Eden Gardens State Park at Antebellum Florida

    By Gary McKechnie

    If you have the good fortune (and good sense) to drive along Highway 98 that skirts along the Gulf Coast in Northwest Florida you’ll notice after a while that the pace here slows down and becomes distinctly Southern.

    And when you reach Point Washington (east of Santa Rosa Beach) and enter 161-acre Eden Gardens State Park there’s an even larger reflection of the Deep South.

    In fact as you explore Eden Gardens in Florida you’d expect to see Scarlett O'Hara eating barbeque on the lawn of the two-story antebellum Wesley Mansion. With its grand columns and old-fashioned (although at the time it was built modern) wraparound porch it harkens to a bygone era. After touring the home which includes the second-largest known collection of Louis XVI furniture in America stroll the grounds which are accented by moss-laden live oaks.

    This is a perfect representation of Old Florida and it's a perfect setting for a picnic.

    Bring some barbeque and maybe Scarlett will join you.

    If You Go

    East Route 395
    Point Washington
    (850) 267-8320
    Gardens $4
    Mansion tours $4

    Open daily 8 a.m. til sunset
    Mansion tours hourly Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.