Skip to content

Small Town Florida: Now Discover the Hidden Magic

As we drove up Florida Turnpike towards small town Florida and away from our crazy South Florida lives, I began to relax. My tiki bar mix boomed out Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville from the stereo. I donned my vacation hairstyle. That means I ran my fingers through my hair when I woke up and left it to itself. When we turned onto the dirt road at our final destination, I knew whatever we did this weekend would be relaxing.

We stayed two nights at an Airbnb in the town of Inverness, which is definitely small town Florida. The owners Leigh and Bo welcomed us into their home. They explained they wanted to build a house where they could enjoy nature and have a place to dock their boat. As a result, they created numerous outdoor areas emanating tranquility.

Our Guest Space in Small Town Florida

small town Florida, Inverness home in the country
The Back of Leigh and Bo’s home

Leigh showed us to our guest space which consisted of 3 rooms. Our bedroom had beautiful wood floors with a queen size bed and plenty of pillows. Two bathrobes hung in the closet for us to use to go to the hot tub. In addition we had a private bathroom with a shower large enough for 2. Further we had a sitting room with a large screen TV. However, we never turned it on. Instead we spent bits of lazy afternoons and evenings browsing neglected magazines and Rick Steves travel books.

Small Town Florida, Evening at the Dock

shows a dock at sunset in small town Florida
Sunset on the Dock

Our first night we watched the sunset from lounge chairs on the dock. We watched some weird prehistoric looking grasshoppers and listened to bull frogs croaking nearby. Then we soaked in the hot tub located in a screened pool house at the dock. Later we sipped wine on the screened patio and spent some time getting to know our hosts.


Rainbow Springs State Park

mad made waterfall at Rainbow Springs State Park in small town Florida
Manmade Waterfalls

The next morning after complimentary coffee and English muffins on the patio, we headed to Rainbow Springs State Park. Located in Dunnellon, the park hosts a myriad of outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, kayaking, and tubing. We chose to go tubing. Florida is a very flat state so tubing here is nothing like white water rafting out west. Instead, we enjoyed a 2 hour float down a lazy river gazing at vacation houses lining the shore.

After that we went for a hike to see the falls. Again, Florida is flat so don’t expect Niagara. However, the park contains a cluster of manmade falls that are a nice sight at the start of the wooded trail. There are two separate entrances to the park. The tubing entrance is at a different location that the main entrance. But don’t worry, if you end up at the wrong one, you can get directions to the other.

There are so many amazing nature activities in Central Florida. Next time we want to try a Manatee tour.


Grilling Steaks for Dinner

shows a dinner plate with grilled steak, a roll, and cabbage salad
Best Steak Ever!

On the way back from the park, we stopped at the local Walmart to pick up some steaks for dinner. Our hosts had a beautiful covered grilling area available for our use. Dan grilled the steaks while I mixed up a bag of Asian Salad mix. We enjoyed our dinner on the sturdy wooden picnic table. Maybe it was the relaxing atmosphere or the Infrared grill, but those were the best steaks we have ever eaten in our lives.

small town Florida has plenty of room for homeowners to create outdoor rooms such as this cedar covered grilling and picnic area
Grilling Area

After dinner, we spent the evening socializing with our hosts. Bo and Dan bonded over their love of guitars while Leigh and I chatted about decorating.

All too soon it was time to leave. The next morning as we rolled our cooler into the kitchen to retrieve our food Leigh exclaimed, ” I hate that noise. It means our guests are leaving.”

Whispering Oaks Winery

On our way home we stopped by a local winery. They still were suspending tours due to Covid-19, but we were able to order a flight for tasting the wines. The winery creates delicious wines from blueberries. The also have live entertainment and a menu of tapas. We ordered fruits and cheeses to go with our sampling. Our favorite was a chocolate dessert wine. While we have tried chocolate wines before that were creamy, this was a regular wine with a hint of chocolate taste. We picked several bottles to take home, but added more after we found out there was a 10% discount when buying a case.

The winery makes all of their wines from locally grown blueberries which are full of antioxidants. According to a study done by University of Florida, blueberry wines provide more health compounds than red or white wines. In addition they serve a steak dinner Fridays and Saturdays outdoors near their wood grill. This winery, located at 10934 N. County Road in Oxford, is a must visit.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to taste any of these culinary delights since we grilled our own steaks instead. However we included these recommendations from our hosts guidebook for those who would rather check out local cuisine.

  • Sauced Hogs- Great place for wings and BBQ. Located at 2408 N. Fatima Ave, Hernando, FL 34442
  • Stumpknockers- Try gator bites, oysters, and fried catfish. Located at 110 W. Main Street, Inverness 34450
  • Fisherman’s Cove- Specialties are seafood and steaks. Located at 12311 East Gulf to Lake Highway, Inverness 34450
  • The Freezer Tiki Bar- Literally created in an old freezer! Dive bar with fresh seafood. Cash only. 5590 South Boulevard Drive, Homosassa 34448
  • The Crab Plant- Fresh seafood. 201 NW 5th Street, Crystal River 34428
  • Pine Street Pub- Great place for craft beers. 108 N. Pine Ave, Inverness 34450
  • Catfish Johnny’s Restaurant- Florida home cooking. 2396 North County Road 470, Lake Panasoffkee 33538
  • Crump’s Landing- Outdoor seating on the water only. Live music and tiki bar. Homosassa 34448

More Things to do in Small Town Florida

For more places to stay check out the sponsored link below:

author profile picture

Donna Emperador is a travel and food blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers. She can be found on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Great Romantic Getaways in Florida: Go Now
January 20, 2022

What are the best places in the world for a honeymoon? Recently I collaborated with travel writers to discover the best places for romantic getaways worldwide. However, when people ask me, ” What is your favorite vacation place?”, I say…

Read More
Islands of Florida: Discover a Unique Way to Vacation
April 12, 2021

Dan and I recently got out and traveled. Well, it was a two day road trip to one of the islands of Florida. We rented a sailboat through Airbnb on Merritt Island, located on the Space Coast. This may sound…

Read More
Blueberry Wine: Learn How to Boost Your Immune System Now
August 30, 2021

Tired of theme parks? Looking for a more sophisticated trip for grown ups? Central Florida has more to offer than theme parks. On a recent trip to central Florida, my husband and I decided to check out some local wineries….

Read More
50 great plans for romance, steamboats, dinner cruises, New Orleans
Best Romantic Date Ideas: 55 Great Plans for Romance
January 27, 2022

According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, over 50% of adult Americans report that they are in a serious romantic relationship. If you are one of these people, 50 great plans for romance are waiting for you….

Read More
Flagler Beach Florida: how to rekindle romance now
December 30, 2021

Picnicking on the beach, feeding each other chocolate dipped strawberries, soaking in a two person Jacuzzi, do these things conjure up images of a romantic getaway? Maybe you prefer stargazing while floating in a heated salt water pool, then stepping…

Read More
view of The Gulf of Mexico from Cedar Key
Cedar Key, How to Escape the Daily Grind Now
September 22, 2020

Although Florida is known for theme parks and as a haven for wild college students on spring break, it also has some small town charm. For example, Cedar Key, a cluster of small islands west of Ocala, rests in the…

Read More
Romantic Rentals Panama City Beach: Places to Share the Love
April 5, 2021

When looking for a beach getaway, look for rentals Panama City Beach. The Florida Panhandle has approximately 200 miles of white powdery sand beaches. While Panama City Beach is located 112 miles west of Tallahassee, FL it is only about…

Read More
cozy night on a farm
Cozy Farm Stay: or How to Befriend an Alpaca
July 5, 2020

Ahh, the great outdoors! We have enjoyed sleeping outside while hearing lions roar, camped in a tent in the Florida Keys, and even went glamping on a sailboat. However, one of our most unique camping experiences was the time we…

Read More
Small Town Florida: Now Discover the Hidden Magic
July 19, 2021

As we drove up Florida Turnpike towards small town Florida and away from our crazy South Florida lives, I began to relax. My tiki bar mix boomed out Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville from the stereo. I donned my vacation hairstyle. That…

Read More

4 thoughts on “Small Town Florida: Now Discover the Hidden Magic”

  1. This looks like the perfect small-town getaway in Central Florida! I’m always hesitant to book a rental property when the owners are on-site (I always worry that we’ll have zero privacy), but your hosts sound amazing! I love that you had three rooms to yourselves and that covered grilling area must have been wonderful 🙂

  2. This looks like such a fun day trip to take if ever in Florida! I typically like to book places where it would just be my family and I rather than the owners being there too, but they sound so fun! Thanks for posting!

  3. This sounds wonderful – just like Florida before Disney and all that crap. Decades ago, they could – and maybe would – have transformed Florida into a serene eco-environment instead of making it into a zoo. Now it’s too late, and we can only treasure the serene spot that are left.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *