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Micanopy: Visit Old-Florida Like a Local



Florida is one of the fastest growing states in the nation. With so many people moving here, it’s easy to see why construction and new housing developments are on the rise. Unfortunately, with this increase, comes the loss of small old-Florida towns with their unique charisma and history.



If you’re looking for a place to visit in Florida that still holds this charm, look no further than the must-see town of Micanopy (MICK · uh · NO · pee), just south of Gainesville near I-75, about a twenty minutes’ drive from the University of Florida.


History of the Town

Referred to as “The Town That Time Forgot,” Micanopy became an official town in 1821. The first written history of the area came from Spanish explorers in the 1500s who found a Timucuan village on this site. By the 1700s, naturalist William Bartram wrote about the Seminole people who lived here, raising cattle and horses left by the Spanish explorers.



The town was affected by the violent Second Seminole War from 1835 to 1842. Micanopy saw attacks between the Seminoles and the U.S. Military as the natives fought to protect their land while a fledging nation tried to settle their newly acquired territory.


Once a bustling area of commerce producing turpentine and oranges transported via railroad, this sleepy town on the National Register of Historic Places is home to just over 600 residents today.



Stepping from our truck onto the Micanopy’s main thoroughfare, Cholokka Boulevard, makes us feel as though we’re a world away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. From the Spanish moss that hangs listlessly on the limbs of giant oak trees, to outdoor café seating, everything about Micanopy invites its visitors to sit and stay awhile.


Here's a few amazing places to visit where you can enjoy the real Florida, without the crowds:


Downtown

Cholokka Boulevard is home to antique stores and cafés nestled under hundreds-year-old oak trees. The town has a gazebo near the north end, where visitors can rest for a spell. Closer to the shops, benches sit in shaded, grassy areas, like a scene from a postcard.



Our favorite shop in downtown is JEMsOriginals, which features items from local artisans like pottery, clothing, art, home décor, and jewelry. On our last visit, we stopped by Micanopy after hiking in Payne’s Prairie Preserve, to visit one of our favorite coffee shops, Mosswood Farm Store & Bakehouse for their delectable coffees and desserts.



Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park (Cross Creek)

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was an American author who made a name for herself writing stories, both fiction and non-fiction, about rural life in Florida in the 1930s and 40s. Her most famous works were The Yearling (1938), which topped the best-seller list and Cross Creek (1942), which Universal Pictures made into a movie in the 1980s.



Rawlings donated her property to the University of Florida, where they eventually bequeathed it to the state of Florida. Today, the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park pays homage to the life of one of America’s iconic writers.


The park has restored the interior of Rawling’s home to the way it was in the 1930s, using the actual furniture, dishes, and other items that belonged to the author. Our tour guide informed us that one of Rawling’s employees who’d spent many years with the author, helped to organize the house exactly as it was during her time there.



I especially enjoyed seeing the area Rawlings had set up on her screened-in porch with her typewriter, as well as viewing the first bathroom available in Cross Creek. Though Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was a writer before moving to rural Florida, it was on this property, in this town, where she found her inspiration. She fell in love with the nature and the people of Cross Creek, even writing a book about it in 1942.



Though Cross Creek is just outside Micanopy, this historic home is a must-see stop in the area. Visitors can only see the interior of the home via guided tour. Check out the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park website for more information.



Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park

Payne’s Prairie Preserve is a unique find in Florida’s north central corridor. It’s the only place where you’ll find wild bison and wild horses grazing on the land, alongside alligators.


Historically, bison were a natural part of the north Florida landscape until the arrival of Europeans decimated their population. Spanish explorers brought horses with them to Florida, which were later used by the Seminoles for ranching and cattle herding.

Before you think bison might be a little too wild west for Florida, the park also has alligators, snakes, and dozens of interesting bird species.



Take a hike, bike, or horse ride (on your own horse, not the wild ones) through one of the many trails available at the park. Click here for the Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park website.


Our family visited this park recently where we stopped on a trail by a line of bison in our path and got to see the wild horses up close – though not too close. Check out this fully loaded Trip Guide: Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park for everything you need to know before you go.



Micanopy Historical Society Museum

Tucked away on the north end of Cholokka Boulevard, just a stone’s throw from the antique shops and cafes of downtown, is the Micanopy Historical Society Museum. The museum delves into the history of the town, dating back to the Timucuan Indians who inhabited the area before the arrival of Spanish explorers. There are artifacts on display, from stone tools to antique sewing machines.



The historical society museum uses the old Thrasher Warehouse building. John E. Thrasher, a businessman in Micanopy in the early 1900s, lost his original general store in a fire in 1911. From 1911 to 1923, Thrasher used part of the warehouse as a general store, until he completed construction on his new brick building down the road. The original cashier’s cage sits in the same place it occupied a hundred years ago.



Different exhibits in the museum cover subjects ranging from the Seminole Wars to the importance of industry in establishing the town in 1821. The volunteers here are friendly and knowledgeable. It’s clear they have a love for their town and like to share that with others.


For more information, check out this Trip Guide: Micanopy Historical Society Museum, which highlights everything you need to know before you go.



This adorable small town has a plenty to do, but also offers the chance to enjoy doing nothing at all. Next time you find yourself near north central Florida, I recommend stopping by for a coffee, taking a stroll down the main road, or relaxing in the shade.


Have you ever visited Micanopy? Would you like to? Drop a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!


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