On our way down to Cedar Key, we made a stop at Wakulla Springs, a nostalgic and worthwhile laid-back tourist attraction. The riverboat tour at Wakulla Springs State Park is the perfect introduction to the wild flora and fauna of north Florida.
It couldn’t have been better. Our tour guide entertained us with a song and dance routine about alligators before we took off from the dock. Sure enough, we saw plenty of alligators. As the weather has warmed up, the gators have emerged from dormancy and their mud holes. The cruise also served as desensitization therapy for our real-life alligator adventures later in the week.
Culture In Gainesville
As much as we love nature, we also enjoy art, music, and other cultural events. We got a good infusion of culture in Gainesville, including museums and gourmet dining.
On a very stormy day, we went to brunch at The Paramount Grille (delicious crab cakes Benedict made with local blue crab) followed by an afternoon at the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Harn Museum of Art. We especially loved the natural history museum—it’s well worth a visit, even on a sunny day. Located near the University of Florida in Gainesville, both of the museums are in the Cultural Plaza. Admission to both is free.
We spent the afternoon exploring the museums, and barely scratched the surface of all that’s offered. A magnificent butterfly and moth collection is beautifully displayed in the natural history museum. There’s also a butterfly rainforest, which we didn’t visit because of the inclement weather. Odd as it seems, it was too stormy for a rainforest visit.
In the art museum, one of the most spectacular pieces was an enormous wall hanging by El Anatsui, an artist from Ghana. The stunningly beautiful piece is crafted entirely from discarded liquor bottle caps.
The Ichetucknee River
On a gorgeous day, we kayaked the Ichetucknee River. It’s one of our favorite rivers in north central Florida. This time, in addition to plentiful herons, egrets, and turtles, we were fortunate to encounter a mama and baby manatee, which lazily swam under and around our kayaks.
We ended the day in the pretty town of High Springs (just a few miles from Ichetucknee State Park) where we enjoyed a delicious meal at The Great Outdoors Restaurant, accompanied by terrific live music. Florida has surprised us with the abundance of live music—and good musicians. It seems that just about everywhere we go we’re finding plenty of venues to enjoy great music.