Last updated on May 31st, 2019 at 10:06 am

The Yearling restaurant near Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Cross Creek home. (Photo: Bonnie Gross_

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, 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.

Interior of the Yearling restaurant is full of vintage items and antiques.

The Yearling 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.

Sour Orange Pie at The Yearling restaurant in Cross Creek

The 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. and often features live music by the legendary blues singer Willie Green. Green, son of Alabama sharecroppers, is a recording artist who has opened for many music great, including Eric Clapton.  After alcoholism and some hard living, he ended up on the streets, where the Yearling’s owner found him and offered him a gig more than a decade ago. This short video tells the story and gives you a sample of Green’s talent.

The Yearling 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.

Planning your visit to Cross Creek:

Nearby in Ocala and Ocala National Forest


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