Loading...

Follow Visit Natural North Florida on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

If you’re looking for a family-friendly event, that’s out of the summer Florida June heat, come on over to the Monticello County Chamber of Commerce at 420 Washington Street, 5:30-7:00 PM for a fun and interactive storytelling program.  The program will feature Florida storytellers Linda Schuyler Ford, Pat Nease and Wanda Violet.  At $10 for adults and $5 for children, this will be a great value for your entertainment dollar, as well as the finale to the annual Watermelon Festival!

For more information, please contact the Chamber of Commerce or (850) 997-5552

The post E, I, E, I, Oh! Family Friendly Storytelling, Monticello, FL, June 15, 2019 appeared first on Visit Natural North Florida.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Micanopy is considered Florida’s oldest inland town. Credit Visit Gainesville.

By Nancy Moreland

When you see the Micanopy exit off I-75 in North Central Florida, it’s tempting to drive on by. Especially if you think it’s just another nondescript stop or small Florida town along the highway. That would be a mistake. Take exit 374 (about 20 minutes south of Gainesville) and within minutes, you get a break from the billboards and traffic gives way to trees. Driving into town, you pass picket fences and tin-roofed Florida Vernacular Cracker cottages. If that doesn’t slow your pace, the 15 mph speed limit and speed bumps will. Before you know it, you’re immersed in the small town miracle of Micanopy (mick-uh-no-pee).

Venerable oaks grace  historic Micanopy’s shopping district. Credit: Nancy Moreland.

And, no, “miracle” is not overstated, at least from my perspective as a long-time Floridian. When the New York Times describes a destination as“the way Florida used to be,” and Huffington Post calls it “one of the 12 cutest small towns in America,” I expect to encounter a crush of crowds. Not even the filming of Doc Hollywood or being immortalized in Tom Petty’s “A Mind with a Heart of Its Own” has changed its charm. The town ages gracefully under a canopy of live oaks, their sprawling limbs covered in resurrection ferns. It’s true old Florida, from the moss-covered buildings to the Native American street names.

Florida’s Oldest Inland Community

There’s a reason Micanopy’s sense of place is as strong as the cacophony of cicadas on a summer night. Native Americans were well established here by the time Hernando de Soto visited in 1539. When Florida became a U.S. territory in 1821, the area was already being farmed for sugar cane and citrus. Named for the Seminole Chief Micanopy, head chief during the Seminole War, Micanopy has been continuously settled since 1821, making it what many consider Florida’s oldest inland community.

An old warehouse is home to the history museum. Credit: Nancy Moreland.

Delve into this history at the the Micanopy Historical Society Museum on Cholokka Boulevard, a former Indian trading route. The museum is housed in an 1890 warehouse that once served as a general store. It’s one of 39 buildings on the town’s National Register of Historic Places – an impressive achievement for a place with 600 residents. Inside this rustic structure, museum displays convey what life was like for early settlers.

Parents take note: Enjoy the exhibits while your kids entertain themselves in the Children’s Corner. This section encourages young visitors to inspect arrowheads, turtle skulls and other artifacts or dress up as pioneers and Indians. The Museum is open seven days a week for limited hours: 1-4 p.m.

Take time to take it all in, then wander next door to Mosswood Farm Store and Bakehouse for organic coffee and baked goods. Housed in a 1910 Cracker cottage, it’s a bit of country with a hint of hippie, a nod to Micanopy’s mix of agrarian and artistic cultures. A gathering place for locals interested in sustainability, it’s worth calling ahead to ask for the date of their next music jam night or workshop – wood-fired pie baking, anyone?

A walk-don’t-run Destination

Strolling along Cholokka Boulevard through the historic shopping district, you detect a quiet quirkiness. It doesn’t need neon to get your attention. It waits to be discovered. You might find it in a larger-than-life pink flamingo statue holding a lunch menu or stumble upon it at a tiny log cabin tucked among the storefronts.

Treasure seekers appreciate Micanopy’s unique shops. Credit: Nancy Moreland

Downtown Micanopy is best known for antiquing, but you’ll also find books, arts and crafts and home furnishings. A few empty storefronts don’t deter photographers and artists, who appreciate the town’s mix of 19th century architecture.

If you need an escape from the madness of modernity, Micanopy fills the bill. On a recent Sunday, I stood in the middle of Cholokka Boulevard with my camera, hoping to capture the ideal angle of a gracious old brick façade. I never once worried about getting run over. The town was so quiet, I heard bits of conversation drift over from an outdoor café across the street. Later, as I paused to photograph a vintage tractor in its fern-laden resting place, a neighborhood cat sidled up to greet me. I enjoyed resting in the shade on one of Micanopy’s many park benches, knowing I didn’t have to rush back to feed a traffic meter.

An Elegant Overnight Stay To fully experience Micanopy’s unique sense of place, stay at the Herlong Mansion. Credit: Greg Lepera.

Within easy walking distance of downtown, the Herlong Mansion Bed & Breakfast harkens to a time of timber tycoons. Built in 1910, the Greek Revival/Southern Colonial home welcomes travelers with 10 guest rooms, two cottages and a three-course breakfast.

As much as Micanopy feeds the spirit, it doesn’t overlook the appetite. Locals feel a special affection for Blue Highway pizza. If you’re craving ‘cue, don’t miss Pearl Country Store and Barbecue. Foodies travel from near and far to savor their slow-cooked goodness.

A Walk on the Wild Side

If you’re up for adventure, spend the night at Herlong Mansion and explore Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park the next morning. The Park is within a mile of Herlong Mansion, but feels like a landscape you might experience out West. Much of Florida was once covered with this biologically unique prairie habitat, known as savannah. Wear long pants and sturdy closed-toes shoes to hike or bike the park trails. Afterwards, climb the 50-foot observation tower for a bird’s eye view of the prairie. If you’re lucky, you might spot bison like those that once roamed this part of the state. The breed was reintroduced here in the 1970s and roam freely, as do wild horses. Bring your camera – no one back home will believe you saw bison in Florida. When nature is your theme park, anything is possible.

Even if you don’t see any bison, Micanopy will linger in your memory as the perfect place to savor life in the slow lane.

For more information on Micanopy, call Visit Gainesville at 866-778-5002 or visit their website.

 

The post Experience the Magic of Micanopy Minutes off I-75 appeared first on Visit Natural North Florida.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

In the summer of 1961, Elvis Presley spent almost two months in the Yankeetown area, filming “Follow That Dream“.  It’s anyone’s guess why Elvis’ producers picked this sleepy Levy County town on the banks of the Withlacoochee River, but it’s solitary location might just be the reason.  Yankeetown is historic, and has grown little since the movie was made, and it still a beautiful place to visit.  And while you’re there driving down “Follow That Dream Parkway” (SR40) scoot over to Riverside Drive and be sure to stop by the Blackwater Grill, the latest iteration of the historic Isaak Walton Lodge.

You can reach the Blackwater Grill by car, from US19 down SR40, or by boat.  There’s dockage, making the Blackwater the perfect spot to cool off and eat after a day of cruising or fishing.  The Withlacoochee River is one of Florida’s most scenic rivers, and there are excellent launching opportunities at several marinas (Yankeetown Marina, B’s Marina, the city marina near the Coast Guard Station and the county ramp at the end of SR40).

The Blackwater Grill has spacious indoor seating as well as outside dining.  Both spaces offer excellent views of the river.  The menu is varied, with an obvious seafood bent, and there’s a full bar.  And, if you arrive by boat with fresh fish, they’ll cook them for you!

6301 Riverside Dr, Yankeetown, FL 34498   Phone: (352) 441-5002

The post Follow Your Dream To The Blackwater Grill in Yankeetown, FL appeared first on Visit Natural North Florida.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The 2019 Smokin’ In The Pines BBQ Festival is just around the corner, Septermber 20-21 at Forest Capitol Park in Perry.  The Park, located on US19, south of Perry, is adjacent to the Forest Capital Museum State Park.  With Free Admission, and plenty of good food and entertainment, it’s time to mark your calendars NOW!

In addition to plenty of great BBQ, from vendors and competing chefs, you’ll also find arts and crafts,  There’s even a “Kids-Que” cooking competition!

While this event is fun for visitors, it’s lots of WORK for the friendly OPEN BBQ COMPETITION, where friendly chefs from the Florida BBQ Association compete for several awards ($10,000 in cash prizes are available!)  Awards in several meat categories are awarded, as well as a “Sauce of Honor” award and a People’s Choice award.

Bring your appetite and a comfortable chair, as there are numerous food vendors and plenty of good southern rock music on the stage all day, and well into the evenings.  And, if you’re a camper, there’s plenty of campsites available (call 850-584-5366 for camping information!).

The event is FREE and all are welcome.

The post Smokin’ In The Pines BBQ Festival, Perry, FL, September 20-21, 2019 appeared first on Visit Natural North Florida.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

What began ten years ago as backlash to some friendly kidding among anglers at Steinhatchee, the NautiGirls Tournament has become one of the largest of the local tournaments. It’s fun, and yes, BOYS are only allowed to captain boats, and are NOT allowed to enter.  In fact, some of the best anglers in the area are women, and this event gives them the opportunity to show off.

Boys can drive, pole or even watch, but they CAN’T FISH! Don’t get in the way of this team of “diamonds”!

There are categories for both inshore and offshore saltwater species.  Redfish, spotted seatrout and flounder are popular categories.  And, of course, there’s a category for LADYFISH!  Offshore, anglers can target both red and gag grouper.  Prizes range from $150 to $450, with a bonus $100 added to winners in boats with NO BOAT BOYS!

Your $40 per angler entry fee gets you admission to the Captain’s Meeting on June 7th at the Steinhatchee Community Center as well as a fun day of fishing.   And you don’t want to miss the weigh-in on Saturday from 4 to 5:30PM.  Tickets can be purchased at the Sea Hag, River Haven  or Good Times marinas.

If you’re new to the area, here are a few pointers regarding inshore fishing opportunities, taken from a recent Big Bend Action Spotter column in Florida Sportsman Magazine:

Steinhatchee, and the adjacent Taylor and Dixie county shoreline, is well known for vast grass flats and crystal clear Gulf waters. But this time of year, focus shifts from flats fishing for seatrout to the recreational scallop harvest. And as a result, some of the most productive points of land, and the trophy seatrout and redfish that hunt near them, are ignored.

To the south of the Steinhatchee River, the most productive points are Hardy, Sand and Bowlegs. Sand Point, despite its name, is not sandy. The waters surrounding it are rocky and shallow, and offer cover to the small baitfish and crustaceans preyed upon by hungry reds. Just across the small (and rocky!) bay to the south is Hardy Point. Hardy Point is formed by a small island with a rocky Gulf front. While these two points are close, about 2 miles south of the river, Bowlegs Point is about 6 miles farther south, near the Pepperfish Keys. There, the bottom doesn’t necessarily resemble so much a torn-up parking lot of limestone rocks like Hardy or Sand Points, but scattered outcrops much like those holding grouper well offshore.

Three miles to the northwest of the river, Rock Point, as the name implies, is rocky. It’s location, jutting into the Gulf, makes it the logical gathering point for small mullet moving up the coastline with the tide.   Travel another 7 miles or so and you’ll find Sponge Point and Piney Point, two spits of land that surround Hagens Cove. While not as rugged as Rock Point, these points form a catch basin for bait and predators. Hagen’s Cove is also a good wading spot for anglers on foot and a good paddlecraft launch. It can be reached by car from CR361, the road between Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach.

Approaching any of the points near Steinhatchee needs to be a careful exercise. At mid-tide, I recommend you slow down at least a quarter-mile out, and then use a trolling motor to push pole to get within casting range. Even then, you’re liable to scrape some gel-coat off your boat’s bottom.

Successful catching around points involves learning the structure and the tidal interaction. It often takes a couple of trips to understand how and at what tidal stage the bait washes over and around points. Anglers also need to understand where the predators set up their ambush points. You’ll soon realize that each and every point has its own characteristics. And you’ll learn that redfish and big trout hunt differently and that some days they’ll eat MirrOlure Top Dogs and other days they’ll attack nothing but free-lined D.O.A. shrimp, drifted with the tide.

The post 2019 Steinhatchee NautiGirls Fishing Tournament, June 8—NO BOYS ALLOWED! appeared first on Visit Natural North Florida.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Located just north of Williston, in Levy County off US27, Red, White and Blue Farms is a destination worthy of lots of family fun.  There’s something for every member of the family–playgrounds for the kids, picking blueberries for the grownups, and even some blueberry beer for Dad!

It’s hard to say just what I expected to find on my early picking season (I always thought blueberries didn’t ripen until June!) trip to Red, White and Blue Farm.  Maybe Grandma would have a card table by the side of the road, allowing “u-pickers” to fill recycled grocery store bags from the blueberry bushes in her front yard?  NOT HARDLY!

After some zigging and zagging following the route on my Iphone,  I crested a hill on a perfectly paved road, and arrived at 3250 NE 140th Avenue, in Williston.  To my surprise, a perfectly manicured blueberry farm (about 100 acres!), with plenty of parking and shady live oak trees lay before me.

The brains and brawn behind Red, White and Blue Farms are father and son team, of Terry and Devon Robinson.  Not only have they turned the farm into a fun family destination, but they work hard to keep the crop healthy and accessible to visitors.  Neat rows of blueberry bushes, almost as far as the eye can see, are neatly kept, and even at this relatively early date, bearing ripe fruit.

Be sure to time your visit to ensure the blueberries are still on the bushes.  This year, the season should last until June.  Of course, even if some in your group don’t want to pick, the farm has plenty of berries for sale in the store, along with blueberry ice cream, blueberry lemonade or slushies.  Calling ahead to be sure the farm is open (they’re closed on Mondays) isn’t a bad idea.  The office phone is (352) 529-0521

…and if you need something to do with your berries when you get them home, consider a simple pie.  Or even better, get out Grannie’s muffin tin and recipe and make some delicious blueberry muffins!

                    Red, White and Blue Farm 3250 NE 140th Avenue Williston, FL 32696

The post Red, White and BLUEBERRIES–Head to Williston, Florida For A Day of Family Fun and Good Eats appeared first on Visit Natural North Florida.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Officially opened in April, 2019 after acquisition in 2018, the Serenola Forest Preserve is the latest addition to the lands overseen by the Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT). Located south of the University of Florida, just off Williston Road, the preserve consists of 111-acres of hardwood forest, open to the public for an in-town hiking experience.

Here’s some history of the preserve, from the ACT website:

“In 2006, Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) attempted to purchase the 111-acre Serenola Forest for our community at $9 million, but we were outbid at $18 million. This 2018 acquisition is a testimony to the hard work and deep sense of place our community has for wild Florida.

Serenola Forest is also home to threatened plant and wildlife species and connects the woodland hammock to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Thus offering larger wildlife much needed room to roam and protection. Saving Serenola Forest means a connected landscape that not only benefits natural space, but also people who love to hike, bike, view wildlife, and gather together with the people they care about.”

The entrance to the Preserve is across the street from Idylwild Elementary School (4601 SW 20th Terrace, Gainesville).  As this is a residential neighborhood, parking is street-side and we urge visitors to respect lawns and property by parking alongside the curb.

The post Serenola Forest Preserve–Gainesville’s Latest Hiking Destination appeared first on Visit Natural North Florida.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

UF/IFAS’ School of Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC) has a big, long name, and even though it doesn’t say “fish” or “fishing”, its programs include Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (FAS) programs, including Family Fishing Days.  This outreach program hosts monthly events (March through November) that provide families the opportunity to fish together in a safe and fun setting in the 6 “catching ponds” on the grounds of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Anglers can expect to catch bream (bluegill, red-ear sunfish, warmouth), largemouth bass, and channel catfish up to 10 lbs. Family Fishing Days are free, open to the public, and catch-and-release. Volunteers are on hand to help. Folks with little or no fishing experience are encouraged to attend.

The ponds are located in Northwest Gainesville, about 2 miles west of Devil’s Millhopper State Geologic Site. Heading west on Millhopper Rd., take a right onto NW 71st Street. Go through the gate, and continue until the pavement ends at a long, white building. The ponds will be to your right. There’s plenty of paved parking!The  physical address is: 7922 NW 71st Street Gainesville, FL 32653
2019 Family Fishing Days Schedule

All events are free and open to the general public

Fishing is from 8am till noon

No need to RSVP for events, unless your group has more than 10 people.

If so, please email c.hartman@ufl.edu 

April 20   Family Fishing Day
Easter Egg Hunt
May 11   Mother’s Family Fishing Day
June 15   Father’s Family Fishing Day
July 13   Family Fishing Day
Melt-Your-Popsicle Day
August 10   Family Fishing Day
Back to School Bonanza
September 14   Family Fishing Day
Aquatic Education Day
October 19   Family Fishing Day
Spooky Candy Day
November 16   Final Family Fishing Day
Veteran’s Day and Sharon Fitz-Coy Memorial

If dates change for any reason, a notice will be emailed to those on the Fishing For Success email list-serve.  If you would like to be added to this list-serve, please email c.hartman@ufl.edu, indicating your preferred email address. Click here to access the 2019 calendar as a PDF file.

The post Take A Kid (or a Grownup!) Fishing—Family Fishing Days, Gainesville appeared first on Visit Natural North Florida.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

There’s only one American Zoo Association accredited zoo on a  college campus,  and it’s on Gainesville‘s Santa Fe College campus.  Santa Fe College offers both Associate and Bachelor’s degrees and won the 2015 Aspen Prize for Educational Excellence.  It enrollment now tops 20,000 and it’s an excellent adjunct to the educational community in Gainesville, which includes the University of Florida.  As a smaller, open enrollment institution, Santa Fe College offers several programs not found elsewhere, especially its zoo programs at the Santa Fe Teaching Zoo.

With the exception of watching a crew of enthusiastic undergraduates caring for their animal charges, visitors get the feel of a first-class working zoo at the teaching zoo.  Students are also involved with working on new enclosures on the ten acre grounds, located on the western boundary of the college campus.  The zoo is easily reached from downtown Gainesville, or from I-75’s exit 390, north of town.

Visitors can expect to see all sorts of animals at the zoo, which is nestled in a natural wooded site.  It’s a great place for kids of all ages, and it’s a popular destination for birthday parties and weekend outings.

The Santa Fe Teaching Zoo is open 7 days a week, from 9AM to 2PM.  It’s ADA/Wheelchair accessible and easy to navigate.  Admission for adults is $6, with discounts for faculty, students,  kids (4-12) and seniors (60+).   Kids, 3 and under, are admitted free.

Santa Fe Teaching Zoo 3000 NW 83rd Street Gainesville, FL  32606 (352) 395-5601

The post Spend A Day At The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo—It’s Good For You! appeared first on Visit Natural North Florida.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Hosted by Suwannee Valley Rotary Club, The 2019 Tour de Melon in Chiefland, Florida is a great opportunity to ride the roads of Levy County with cyclists of all ages and experience.

RIDE INFORMATION

 

  • Choose from either a Road Route or multiple paved Trail Routes
  • Terrain is flat.
  • Well-marked rural highways.
  • Route maps will be available at the registration table.
  • Approximate rides of 20, 40, 60 miles on Rails-to-Trails paved Trail and 50, 100 mile road routes!
  • 100 mile ride is a great “starter” ride for anyone wanting to do their first Century ride**.
  • Rest/snack stops provided on all routes.
  • SAG service provided.Helmets are required. This also includes children riding in bike seats and/or buggies. Cyclists must obey all traffic rules.

This is a ride, not a race. Plan on riding at a rate appropriate to your training.

**PLEASE NOTE:  SAG support scheduled to end & All rest stops close by 3:00

Schedule of Events Friday 31 May 2019 Saturday 01 June 2019 Before the Ride
  • 6:30 a.m. – 7:15 a.m. – Strickland Park
    • Check-in opens
    • On-site registration
    • Packet-pickup
  • 7:20 a.m. – Greeting and National Anthem
  • 7:30 a.m. – Mass Ride Start – All distances
    • Century and half-century riders upfront
    • Trail riders behind century and half-century riders
After the Ride
  • Lunch provided
  • Beer Garden – 1 free beer per rider
  • Water Mister
  • Music
  • Mingling

The post Tour de Melon–Bring Your Bike to Chiefland, FL For Some Fun, June 1, 2019 appeared first on Visit Natural North Florida.

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview