By  Mike Miller  Updated August 22, 2023

Carrabelle, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Carrabelle is a working fishing village and laid back Old Florida town in the Florida Panhandle just west of Florida's "Big Bend" Gulf coast.

It is about 53 miles southwest of Tallahassee and has a population of about 2,891.

Carrabelle, Florida View Toward Gulf of Mexico

The Big Bend area has also been known in recent years as "The Forgotten Coast".

It is all within Franklin County, one of those few counties that remain unspoiled, one of the last in the eastern United States.

You won't find high rises, big malls or big tourist crowds here.

Carrabelle's visitors come by car on US-98arrive via the bridge, through US highway 98 or County Road 67 from the north.

There is a small municipal airport for charter for private planes, but the nearest major airports are inTallahassee or Panama City. 

Carrabelle is often called the Gateway to the Gulf due to its unique location along the coast, and has the area's only deep water port. There are many marinas and fishing continues to be abundant.

Nearby St. George Island shares much of its history and is accessed by a bridge on US-98 at Eastpoint, about 16 miles west of Carrabelle.

Isolated Dog Island is about 3 miles offshore of Carrabelle and can be reached only by plane or boat. 

There no public facilities on Dog Island, including no food, water, or restrooms.

Dog IslandDog Island

The beaches of Dog Island, because of their remoteness and lack of development, are the nesting grounds for many endangered species of birds.

Those few people who visit the island are encouraged to respect these fragile nesting grounds.


Carrabelle and Dog Island were sleepy little places until right after the U.S. Civil War.  Early inhabitants consisted of Indians and then European settlers.

The heavily forested land was abundant with wildlife, making easy hunting and trading for furs and food.

After the Civil War the vast forests surrounding the area made lumber and naval stores the lifeblood of the economy. The first lumber mill was built in 1875.

Pine and cypress cut from the lands upstream surrounding the Carrabelle River were floated down to the mill for cutting into lumber.

The lumber was then shipped from Carrabelle to northern markets.

By 1893 Carrabelle had become a boom town in the lumber industry. The docks along the river were stacked high with lumber and turpentine ready for shipping.

The railroad had also come to town and the products of the local fishermen, especially mullet, were shipped by rail to markets in the north and south.

Marina on river at Carrabelle, FloridaMarina on river at Carrabelle, Florida

At the turn of the twentieth century, a major hurricane almost destroyed Carrabelle.

The downtown was moved closer to its present location and many new buildings were built.

The Crooked River Lighthouse, also known as the Carrabelle Light, was erected to help ships navigate through the area after three others at Dog Island were destroyed by hurricanes.

This is now open to the public, offering a glimpse into the area's history.

Part of the Carrabelle Fishing Fleet

The years between World War I and World War II were very hard for Carrabelle. The lumber and naval stores industries disappeared and fishing became the main occupation of most area residents.

Carrabelle in the 1970sCarrabelle in the 1970s

The depression had Carrabelle in its grip. There was a period of time during the Prohibition era when quite a few locals made their living smuggling in liquor from the Caribbean.

Carrabelle, Florida Had a Role in World War Two

Practicing for Normandy Invasion in World War Two

In the very early years of World War Two, the U.S. government bought 165,000 acres of forest and beach land surrounding Carrabelle. By 1942 they had constructed Camp Gordon Johnston.

Soldiers Training at Camp Gordon Johnson, Carrabelle, FloridaSoldiers Training at Camp Gordon Johnston, Carrabelle, Florida

Thousands of men were trained in amphibious warfare at this base; the nearby beaches were practice grounds for later wartime landings in Italy and Normandy.

The land was sold off after the war, and Carrabelle again retreated into it's quiet prewar existence.

Not much remains of Camp Gordon Johnston except for a few buildings north of Carrabelle in Lanark.


Today's Carrabelle is still quiet and the economy is centered around the waterfront and is considered a "walkable" community. 

The Franklin County Tourist Development Council offers information for visitors and provides support to local businesses. The Carrabelle area has kept its quiet natural appeal.

There are no chain hotels or motels in town, just three little local places that cater to visitors that like peace and quiet.

Carrabelle Worlds Smalles Police Station
World's Smallest Police Station
Photographic Destinations by Bob Kyle

One of Carrabelle's fun facts is they have the world's smallest police station.

Although it's not really a police station, tourists still like to have their photos taken standing next to Carrabelle's alleged "world's smallest police station".

The true story is that it began as a police phone booth years ago.

Carrabelle Bottle HouseCarrabelle Bottle House

Another interesting little place that has been attracting visitors since 2012 is the Carrabelle Bottle House.  It is open to the public and no admission is charged.

The bottle house and adjacent lighthouse made out of bottles are lit up at night and are fun to see.  These are the creation of Leon Wiesener.

The Old Carrabelle HotelThe Old Carrabelle Hotel

A historic building that provides great lodging in this small town is the The Old Carrabelle Hotel at 201 Tallahassee St, Carrabelle, FL 32322, Telephone: (850) 528-3983.

How Tate's Hell State Forest Got Its Name

Tate's Hell State Forest is near Carrabelle.  It is 202,437 acres located both in Franklin and Liberty Counties.  There are several tales about how it got its name.

Carrabelle Tates HellDwarf Cypress at Tate's Hell State Forest
Flickr/John Cantwell

The most told story has a man named Cebe Tate lost in the swamp for seven days and seven nights in 1875.  He drank swamp water to stay alive and was bitten by a snake.

When he finally stumbled out of the woods he lived only long enough to say:

"My name is Cebe Tate, and I just came from Hell."


Carrabelle History Museum 
106 SE Avenue B, Carrabelle, FL 32322 | (850) 697-2141 

Step back in time at the Carrabelle History Museum, where the town's vibrant past comes to life through exhibits and artifacts. This charming museum offers a fascinating glimpse into Carrabelle's maritime heritage, from its bustling port days to the heyday of the timber industry.

Explore interactive displays, view historic photographs, and learn about the lives of early settlers who shaped the town's identity. It's a must-visit destination for history buffs and anyone curious about Carrabelle's rich cultural legacy. 

Crooked River Lighthouse 
1975 US-Highway 98 W, Carrabelle, FL 32322 | (850) 697-2732 

Marvel at the towering beacon of the Crooked River Lighthouse, an iconic landmark that has guided mariners along Florida's coast for over a century. Perched on the shores of the scenic Gulf of Mexico, this historic lighthouse offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Climb to the top for a bird's-eye perspective of Carrabelle's coastline and learn about the lighthouse's fascinating history through guided tours and exhibits. It's a memorable experience that provides insight into the maritime heritage of Florida's Forgotten Coast. 

Carrabelle Beach 
701 US-Highway 98, Carrabelle, FL 32322  
Escape to the pristine shores of Carrabelle Beach, a tranquil haven where sun, sand, and sea await. Located along US-98, this picturesque beach offers miles of sugar-white sands and crystal-clear waters, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing.

Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, collect seashells, or simply relax beneath the shade of a palm tree as gentle Gulf breezes caress your skin. With its unspoiled beauty and laid-back atmosphere, Carrabelle Beach is a serene retreat where you can unwind and reconnect with nature. 

Tate's Hell State Forest 
290 Airport Road, Carrabelle, FL 32322 | (850) 697-0010 

I discussed how it got its name earlier on this page. Visit Tate's Hell State Forest, a vast wilderness area encompassing over 202,000 acres of pristine wetlands, pine forests, and coastal habitats.

This natural paradise offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife photography. Explore scenic trails that wind through ancient cypress swamps and encounter native flora and fauna along the way. Dogs allowed. 

Carrabelle Junction 
88 Tallahassee St and US-98, Carrabelle, FL | (850) 697-9550 

Indulge your taste buds at Carrabelle Junction, a charming diner serving up hearty comfort food with a side of Southern hospitality. This family-owned eatery is a beloved local landmark known for its delicious breakfasts, burgers, and milkshakes.

Step inside and soak up the nostalgic atmosphere as you dine amidst vintage decor and friendly faces. Whether you're craving a classic cheeseburger or a stack of fluffy pancakes, Carrabelle Junction is sure to satisfy your appetite and leave you craving more. 

Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum 
1873 US-Highway 98 W, Carrabelle, FL 32322 | (850) 697-8575 

Pay tribute to the heroes of World War II at the Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum, dedicated to preserving the memory of the soldiers who trained for amphibious warfare along Florida's Gulf Coast.

This fascinating museum features exhibits, artifacts, and personal stories that offer insight into the sacrifices made during the war. Explore military displays, view vintage photographs, and learn about the important role Carrabelle played in preparing troops for combat.

It's a poignant reminder of the bravery and resilience of the Greatest Generation. 
St. James Bay Golf and Pickleball Resort 
151 Laughing Gull Ln, Carrabelle, FL 32322 | (850) 697-9606 

Tee off at the St. James Bay Golf and Pickleball Resort, a premier golf destination nestled amidst the natural beauty of Florida's Gulf Coast. This championship course offers 18 holes of challenging play, surrounded by scenic wetlands, pine forests, and pristine lakes.

This is the area's only Designated Audubon Signature Sanctuary Course. With its challenging layout and stunning vistas, St. James Bay Golf Club promises an unforgettable golfing experience for players of all skill levels.

Let's not forget the 8 new pickleball courts at the resort. The courts feature a full-size viewing deck and a social area overlooking one of the lakes. Pick up your complimentary paddles and balls at the clubhouse and enjoy a friendly game!

Carrabelle Bottle House
604 SE Ave F, Carrabelle, FL 32322 | (850) 697-9620

I discuss this cool attraction earlier on this page.


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