historical towns in [location]

Historical Towns in Florida

Florida is home to several charming and historic towns that offer a unique combination of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and rich history. Whether you’re interested in hiking, biking, kayaking, or exploring historic sites, these small old Florida towns have something for everyone. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the best destinations in Florida for those seeking a mix of natural beauty and historical charm.

Cedar Key: Out of the Way, and Better for It

Cedar Key, Florida’s second oldest town, is often described as one of the coolest towns in America. With its charming downtown, rich history, and artsy ambiance, Cedar Key offers a unique experience for visitors. Despite its natural beauty, the town has avoided excessive commercial development, making it a peaceful and picturesque destination.

Staying in the historic Cedar Key Island Hotel on the main drag is a great way to immerse yourself in the town’s history. As a leading producer of farmed clams, Cedar Key is also known for its seafood, making it an ideal place to indulge in fresh seafood dishes.

In addition to its charming downtown, Cedar Key is surrounded by natural resources. Kayaking around the nearby islands, some of which have excellent beaches, is a popular activity. One of these islands, Atsena Otie, is a ghost town with an old cemetery and ruins to explore. Birding, hiking, and biking options are also plentiful in the area. At night, stargazing is a must, as Cedar Key has minimal light pollution, allowing for a sparkling night sky.

Lake Placid, Sebring, and Avon Park: Exploring the Lake Wales Ridge

The Lake Wales Ridge region, located in central Florida along U.S. 27, offers a unique landscape and a variety of outdoor activities. This stretch of high ground, once the only part of Florida above water, is now home to charming old Florida towns that have retained their historic charm.

Lake Placid, Sebring, and Avon Park, among others, offer a glimpse into Florida’s past with their old hotels and atmospheric downtown areas. What sets this region apart are the numerous parks and preserves where visitors can hike, kayak, camp, and explore. From a funky winery with free-range chickens to a state park preserving ancient trees, there is no shortage of natural wonders to discover. One standout destination is Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area, which offers excellent hiking opportunities. With so much to explore, it’s no wonder that visitors keep coming back to this area.

Brooksville: The Withlacoochee and Weeki Wachee and More

Located just an hour north of Tampa, Brooksville is surrounded by beautiful rivers and forests, making it an excellent base for exploring rural and wild parts of Florida. This old Florida town, with its historic buildings and grand live oak trees, offers a glimpse into the state’s past.

What makes Brooksville truly special is its proximity to natural wonders such as the Withlacoochee River, a pristine waterway teeming with wildlife. The Withlacoochee Trail, a 46-mile-long paved bike trail, is a favorite among cyclists. For history buffs, Dade Battlefield Historic State Park provides a thought-provoking experience. The park preserves the site of a major battle during the Second Seminole War.

Brooksville also serves as a base for exploring some of Florida’s most beautiful springs, including Weeki Wachee Springs and the Chassahowitzka River. With a few mom-and-pop motels and plenty of campsites, accommodations are plentiful. For a great meal, the Florida Cracker Kitchen is a must-visit.

Dunnellon: Two Rivers Plus Outstanding Bike Trail and Hiking

Located in northwest Florida, Dunnellon was once a prosperous boomtown. Today, it is known for its outdoor activities, particularly kayaking and tubing down the Rainbow River. However, there is much more to do in Dunnellon than just water activities.

The Halpata Tastanaki Preserve offers excellent hiking trails, while the Withlacoochee State Trail is perfect for biking. This old Florida town also boasts several good restaurants, making it a great place to refuel after a day of outdoor adventures.

Punta Gorda: Kayaking, Biking, and a Charming Downtown

Punta Gorda, located on the Gulf Coast, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With its saltwater mangroves, paddling rivers, and birding opportunities, there is no shortage of activities for nature lovers. The Peace River, in particular, offers excellent paddling options, while the waterfront parks and walking/biking paths provide stunning views of the Peace River.

Punta Gorda’s downtown area is a charming mix of historic buildings, cobbled streets, and stately homes. In the winter, the town comes alive with festivals, and the downtown area buzzes with pedestrians on weekends. The Peace River Botanical Garden is also worth a visit for its beautiful displays of flora.

Fernandina Beach: Historic Plantation, Fort, and “Boneyard Beach”

Located in the far northeast corner of Florida, Fernandina Beach offers a wealth of natural and historical attractions. The town’s historic downtown boasts well-preserved Victorian architecture and numerous dining options. One of the most interesting historic sites in Florida, the Kingsley Plantation, is located near Fernandina Beach. This site, part of a little-known national park, tells the stories of slaves and slaveholders in Florida.

Fort Clinch State Park is another highlight of Fernandina Beach. The park features a stunning landscape of oak trees and a beautiful beach. Visitors can explore the fort and witness reenactments that bring history to life. Big and Little Talbot Island State Parks, located nearby, offer a range of recreational activities, including hiking, beachcombing, and photography. Little Talbot Island is particularly notable for its undeveloped barrier island and “Boneyard Beach,” where bleached driftwood creates a unique and picturesque scene.

Everglades City: Old Fishing Village for Stone Crabs and Great Paddling

Everglades City, situated at the end of the road on the Gulf Coast, is an excellent base for exploring the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands. Visitors can kayak the Turner River, considered one of the most beautiful rivers in the Everglades, or paddle through the mangrove-lined waterways of the Ten Thousand Islands. Hiking opportunities abound in several state and national parks in the area.

For history enthusiasts, a visit to Smallwoods Store on the nearby island of Chokoloskee is a must. This 1906 general store is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and offers a unique glimpse into Florida’s past. Everglades City itself is known for its stone crab industry and hosts the popular Everglades Seafood Festival every February.

Mount Dora: Might as Well be Mount Dorable

Located just 40 minutes northwest of Orlando, Mount Dora offers a lively restored downtown and historic district. The town’s picturesque setting, overlooking Lake Dora and surrounded by rolling hills and live oak trees, adds to its charm.

For kayakers, the nearby Mount Dora Canal provides a serene and beautiful paddling experience. Other nearby destinations, such as Rock Creek Run, the Wekiva River, and Lake Norris and Blackwater Creek, offer additional opportunities for outdoor exploration.

Mount Dora is also known for its festivals, which draw thousands of visitors each year. The town’s calendar is filled with events that showcase its vibrant arts and culture scene.

Sanford: Beer, Food, and Nearby Biking and Kayaking

Sanford, located a half-hour from Orlando, is a historic riverfront town that has undergone a revitalization in recent years. The town’s beautiful riverfront offers miles of walking and biking paths with stunning views. Within a short distance, visitors can find two wild and picturesque rivers, perfect for kayaking, as well as numerous hiking trails.

Sanford’s downtown area is a charming mix of preserved historic buildings, restaurants, breweries, and bars. The residential historic district is also worth exploring, with its shaded streets and carefully restored homes. Sanford’s vibrant atmosphere and natural beauty make it a hidden gem in Central Florida.


Florida is home to many charming and historic towns that offer a mix of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and rich history. Whether you’re interested in hiking, biking, kayaking, or exploring historic sites, these small old Florida towns have something for everyone. From Cedar Key’s artsy ambiance to Fernandina Beach’s historic plantations, each destination has its own unique charm and attractions. So, if you’re looking for a vacation that combines history and outdoor adventure, consider exploring these old Florida towns.

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