Can't-Miss 'Old Florida' Gems

By: Hilda Mitrani

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From art and architecture to wildlife and a centuries-old saloon, catch a glimpse at some of hidden Florida's best.

Lake Placid’s Creativity and Whimsy Reflected in Outdoor Art

Lake Placid, in Central Florida, is a bucolic town blessed with natural beauty and rolling hills. Its downtown is studded with antiques shops, gift stores and restaurants whose outside walls are painted with murals. The 44 murals depict the region’s 27 pristine lakes, cattle drives, the orange growing industry and even a legendary civic leader and decades-old local basketball team. These beautiful artworks encompass nearly 30,000 square feet. There’s such an abundance of creative energy in Lake Placid that even the trash containers here are whimsically painted.

Florida’s Victorian Corner, a Natural Paradise

The scenic Charlotte Harbor area on Florida’s Gulf Coast has a fascinating history of explorers and settlers dating back the early 1500s. See how residents have preserved its storied history and architecture in communities like Punta Gorda with its brick-paved streets lined with towering royal palms and restored period homes. The Charlotte Harbor area is also a natural paradise frequently listed among top U.S. cities for sailing, fishing and golfing. Frequent sightings of bald eagles and the highly endangered Florida scrub jays make it a frequent stop for birdwatchers, too.

Amelia Island Saloon Is Oldest in Florida

On Amelia Island, The Palace Saloon stands in its original location, a testament to a colorful history that began in the late 1800s. According to local legend, it was the last American tavern to close during Prohibition, and it was the first hard-liquor bar in Florida to sell Coca-Cola. Briefly transformed to an ice cream parlor during Prohibition, it was a favorite haunt of the Rockefellers and other socialites. Today, The Palace Saloon is part of the Amelia Island Museum of History’s weekly walking tours featuring tales about the centuries-old Fernandina Beach area.

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