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Northeast Florida Road Trips

June 12, 2014

1. Okefenokeee National Wildlife Refuge • (912) 496-7836
Rt. 2, Box 3330, Folkston, GA  31537

The slow-moving, brownish tinged body of water is considered one of the oldest and best preserved freshwater areas in America. The vast bog extends 38 miles north to south and 25 miles east to west, with the southeastern drainage to the Atlantic Ocean forming St. Mary’s River, the boundary between Georgia and Florida.


2. The Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum • (904) 632-5555
826 North Davis St., Jacksonville 32202

This historic 400-seat theatre located in what was known as “the Harlem of the South,” includes a museum that depicts the lifestyles and living conditions of African Americans in northeast Florida from the 1800s.


3. Ginnie Springs Resort for Water Sports • (386) 454-7188
7300 Northeast Ginnie Springs Rd., High Springs 32643

Two hundred wooded acres and freshwater springs located along banks of the Santa Fe River make for great tubing, canoeing, snorkeling, scuba diving and hiking. Open year round.


4. The Castillo de San Marcos • (904) 829-6506
1 South Castillo Dr., St. Augustine 32084

Built from 1672-1695, this coquina-shell reinforced fort was never taken by military force. A national monument, it occupies 25 acres in historic downtown St. Augustine.


5. San Sebastian Winery • (904) 826-1594
157 King St., St. Augustine 32084

Founded in 1996, San Sebastian is located in St. Augustine, the birthplace of American wine. The talented winemakers consistently win awards for a splendid range of sweet to dry wines, including sparkling and dessert wines, as well as port and cream sherry.


6. Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Museum • (386) 761-1821
4931 S. Peninsula Dr., Ponce Inlet 32127

Ascend the 175-foot lighthouse tower for a stunning view of the Florida coastline and Halifax River, from Daytona Beach to New Smryna Beach. This is the tallest lighthouse in the state and second tallest in the country.


7. Kingsley Plantation • (904) 251-3537
13165 Mount Pleasant Rd., Jacksonville 32225

A cotton plantation that operated from 1813 – 1839, Kingsley is one of the few remaining examples of Florida’s plantation system. A house, barn and slave cabins are still visible. Located on the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve on the more than 1,000-year-old Fort George Island.


8. Blue Springs State Park • (386) 775-3663
2100 West French Ave., Orange City 32763

This lovely, idyllic spot was once the home of Timucuan Indians. The spring, river and nearby swamps provided shelter, protection, food (such as snails as evidenced by the mounds of discarded shells) and tools. Pioneers built homes atop the shell mounds. Pilings of an old dock remain. Camp overnight in a cabin, or bring supplies for a adventuresome picnic.


9. Ichetucknee Springs State Park • (386) 497-2511
12087 S.W. U.S. Hwy. 27, Fort White  32038

Nearby springs pump 233 million gallons of water daily to create the six-mile long Ichetucknee that runs through hammock and swamp before intersecting with the Santa Fe River. Peak tubing season is Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.


10. Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park • (352) 955-2008
4732 Millhopper Rd., Gainesville 32653

The collapse of an underground cavern roof carved out a bowl-shaped cavity that measures 120 feet deep and is best explored via a network of nature trails, stairways and boardwalks. The unique plants and animals found here are similar to those of the Appalachian Mountains region.


11. Appleton Museum of Art • (352) 236-7100
4333 N.E. Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala 34470

Inside this travertine marble building await a cascading marble reflecting pool and the private collection of Arthur I. Appleton. The collection spans  a wide range of art, from pre-Columbian to contemporary. Exhibitions, educational programs and cultural events are regularly scheduled at the Appleton.


12. Horse Country, Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce • (352) 629-8051
110 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala 34470

The equestrian population has earned this area the nickname “Horse Capital of the World.” Plus, it’s tops in the country for the total value of horses sold. That isn’t all that surprising considering that horses from Ocala have a great track record. Silver Charm won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1997, and Real Quiet won the first two rounds of the Triple Crown in 1998. Lots of picturesque views of horses grazing along these rolling hillsides.


13. Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park • (352) 628-5343
4150 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa 34446

Enjoy a pontoon ride along the Homosassa River, or walk the picturesque trails to discover the real Florida world of manatees, otters, exotic water birds and other wildlife.


14. Chassahowitzka River Tours 
(352) 382-0837
8215 W. Bounty Court, Homosassa 34448

Tour guides here have spent 25 years guiding Central Florida rivers, a natural river National Wildlife Refuge. Chassahowitzka is the home of 20-30 whooping cranes, and exotic foliage, trees, shrubs and flowers. Guided tours take about two hours on a 31-foot pontoon.

Copyright Joyce LaFray. All Rights Reserved.