Sights and Sounds of Downtown Lake City Florida

<p>Downtown Lake City is known for its treasure trove of history, natural wonders and even its possible hauntings, making it an exciting place to visit where there&rsquo;s always something happening. Whether you&rsquo;re timing your visit to coincide with game days and local celebrations or whether you&rsquo;re simply dropping by on your way elsewhere, there&rsquo;s a little something in Downtown Lake City for everyone.</p> <p>I traveled there with my husband David on the weekend of a big game with our favorite team. We eagerly loaded up the car with all the supplies we needed for a weekend full of revelry and fun with friends in this stunning little corner of Florida. We couldn&rsquo;t wait to start our vacation, so we set off early in pursuit of a little adventure, and perhaps a new story to tell.&nbsp;</p> <p>Downtown Lake City mostly centers around Marion Street, and while you&rsquo;re there I&rsquo;d recommend stopping off for a coffee and cake at the Marion Street Bistro and Brew House.&nbsp;</p> <p>In fact, Lake City is packed full of <a href="https://springsrus.com/eat" target="_blank">local restaurants</a>, unique attractions and boutique stores.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
169 N Marion Ave ,
Lake City, FL, 32025,
<h2>Breakfast at Alligator Lake</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;re spending any amount of time in Downtown Lake City, you ought to check out the finest breakfast that Florida has to offer at Ed-N-Barb&rsquo;s Cream Doughnuts. As soon as we walked through the doors of this little blue building, we were greeted by the warm aroma of fresh-baked doughy goodness. It was the perfect excuse to stock up on cinnamon fritters and their signature cream-filled doughnuts before hitting the road again for a picnic at Alligator Lake.</p> <p>They call it Lake City for a reason. When we visited, the lake was abuzz with the laughs of energetic children racing towards the shaded jungle gym. David and I smiled at each other over our doughnuts and watched the kids climb, jump, swing and tumble their way around the playground.</p> <p>After quickly polishing off our breakfast, we made our way towards the park&rsquo;s many picturesque hiking and biking trails and decided to stroll along the Great Birding Trail, which is famous throughout Florida. The grassy path was easy to follow as it took us deep into the wetlands along the lake&rsquo;s shoreline.&nbsp;</p> <p>As keen wildlife buffs and birdwatchers, my husband and I were happy to spot more than a few feathery fowl, from hawks and herons to ibises, as well as plenty of other native wildlife &ndash; including turtles! By the time we&rsquo;d finished, we&rsquo;d worked up an appetite, so after taking a quick selfie in front of a tribute to Chief Halpatter, one of the original settlers of Lake City, we decided to head back downtown.</p> <h2>Treasures in Downtown Lake City</h2> <p>The charm of this historic Florida downtown is apparent as soon as you see it. After parking beneath a massive 3D mural which illustrated the magic of the local culture, we started to take in our surroundings. The historic Blanche dominates Lake City square. Originally built in 1902 by Frank Pierce Milburn, the hotel underwent expansion over the years and even closure for a time being. Due to the proximity to the highway and railways. The Blanche hosted a few celebrities like Al Capone and Johnny Cash.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Newly renovated in 2020, the hotel now features Airbnb&rsquo;s, apartments for rent, retail and work space. The Blanche offers that old world feel with modern touches right in the heart of Lake City.&nbsp;</p> <p>This is where the ghosts come in, and I took great joy in telling my husband the spooky tale of the hotel&rsquo;s haunted second and third floors. The hotel houses the oldest working elevator in the state of Florida, and I couldn't even begin to imagine what stories the walls would tell if they could talk.</p> <p>So we followed our stomachs to the Marion Street Deli and Pub, an independent gastro where we stuffed ourselves silly with a late lunch. It has exposed brick walls and stained glass windows that gave it a warm ambience. We felt immediately at ease in the casual setting, although we found it tough to choose from the comprehensive menu which features everything from home-made hummus to crispy truffle fries, flatbreads, burgers and more.</p> <p>We were already famished from our adventures in Lake City, so we ordered ourselves a full spread complete with fried pickles, smoked flatbread and the Blanche burger. David is a whiskey and bourbon fan, and so he also picked out a range of intriguing whiskeys to go with our food.</p> <p>The grub itself was fantastic. The pickles were just what you&rsquo;d expect from the south &ndash; a salty brine with the perfect balance of crispy batter. The fire and smoke flatbread was an indulgent treat and a great accompaniment to the house-smoked brisket, especially when topped with gooey melted cheddar and caramelized onions. As for the Blanche Burger &ndash; well, it&rsquo;s half a pound of black Angus beef. What more do you need?</p> <p>After that, we still had some time to wander around Lake City before it was time to meet up with our friends. As we wandered through the boutiques, I remembered that my best friend&rsquo;s birthday was just around the corner, so we stopped in at The Blue Goose Studio for a gift that we could take back home with us from Florida.</p> <p>The studio is one of my favorite places in Lake City, with so many fun finds lining its walls, it&rsquo;s nearly impossible to narrow it down to just one. I was so smitten by the colorful selection of hand-painted &ldquo;shabby chic&rdquo; goods and d&eacute;cor that I had to resist picking something up for myself while I was at it. But eventually, I settled on a charming piece of local art depicting Lake City, as well as a bar of handmade soap that looked and smelled delicious.</p> <p>Just as we were leaving the studio, we spotted a stunning-looking Victorian house halfway down the street. Curious, we wandered up to it and found out that it was the Lake City Historical Museum, the perfect place to visit to learn more about the area that we found ourselves in.</p> <p>After a recent renovation, the 1870s-era building is able to better preserve and display its vintage structure, along with a variety of different themed rooms that have been recreated to match how the building would have looked in a different time period.</p> <p>In particular, you&rsquo;ll want to visit the Formal Parlor, which is furnished just as it was in the late 1800s, although my personal favorite was the Blue-Grey room, which housed a array of artifacts from Lake City dating back to the American Civil War, including diaries, firearms and swords.</p> <p>All in all, Lake City surprised us with its Old Florida landscape and small-town charm. David and I felt at home throughout the entirety of our stay, surrounded by friendly smiling faces and welcoming hosts. We particularly enjoyed diving into the history and law of this culturally rich and criminally underrated corner of Florida.</p> <p>Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and so too did our Florida vacation. We wish we&rsquo;d had more time to explore before we headed out to meet our friends, but we&rsquo;ll be back soon enough to experience a little more of the city. We hope that you enjoy your visit just as much as we did!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>