Travelers looking for a taste of the “Old Florida” can step back in time with a day trip to Micanopy, Florida. The films “Doc Hollywood” and “Cross Creek” were filmed in this historic destination, whose charming downtown area features no stoplights, no Starbucks, and no sense of hurry.
Located just south of Paynes Prairie, which offers glimpses of native wildlife including bison and alligators, Micanopy is known for its picturesque historic district lined with palm trees and live oaks covered in Spanish moss. Although a day trip to Micanopy provides ample time to take in all the local sights, travelers who wish to stay the night can rough it at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park or stay in style at the Herlong Mansion.
In approximately 1845, a Florida “Cracker” style house was built at the site of the current Herlong Mansion. In 1910, ZC and Natalie Herlong replaced this simple structure with a Greek Revival mansion that is now considered one of Florida’s most elegant bed and breakfast inns. The Herlong’s sprawling gardens provide a majestic setting for weddings, parties and romantic getaways. Best of all, the inn is located just down the street from Micanopy’s quaint shops, which are filled to the brim with rare antiques and collectibles.
Some of the most popular things to do in this refreshingly undeveloped section of central Florida include hiking through nearby Paynes Prairie, strolling through some of the best antique and collectible shops in the Sunshine State, and relaxing in a rocking chair while enjoying some old-fashioned air conditioning in the form of a hand-dipped ice cream cone. Aside from that, there’s not much to do in these parts, which is why O. Brisky Books does such killer business.
O. Brisky Books specializes in old and rare books and has an extensive Florida history collection. Nonfiction and out-of-print books are the specialty of the house. There are so many old books, in fact, that it’s a challenge to find enough places to put them all. Books are stuffed into old citrus crates, stored next to an old-fashioned telephone booth with a working antique phone, and cloistered in dusty display cases monitored by seasoned booksellers who look like they might have spent enough time in Micanopy to have read quite a few of the books on the shelves.
Due to its classification as a historic building, O. Brisky Books has a somewhat dilapidated look and is not air-conditioned. Compared to the soulless big-box bookstores that have become the norm, however, O. Brisky Books is a welcome reminder of a bygone era when shopkeepers knew their regular customers by name and order.
In keeping with the “Old Florida” atmosphere, not all buildings in Micanopy’s historic district are wheelchair accessible. In addition, some stores (including O. Brisky Books) do not take credit cards. The nearest ATM can be found at Pearl Country Store and Barbecue, an oasis of modernity that is a popular meeting and eating place for locals. Pearl is located on US 441 within reasonable walking distance of downtown Micanopy. With its comfortable air conditioning, gas pumps and solar panel-covered roof, Pearl serves up a variety of contemporary conveniences with a heaping handful of down-home hospitality.
For directions to Micanopy, Florida and information on upcoming events, visit the town’s official Web site.
Read about other Old Florida day trips and historic destinations in the Florida off the beaten path series.