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Visit Old Florida in Micanopy; explore nearby nature and history

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.

This is Old Florida: The Herlong Mansion was built in Micanopy FL, Florida, in 1845. Today it is a B&B.
This is Old Florida: The Herlong Mansion in Micanopy dates to 1845. Today it is a B&B where my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed staying. (Photo: David Blasco.)

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.

You also can have a great experience at the Micanopy Fall Festival.

Micanopy Fall Festival: One of the highlights of the year is the big Micanopy Fall Festival, which takes over the main street on Oct. 28 and 29, 2023 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 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 close to 50 years. It is a home-grown affair that raises money for 12 Micanopy non-profits.

This is Old Florida: Oak trees in Micanopy FL.
This is Old Florida: Oak trees line the streets in Micanopy FL. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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.

Antique shops in historic buidings line the streets in Micanopy FL.
Antique shops and historic buidings in Micanopy FL. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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 and draped Spanish moss. My husband and I were strolling around town when we stumbled on it. The address is 402 W. Smith Ave.

The Micanopy FL cemetery: beautiful and historic.
The Micanopy FL cemetery: beautiful and historic. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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.

A bedroom in the Herlong Mansion,
Our bedroom in the Herlong Mansion in Micanopy. (Photo Bonnie Gross)

There are expansive porches on both the first and second levels and the B&B is furnished throughout with antiques and period pieces.

Rooms ($200 to $275) 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

If you visit the area, be sure to 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.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park: Cross Creek
In the screened porch at Cross Creek, Rawlings’ old manual typewriter and pack of Lucky Strikes look like she just stepped away. Creek is 15 minutes from Micanopy FL. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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. (My husband particularly liked the old outboard boat motors that served as decor.) It’s one of Florida’s classic historic restaurants.

More about the Marjorie Kinnan Rawings Historic State Park

More about The Yearling restaurant

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.

Micanopy FL antique shop.
Anique shop in Micanopy FL. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

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.

More about Paynes Prairie State Park

The Yearling restaurant near Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Cross Creek home., 15 minutes from Micanopy FL.
The Yearling restaurant near Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Cross Creek home., 15 minutes from Micanopy FL. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Resources for visiting Micanopy FL

Micanopy Fall Festival, Oct. 28 and 29, 2023 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you can’t make the Micanopy Fall Festival, consider the neighboring town’s event, five miles away, which is two weeks earlier: McIntosh 1890s Festival, McIntosh, Oct. 14, 2023. This small historic town near Gainesville has held a festival for 50 years to raise funds to “preserve the natural and historic beauty of McIntosh.”

With 200+ arts, crafts and antiques vendors, organizers expect 25,000 to the festival site at 5835 Avenue G, McIntosh Fl 32664.  Live oaks line the streets and the festival extends into shady Van Ness park, where free musical entertainment is presented during festival hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Herlong Mansion
402 N.E. Cholokka Boulevard
Micanopy, Florida 32667
(352) 466-3322 or 1-800-437-5664

The Yearling
14531 County Road 325, Hawthorne, FL 32640
352) 466-3999
Open for lunch and dinner Thursday through Sunday; closed Monday to Wednesday.

Paynes Prairie State Park
100 Savannah Blvd.
Micanopy, FL 32667

Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail 

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Tuesday 12th of July 2022

Something for everyone


Saturday 15th of January 2022

Also where the movie Doc Hollywood was filmed. Growing up living right down 234 I have attended the fall festival every year. I can say in my heart it always feels like home. What a great article.

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