According to a recent survey of meeting planners across the country, Florida is ranked the highest state for affordable travel and value. Apalachicola’s beautiful weather and diverse lodging and venue options make this the perfect destination for meetings, corporate retreats, and other gatherings like receptions and reunions.

Main Street's promotions committee is working to create a brochure to market Apalachicola’s  venues, funded in part by a grant from Visit Florida, the official tourism marketing corporation for the state. The brochure will be distributed in print to meeting and event planners throughout the Southeast and will be available online as well.

Our nearby beaches and varied activities like boating, dining, the arts, history and culture, ecotourism, and others make Franklin County a great destination for all kinds of travel. Many meeting planners are looking for more than just a venue. Value is also placed on a beautiful setting to spark inspiration and productivity.

Many of our locations are clustered in the downtown district. Combined, these could work well for a larger meeting with smaller break-out sessions in different locations. An advantage is that they are within walking distance to restaurants and a variety of things to do.

Meetings mean business. Studies show the majority of meeting participants travel 50 miles or more to attend a meeting - consuming hotel rooms, restaurant meals and other services, which positively impact local businesses and strengthen the economy. Meetings also generate tax dollars that support the community.

We saw this first-hand in January, when we hosted a Florida Main Street quarterly meeting. It brought 50 non-profit directors from around the state to spend two weeknights during the off-season. In addition to attending sessions, the participants shopped, dined, enjoyed nightlife, took tours, and fell in love with Franklin County’s beauty and charm. Many attendees said they planned to return for another visit.

The venues on our list include a mix of city-owned and private venues: Gibson Inn, Apalachicola Community Center, The Armory, Raney Carriage House, Coombs House Inn, Water Street Hotel, the Center for History, Culture & Art, Apalachicola Museum of Art, Holy Family, Trinity Church, United Methodist Church, Rivercrest Lodge, and the Recreation Center. If you know of one we’ve missed, please email me by May 26.

Augusta West is executive director of Apalachicola Main Street, a non-profit organization dedicated to downtown economic development and historic preservation. She can be reached at awest@apalachicolamainstreet.org or (850) 274-1321. Main Street’s offices are at 1 Avenue E, Apalachicola.