One of the many nice things about Florida is that you can meander through the back roads and find wonderful small towns with old Florida charm. I love that laid back, welcoming Florida feel. Today, we are visiting Dade City, Florida on the Florida’s west coast about 45 minutes north of Tampa (founded in approximately 1884).
Dade City’s name has always been associated with the antique market areas of Florida, along with Mt Dora and Davie, for many years. Visitors from all over Florida and other states come to peruse the antique stores that heavily line these streets. But, you will also find boutique shops, art galleries, plenty of great restaurants, even a giraffe ranch (north of town) .
As you stroll down the streets of downtown Dade City, stop in Olga’s Bakery (since 1972) for an early morning treat. Try one of the many restaurants like Lunch on Limoges for fresh meals with locally sourced seasonal ingredients and desserts to die for. A Matter of Taste, serving American, Cuban & Spanish food here since 1977. I have been eating at these establishments for many years and they are always good always consistent. There are quite a few great restaurants to choose from in town and on the outskirts. Step into the Angel Tea Room & Gift Shop for an afternoon tea refresher with a scone.
Stop by the original Pasco County Courthouse, constructed in 1909, the courthouse has been put on the National Registry of Historic Places. Designed by architect Edward Hosford, well-known for his courthouse designs throughout Georgia, Florida & Texas.
During the month of January, thousands of visitors will flock to Dade City for the annual Kumquat Festival. This is the time to taste everything kumquat. Don’t know what a kumquat is? It’s a wonderful little tart citrus fruit that can be used in everything from desserts to main dishes, or just pop one in your mouth skin and all.
After you have shopped and dined take time out to visit The Florida Pioneer Museum. Just north of downtown off Hwy 301, the museum is set on 16 wooded acres. You’ll take an amazing journey through Florida’s history.
You can leisurely stroll through authentic historic buildings featuring a citrus packing plant, general store, Methodist church, one room school, train depot, and a sugar mill and others.
The C.C. Smith General Store was functioning from 1927 through its closing in 1980.
This one room school was built-in1927.
You will see many displays of the type of tools that were used to build these buildings and houses also tools used in Blacksmithing and leather work. There are examples of exceptional craftsmanship throughout the main building of the museum and the outlying buildings. Era correct furnishings and artifacts used in households to handle everyday chores, giving you a broad picture of what life was like back then.
This 13 ton Cummer Sons Cypress Co Steam Engine on display was used by the Cummer Cypress Co. to haul logs to its sawmill in Lacoochee, Florida from 1929-1959, which at the time was the largest sawmill in Florida. The logs shown here are said to be 400-500 years old.
The Trilby, Florida Train Depot was built-in 1896
This is believed to be the first American Flag to fly in battle on August 3, 1777 at Fort Stanwix, Rome, New York.
The museum is another wonderful example of the importance of preserving the past for future generations. You will have a great appreciation of how hard life could be back then and the perseverance of hardy folk. During my visit I was told the museum will be expanding. I will make it a point to come back to see what’s new.
After many years of living on the west coast of Florida I love visiting Dade City whenever I’m back in the state. I appreciate that it still holds its charm and friendliness. If you love small towns too, put this one on your list!
Location: The Florida Pioneer Museum, 15602 Pioneer Museum Rd, Dade City, FL 33523. PH: (352) 567-0262
****A few more great restaurants in the downtown Dade City area:
- Steph’s Southern Soul Restaurant @ 14519 h Street
- Kafe Kokopelli’s @ 37940 Live Oak Avenue
- Pearl In The Grove @ 31936 Saint Joe Rd
- Rebecca’s At City Market @ 14148 8th Street
- Francesco’s @ 14418 7th Street
- Truly Mediterranean Grill @ 37941 Meridian Avenue
- Garden Café @ 14227 7th Street
- Mallie Kylas Café @ 14302 7TH Street
- Del Carmen @ 14415 7th Street
- Brass Tap @ 37916 Pasco Avenue
- TJ”s Deli @ 37752 Meridian Avenue
****Other Dade City area attractions:
- Giraffe Ranch @ 38650 Mickler Rd
- Hancock Groves @ 31107 Blanton Rd
- Dade City Wild Things @ 37237 Meridian Avenue
- Treehoppers @ 27839 Saint Joe Rd
- Kumquat Growers @ 31647 Gude Rd (November through March)
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