pics, took this ride in jan., 2012. Thanks for the info!!
Sun May 26, 2013 at 10:17 AM
Thanks for sharing your ride through Florida. Im from NC and have always wanted to ride through Florida to the Keys. Maybe planning a trip soon. Great pics. I ride a Road* Silverado also =)
Fri Aug 26, 2011 at 11:46 PM
I'm so blessed to live in this area of the world!!! These pictures are great, too bad you missed so much more.. lol.. North Florida has history, lots of local entertainment and nice cold beer and oysters!!
Fri May 23, 2008 at 9:40 AM
Real nice article! I've lived in this area for most of my life and driven these same roads in car & truck many times. I need to get my bike out and ride this Route.
Thu May 15, 2008 at 11:40 AM
Damned nice article, RoadStar. Sounds like we share the same tastes in riding, unspoiled scenery, small towns that haven't changed in eons, and hole-in-the=wall watering holes. I definitely plan to hit this route in the future. Thanks.
Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 9:02 AM
We really enjoyed reading about Florida's Big Bend Scenic byway. We especially like the inclusion of information on wildlife viewing opportunities and the history of that part of Florida. We look forward to reading about more road trips you've taken.
Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:59 PM