There is plenty to do in Walton County, whether your preferred activity is enjoying our history, attending cultural events, shopping or enjoying the beaches. For starters, consider the following highlights of our area:
The State’s highest elevation, 345 feet above sea level, is in Lakewood. Located in the northwestern part of Walton County, the 900-foot by 400-foot plateau is now the site of a state park.
HISTORIC DEFUNIAK SPRINGS
Enjoy a leisurely self-guided tour of the magnificent Victorian homes on Circle Drive around Lake DeFuniak with the help of the Walton County Heritage Association’s walking tour brochure, available at the Chamber office. As the homes are privately owned, they are not open to the public for interior viewing. You’ll also want to spend time shopping in the downtown district taking in the atmosphere of days gone by.
Founded as a companion “winter assembly” of the New York Chautauqua, the Florida Chautauqua provided an opportunity for education through classes and workshops, craft activities, lectures by prominent speakers of the day and a chance for solitude amid life’s busy days. Chautauqua Assembly, held the last weekend in February, is a return to these traditions and the soul of the original Florida Chautauqua. For more information call (850) 892-4300.
Wine lovers won’t want to miss a free tour of the state’s largest winery. Located at the intersections of 1-10 and Hwy. 331 in DeFuniak Springs, the Chautauqua Winery invites visitors to enjoy complimentary tours and wine tasting. Call (850) 892-5887 for more information.
The lake yard around Lake DeFuniak, one of only two naturally round lakes in the world, comes aglow from Thanksgiving to New Years. Following Hometown Christmas, a downtown arts and crafts street festival, Holiday Reflections’ near three million lights help open the Christmas Season. Take a riding tour around Lake DeFuniak and enjoy the beauty of the lights and charm of the decorated seasonal characters. Tours continue each evening from 5 pm to 9 pm. To view previous tours on-line, visit www.christmasrefelections.com.
THE FLORIDA CHAUTAUQUA
The Florida Chautauqua is a non-profit organization dedicated to integrating the arts into the lives of Walton County citizens and visitors based on the ideals of its predecessor, which held programs in DeFuniak Springs from 1885-1920. A year-round program of concerts, theater productions, children’s musical workshops and artists-in-the-schools are examples of how The Florida Chautauqua carries out its mission. Many of the programs are held at the restored Florida Chautauqua Theatre in historic DeFuniak Springs. The annual Chautauqua Celebration Day is held in April around Lake DeFuniak and will focus on Southern gospel music in 2005. For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities call 850-892-9494 or visit the website at www.floridachautauqua.com.
GRIT & GRACE
Grit & Grace, the Official Folk-Life Production of Walton County Florida, is a community performance, portraying the history of Walton County in drama, song and dance. “It’s more than a play, it’s an experience!” Grit & Grace 2005 performances will be November 5th-12th weekends only at Freeport High School. Tickets available at the door. For further information: (850) 835-2032.
WALTON COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
Florida’s oldest working library in its original building can be found at 3 Circle Drive in DeFuniak Springs. The historical building houses many rare books which date to the library’s beginning in 1887 as well as a medieval armor collection.
Seaside is the renowned Florida beach town where picket-fenced cottages line brick streets leading toward sugar-white beaches and clear Gulf waters. Stay in a quaint cottage or a grand home large enough for several families. Enjoy one of three swimming pools, six tennis courts, and a world-class croquet lawn. Bicycle around town, go for a sail, or kayak out on the Gulf. Amble through enclaves of unique shops, galleries and restaurants. Relax on a porch swing. Read on the beach. Replenish and restore. Call or visit online for information about rental, real estate and retail opportunities. 1-888-SEASIDE. www.seasidefl.com.
Grayton Beach State Recreation Area boasts beaches that are constantly ranked among the most beautiful in the world. Amenities include a boat ramp into Western Lake, campfire interpretive programs and nature trails. (850) 231-4210 Topsail Hill State Park Preserve encompasses more than 1,600 acres of some of the most pristine lands along Florida’s Emerald Coast. The preserve has over three-and a half miles of beaches with magnificent dunes standing over 25 feet tall. Several freshwater coastal dune lakes are included in the preserve. (850) 267-1868
What was once the home of the William Henry Wesley family is now a place of tranquility and contemplation at Eden State Gardens. Moss-draped live oaks, which are more than 100 years old, dominate the lawns. Camellias and azaleas offer colorful accents to the scene from October through May; enjoy the peak bloom around mid-March. The grounds, gardens and picnic area are open daily from 8 am till sundown. The Wesley mansion, once the largest residential structure in the area, is open for guided tours from 9 am-4 pm Thursday through Monday. (850) 231-4214.
The fountain of youth may not have been found at the Ponce de Leon State Recreation Area but if you take a dip in the cool and constant 68-degree spring of crystal-water from the main spring, it may give you a more youthful glow. Located in Holmes and Walton County, this 443-acre park is packed with activities and amenities. (850) 836-4281 Deer Lake State Park is a 172-acre park located off Scenic Highway 30-A near Deer Lake. Also when enjoying the picturesque nature of Scenic Highway 30-A, take a ride down the designated bike path. Nineteen miles of the path are off the road located between Dune Alien and Inlet Beach. Refer to the Directory Listing for bike rentals and other business on scenic Highway 30-A.
Point Washington State Forest and Eastern Lake Bike/Hike Trail is available to the public for various types of natural- resource based outdoor recreation. The forest is widely used for hunting, off-road bicycling and hiking. Point Washington State Forest is part of the Point Washington Wildlife Management Area. Point Washington State Forest is located in the southern portion of Walton County along U.S. Highway 98. (850) 747-5639