Micanopy, Florida, pronounced (mick-ah-no-pea), has been described as quaint, adorable, rustic and even nicknamed “the town that time forgot“. Micanopy is located eleven miles south of Gainesville and is definitely old Florida with quite a remarkable history and interesting things to see.
Micanopy is one of Florida’s oldest towns and is Florida’s oldest inland town founded in 1821. Micanopy was firstly a Native American trading post. Visited by Hernando Desoto in 1539 (he recorded his encounter with the Timucua Indians) and then by botanist William Bartram in 1774, who cataloged many of the area’s flora, fauna, and Native-American lifestyle.
In 1823, Moses Elias Levy, a Jewish merchant, purchased 50,000 acres in east Florida. He built a Plantation just north of Micanopy and named it Pilgrimage Plantation. The Plantations primary production was sugar cane. Levy established the Plantation also as a sanctuary for persecuted Jews in Europe. Micanopy became quite a lively little town. Unfortunately, the Plantation was destroyed during the Second Seminole War in 1835. Much of the area’s sugar cane industry was destroyed. Despite the setbacks, Levy continued his hard work and became one of the territory’s first Education Commissioners. Later, his son David Levy Yulee, would become one of the first US Senators from Florida and the first of Jewish heritage in American history.
Today, Micanopy has a population of approximately 600 residents. The town was listed on the National Historic Registry in 1983.
I was very fortunate the first time I visited Micanopy years ago, it was their annual Fall Arts & Crafts Festival. This sleepy little town comes alive with artists, musicians, vendors with handcrafted goods, and food booths all lining the historic downtown on Cholokka Boulevard. It’s a delightful time to pay a visit to the area. I always find something nifty I can’t live without.
Beautiful oak trees with draped spanish moss adorn the streets. The downtown area has antique shops, vintage clothing & jewelry, collectables, art galleries, and historic landmarks. There are two restaurants nestled among the shops, The Florida Café with delicious sandwiches, mouthwatering desserts and a small shopping corner with knick knacks & antiques, and the Coffee N’ Cream Café with the best chicken salad anywhere and yummy shakes & malts.
Micanopy’s historic preservation consists of 35 buildings, including the original Post Office established in 1826, Thrasher Warehouse which serves as the Historical Society’s museum, Micanopy Bank built in 1906 , and the Herlong Mansion built in 1835. Now a Bed & Breakfast with many of its original features preserved encompassed by beautiful landscaping ( http://www.herlong.com/history.htm). picture courtesy of Wikipedia
Micanopy has also been the backdrop for two movies Doc Holiday and Cross Creek. Cross Creek was based on the life of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who authored The Yearling and lived in Cross Creek just a few miles away.
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
This State Park is approximately 21, 000 acres and became Florida’s first State Preserve in 1971. This is Florida’s ecosystem at is finest! An array of wildlife, livestock and over 270 species of birds call Paynes Prairie Preserve home.
In the 1600’s, this area had the largest cattle ranch in Spanish controlled Florida. Then, two hundred years later the land was inhabited by the Seminole Indians raising cattle and horses. The land flooded in 1871 and became the marshland that you see today.
Head to the visitor center first to see exhibits that explain the areas natural history. There is a 50-foot tower you can ascend to get quite a view and catch a glimpse of the wild horses or bison.
There are eight trails throughout the Preserve from 1 to 16 miles in length. Walking, horseback riding, and biking with great wildlife viewing. The park allows camping, boating, canoeing, kayaking and fishing in designated areas. There are also several observation boardwalks that will get you up close and personal like I did with this alligator. This is Florida so remember to bring your bug spray!
Fascinating history, unique shops, comforting food, historical buildings to explore, and a State Preserve with tons of wildlife all make for a wonderful visit to this friendly historic Florida town. Sit back with a glass of sweet tea and enjoy the slower pace of a modest little town on a warm Florida day. You might let time forget you too!
Other good eats in Micanopy:
Antonio’s Made in Italy @ 22050 N. US 441, Micanopy, FL
Blue Highway Pizzeria @ 204 NE US Highway 441 Micanopy, FL 32667
Pearl Country Store @ 106A NE Highway 441, Micanopy, FL 32667
Moss Wood Farm Store @ 703 Northeast Cholokka Boulevard, Micanopy, FL 3266
******All pictures belong to Simple Sojourner unless otherwise noted