Here's how to explore the Florida outdoors near the towns of DeFuniak Springs and Milton.
East along Highway 90 is DeFuniak Springs, so named for the spring-fed almost circular lake that sits in the center of town. Park along Circle Drive and take a walking tour around the lake to admire the Victorian architecture of the historic homes and buildings facing the water.
Day One unfolds with the rhythmic ply of a canoe paddle. In Milton, the "Canoe Capital of Florida, " Coldwater Creek, Sweetwater Creek, Juniper Creek, and the Blackwater River run smooth and clear over stream beds carved from white sand. The result is a picture-perfect view of marine life and plants under the water and pristine sandy "beaches" along the banks that are just right for impromptu picnics. Adventures Unlimited can arrange hourly daily and overnight excursions for canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. Adventures Unlimited also offers a challenging ropes course and zip line and lodging at The School House Inn. Call at least a day ahead.
Continue north on Highway 90 to Holt and the Blackwater River State Park, a 635-acre park bordering the Blackwater River State Forest and traversed by the Blackwater River. This is one of the few remaining unspoiled rivers in Florida. Contrary to its name, the water in the Blackwater River is actually tea-colored because of decaying leaves and tannin from cypress trees. What's to do? Camp, hike, fish and of course canoe - the shoals and rapids found here challenge seasoned canoers while gentler currents in the sheltered marshes and inlets are less intimidating. Call (850) 983-5363.
If you don't have a canoe or kayak (or inner tube for floating) you can rent one from Blackwater Canoe Rental & Sales. Reservations are strongly suggested.
Red, red wine and plenty of it is what you'll find at Chautauqua Vineyards off I-10 and Highway 331 in DeFuniak Springs. Since 1990 the Vineyards have picked, crushed, pressed, fermented, clarified, bottled and aged a variety of wines to perfection. Besides touring the winery and getting an up-close look at grape production, you'll also get to sample the latest wines, from the popular blueberry and wild honey flower wines to their popular Noble Muscadine. Open for free tasting and tours seven days a week.