When you visit Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park or the Micanopy and Gainesville area, the best way to get the most of the experience is to eat like a cracker.
Fortunately, it’s easy to do.
Almost next door to the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings state park is The Yearling restaurant, a restaurant 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.
The Yearling restaurant serves Rawling’s legendary sour orange pie, as well as frog legs, catfish, venison and the best cheese grits I’ve ever had.
The ambiance of the place, which looks like a weather-beaten shack, is old Florida hunting lodge. It’s decorated with antique outboard motors, old guns and enough memorabilia to stock a store. Stuffed fish and mounted deer heads abound.
The Yearling restaurant has been recognized as one of Florida’s best restaurants by Florida Trend Magazine for a decade, although if you read reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor, you’ll find it has its critics. (Comments include “over-priced” and “food was nothing special.”)
The restaurant is open Thursday to Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.
It was famous for 18 years for legendary blues singer Willie Green. Green, son of Alabama sharecroppers, was a recording artist who has opened for many music great, including Eric Clapton. Willie Green passed away in June 2021.
The Yearling restaurant is located 14 miles from Gainesville and 25 miles from Ocala, right on Cross Creek, which connects Orange Lake to the south and Loclossa Lake to the north.
- Website for The Yearling restaurant
- Reviews on Yelp.
- Reviews on TripAdvisor.
- The Yearling also rents cabins on the property
Florida Rambler: Discover eight historic restaurants in Florida
Planning your visit to the Yearling restaurant and Cross Creek
- Florida Rambler article about Cross Creek and Rawling’s home.
- Website for Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park.
- Historic Micancopy, Florida’s oldest inland city, is a few miles away and is a great place to browse antique shops.
- Herlong Mansion Historic Inn and Gardens in Micancopy is a bed and breakfast known for its white pillars, wide verandas and Southern hospitality.
- Nearby Paynes Prairie State Park offers extensive hiking plus shaded sites for tents, trailers or RV camping. The park is known for its sinkholes, birdwatching and alligators, but the wild horses and buffalo you can spot here set if apart.
Nearby in Ocala and Ocala National Forest
- Four great rivers to kayak or canoe from a base in Ocala
- Five things to do in Ocala National Forest
- Florida Rambler contributor writes about hike-in primitive camping in Ocala National Forest
Notes from the editor:
The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning visits.
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.