1. Myakka River State Park
13208 State Road 72
You’ll want to start the day off at Myakka, because it’s best to visit in the early hours during the hot summer months. Park entry fees are $6 per vehicle. Some attractions, such as the canopy tour, are flooded in the summer seasons (it’s the effect of having a state park on a river), but the airboat tours aren’t (with tours at 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.). Tickets cost $12 for adults and $6 for children. The slow-moving powerful boats are perfect for taking photos and spotting alligators from a safe distance. Pavilions provide spaces for a morning picnic.
2. Mary Margaret’s Tea and Biscuit
10 S. Polk Ave., Arcadia
It’s time for high tea at this tea room, which offers a trip back in time to the Victorian era with its cucumber sandwiches and English scones. The pink building, down to its green floral-print wallpaper and elegant decór, is everything one would expect from a town known for its antique stores. It’s great for a reasonably priced light lunch, before hitting every store in the shopping district. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.
3. Oak Street Antique stores
Oak Street, Arcadia
The shops on this street open when the owners unlock their doors. Each antique store has its own personality, and, if there’s something in particular you’re looking for, the owners will be able to point you in the right direction, from collector toys to vintage costume jewelry and from cowboy boots to velvet-upholstered loveseats.
The shops are just as historic as the goods they carry. For instance, a bank from the late 1880s has since been transformed into Antiques on Oak, 33 W. Oak St., which specializes in country chic (and it even kept the old vault doors). And the Opera House transformed into Old Opera House, 106 W. Oak St. There are two antique fairs every month; the next one runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 24.
4. Slim’s Deep South Bar-B-Q
319 S. Brevard Ave., Arcadia
Assuming you’ve shopped up quite the appetite and have possibly done some fiscal damage (and even if you haven’t) — Slim’s is the perfect place to grab some grub. It’s famous for its ribs, which fall right off the bone, but its fish tacos are pretty tasty, too. It’s unpretentious and unassuming with the perfect amount of Southern charm — your sweet tea will be topped off every few minutes.
+ Solomon’s Castle
4585 Solomon Road, Ona
The eccentric home of artist Howard Solomon was built to look like a medieval castle. It also acts as a gallery of his work — the tour guides are hilarious. But, this site is closed for July, August and September. Don’t expect to snap photos during the off months, either; there’s a gate restricting access.
+ Dakin Dairy Farms
30771 Betts Road, Myakka City
This spot is another one to save for winter. On a hayride tour of this farm, you can see milk being bottled, and you’ll get to taste it. There’s even a seven-acre corn maze on-site. Tours take place from October through April, and the maze is open from October through December. Be sure to stop by the market to take some milk home with you.
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