Inverness: All the Charm of Old Florida
For most, the idea of a small town conjures images of a charming main street adorned with small local businesses and rich with history. These dreamy ideas come to life in Inverness, where a stroll through the historic Courthouse Square takes you back to a time before Florida became the land of amusement parks. This city is a ticket to a gentler time when Southern graces and small-town charm still ruled supreme. Escape to Inverness to drink in a Florida that most have forgotten.
An ideal way to begin your stay is to grab breakfast and a little caffeine at Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters, then walk over to the heart of the city itself at the downtown district. Here The Old Courthouse keeps watch over the charming shops, restaurants and streets like a stately grandfather overlooking his playing grandchildren. The Citrus County Board of Commissioners built the courthouse in 1912 and it so perfectly captured the personality of a small town that it was chosen as a filming location in the 1962 Elvis Presley film Follow That Dream. The building has since been retired as a functioning government center, but you can still visit this historic piece of architecture at The Old Courthouse Heritage Museum, a treasure trove of fascinating Citrus County history. The museum regularly features traveling exhibits and special engagements from around the state, included everything from Civil War history to citrus crate labels.
After browsing the museum, head over to the Valerie Theater to catch a classic movie, or live performance. Downtown Inverness also boasts a wide variety of restaurants and pubs for just about any taste. Enjoy a few beers at The Sidebar Tavern or visit Twysted Vyne if wine is more your speed. Seafood lovers can enjoy a fresh catch at Stumpknockers, reserve a table at Oscar Penn’s for a taste of fine dining, or you can stop into Coach’s Pub for a classic American Burger. Don't forget to check out the beautiful mural located on the West side of the Coach's building for one of the best photo opportunities in town!
On the second day of your visit, get out and explore the scenic natural surroundings nestling historic Inverness. For cyclists, the Withlacoochee State Trail offers an experience of peddling perfection. The Withlacoochee State Trail is a 46-mile section of railroad track that has been paved for use by visitors on bicycles or foot. Because the trail is paved and flat, it is ideal for all levels of experience. There is a trailhead in the heart of the downtown Inverness Depot District, and from there you can travel north past Lake Henderson, farm-fresh produce stands, and beautiful stretches of forest, or you can head south towards the charming tiny town of Floral City. Whichever direction you choose, you’re in for the treat of Central Florida bike riding at its natural best. Bicycle rental shops are located near the Inverness trailhead for anyone in need of some wheels. Be sure to stop off along the way at Nine State Brewery, a nearby brew-pub, and order a Withlacoochee Trail Ale to cool you off before you head back out. This spot is also a great place for dinner, as they serve a small menu of authentic Korean dishes.
The Withlacoochee State Forest, through which portions of the State Trail pass, presents a wide variety of outdoor activities in its own right and was named one of the “10 Coolest Places You’ve Never Been in North America” by the World Wildlife Fund. This is the third-largest State Forest in Florida, and the large Citrus Tract of the forest abuts Inverness to the west and south. The Withlacoochee State Forest offers guests trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, as well as fishing and even seasonal hunting. The Citrus Tract is also a part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, ensuring amble opportunities for spotting uncommon birds.
On the third day of your Inverness excursion, consider hitting the water for a guided fishing trip and/or an exhilarating airboat tour. Inverness’s 13-mile Tsala Apopka chain of lakes offers some of the best bass fishing found anywhere and the area has a variety of guide services, as well as boating tours that give you the chance to take in some remarkable scenery, learn about the teeming ecosystems of the Nature Coast, and have a lot of fun along the way. Book an airboat tour with a local captain to get a glimpse of Florida’s wild side. On the tour you will glide across marshlands, keeping an eye out for some of the exotic local wildlife.
Seated along the chain of lakes is the best kept local secret, The Cove Pub and Grub. Tucked back between the cypress trees, this restaurant serves up some of the best chicken wings you will ever eat!
The events calendar in Inverness is also overflowing with family activities that you will want to save time for, including the now-famous Cooter Festival each October, a quirky festival which was featured on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
FREE PLANNING ASSISTANCE
Be sure to stop by and say hello at the Visitors Center on US 19 in Crystal River. For more information on any of these fantastic activities, contact the Citrus County Visitors & Convention Bureau at 352-794-5506 for free assistance. We look forward to helping you discover all that The Water Lover’s Florida has to offer! If this itinerary sounds like the perfect vacation plan for you, be sure to download our free printable PDF.
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