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(2017 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: Steve Winston

Mexico Beach reminds you of a gentler, more innocent time when pleasures were subtle and sweet.

In this little village of a thousand people located in Northwest Florida, time doesn’t quite stand still but, sometimes, it seems that way. The small town pleasures in Mexico Beach caress you, rather than scream out at you.

Here is where you’ll find one of the best beaches in America, unspoiled and uncrowded stretches of white, sugar-fine sand framed by emerald waters where much of the beachfront is protected from development. You’ll find, too, a friendly populace that actually greets visitors on the street. If you want to get on the water instead of in it, the fishing is world-class. And if you prefer to hike, canoe or kayak, you’ll run out of time long before you run out of places to explore.

However, there are also some things you won’t find in Mexico Beach. There are no towering condos or hotels lining the beachfront because there’s a four-storey height limit on all buildings. You won’t find chain stores or restaurants because almost every store and restaurant is family-owned; nor are there any traffic lights.


In Mexico Beach, an interesting variety of shops includes special one-of-a-kind gifts, mementoes, gourmet and regional culinary specialties, and fine art galleries.

Colourful shops also line the roadside where Highway 98 crosses Mexico Beach, some of which are housed in picturesque old wooden buildings painted in vivid tropical hues. Frost Pottery Garden and Gift Shop features imported pottery, soothing wind chimes, local artwork and specialty gifts. At Shell Shack, you’ll come upon beautiful traditional shell work and, perhaps, some that is not so traditional! For unique nautical items, home furnishings and accessories, visit The Grove of Mexico Beach. And at Toucan’s Gift Shop, you’ll find “beachy” items for the whole family.


Mexico Beach may be a small town in stature, but local dining establishments deliver big-time culinary experiences. Toucan’s restaurant on the beach offers great fresh seafood—for which Mexico Beach is renowned—as well as spectacular views of the Gulf. A casual, appropriately named restaurant called Killer Seafood features a select menu of seafood that was swimming in the water just an hour or two earlier, and dishes that draw rave reviews.

Caribbean Coffee treats your taste buds to a variety of gourmet coffees and baked goods, such as ham-and-cheese croissants and sausage-and-cream rolls. Family-owned Fish House Restaurant boasts “the freshest seafood from the Gulf of Mexico” and one taste will confirm its bold claim.

And for honest-to-goodness, down-home Southern cookin’, try Castaways Southern Cuisine.


Modernity has yet to touch Mexico Beach’s beautiful natural palette. Here, the air is still fresh; the breezes still refreshing; the biking, jogging and walking paths still empty; and the colours still jump out at you.

A number of charter companies offer both inshore and offshore trips. There’s excellent fishing from the shore for pompano, on the City Pier for Spanish mackerel, and on board many charter boats for grouper. A watery excursion is easy as the Gulf of Mexico is only a few minutes from anywhere in town. And there are some 125 artificial reefs offshore where chances are good you’ll bring something back for dinner.

Nearly 60 distinct ecosystems in this part of Florida range from brackish tidal marshes and clear natural springs to extensive savannahs, where you can pursue activities such as hiking, paddling, birdwatching and wildlife viewing in two National Wildlife Refuges. Watch for the American alligator (king of Florida wildlife) and the huge but gentle manatees (also called “sea cows”), as well as dolphins, sea turtles, armadillos, deer, black bears, gopher tortoises and river otters. This area is also home to hundreds of species of birds, ranging from songbirds to birds of prey.

Trek great hiking trails on St. George Island State Park and Econfina Creek’s Florida Trail. In Mexico Beach, whether you’re paddling a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard, you’ll glide through one-of-a-kind ecosystems where the only sounds you’ll hear are the dipping of your paddle in the water.

If you’re looking for a place to unwind and relax, a place the crowds haven’t discovered yet, a place where your money goes farther, or a place where a gentle rhythm and pace remind you of a time you thought had long disappeared . . .  Mexico Beach may just be the paradise you’ve been yearning for.


Participating in upcoming events is a wonderful way to meet local residents. Here’s a sampling of what is planned for the upcoming 2017 winter and spring season:

Mexico Beach Snowbird Appreciation Luncheon 11:30 a.m., March 2

Celebrate your winter trip to Mexico Beach with old and new friends as you enjoy live music, door prizes and great food at the El Governor Motel poolside. And it’s all free!

An Unforgettable Wedding Vow Renewal  4:00 p.m., April 8  

Commemorate generations of love as married couples gather to be part of this special complimentary vow renewal and reception. Register online for this event at mexicobeach.com/weddings/wedding-vow-renewal-2017.

Gulf Coast Salute Air Show April 22–23

Head over to Tyndall Air Force Base where the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team and the Air Force Thunderbirds will be on hand to amaze you at this free event.

Beach “BLAST” Triathlon and Duathlon April 29

Sprint or Olympic distance and Triathlon or Duathlon: pick your race and distance. All races start from a beautiful local beach at Beacon Hill Park.

Forgotten Coast Plein Air Invitational May 4–15

American and international artists gather to capture on canvas what some believe to be the last vestige of authentic “Old Florida.”


Plan your next heavenly escape to the unforgettable seaside town of Mexico Beach at mexicobeach.com.

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