Avoid Crowds And Relax At This Historic Little Town In Florida With An Unusual Lake

Florida is known for sun, sand, and sea but its historic towns are well worth a visit when you're here. One underrated spot is DeFuniak Springs which is located in Walton County, just over an hour's drive from Pensacola. As it is off-the-beaten-track, this is the perfect place to get away from the Florida tourist crowds. Due to its charm, Business Insider called it the "best small town" in the state.

An enjoyable pastime for visitors is to take in the intriguing history of DeFuniak Springs. It was named after the chief engineer of the railroad, Frederick DeFuniak and "Springs" refers to its naturally round pond, which became Lake DeFuniak. Once a gated community in Victorian times, it used to host famous figures from the past, including presidents, astronauts, abolitionists, and Hollywood actors. According to Visit Florida, this cultural hub was referred to as "the education resort of the South." If you're traveling around Florida's beaches then this charming town makes an ideal stopover.

Discover history at DeFuniak Springs

The best way to see this lovely town is on foot, starting at its perfectly circular lake. Take a stroll around Circle Drive where five of the properties are in the National Register of Historic Places. They include the Chautauqua Hall, St. Agatha's Episcopal Church, and its Parish House next door. To enjoy more of the Chautauqua building's architecture, visit the cafe inside for a snack and a hot drink.

Nearby, the Walton-DeFuniak Public Library (Florida's second oldest library), is another attraction that this drive has to offer. A great time to visit is at Christmas time when this center is decorated with 6 million lights for the Christmas Reflections festival to celebrate the holiday season. Round off your day with a visit to the Walton County Heritage Museum, which can be found in the restored railroad depot. Once you've immersed yourself in all of this history then you will need somewhere to stay and recharge for the rest of your trip.

Where to stay at DeFuniak Springs

Even though DeFuniak Springs is only a small town, there are several accommodation options, most of which are gathered around the highway interchange. According to Naples Daily News, Hotel DeFuniak has boutique rooms which ooze "Old World charm." It is a three-star establishment with 4.3 stars on Google Reviews, as guests loved its vintage feel. This lodging is also conveniently located close to the lake.

Another highly-rated offering is the Holiday Inn Express Defuniak Springs, located close to the highway. This hotel has two stars and a 4.4 out of 5 rating on Google. Its facilities include an outdoor pool, a gym, and a breakfast buffet. Just across the highway from the Holiday Inn is the Best Western Crossroads Inn which is a similar offering with four stars on Google, an outdoor pool and a cocktail bar. So next time you're driving around Florida's coastline, make sure to take a stroll in DeFuniak Springs to learn all about the history of this bewitching town.