Looking for a little adventure this summer? Want to get a quick last-minute trip in before everything begins to start back up in August? We’ve got three great places for your to visit, road trip-style.
Take 301 to the Devil
Just under two hours via US-301 South
Ever heard of Williston, Florida? If not, you’re missing out on an amazing natural wonder. Devil’s Den is an underground spring that dates back to the prehistoric era. It’s privately owned and there is an entrance fee, but it’s worth it. Only snorkeling and diving are allowed. You can bring your own gear, or rent while you’re there.
After the spring, head to Gainesville for another natural wonder at Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park. A giant sinkhole with its own ecosystem, this place becomes magical after a summer shower with hundreds of mini-waterfalls.
Since you’re basically in Gainesville at this point, take some time to enjoy its tastier offerings. My personal favorite is Burrito Brothers Taco Co. off West University Avenue. Their burritos are legendary, and they make a solid jicama salad. For dessert, stop by Karma Cream along West University Avenue. They have delicious organic ice cream and amazing sweets. Don’t be fooled by the fact that they’re vegan. Sugar is very vegan. Finally, if you’re lucky enough to not be the designated driver, go next door for a spicy Bloody Mary at Mother’s Pub and Grill.
Return to the Old South
Slightly over two hours via I-95 North
I can’t write about two-hour road trips and not mention Savannah, Georgia. The historic district of this old Southern city offers an amazing array of restaurants, shops and selfie opportunities (your snapchat will never look better).
Overall, Savannah is just plain beautiful. The historic district stretches over several blocks, so my best advice: wander. From River Street down to Forsyth Park, you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll love.
A local favorite is Zunzi’s off East York Street. There is always a chance of a line, but be patient. Their menu is a mixture of international flavors and fresh ingredients. Try the Conquistador sandwich, and you’ll be back in Savannah every weekend.
A historical must-see is Bonaventure Cemetery off of Bonaventura Road. This is the quintessential Southern cemetery, resting under moss-covered oaks and filled with amazing sculptures and architecture. You might even see a ghost.
Southbound to Valleys
About 2:20 via I-95 South and other back roads
If you want to head south, I recommend the Ravine Gardens State Park. Nestled within Palatka, this state park features two large ravines, swinging bridges and beautiful gardens. The ravines were formed naturally over thousands of years. The gardens are a far more recent addition, built during Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. This is a perfect place for hiking and a picnic — just be on the lookout for the small alligator currently calling this place home.
After a walk in the gardens, head a little further south to DeLand. This town is more than the skydiving capital of Florida. Along Woodland Boulevard, through the Downtown DeLand Historic District, there are fun shops and restaurants, but also lot of beautiful older buildings. Because I love food, I have to recommend Manzano’s Deli on North Woodland Avenue. This is a legit Italian deli with amazing sandwiches and paninis. Buy one just for the ride back to Jacksonville.