Last updated on November 4th, 2019 at 09:12 am
If you like Old Florida atmosphere, moss-draped live oaks, historic buildings and antique shops, there’s a good chance you will be charmed when you visit Micanopy.
Little Micanopy – one square mile and 630 residents – is just 10 minutes off the I-75 expressway and 12 miles to Gainesville.
The area around Micanopy is rich with history and outdoor recreation; a perfect destination for a getaway weekend.
Visiting Micanopy doesn’t take long unless you s-l-o-w down
If Micanopy is for you, you’ll enjoy a slow pace, browsing through antique and gift shops, sipping a beverage at an oak-shaded café, strolling through a few side streets and perhaps visiting the historic cemetery.
The complete Micanopy experience requires an overnight at the grand 1845 Herlong Mansion, a bed and breakfast on the main street, Cholokka Boulevard; a tour of Cross Creek, the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Park.; dinner at The Yearling restaurant nearby and a hike at nearby Paynes Prairie State Park to see wild horses, bison and other wildlife.
Nearly the entire town of Micanopy is a historic district. Found in 1821, Micanopy has been continuously occupied. Many buildings are marked with plaques explaining their history.
You can explore little Micanopy on foot. With about a half dozen stores, you can go in every one. Most are antique shops, some with specialties. There’s an antique book store, an antique shop that has an impressive collections of cameos and a home-décor store with a vast choice of collectibles.
There are several popular places to get lunch, a snack or beverage – the Mosswood Farm Store, the Old Florida Café and Coffee and Cream, all on Cholokka Boulevard. Like Micanopy itself, they’re long on atmosphere.
If you like historic graveyards, Micanopy has a good one. A few blocks outside the little downtown, it’s evocative, with crumbling headstones, draped Spanish moss and a general air of disrepair. The address is 4412 NW 76th Terrace.
The jewel of Micancopy is the elegant Herlong Mansion, a bed and breakfast. While many B&Bs were once just houses, the Herlong Mansion does indeed feel like a mansion. It is best viewed from the street, where it is meant to wow you. Set back from a road lined with giant oaks, you see a landscaped walkway to the front door framed by elaborate Corinthian columns. It’s the Hollywood vision of a southern mansion – Tara, in the town, but with fancier columns.
There are expansive porches on both the first and second levels and the B&B is furnished throughout with antiques and period pieces.
Rooms ($125 to $189) have high ceilings and continue the handsome period décor, with features like claw-foot bathtubs, fireplaces and antique brass beds.
History lovers might want to visit the Micanopy Historical Society Museum. You’ll see a turn-of-the-century silk wedding gown and exhibits on the turpentine industry among others.
Exploring nearby Cross Creek
You can’t visit the area and not stop by Cross Creek, author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings home, now a state park.
Rawlings won the Pulitzer Prize in 1938 for her beautiful story of a young boy and his fawn, “The Yearling,” which is set in this cracker/pioneer area.
Rawlings came to Cross Creek in 1928 when it was a remote rural outpost. She learned to live off the land: How to cook possum, drink moonshine, raise chickens.
She found herself and her writer’s voice there. Her inspiration, her place of “enchantment,” as she describes it, is now Marjorie Kinnan Rawings Historic State Park, which preserves a small slice of her world.
To get you in the mood for visiting, I recommend you read “The Yearling” and watch the great 1946 Gregory Peck/Jane Wyman movie by that name or the excellent 1983 movie “Cross Creek” starring Mary Steenburgen, both of which were filmed here.
While at Cross Creek, have lunch or dinner at The Yearling Restaurant, adjacent to Cross Creek.
The Yearling restaurant was founded in 1952, when Rawlings was still alive and writing. The restaurant celebrates the Florida Cracker culture that so enchanted Rawlings when she came to Cross Creek. We found the food excellent and loved the atmosphere. It’s one of Florida’s classic historic restaurants.
But the best part of it is the nightly entertainment: legendary blues singer Willie Green, who performs live most nights. Green, son of Alabama sharecroppers, is a recording artist who once opened for music greats like Eric Clapton. After some hard living, he ended up on the streets, where the Yearling’s owner found him and offered him a gig a dozen years ago. This short video tells the story and gives you a sample of Green’s talent.
Take a hike at Paynes Prairie State Park
Nearby Paynes Prairie State Park offers extensive hiking plus shaded sites for tents, trailers or RV camping. The park is known for its birdwatching, alligators and, quite remarkably for Florida, its wild horses and bison.
Paynes Prairie is a big place (21,000 acres) with no roads across it, so you access it from either its southern or its northern end. Each has its own attractions.
The northern end of the park has the justifiably famous La Chua trail, where alligators are fat, happy and plentiful.
If you’re lucky, this trail may also give you a chance to see a rarer sight in Florida – wild horses. The wild horses at Paynes Prairie are descendants of those brought to Florida by the Spanish.
At the southern end of Paynes Prairie, nearest to Micanopy, there are a half dozen trails to explore and an impressive visitor center with a 50-foot-high observation tower overlooking the prairie.
In this part of the park, you’ll have your best chance to see the other unusual wildlife – bison. Ten bison from Oklahoma were introduced here in 1975 because when the Spanish arrived, the bison’s range extended this far south. (Today there’s a managed herd of 50 to 70.)
One additional recreation offering: There’s a notable scenic, paved 16-mile bike trail, Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, which cuts across the top of Paynes Prairie State Park. To access this trail, you need to approach from the north and check the map for trailheads. For bicyclists, this high-quality paved path is worth seeking out for its rural beauty.
Resources for visiting Micanopy
Micanopy Fall Festival One of the highlights of the year is the big Micanopy Fall Festival, which takes over the main street on in October or November each year.. Some 200 vendors offer arts, crafts, antiques, plants and foods. With 30,000 visiting over the course of the weekend, it is the one time Micanopy doesn’t feel sleepy and forgotten. The festival has been drawing crowds for 45 years. It is a home-grown affair that raises money for 12 Micanopy non-profits.
The Herlong Mansion
402 N.E. Cholokka Boulevard
Micanopy, Florida 32667
(352) 466-3322 or 1-800-437-5664
14531 County Road 325, Hawthorne, FL 32640
Open for lunch and dinner Thursday through Sunday; closed Monday to Wednesday.
Paynes Prairie State Park
100 Savannah Blvd.
Micanopy, FL 32667
Updated September 2019