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Those looking for cool things to do in Arcadia, Florida are in luck. This quaint city on the outskirts of central Florida is small, yet offers some nice options. In this post, we will explore five things that make Arcadia a nice stop for your Florida itinerary:
- Peace River boating and kayaking
- Morgan Park
- Solomon’s Castle
- Lions, Tigers, & Bears animal rescue
- Brownsville Park
Why You Should Visit Arcadia
Arcadia is roughly an hour and a half southeast of Tampa, and it is full of history. In fact, the historic district of Arcadia is on the National Register of Historic Places. Another fun fact: parts of the city are situated on the highest elevations in all of Florida.
Visitors to Arcadia can enjoy hot, humid summers and mild winters. The summer months can see quite a few showers, but the winter is a much drier time to visit, and the temps are in the mid to high 70s during the winter season. Those that enjoy outdoor pursuits like camping and canoeing will find plenty to suit them in Arcadia.
There is a municipal airport in Arcadia, but most visitors will likely find themselves reaching the city via car. You can fly into Tampa and rent a car from there, or you can add Arcadia into your Florida state road trip!
5 Cool Things to do in Arcadia, Florida
This list will explore some of the outdoor places as well as a real-life castle. Your travels to central Florida will be a whole lot “cooler” if you add one or two of these destinations to your list.
Peace River Boating and Kayaking
The Peace River is 106 miles long starting in Polk County and flowing alongside Arcadia on its way to Charlotte Harbor. It is on the list of significant waterways in the state of Florida, and it is a great place to enjoy a little kayaking, canoeing, or river boating. On your visit to Arcadia, you can book a paddle with Canoe Outpost.
They have both kayaks and canoes for rent, so you can spend your day on the river enjoying the scenery, fishing, or simply enjoying the float. This outfitter has been around for more than 50 years, and they aim to provide a professional paddling experience. In addition to renting out the water vessels, Canoe Outpost can also provide you with all the gear you need for a bit of camping.
You can book half-day, day, or weekend trips!
Admission: Rates vary by equipment type
Hours: Reservations are required to book a time slot, available slots vary by season
Location: 2816 NW County Road 661, Arcadia, FL 34266
You can find more information at the Canoe Outpost website.
Morgan Park is 240 acres of beautiful Florida wilderness. This preserved section of land edges along the riverbank where you can find huge Cypress trees, Saw Palmettos, and plenty more lush greenery. There are hiking trails and paths winding through the trees with the only the occasional park bench or antique bridge to remind you that you have not fallen out of time.
Those that venture into the park in the early morning or early evening hours can easily catch a glimpse of some of the resident deer. There is also the possibility of seeing hawks overhead in the trees and alligators sunning along the riverbank. Locals enjoy using the park as a picnic spot, but it is a bit of an undiscovered gem and is rarely crowded.
There is a picnic area with restrooms, and the larger covered pavilions are available for rent.
Admission: $118 pavilion rental fee, but no park admission fees
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Location: 1100 W Hickory Street Arcadia, FL 34266
Learn more about Morgan Park on the DeSoto County website.
You wouldn’t expect to find a castle tucked away in the Florida trees, but that is exactly what you will see when you make the visit to Solomon’s Castle. This property is the home, workshop, and gallery of the internationally known artist Howard Solomon.
Solomon turned 90 acres of swampland into a majestic and functional piece of art. You can wander the halls and enjoy the unique sculptures and the dozens of stained glass windows. Then have a meal at the “Boat in the Moat” restaurant. The first floor contains the galleries of his artwork which is made from recycled materials. The exterior walls are covered in aluminum plating recycled from a newspaper printer which keeps the castle glinting and shining in the Florida sun.
Admission: Free to visit the grounds, gallery tour tickets range from $4 to $18 depending on age
Hours: Tues-Sun 10 am-4 pm, closed for the months of August and September
Location: 4533 Solomon Road Ona, FL 33865
Find more details about Solomon’s Castle on the castle’s website.
Lions, Tigers & Bears Animal Rescue
Animals lovers will enjoy a visit to Lions, Tigers & Bears animal rescue to see the big cats and other exotic animals. The facility rescues abused, neglected, and abandoned animals from all over the United States and gives them a peaceful and abuse-free home.
Wandering the rescue grounds, you will find lions, tigers, bears, and more. Before planning your visit, you should check the rescue’s Facebook page for their upcoming events like Hot Dog Days and Open Houses. They also have safari dinners on occasion!
Admission: Rates vary by group size
Hours: Thurs-Sun by appointment only, closed July and August
Location: 9801 N.E. Bahia Ct. Arcadia, FL 34265
Learn more about Lions, Tigers & Bears here.
Brownsville Park offers 75 acres of natural Florida settings to explore. There is a boat ramp to make it easy to launch your canoes, kayaks, and smaller boats. There is also a nature loop that is easy enough to enjoy with little ones. There is also a more extensive set of trails on the northern end of the park for those seeking more of a challenge.
Those that want to do a little fishing will find spots along the riverbank to drop in a line, and there is a picnic area for when it is time to have a little snack. The campsites are nestled under the old-growth oak trees, and there are some sites with electrical hook-up. The RV station includes a dump site and shower facilities.
Reservations are required for RVs and for booking campsites.
Admission: $2 per person or campsite rental
Hours: Sunrise to sunset (unless camping)
Location: 1885 NE Brownville Street Arcadia, FL 34266
More details are available on the park website.
Where to Stay in Arcadia
Now that you know the cool things to do in Arcadia, you need a place to stay during your visit. There are several quality accommodations to be found in the city. One of the most recommended is the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites which is located on Southeast Highway 70. The property has a sparkling outdoor pool and offers a hot breakfast buffet each morning. They have rooms and suites suitable for up to four people making it a good spot for families.
Those wanting a more bed and breakfast vibe will enjoy a stay at Oak Park Inn. Each of the rooms is individually decorated, and some even have clawfoot tubs. The building housing the inn is over 100 years old, and it is decorated with period antiques. Guests can expect the royal treatment when booking a stay at Oak Park Inn complete with a welcome reception and luggage service to your room.
All in all, Arcadia, Florida has a lot to offer. It is a good combination of history, art, and outdoor adventures. It may be too small to be a destination in its own right, but we think it could be a nice addition to a Florida road trip.