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Things to Do and See in Micanopy, Florida

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Spotted outside of an antique store in central Florida’s Micanopy.

Micanopy, Florida, located just 12 miles from Gainesville and the University of Florida, is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tiny town. Still, that doesn’t mean you should blink and keep driving. This town is filled with charm and history–Travel + Leisure named it one of the 10 best small towns in Florida in 2021–and it can make for a relaxing afternoon or day visit if you’re in central Florida.

First, here’s a little history about Micanopy (pronounced mic-uh-NO-pee; population: 700): It’s the oldest inland town in Florida, according to the Town of Micanopy website. It was included in a land grant from the King of Spain in the early 1800s, and it was originally an Indian trading post. The town is named for the Seminole Chief Micanopy.

After damage during the Second Seminole War in 1835 and an intentional burning of the town shortly thereafter, the town was rebuilt. Micanopy became a leading grower of orange and vegetables, along with cotton and cattle production. In the 1920s, the lumber and turpentine industries took over in place of much of the produce farming.

Micanopy is filled with Southern charm.

What Micanopy never lost is its Southern charm, with large oak trees with Spanish moss hanging over them and a downtown that looks like it was made for Hollywood movies….because, in fact, that’s almost true. Portions of the film Doc Hollywood with Michael J. Fox (1991), Cross Creek (1983), and 2014 Top Gear on the History Channel were filmed there.

Plus, the late rock legend and Gainesville native Tom Petty is said to have lived for a time in Micanopy and mentions the town in his song “A Mind With a Heart of Its Own.”

What to See and Do in Micanopy, Florida

If you plan to visit Micanopy, you’ll likely take Interstate 75 to get there. It’s about 2 1/2 hours from the Bradenton/Sarasota area,1 1/2 hours from Tampa, and 2 hours from Orlando. If you can, come on a sunny day so you can soak in the sun and the town’s picturesque Cholokka Boulevard, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here are some things you can see and do in Micanopy during your visit:

Cholokka Blvd. is Micanopy’s main street.

Go antiquing. The downtown is best known for its antique shops, including Delectable Collectables (located in a former bank) and many others. Some of the antique sellers carry paintings from the Florida Highwaymen, famous for their iconic Florida paintings. If you’re looking for vinyl, you may make a few good finds as well.

Look for unique arts. A town like Micanopy naturally attracts artsy types, and some of the stores carry items by local and regional artists as well as unique T-shirts and wall hangings. As we read on one T-shirt, “Micanopy: Where Mayberry Meets the Twilight Zone.”

The beautiful Herlong Mansion in Micanopy.

Stay (or at least) visit the Herlong Mansion Bed & Breakfast. Built in 1845, the historic Herlong Mansion (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) offers just the right kind of feel for a visit to Micanopy. There’s Southern hospitality along with wine and home-baked cookies at night. You can also find pics and a video tour of the mansion here. Herlong Mansion also hosts weddings and special events.

Discover more town history at the Micanopy Historical Society Museum and the Micanopy Archives. You can learn a lot there but arrive at the right time–it’s open Wednesday to Sunday from 1 to 4 pm.

Micanopy Historical Cemetery

Check out the cemetery. Cemeteries aren’t always ghoulish. A historical cemetery can be an interesting way to learn about an area, and that’s what we found at the Micanopy Historic Cemetery, located a few blocks away from the town’s main street. The earliest burial dates back to 1826. Like many other places in town, the cemetery has a historic designation. It’s is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Get a bite to eat at places like the Mosswood Farm Store and Bake House, Old Florida Cafe, Blue Highway Pizzeria, and Coffee N Cream.

Micanopy will celebrate its 46th Fall Festival on Oct. 30 and 31, 2021.

Here’s Where Else to Visit If You Are Coming to Micanopy

To make a full day or weekend of your visit, keep some of these other attractions in mind when you visit Micanopy:

The U.S. and Florida flags fly outside of a Micanopy shop.

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. You’re only minutes away from this massive state park that has wild bison and horses along with the usual cavalcade of Florida wildlife, including alligators. Paynes Prairie has 10 individual trails, each with its own look and personality. Read more about Paynes Prairie in this September 2021 article from our sister blog.

University of Florida. Want to check out “The Swamp” (aka the football stadium) and see where more than 52,000 college students study each year? You’re not that far from the University of Florida, and there are guided as well as self-guided tours.

Majorie Kinnan Rawlings State Park in Cross Creek. The author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling and Cross Creek, lived in the nearby town of Cross Creek , where you can still get a sense of how farming life was in the 1930s. Her former home and farm are now a National Historic Landmark and are operated by the Florida State Parks system.

Storm seen in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park near downtown Micanopy.

Written by floridaculture

October 11, 2021 at 7:10 pm

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