Discover Bailey's Mill... and Old Florida.
Take the Bailey's Mill Area Tour:
On your way to BAILEY'S MILL, a historic and visual treat is to leave Tallahassee heading out Centerville Road. This route takes you on roads that are old trading paths, some dating to stagecoach and mule-drawn wagon days. This drive takes you past Bradley's Country Store - c. 1927- (stop for their famous sausage) and out to Old Magnolia Road, one of the prettiest roads in Florida, which is an unpaved red clay plantation road shaded by live oak trees. This road leads to a number of plantations to the north, including Ring Oak, Love Ridge, Miccosukee Hills, and Wild Wood, as well as a boat launch site.
South on Old Magnolia Road will bring you to US-90 East. Enjoy the view. The highway's right-of-way bursts with the color of pink and white crepe myrtles, planted as part of a Depression-era road beautification program. In 1932, Fred Mahan, owner of the Monticello Nursery Company, donated thousands of plants to be planted between Monticello and Tallahassee. The project employed 35 work relief laborers who earned 30 cents an hour. Along the right-of-way they planted nearly 40,000 specimens, including pyracantha, arbor vitae, liqustrum, crepe myrtle and palms. The eight-year, 25-mile-long project is the most impressive road beautification effort along the Old Spanish Trail. In his honor, the section of highway was named Fred Mahan Drive in 1953. The roadside landscape continues to be maintained and delights the traveler with its brilliant show of color.
Lunchtime? It is worth the stop at the Hilltop Country Store for the best chicken salad sandwich around. The deli serves a variety of other hot and cold meals.
Letchworth-Love Mounds State Park - This 189-acre park includes the tallest and most architecturally complex pre-Columbian earthen mound in Florida, standing at 46-feet, and built between 1100 and 1800 years ago. 4500 Sunray Rd South. Enjoy picnicking, birding, and hiking.
Lake Miccosukee - This 6200 acre lake is a nice stop to see who's fishing or duck hunting. The boat ramp is less than a mile from the gates to BAILEY'S MILL.
Next, BAILEY'S MILL is the highlight of your tour.
From BAILEY'S MILL, continue on to Monticello where life noticeably slows down as you approach the Jefferson County Courthouse. Monticello was founded in the early 1800's by planters from Georgia and the Carolinas and further grew with wealthy land barons and northern industrialists in the mid-to-late 1800's. Towering moss-draped oaks cover the roads as you pass the gorgeous historic homes. Forget Publix, visit Johnston's Meat Market for fresh meat, and down the road there's a Farmer's Market with veggies straight from the garden. Around the Courthouse, the historic Monticello Opera House, constructed in 1890, is a spectacular performance hall for musicals, plays, and ballets. Shows are regular here. Continue around the Courthouse and explore the antique shops and boutiques that line the quaint streets of the town.
Further east is Dixie Plantation off State Road 146 (Ashville Highway). The handsome white columned brick residence was built by Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Livingston of New York in 1930. The architect was John Russell Pope, the designer of many important buildings in Washington, D.C. The Plantation is the home of The Continental Field Trials every January.
For cooling off, Wacissa Springs is a perfect stop. Located south on SR 59, the Wacissa River is both a spring-run and blackwater river, great for canoeing and kayaking. About 8 tenths of a mile from the park is the turn-off to big blue, a first class spring. Wildlife is abundant here and the water is crystal clear.