My husband and I have been traveling the RiverWay region for two years, documenting its beauty, bounty, culture, and secret places. We’ve traded busy highways for winding country roads where cotton and peanut are king and Shade Tobacco history is traced through abandoned barns. I’ve visited land adorned by log cabins, pecan groves, and cattle. Land where grist mills stand by creeks and cane grinders are used to make syrup. Agriculture is celebrated here.
This land is dominated by the mighty waterways that crisscross its heartland. This “Watery Eden” is punctuated by crystal-clear springs, with names like Ponce de Leon, Blue, Vortex, Shangri-La, Hole-in-the-Rock, Sylvan, Pitt, and Morrison. The Chipola rivershed alone boasts 63 freshwater springs, the largest number of any other site in Northwest Florida. A birder’s destination, a diver’s fantasy, a kayaker’s dream, and a fishermen’s paradise, the recreational opportunities of the Apalachicola and Choctawhatchee Rivers, augmented by the systems in between—the Chipola, Econfina, and Holmes—are unmatched. And, for those who prefer tree-lined lakes, there’s Talquin, Seminole, Victor, Camel, Wright, Tucker, Compass, and Dead Lakes.
Road-side stands sell cane syrup, Tupelo Honey, and boiled peanuts. Historic buildings, grand mansions, prairie-style bungalows, and murals grace its towns. Museums enable travelers to share an art experience and quaint inns and bed & breakfasts feature antique-filled rooms. Walking tours explore historic districts and restaurants serve culinary favorites like oysters, blue crab claws, grouper, hushpuppies, cheese grits, quail, collard greens, okra, and refreshing sweet tea! And for dessert there’s homemade salt caramel ice cream, bread pudding, peanut or pecan pie.
But perhaps the superlatives lie in the vast network of national, state, and local public lands— Estuarine Research Reserves, Forests, Water Management Areas, Wildlife and Environmental Areas, Parks, and Trails. RiverWay has Florida’s highest waterfall, Florida’s only public cave, Florida’s greatest concentration of wildflowers (including ground orchids and insectivorous pitcher plants), the Southeast’s largest stand of long-leaf pine and wiregrass habitat, the Southeast’s largest wolf preserve, one of the nation’s top biological hotspots and most beautiful beaches.
Now we have detailed how to visit these incredible resources in 15 self-guided scenic drives. Click on the “Tour” header to visually experience each itinerary.
In subsequent blogs, we’ll add some insights of each tour and post related information. Until then, “Explore Our Florida!
D & D The Intrepid Travelers