Florida Secret: DeLand, DeLeon Springs, Barberville
Here is certainly a trio of towns that many folks do not know about, even in Orlando, near where these locations are located.
These two towns are found just north of Orlando–about 30 minutes or so of downtown. Just go along I4 and take the highway 44 exit and follow it straight west into historic Deland. This place is simply gorgeous with its reconstructed main street filled with restaurants and little shops.
Follow Deland’s main street north and go past Stetson University and head into some pretty Florida countryside. Head northwest on highway 17 until you get to deLeon Springs State Park. This park is a cool little place where you can swim in the springs, go kayaking, take a boat ride, etc. The park is probably best known for its historic sugar mill. Guests can make their own pancakes there on a table that has a gridel built into it. It’s pretty awesome. Be sure to make reservations for this place, though, because it gets crowded in a hurry.
From DeLeon Springs, keep following 17 northwest until you get to Barberville. Its at the intersection of 17 and 40. There is a little stand there with a bunch of statues and knick-knacks for sale. Its pretty cool–check it out. Then go west on 40 about half a mile until you get to the pioneer settlement. I’ve been to many museums in my days and this one ranks up there as one of the coolest. Its not sophisticated–just straight up cool “stuff.” Its got this old huge old hospital, and a bunch of old houses including a house and church. I’d defintely call this place a well kept secret. Its very cool.