Suwanee is a town built on a river but, even more, on denial (which, in this case, isn’t a river in Africa). Situated on the north side of the Suwannee River delta, where it meets the Gulf of Mexico, the sleepy village sits directly in the path of tidal surge from any hurricane headed for Florida’s Big Bend. If you want to live there, you need to understand the impermanence of all things, especially structures built on compacted mud. Very Buddhist.
One of the largest undeveloped delta-estuarine systems in the United States, the area is protected by the 52,935-acre Lower Suwannee Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was established in 1979, and covers both sides of the Suwannee River upriver for almost fifteen miles, along with 26 miles of Gulf Coast habitat. This protects the community’s surroundings from development, and insures that the previously-developed areas will retain their property values.
Most structures in Suwannee are either designed to withstand flooding, built up on stilts, or both. Homes range from some fairly fancy shacks…
to modest cabins…
to buildings that would look at home in the Adirondacks, or on the Olympic Peninsula.
Amenities are sparse. Most of Suwannee’s residents are heavily into fishing and similar maritime and estuarine pursuits, or simply like the atmosphere — friendly, but willing to leave you alone if you want it that way. The town sports two restaurants, a hardware/laundromat, and market/bait shop. That, along with a couple of marinas, pretty much completes the Chamber of Commerce.
Condos have come to Suwannee, as they have most places along the Nature Coast where the water can be accessed. While hardly as picturesque as most of the other dwellings, they’re at least more attractive than the variations on a concrete cube that are typical of the area where I live. As are most of the newer homes in Northwest Florida, they are largely prefabricated and assembled on site.
My own dear personal sister and I recently ate at the Salt Creek Shellfish Co., and enjoyed this lovely view while we gobbled fried mullet and hushpuppies. I haven’t visited the town’s other dining establishment, but I’m sure it, too, is lovely.
Suwannee is easily reached by taking U.S. 19/27 to Old Town, then following the signs. It’s a nice drive through alternating river bottomland and coastal scrub. You’re in Suwannee when you get to the end of the road (where, it seems, so many neat places can be found).
The Suwannee Chamber of Commerce has more information here.