Step back in time and explore the area’s charming towns and villages. Plan your trip around one of many festivals or just slow down and stroll through the streets in search of amazing history, seafood and shopping. And who knows, you may even encounter a ghost or two.
1. Monticello is well known for its small-town appeal and significant history as the “heart of natural North Florida.” Established in 1827 and now home to 2,500 residents, it is the county seat. The area around Monticello was once dominated by cotton plantations. The Slave Canal mentioned elsewhere in this guide was dug to transport cotton to the coast. In the 1880s many farmers switched to growing watermelons. The importance of this crop is marked by the annual Watermelon Festival, parade and crowning of the watermelon queen. Graceful historic buildings abound here, many surrounding the Courthouse Square. Chief among these is the 1890s Perkins Building, home of the Monticello Opera House that still hosts musical events. Every fall Monticello offers ghost tours that draw on the town’s rich history. Visitors may enjoy restaurants with locally sourced food, inviting bed-and-breakfasts, a two-mile rail trail and the 27-acre Monticello Ecological Park. Contact the Chamber of Commerce to arrange tours.
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