By Hilda Mitrani

During my trip to Dade City, I was enthralled by the beauty of the many historic buildings in this part of Florida. 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, including the Pasco County Historical Society Building. 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 Pasco County Courthouse'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 specifically in this area. 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 -- and 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.