A new year promises renewal and "new beginnings" and as we begin afresh, some of us think about recharging our lives. “Soul” renewing goals can often involve travel and exploration. In Florida, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of places to discover that contribute to that needed replenishment.
Consider getting a fresh start on Florida’s Adventure Coast. Situated an hour west of Orlando, Hernando County is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the Withlacoochee River to the east. In the center lies historical Brooksville, the county seat.
Wherever you are on the Adventure Coast, you’ll find plenty to help you. The scenic natural outdoors, local farms and even a little Florida kitsch will kick things into gear.
Chinsegut Hill Retreat
Start with “relaxing” renewal. Pronounced “Chin-see-gut”, think about basing your stay at the unique 144-acre historic Brooksville retreat where comfortable cabins are open to the public. Perched on the area’s highest hill, you can also tour the recently restored historic plantation Manor House, and explore its richly layered Florida history, surrounded by towering, ancient oak trees and colorful azaleas.
Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaid Shows
Next, consider a little fantasy to get the fun started. Since 1947, Weeki Wachee Springs has captivated families and children with underwater live mermaid shows. Here, a first-magnitude spring bubbles up from the Florida Aquifer providing a fish bowl stage where guests are entertained while seated in a glass theatre. It’s kitschy, and “old Florida” and good for the soul.
Weeki Wachee River Paddle Adventure
Now it’s time for “adventurous” renewal. The Weeki Wachee Springs flow into its river winding seven miles to the Gulf of Mexico. The translucent water and shallow sandy bottom create a dazzling experience on one of Florida’s best waterways. A slow, easy, five-mile, three-hour kayak paddle downstream serves as an ideal day on the water. Paddle under shady natural canopy of cypress and oak trees while enjoying the wildlife –and be on the look out for manatees as they swim by.
After getting off the water you may be ready to ramble through the countryside of Hernando County’s back roads to find some “healthy” renewal:
U Pick Farms
If you like U-Pick farms, here’s a place to grab your bucket and get busy. Spring kicks off blueberry season and the Florida Blueberry Festival takes place in April. But there’s plenty more to pick including strawberries, blackberries, peaches, pears, corn, vegetables, melons, loquats and (muscadine) grapes.
Sweetfields Farm, Masaryktown
In Masaryktown, on Hernando County’s southern border, Sweetfields Farm celebrates down home country fun. Owners Lisa and Ted Kessel transformed an old hay field into an organic farm. In addition to producing regular vegetable crops available at their barn, they host a Spring celebration featuring their stunning Sunflower crop. Visitors wind through acres of a spectacular sunflower maze that is sure to lighten your being.
Little Rock Cannery, Brooksville
Want to preserve that freshly picked Florida freshness? The Little Rock Cannery north of Brooksville and open to the public is a must visit. Canneries, once popular during the World War II when Victory Gardens were common, are a rare find nowadays. Housed in a 1941 building the community transformed the building into a cannery for public use. A commercial kitchen with pressure cookers, equipment, and utensils provide all the essentials for those who want to preserve their food quickly and efficiently.
Two Authentic Florida Restaurants
For good home cooking try two authentic Florida favorites in Brooksville both owned by the same family. The Florida Cracker Kitchen, serves up the classics like Brooksville blueberry pancakes, the Cracker omelet, smoked mullet dip and Okeechobee gumbo. Nearby, try Mallie Kyla’s Café, a southern style restaurant where locals go to lunch, especially for the homemade cakes and pies.
So, when you are ready to reenergize and discover a new life chapter, try a trip to Florida’s Adventure Coast, one that will get your year off to a great start.
Florida native Robin Draper is a columnist and owner of the award-winning “Blog of the Year” and “Best Travel Blog” and website, AuthenticFlorida.com, that features travel and lifestyle topics available weekly through the ENEWs.