January 24-27th is the Fulltime Families Winter Family Reunion Rally and it just so happens it will be held back home for us! Unfortunately though, we will not be on the road until the end of March. In the meantime, we thought we’d pass along a few local insider tips on the Spirit of Suwannee, the cute town of Live Oak, and surrounding areas.
Spirit of Suwannee Music Park
The Spirit of Suwannee is more like an RV/Camping resort! My husband used to work their large events on the weekends when we lived back home. My only complaint is that they are very spread out. I understand this is to accommodate large events, but you can get lost in there easily. (I have stayed out there several times, been to countless events, and I still couldn’t tell you where everything is!)
My favorite part is their Craft Village. There used to be a women in there who made candles with river sand! She had a trough that she filled with the sand, would create molds and pour the wax directly into the sand! She was a very down-to-earth lady who spent several minutes explaining the process and demonstrating for the kids. I don’t know if she is still sticking around, but if she is, you will be in for a treat. Otherwise, all of the vendors create/craft their own products and enjoy showing off their stills with the visitors.
Quick Tip: Buy what you need from anywhere else but there! Their prices are a little steep for firewood, ice, and such. There is a Country Store across the street and Wal-Mart about five miles Southwest on US-129.
Live Oak, Florida
My Grandfather moved to Live Oak in the mid-1980’s. A few years later my parents moved us up from South Florida to help take care of him. Back then, Live Oak was smaller than small! It is still a rather small dot on the map, but it has grown tremendously over the years. The Spirit of Suwannee has really helped with that growth.
If you venture away from the park during the day there are some great shops downtown in the historical section. Suzie’s Florist is my favorite place to visit. She always decorates the shop beautifully. I am sure that right now she has the place all dolled up for Valentine’s. Her window displays are always a treat. Strolling through her shop is like visiting a great antique store.. only there aren’t antiques in there, just lots of crafty pretties!
Around the corner from Suzie’s are a handful of other shops, jewelers and crafters. It isn’t a “large” downtown, as attorney’s offices have taken over most of the locations because of the proximity to the Courthouse, but it is still very charming. The Millenium Park is a “town square” type park behind Suzie’s. (aka: a big waste of money since no one ever uses it… do me a favor, walk through it to make the locals happy! ha)
Quick Tip: There is a laundry mat downtown too. It is run by two sweet old ladies that used to even help me fold my laundry! It is a small place but the price was right and there was an attendant. Some of the other ones don’t have attendants and I never felt safe without one. Delayna’s Fluff & Fold Landrymat, 720 Howard St W Live Oak, FL 32064, Telephone: (386) 364-9900
Eat like a local:
If you head into town for Breakfast, skip over the Waffle House by the interstate and head downtown to the Dixie Grill. I remember eating breakfast there with my Grandfather on Saturday mornings. It is Southern all the way… if you’re lookin’ for anything different, you might better make your own meals at the park.
If you are looking for something great for lunch, head over to the Brown Lantern, better get there a few minutes before noon though because it can get a little busy. If you don’t try anything else, get their fried mushrooms… wonderful! Thinking about them makes me want some – yummies! Don’t wait till the weekend or you will miss out – they are only open weekdays!
Craving BBQ? If so, there are couple options. I am a Ken’s girl, but I grew up eatin’ it and when I am cravin’ BBQ back home that is where I go. My favorites are their ribs or BBQ salad (love their BBQ salad). They used to have the best slaw around but as with any restaurant… things change. I understand that Big Daddy’s is the new local favorite. I have never eaten there, like I said I’m a Ken’s girl, but Big Daddy’s is closer to the park and has been explained to me as being better than Ken’s. (I have my routines in life, Ken’s is one of ’em!)
Leaving Live Oak
If you are into old towns and historical buildings, drive over to White Springs when you leave. The Stephen Foster State Park is one of our favorite places in the Suwannee Valley. My family spends the entire day out there visiting their museums and strolling around even when there isn’t anything going on.
If Biking is your thing, you will want to visit the Suwannee Bicycle Association’s website. It has information on the best roads, trails, and more local information.
If you kayak/canoe, you really should do it down in Ft. White at the Ichetucknee River – it is my favorite river! Now is the best time to go while the river is quiet. The wildlife is vibrant, alive, and visible when the river is empty. The crystal clear water will have you constantly looking down at the water plants and creatures below you! It is guaranteed to be an experience you will never forget!
If you stick around for a little while:
The Olustee Festival, February 15-17, 2013, is the greatest time of the year over in Lake City. I looked forward to it every year when I was a child. The craft show at the historic downtown is beautiful and the vendors are always amazing. While you are downtown, head over to Chasteen’s for lunch. They get my vote for the best restaurant in town! Her apple salad is amazing! (also, there are several Ken’s BBQ locations in Lake City too!)
Out at the forest there are reenactments of the Olustee Battle – this is a “must see”, just bring ear plugs because it can get a little loud. You don’t want to miss the reenactment because they really get into character and put on a great show all weekend both on, and off, the field.