I think of this post as part of my series on Things to Do in Tampa Bay, but frankly the location is a couple hours’ drive from there. In fact, Micanopy is equidistant from Tampa or Orlando and only about 20 minutes south of Gainesville. But it’s worth the drive in any case.
My friend Cheryl had been suggesting I go there for years, especially when the Micanopy Festivals are in full swing. Eventually I got around to taking her up on her suggestion. Though it wasn’t during one of their famous fall festivals, I am glad I went when it was quieter to get a better feel for the place. Plus the photos are better without so much hubbub.
Driving down the main drag (and pretty much the only drag), Cholokka Boulevard, I kept thinking of the word “sleepy”. It certainly was at that time because we arrived when all but a few of the shops were still closed. There were more visitors and more action later, but it never got what I would call busy.
You can see from the architecture that it was built in the 1800s – founded in 1821, in fact. It was named for a Native American Seminole chief. I like the name Micanopy – gotta love someone whose name contains the word “nope”!
Much of Cholokka has a canopy of old trees hung with Spanish moss, and there are no traffic lights.
Once I got some photos and the shops opened, we began our leisurely adventure through all the antiques and second-hand artifacts. Almost every door led to a collection of someone else’s former stuff! There was everything from old collectible tools:
To authentic, true antiques:
The shop with the above cigar-store, un-PC sculpture out front seemed to me to have the most true antiques. It’s called the Outpost. Most of the other shops – and we visited almost every one – had more hand-me-down-type things rather than true antiques. HOWEVER, I am no antique expert, so judge for yourself! Regardless of the stuff inside, each shop has its own character and there was not one place I went that I felt was a waste of time because I’d seen the same thing elsewhere.
And I have to agree with the Huffington Post:
At the end of the antique strip is a beautiful old house, the Simonton House:
I SO wanted this place to be a BnB! And I believe it had been, but my internet research seems to show it’s currently for sale. Built in 1910, it’s on the National Register of Historical Places. Wouldn’t it be a grand BnB?
One of my favorites was a place called The Shop which had new merchandise. It was chock-full of Christmas stuff since it was early December:
I would LOVE to see this place at Halloween! I picked up a few trinkets there, including a small iron chicken that fits in my palm!
We had lunch at the Old Florida Cafe, which is also an antique shop. I found a few old postcards, which I collect from time to time, especially if they have writing and stamps on them. The staff there was super friendly and the sandwiches were superb! We sat outside on this beautiful day, enjoying the Florida winter weather.Later we had coffee at the Mosswood Farm bakery, which serves up organic goodies and coffee. We sat outside in back of that place. Very pleasant!
We also visited the Micanopy Historical Society Museum for a rundown of the past. Here’s part of the display about the original native people that lived there, the Timucua:
They had everything from the above Native American trinkets to Civil War relics to natural history specimens. You can catch a glimpse of the giant alligator skull on the right in the background in the above photo.
I loved my day in Micanopy. It’s a great way to spend some lazy hours poking through piles, stacks and racks of interesting things we humans have generated. You can find musical instruments, clothing, knick-knacks, tools, food and scenery. It maybe isn’t a good idea for kids, but it depends on the kids, I guess. Plus I hear that the festivals are wonderful, with local artists, artisans and musicians supplying visitors with endless entertainment.
There is a bed and breakfast there as well, in the (what else?) historic Herlong Mansion. I believe they have the only rooms in Micanopy; otherwise you’ll have to stay in Gainesville or choose a chain by the interstate. Or make it a daytrip from Orlando or Tampa. Or you can do what I did and stay at a nice Airbnb listing nearby.
Most Micanopy shops are open from 10 or 11 to 5pm. I can tell you the people are friendly and helpful. It’s very walkable, with the antique shops and cafes being located in a four- or five-block area. Parking is streetside, though I’m not sure how they handle the crowds during the festival. Best to visit the festival website for that.
Photo for No Apparent Reason: