There are so many places to vacation in Florida from beaches to theme parks but the best vacations are the REAL old Florida vacations where time slows down, and relaxation and nature meet. If you’re looking to get closer to nature and come back from vacation revived, then you have come to the right place. Let’s talk about an old Florida Wakulla vacation. My friend Linda from Life On Summerhill had the opportunity to visit Wakulla recently and had a wonderful time. Here are her recommendations for how you can Visit “Old” Florida in beautiful Wakulla County.
OLD FLORIDA WAKULLA VACATION
For such a sparsely populated and quiet county there are many excellent sites to see. There are so many hidden treasures in this coastal county for the whole family – from marine labs to river boats. But before we dive into all these lovely places let’s talk about a great place to stay.
THE INN AT WILDWOOD
If you’re looking for an old Florida experience but would rather remain in a nice modern hotel, then this is where you will want to lodge. I cannot say enough good things about this hotel. It quietly sits on HWY 98 and has a very popular restaurant called the Seinyard where you can enjoy some fresh and delicious seafood and so much more. For more information on The Inn at Wildwood: Magnuson Hotel click HERE. Now on to the fun stuff like a marine lab.
GULF SPECIMEN MARINE LAB
Talk about a kids paradise! This 25,000-gallon marine aquarium exhibits native marine life primarily in smaller creatures like seahorses, hermit crabs, emerald eyed, spiny box fish, starfish and so much more. They also are home to some sharks of different sizes from small to large. This is an opportunity to come in contact with marine life that you probably would never have the chance to experience. This privately owned non-profit facility since 1963 is a must to see for all ages. To learn more about the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab click HERE. There is so much to learn and do that time flies, and before you know, it is lunch time. Which brings me to a great place for lunch right down the road at Posey’s.
Well, if you are going to be at sea then you have to eat the freshest seafood around. Don’t be fooled by the size or location because this is a connoisseur’s delight. The menu has so many seafood options but if you want to experience southern seafood then try the fried whole flounder. I have to confess I didn’t get to eat it but it sure did look delicious and the people who tried it said it was a treat. If you have allergies like me, then I recommend their salad with shrimp. The cook prepared the shrimp according to my dairy and gluten allergies. The staff were friendly, courteous and made me feel welcome even though I couldn’t eat everything on the menu. For more information about Posey’s click HERE. For our next stop on this old Florida, journey lets go to the Wakulla Springs Lodge and State Park.
WAKULLA SPRINGS LODGE
Another great place to stay the night and get an old Florida experience is the Wakulla Springs Lodge. Full of history and charm this grand and wondrous structure is like going back in time to when it was built in 1937 by Edward Ball. You will lose yourself on time while staying here. To check out more about the lodge click HERE.
WAKULLA SPRINGS EDWARD BALL DINING ROOM
Whether you’re staying the night or just there for a day visit take some time for a sit-down meal at the Edward Ball Dining Room. But if you only have a few minutes and need a little afternoon coffee and a snack then you must try one of their homemade desserts! Even though I cannot eat gluten and dairy that doesn’t mean I don’t know a beautiful layer cake when I see one! It has been a long time since I saw this many layers and from what I can tell it must have been delicious because there was dead silence after everyone took the first bite. Click HERE for more info about the lodge restaurant.
WAKULLA SPRINGS SWIMMING
Wakulla Springs sits on 6,000-acres of beautiful spanish moss wooded land. The springs swimming area is home to a diving platform with two decks to choose from and a life guard on duty when the swimming area is open. There are lots of shaded areas to toss your blanket and take an afternoon nap. Or you can wade into the icy cold water to cool off where the water temperature stays around 70 degrees all year. It is a perfect place for children to play because it is like a beach with sand that gently flows out into the spring. Click HERE for more information about the spring.
WAKULLA SPRINGS JUNGLE CRUISE
One of my favorite parts of Wakulla Springs is the old river boats. These historical vessels again take you back in time as the driver gives you some old- fashioned Wakulla Springs history. You will learn lots of amazing things like all the movies that have been filmed here from, Creature From the Black Lagoon to Tarzan. I strongly encourage you to take some time to do the river boat tour that is weather permitting.
WAKULLA SPRINGS SODA FOUNTAIN
What is more refreshing than an ice cream on a hot summer Florida day? Remember when you were a kid and you would swim and swim and swim and then suddenly it hit you that you were so hungry until you could eat an elephant? Well, Wakulla has you covered for that afternoon craving at the soda fountain. Just look for the lodge gift shop, and there you will find a very long bar to get treats and drinks and of course some good old fashion ice cream. Wakulla Springs just keeps getting better and better! Click HERE to read more about Wakulla Springs Lodge and State Park or HERE from the Florida State Parks.
ST. MARKS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Now that you could spend a whole day at Wakulla Springs let’s bring the pace down, even more, and head on over to St. Marks to check out the National Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse. If you’re a lover of nature then you have arrived at your heaven – the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Bring along your binoculars, bug repellent, snacks, water bottles and field guide because there is an abundance of nature in store for you. Plan your trip either early in the morning or evening when the wildlife is most active and make sure to stop at the Nature Store which offers excellent books on birds, wildflowers, wildlife and so much more. There are many trails to hike, or you can take a drive deeper to the coast and lighthouse to experience the flavor of the panhandle waters.
ST. MARKS LIGHTHOUSE
Well, I would say I saved the best for last, and everything has been so marvelous, but the lighthouse was indeed amazing! It just happened that we ventured down to this lighthouse late in the afternoon. It had been raining so it was not too hot and approaching the lighthouse by car was magical! Oh, how I wish walls could talk! I would love to sit and listen to all the stories this 1842 lighthouse had to tell. But I did learn one interesting thing about it, and that is that it had several female light keepers. In our modern world, I thought that was some interesting history for Wakulla County. Maybe old Florida wasn’t as backward as we all think sometimes. Make sure to take the time to learn some history HERE before you go to see this majestic structure. It will make your visit even more powerful knowing some of the stories and people who kept it going for so long. Click HERE to learn more about the St. Marks Lighthouse.
I hope you have enjoyed learning about Wakulla County and I hope you consider taking your family for a visit. If you decide to visit I would suggest starting at the Visitor Center where they can give you more information about this beautiful coastal county.