Port St Joe is a town of about 3400 (down 6% since 2000) located along US Highway 98 and the gulf in the panhandle of Florida. Port St Joe is the county seat of Gulf County (since 1965). Formerly, the county seat was Wewahitchka which has a much more interesting courthouse.
T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park (to give it the complete name) is open from 8:00 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year. This park has one of the top rated beaches in the United States. Sunbathing, snorkeling, swimming, fishing, hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking are all popular activities. There are also opportunities for bird watching; over 240 species have been sighted in the park. A boat ramp is located at Eagle Harbor on the bay side.
We actually visited this park in the winter of 2008, and drove all the way out to the boat ramp. We saw deer there, and also saw some birds. We saw a sign explaining the burned over areas that we saw, but the exhibit building of the Friends of St.Joseph Park was closed.
$6.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
$4.00 Single Occupant Vehicle.
$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.
Boat Launch & Entrance Fees:
$9.00 for one person with a boat.
$11.00 for 2 - 8 people with a boat.
Picnic Pavilion Fees:
$35.00 per day, plus tax: 70-seat pavilion is available for rent at the Bayview picnic area. Water and electric are available. The pavilion overlooks St. Joseph Bay. Restroooms, a nature trail and playground are conveniently located close by. Access to the Gulf Beach is approximately one mile south of the pavilion. For availability and reservations, please contact the park office.
There are several lighthouses in the Port St. Joe area. One of them is the Cape San Blas Lighthouse. The cape protrudes from the southernmost point of Florida’s Panhandle and resembles an L-shaped arm, similar to Massachusetts’ Cape Cod.
Beach erosion claimed three earlier lighthouses in 1851, 1857, and 1882. The present skeleton lighthouse has four iron legs that run the length of the tower and are tied together with a network of braces. The central column, which housed the spiral staircase, is different from most used at other lighthouses as it does not extend all the way to the ground. An external metal stairway was used to access the door to the tower. This was to keep the entrance to the tower above any waters that might encroach on the station. The bottom portion of the tower was also supported by four additional legs that extended midway up. The lighthouse was relocated a little over a mile inland in 1918, but it is under attack by the sea again.
The station was quite isolated, with a trip to the nearest settlement requiring a one-way trek of twenty-three miles. Keeper Ray Linton found "the lonely vigil and wide expanse of the Gulf too great a burden," and in 1832, he took his own life. Six years later, Keeper Marler, a 38-year-old father of four children, was attacked and stabbed in a workshop at the station. His six-year-old daughter discovered her father’s body, when she went to call him for the noon meal. The identity of the perpetrator was never discovered.
In 2000, the U.S. Air Force assumed control of the site and began working to stabilize and restore the buildings. Two keeper's houses, collapsing onto the beach early in 1999, were relocated and one was renovated. The other has now also been restored. The original brick oil house also survives. The light may be in operation, but it does not appear on the current USCG Light List.
The station is owned by the Air Force and leased to Gulf County and the St. Joseph Historical Society, and the society has opened it to the public. On September 20, 2008, the tower was opened for guided tours.
Site and tower open Wednesday through Saturday; tower open on Saturday or to groups by prior arrangement.
located at the constitution convention state park is the constitution convention museum. the museum offers a film about the convention and has four audio-animated mannequins who debate issues during the convention. the mannequins represent thomas baltzel, william duval, david levy yulee, and robert reid. for those interested in florida history this is a very interesting museum to visit.
in 1838 the town of st. joseph was picked for florida's first constitution convention. 56 territorial delegates from all over the florida territory met in st. joseph to draft florida's constitution. pictured is a monument on the site of the first constitution convention.
most visitors to port saint joe come to visit st. joseph peninsula state park. the state park is located on the st. joseph peninsula due south of port saint joe. the state park offers miles of beautiful white sand beaches, camping, canoeing, and salt water fishing. the st. joseph peninsula beach is one the top rated beaches in florida.
a good first stop in port saint joe is the gulf county visitor center located in the gulf county courthouse. at the visitor center you can get information on hotels, restaurants, and the natural and historic attractions of port saint joe and gulf county.
reid ave. in downtown port saint joe has a very good selection of shops, restaurants, and bars. reid ave. is one block north of US 98 in downtown port saint joe.