During my trip to Dade City, I was enthralled by the beauty of Central Florida in springtime, especially the clumps of wildflowers in the fields. Plus, I explored an area of central Florida that I hadn’t visited in awhile. I enjoyed the friendliness of the residents and the history of this old railroad corridor.
Dade City, about an hour north of Tampa, is the county seat of Pasco County, which is full of historic buildings with Art Deco and Art Nouveau features. Many of the central business district's 60 charming boutiques, restaurants and antique stores have whimsical names, such as “Lunch on Limoges”, a local café.
History is an asset and also a matter of pride here. The Historic Pasco County Courthouse, which dates to 1909, was designed by architect E. C. Hosford. Each of its four sides has a beautiful façade and the lawn is replete with mossy oaks and a gazebo for shade. Some of the building's interesting architecture and heritage is available at this link.
The Dade City Chamber of Commerce prints a 70 page brochure with a comprehensive list of the historic buildings. Among my favorites are the old Florida homes with wrap-around porches, intelligently designed to take advantage of cross breezes. Even a casual driving tour turns up lots of buildings that are lovingly maintained.
This part of Florida is known as the "Nature Coast." I stayed at the Microtel Hotel in nearby Zephyrhills, home of the ubiquitous - a refreshing - Zephyrhills bottled water that many of us drink. I enjoyed the view of cattle on lush green fields amidst rolling hills and I also had a wonderful seafood dinner at a family restaurant called Maine-ly New England.
It was a lot of fun to go from my home in Miami-Dade to Dade City, Florida and it's a trip that I plan to make again soon. Next time, I will surely take one of the trolley tours of downtown and attend the renowned Kumquat Festival in January.
NOTE: Special thanks to Mr. Eddie Herrmann of the West Pasco Historical Society for providing information on the architect who designed the Historic Pasco County Courthouse. The Society maintains a treasure trove of information, plus photos and videos of the region.