Searching for educational, free fun for the entire family? Look no further than the Nature Center at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (The Reserve) in Eastpoint!
If you’re planning a visit to Florida’s Forgotten Coast this summer, the Nature Center is a must-see. Often referred to as nature’s classroom, this one-of-a-kind center offers tons of educational exhibits, hands-on discovery, boardwalk trails, wildlife viewing and more!
Keep reading to learn more about this unforgettable Nature Center on the Forgotten Coast.
Get in Touch with Nature
Located just northeast of the St. George Island Bridge in Eastpoint, the Nature Center at The Reserve offers countless opportunities for curious visitors of all ages to learn about regional nature. The Nature Center offers:
- Aquariums filled with fish, turtles and other cool marine life
- A hands-on Discovery Room
- An award-winning film about the Apalachicola River and Bay system
- Large wall mural showcasing the ecosystems of the Apalachicola River, Apalachicola Bay system and local Gulf habitats
- Nearly a half mile of elevated boardwalk trails surrounding the nature center
State-of-the-Art Nature Center
When you visit the ANERR Nature Center, you’ll have a chance to explore a variety of educational, interactive and live exhibits. The center’s eye-catching aquariums highlight a connected watershed message and local fauna from the river, estuary, bay and Gulf.
Other exhibits throughout the center showcase the ecological, cultural and historical aspects of the Franklin County region. The center also features a hands-on Discovery Room, where visitors can get a true “feel” for the Forgotten Coast’s nature!
While you’re at the Nature Center, don’t forget to take a stroll around the boardwalk trails! These elevated boardwalks meander for a half of a mile through the natural communities surrounding the Nature Center. During your walk, you’ll have a chance to explore marsh and flatwoods habitats and spot some unique wildlife, including bald eagles, rare sea birds and even Florida black bears.
Stop by the observation platform at the end of the boardwalk to take in beautiful views of the beach and St. George Sound. This platform offers fabulous photo opps!
Want to try your hand at some fishing? At the base of the new bridge off of Island Drive, there’s a fishing pier—a remnant of the old St. George Island Bridge—with a paved parking area.
Eye-Opening Events & Programs
Throughout the year, the center hosts eye-opening educational programs for local K-8 and high school groups in addition to professional workshops and public programs. For instance, every Tuesday throughout June and July, the center hosts its popular Turtle Talk program. Franklin County visitors are welcome to attend this free program to learn all about the Forgotten Coast’s nesting sea turtles.
We also have Reserve Wednesday at 2:00 pm the 3rd Wedensday of the month. Topics range from priates and shipwrecks to birds and butterflies. free
Just outside of the Nature Center, Millender Park provides public access to picnic pavilions and the bayshore beach. The park offers a small parking area and an information kiosk.
Ready for to explore the area by paddle? You can carry non-motorized kayaks or canoes to the water at the park, although there is no designated launch at this location.
All About ANERR
The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses 234,715 acres of public lands and waters in the Florida Panhandle. The Reserve boundaries include 52 miles of the lower river and its associated floodplain, most of Apalachicola Bay, two barrier islands, part of a third, and several small out-parcels.
The Reserve headquarters, Nature Center, and adjacent public parcels are all part of the “Cat Point” tract. Cat Point is a 90+ acre property that stretches along the north bayshore of St. George Sound. The tract is named after the oyster harvest area located just to the south, which is one of the most productive approved oyster harvest areas in the entire Apalachicola Bay System.
From 1983 to 2001, the state acquired the parcels that make up Cat Point in order to conserve the shoreline and contribute to the overall protection of Apalachicola Bay. The parcels were incorporated into The Reserve and are currently managed by DEP’s Office of Coastal Resilience and Protection.
Plan Your Visit!
Entry to the Nature Center at The Reserve is free! Located at 108 Island Drive in Eastpoint, the Nature Center and boardwalks are open from 9 am to 4 pm every Tuesday through Saturday. Dogs are welcome on the boardwalks and beach, but must be kept on a leash at all times. Dogs are not allowed in the buildings.
Ready to make unforgettable memories at the Nature Center at The Reserve? Plan your visit today!