9 Small Florida Towns With Great Festivals

Deep in the Ocala National Forest during the Florida Wildlife Festival, biologists show visitors what bear tracks look like.
Florida Fish and Wildlife/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0 

While some of the small Florida towns host some impressive festivals, they also have other intrigues that make them appealing getaway destinations any time of the year.

Then there are these small towns, which open their quiet communities at least once a year for some pretty amazing (and unusual) festivals, but you won't find much for visitors any other time.

Apalachicola

Florida's oldest maritime exhibit, the Florida Seafood Festival, draws thousands to this small river port city at the mouth of the Apalachicola River. Delicious seafood and seafood-related events and displays are offered in Battery Park in downtown Apalachicola. This two-day family affair, which takes place in November, features events for just about everyone: the Red Fish Run 5K, oyster-eating and shucking contests, a parade, and coronation of King Retsyo and Miss Seafood. Plus, there's plenty of delicious seafood to sample, numerous arts and crafts to complete your holiday shopping, and musical entertainment to enjoy.

Brooksville

Held in charming and historic downtown Brooksville the annual Florida Blueberry Festival draws thousands of festival-goers who enjoy live entertainment (from jugglers to stilt-walkers), crafters, and plenty of blueberries. Admission is inexpensive; save your money for the vendor booths. Adults can enjoy blueberry wine or beer and kiddos can enjoy the free ice-skating rink. Yes, in April and in Florida.

Fellsmere

Fellsmere isn't the busiest tourist town. It is located about 25 miles south of Melbourne, off of I-95. In 1990, members of the community of Fellsmere were looking for funding for children's recreational programs. They came up with the idea of selling frog leg dinners at a festival in January. Since then, the free, annual four-day Frog Leg Festival has turned into a major event, attended by thousands and featuring a midway, crafters, and live entertainment. If frog legs don't exactly make your stomach hop with anticipation, then try the gator tails or some of the other more traditional culinary treats.

McIntosh

Visitors to the McIntosh 1890s Festival is set among Victorian and Florida cracker homes and century-old live oak trees. Residents of the small town, located between Gainesville and Ocala, welcome visitors to the popular arts and crafts festival held in October and encourage them to dress in 1890s clothing. Bring a blanket and a picnic lunch to enjoy the entertainment while the children romp in the park, or sample the delicacies of the many concession stands while you stroll the booths shopping for those on your holiday list.

Ruskin

Rural Ruskin rests on the Little Manatee River and is the southernmost community of Southshore that stretches along Highway 41 and the shores of southeastern Tampa Bay. While residents enjoy fishing and boating throughout the year, every November they open their quiet town to one of Hillsborough County's largest community events, the Ruskin Seafood Festival. The seafood festival draws more than 15,000 people to eat seafood, listen to live music, and hang out by the water. There are exhibits, kids games, arts and crafts, and more.

San Antonio

Floridians in this small town, located just a few miles northeast of Tampa, have celebrated the rattlesnake for 50 years. The Rattlesnake Festival and Run, which occurs in October, features the obvious snake shows along with gopher races, entertainment, food, and arts and crafts. Free parking, admission, and entertainment make this a fun find for the family on a budget. (Expect a small admission charge to the "Snakes Alive" snake show.)

Umatilla

Black bears in Florida? You bet. Every year in October, Umatilla hosts a festival to educate people about these furry mammals that roam Florida's forests. The family-friendly Florida Wildlife Festival includes plenty of fun activities, hands-on activities, a book corner, presentations by environmentalists, and field trips.

Williston

Williston, a tiny farm community just outside Ocala, invites families in October to enjoy a day of peanut fun at the Central Florida Fall Harvest and Peanut Festival. It's a day of fun, food, games, and entertainment featuring horse-drawn trolley rides, crafts, and of course a large assortment of peanuts and peanut products.

Yulee

Much of Florida was built on the back of the early railroads with some towns owing their very existence to them. Yulee was just one small stop on the route of the historic cross-state Florida Railroad and today is just one small town of several to celebrate Yulee Railroad Day in April that honors the great David Levy Yulee, Florida's first U.S. Senator. The June festival features many events over a week of festivities stretching from Fernandina Beach on Florida's east coast to Cedar Key on Florida's west coast.

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