Florida’s Big Bend has long been a preferred destination of travelers and tourists. This unspoiled region we call “Natural North Florida” encompasses the Gulf of Mexico coastline, and has developed largely along the spine formed by US19 and US98. On it’s interior US27, US90, US 301, US441 and Interstate Highways 75 and 10 have attracted larger populations and development. But it’s the coast that’s can give visitors a look at our heritage and connection to the Gulf.We invite you to take a road trip!
Part 1 ended at the town of Suwannee, called “Suwannee Town” by locals, not to confuse outsiders from Old Town Suwannee, at the intersection of CR349 and US19/98, over 20 miles away. One option for heading back to US19/98 and resuming your course north toward is to take CR349 back to the main highway.
Suwannee to Horseshoe Beach
Back on the main highway (US19/98) head north to Cross City. A small town founded on the fruits of pine forestry, you don’t want to just pass through.
Your next stop on your Big Bend adventure is the fishing town of Steinhatchee. Head north about 10 miles from Cross City and turn left on CR358. From there, follow the signs and cross the Steinhatchee River.
There are two ways to drive from Steinhatchee to Perry, at the junction of US19 and US98. I recommend taking CR361 to Keaton Beach and on to Perry. It’s much more scenic! And don’t miss n opportunity to visit Hagens Cove and climb the observation tower there.
Perry–Where The Big Bend Turns West
Perry, Florida’s Forest Capital, is a booming town, centered around a cellulose mill. It’s home of several festivals, including the Florida Forest Festival, the Blues and BBQ Festival, the Florida Bluegrass Festival as well as other events throughout the year. Click HERE for a good look at all the things going on in Perry and Taylor County.
West on US98–On To St. Marks and Panacea
Driving from Perry, you have a couple of options. US19/27 heads north towards Monticello or Tallahassee. But US98, the coastal highway, heads west towards St. Marks and Panacea, two Gulf-facing fishing communities. On the way, you’ll pass over the Aucilla and Econfina Rivers. If you’re a paddler, be sure to stop, but you won’t be the first person to experience these wild Florida rivers. Evidence of humans dating back 14,000 years has been found on the Aucilla. And a visit to the Econfina River State Park will give you a close look at this prehistoric dark-water rocky river.
On this trip, your final stops before leaving our Natural North Florida region and crossing the Ochlocknee River, should be for lunch at Posey’s Up The Creek and then an afternoon at the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab and Aquarium in Panacea.