Going off the beaten path – in this case off Hwy. 98 – can often mean great finds.
One day I was leisurely making my way to Panama City and decided veer off at Hwy. 30 in South Walton County to find a place to have lunch and browse.
I was greeted by the first of several small communities along that stretch called “Gulf Place.”
As I debated stopping there or going further, I noticed a sign for “Lucille’s Gossip Parlor.”
That was enough for me.
Although intrigued by Lucille’s Gossip Parlor, I quickly saw that it was a coffee shop/café with lots of goodies. But that day, I wanted something different for lunch so I chose a restaurant located next door with an equally enticing name “Smiling Fish Cafe.” Everything on the menu looked yummy so I asked the waitress what they recommended. Two of them chimed in a chicken taco salad. They were so right.
I then left Smiling Fish Cafe and was charmed to see a overhead sign along the sidewalk that said “Be Nice or Leave.” Enough said there!
I made my way into Lucille’s Gossip Parlor and immediately saw the sign for “Free Internet and Wireless.” Several people lounged in comfy sofas laptops in hand. Two computers were available free for patrons to check email. The shop itself is full of knickknacks and antiques.
Along with coffee and baked goods, it also doubles as an ice cream parlor and serves sandwiches.
After spending a little time with my java and having checked my email I ventured over to a small village of colorful wooden kiosks boasting an artist’s co-op. Here you can find the work of local artisans from watercolor artists to jewelry makers, potters and more.
Gulf Place also has a variety of small boutiques. Accommodations range from an inn to low-rise townhouses and condominiums.