Brooksville is the charming county seat of Hernando County, FL, known for its 19th-century railroading industry and beautiful historic architecture. The region serves as a nature lover's paradise, offering extensive outdoor recreation opportunities at several units of the Withlacoochee State Forest. Public wildlife preserves abound, along with pick-your-own family farms and orchards preserving the area's rich citrus harvesting traditions. Cultural attractions include the Hernando Historical Museum and the Chinsegut Hill Museum, both of which preserve historic homes of significant early area pioneers.
1.Withlacoochee State Forest
Withlacoochee State Forest spans more than 157,000 acres throughout the western central portion of Florida, located near the cities of Brooksville, Inverness, Lecanto, and Dade City. The forest, which has been named as one of the World Wildlife Fund's 10 Coolest Places You've Never Been in North America, was originally acquired by the United States government between 1936 and 1939 and managed by the United States Forest Service until its transfer to the supervision of the Florida Board of Forestry in 1958. Today, forest visitors can enjoy an extensive network of hiking, cycling, and horseback riding trails, along with river trails for caneoists, kayakers, and paddlers. Trails include the Florida Trail, which showcases native forest species such as slash and longleaf pines, bald and pond cypresses, oaks, and maples. The forest also preserves remains of several Florida pioneer-era ghost towns, including Mannfield, Oak Grove, Croom, Stage Pond, and Clay Sink.
Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-797-4140
2.The Hernando Historical Museum
© The Hernando Historical Museum
The Hernando Historical Museum is an historic and cultural museum located within the preserved May-Stringer House, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. The museum, which is one of three regional historic facilities overseen by the Hernando County Historical Museums nonprofit organization, preserves the intact 1855 four-story home constructed by John May, which was later expanded by Dr. Sheldon Stringer. In 1981, the home was sold to the Historical Museums organization by owners Earl and Helen Hensley. Today, the home displays more than 11,000 historical artifacts, including artifacts from the American Civil and Vietnam Wars displayed within its war room and medical equipment connected to Stringer's medical practice, which operated out of the house for several decades. A 1900s communication room is also showcased, along with a room recreating the environment of a turn-of-the-century one-room schoolhouse. Visitors can tour the museum Tuesdays through Saturdays as part of 45-minute guided tours or take special seasonal ghost tours, offered on select Friday and Saturday evenings with advance registration.
601 Museum Ct, Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-799-0129
© Sweetfields Farm
Sweetfields Farm is a family-owned farm in Masaryktown, operated by Lisa and Ted Kessel since 2008. The farm focuses on the production of organic produce throughout the year, striving to create a welcoming, family-friendly educational farm atmosphere for visitors of all ages. It is open to the public throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons, offering U-Pick produce picking opportunities allowing visitors to peruse the farm's plantings and pick their own seasonal fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs, ranging from peppers and zucchini to watermelon, sunflowers, and fresh basil. During the spring months, a unique labyrinth sunflower maze is operated, while during the autumn months, guests can try their hand at completing a traditional five-acre corn maze. Other activities include hay rides, a farm animal petting zoo, a treehouse play area, and a spiderweb rope maze.
17250 Benes Roush Rd, Masaryktown, FL 34604, Phone: 352-279-0977
4.Sparacia Witherell Family Winery and Vineyard
© Sparacia Witherell Family Winery and Vineyard
Sparacia Witherell Family Winery and Vineyard is one of Florida's highest-elevation wineries, located at a height of more than 275 feet above sea level. The family-operated vineyard is overseen by Brooklyn natives and is known for its biodynamic farming practices, which emphasize sustainable agriculture and minimal intervention in the growing process. Native muscadine and hybrid grapes are used to produce delightful sweet wines with floral and fruit notes, including the winery's Sicilian Punch blend and honey-infused Honeymoon. Fruit wines are also produced, highlighting blueberry and black currant flavors. The winery's tasting room is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays beginning at noon, with extended hours on Friday and Saturday evenings. Special events include live music performances and Sunday afternoon barbecues.
21509 Snow Hill Road, Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-650-8466
5.The 1885 Russell Street Train Depot
© The 1885 Russell Street Train Depot
The 1885 Russell Street Train Depot preserves Florida's rich railroading history, housed within Brooksville's historic train depot since 1991. The nonprofit museum, which is overseen by the Hernando Historical Museum Association, showcases the history of companies such as the Florida Southern Railroad and the Atlantic Coast Line, which operated throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Museum visitors can explore the depot's freight room, which houses artifacts related to the state's early railroading and technology industries, including historic telegraph machines, freight scales, and 19th-century tools. A utility train car from the 1880s may be toured, along with a replica cracker house and cobbler's shop. Two model train exhibits are offered for young visitors, along with a display area for family photos within a restored 1925 fire engine.
#70 Russell Street, Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-799-4766
6.Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area
Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area spans 850 acres just north of the city of Brooksville, home to a plethora of native wildlife species year-round. The WEA, which is open to the public Fridays and Saturdays throughout the morning and afternoon hours, is overseen by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and protects species such as bobcats, white-tailed deer, gopher tortoises, turkeys, and sandhill cranes. Visitors can explore the WEA's 408-acre Conservation Center Tract, which is home to nature trails and the spacious May's Prairie area. Wildlife educational programs are offered throughout the year, including nature hikes and outdoor skills programming. Schools groups can book tours and programs by appointment throughout the year with advance reservations.
23212 Lake Lindsey Rd, Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-754-6722
7.Chinsegut Hill Museum
© Chinsegut Hill Museum
Chinsegut Hill Museum, also referred to as the Chinsegut Hill Manor House, is an historic living history museum site located just north of Brooksville atop nearby Chinsegut Hill. The estate, which is also referred to as Mount Airy and The Hill, was originally developed in the 1840s on 160 acres by Colonel Byrd Pearson and constructed in its present manor house form in 1854 by Colonel Russel Snow. Several owners throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries made substantial expansions to the estate prior to its sale to the University of Florida in the mid-2oth century as a branch library. In 2008, the home was transferred to the care of the Friends of Chinsegut Hill association for extensive renovation and conversion to its present museum state. Guided tours of the home are offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays Thursdays, and Saturdays, showcasing its rich history, including its involvement in the 1959 Red Scare and its lineage of hosting famed international luminaries such as Thomas Edison.
22495 Chinsegut Hill Rd, Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-799-5400
© JG Ranch
JG Ranch has been family-owned and operated by the Casey family since its purchase in 2001 by George and Joan Casey, an extension of their family dairy farm in nearby Largo. Today, the farm is operated by the next generation of the Casey family and is home to a large herd of Angus cattle, along with nine acres of you-pick orchard space containing tens of thousands of strawberry, blueberry, and thornless blackberry plantings. Public picking times are offered in season throughout the year between November and June, with buckets and bags provided for picking and transport. Day-use picnic areas are offered for guests throughout the orchard area. Inside the facility's farmstand, guests can purchase locally-sourced produce, honey, and free-range eggs by the dozen.
17200 Wiscon Rd, Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-799-0556
9.McKethan Lake Recreation Area
McKethan Lake Recreation Area is part of Florida's Withlacoochee State Forest public recreation section, located along the banks of the 57-acre lake of the same name. The recreation area, which is located within the forest's Headquarters Tract just north of Brooksville, offers three picnic pavilions and a number of day-use picnic sites, perfect for relaxing with lunch in the beautiful wilderness scenery. A paved single-lane nature trail circles the lake, with vehicular access offered to reach picnic sites. A two-mile nature trail also provides opportunities to view native wildlife such as hawks, owls, and white-tailed deer. Anglers can enjoy excellent fishing opportunities along the lakeshore, while families with young ones can play at the area's children's playground.
15019 N Broad St, Brooksville, FL 34601
, Michigan beaches
© Boyett's Grove
Boyett's Grove is a delightful citrus grove and all-ages attraction located in Hernando County near Brooksville, easily accessible from Interstate 75. The family-favorite complex was originally opened as a fresh citrus stand in the 1960s and has evolved into a massive entertainment center owned and operated by married duo Kathy and Jim Oleson. Guests can purchase fresh oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, and kumquats between November and May or watch as fresh fruit is waxed, polished, and sorted according to historical picking methods. Children's attractions include a wildlife feeding park and aviary, a Gulf species aquarium, a themed dinosaur cave, a gold mine panning attraction, and a challenging family miniature golf course. An old-fashioned Floridiana gift shop sells unique souvenirs, while a homestyle ice cream parlor serves hand-dipped cones and cane-sweetened sodas. Other attractions include an art gallery showcasing the unique works of family business partner James Oleson Jr.
4355 Spring Lake Highway, Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-796-2289
© Frazier Farms
Frazier Farms has been a family tradition in the Brooksville region since 1975, open to the public seasonally Mondays through Saturdays during the spring and fall months. The farm specializes in regionally-famous sweet corn crops, which are harvested each year in May and October. A wide variety of fresh produce and pantry goods are also sold, with most items cultivated by Hernando County farmers and producers. Fresh melons are available during the spring months, including watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe. During the autumn months, carving and pie pumpkins are sold, along with corn stalks, gourds, hay bales, and other harvest decorations. Children's activities are offered throughout the year, including an annual 4H-sponsored fall festival.
20175 Manecke Road, Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-796-0823
12.Uptown Art Gallery
Uptown Art Gallery is Brooksville's premiere art gallery, housed within the town's City Hall building and open to the public for free admission Mondays through Fridays. The gallery, which was established in 1998 in conjunction with the Hernando Fine Arts Council, is best known as the home of the 22-block Hernando Heritage Quilt, which showcases panels depicting important events and themes in the county's history. Rotating art exhibitions are showcased throughout the year, highlighting the works of regional artists and groups working in a wide variety of art and crafting mediums. Many art pieces are for sale by artists. Special event receptions are held throughout the year, which are also free and open to the public.
201 Howell Avenue, Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-540-3811
13.Mutual Mine Recreation Area
Mutual Mine Recreation Area is a public recreation area within the Withlacoochee State Forest's 50,000-acre Citrus Tract area, located near the city of Inverness within the Citrus Wildlife Management Area. The recreation area serves as a popular hunting and outdoor activity area throughout the year, anchored around a picturesque former mining pit lake which offers excellent swimming and fishing conditions. Two meandering loop nature trails are offered throughout the area, with primitive backpacking and camping areas accessible from the Citrus D Loop trail. 13 campsites are arranged around the area's lakefront, with public restroom facilities available for campers. A group campsite at the area can accommodate up to 50 youth campers with advance reservations.
4771 Trail 16, Inverness, FL 34452, Phone: 352-797-4140
14.Sertoma Youth Ranch
© Sertoma Youth Ranch
Sertoma Youth Ranch is a nonprofit youth camping organization set on 80 acres in Brooksville, offering opportunities for youth groups around the state of Florida to experience the great outdoors free of charge. The ranch, which was established in 1974, works with youth groups throughout the state to provide free group camping experiences, including groups and schools for children with disabilities. Tourists can also camp at the site for a fee, with spaces for primitive tents and camper hookups. A dump station and propane refilling tank are provided, along with areas for campfires. Public special events throughout the year include an annual Thanksgiving Bluegrass Music Festival, which serves as the campsite's main annual fundraiser.
85 Myers Rd, Brooksville, FL 34602, Phone: 352-754-3082
15.World Woods Golf Club
World Woods Golf Club is Florida's number-one golfing facility, originally opened to the public in 1993 by the World Woods Corporation. The complex, which is named for its two world-class championship golf courses, was developed by acclaimed landscape designer Tom Fazio and spans 2,1000 acres throughout Brooksville, showcasing gorgeous natural landscapes as a backdrop for some of the state's best holes. The facility's Pine Barrens Course, which has been ranked as one of America's best modern courses by Golf Week, showcases a visually stunning layout with large manicured fairways meant to evoke the setting of New Jersey's famed Pine Valley course. Other attractions include a practice park with a putting course, iron range, and practice range. A third championship golf course is in development, along with onsite accommodations and corporate meeting space.
17590 Ponce De Leon Boulevard, Brooksville, FL 34614, Phone: 352-796-5500
16.Coney Island Drive-In
© Coney Island Drive-In
Coney Island Drive-In is a delicious drive-in diner offering two locations throughout the greater Tampa region, including an historic location in Brooksville that was originally opened in 1960 by married duo Darrell and Gertrude Todd. The restaurant, which is noted for celebrity diners such as Elvis Presley and appearances in films such as 1972's Death Dream, serves up delicious footlong hot dogs seven days a week at lunch and dinner. Hot dogs are available in a variety of preparations, ranging from classic chili and onions to creative variants topped with sauerkraut, coleslaw, Thousand Island dressing, and the restaurant's signature Coney meat sauce. World-famous chicken wings, fried corn on the cob, and Cyclone taters are also served up, along with shareable American-style appetizers, thick spoon shakes, and fountain sodas.
1112 East Jefferson St, Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-796-9141
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17.Florida Cracker Kitchen
© Florida Cracker Kitchen
Florida Cracker Kitchen offers three locations throughout Florida, including Brooksville, Jacksonville, and Keystone locations. The homestyle Southern-style chain, which is helmed by married duo Ethan and Blair Hensley, serves up high-quality breakfast and lunch entrees throughout the week, including signature dishes such as the restaurant's World Famous Thousand Island shrimp and grits platters. Clever breakfast burritos pair with signature panhandled omelettes, available in flavors such as mushroom and cheese or Spanish chorizo. Diners can also enjoy sweet and savory pancake stacks, decadent French toast platters, or classic platters of specialties such as biscuits and gravy. At lunch, Pine Island Bay fried seafood baskets pair crab cakes, oysters, shrimp, or fresh fish catches with Southern-style sides such as collard greens and coleslaw.
966 E Jefferson St, Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-754-8787
18.Papa Joe's Italian Restaurant
© Papa Joe's Italian Restaurant
Papa Joe's Italian Restaurant has been a Brooksville dining tradition since 1981, owned and operated by married duo Donna and Joe Giarratana. The fine Italian-style restaurant is known for its community giving initiatives, including its annual 99-cent anniversary pasta festival, which donates proceeds to charities such as St. Jude's Hospital and Habitat for Humanity. Diners can enjoy customizable plates of classic Italian pasta favorites such as puttanesca or choose from classic meat and vegetarian entrees like eggplant parmesan, chicken cognac, and sausage gnocchi. Specialty pizzas, calzones, and strombolis are also served up alongside a full menu of fine antipasti selections. In addition to its restaurant operations, the restaurant also operates several cooking shows, a culinary scholarship fund, and a continental catering service for area special events.
6244 Spring Lake Hwy, Brooksville, FL 34601, Phone: 352-799-3904
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18 Best Things to Do in Brooksville, FL
- Withlacoochee State Forest, Photo: Cory/stock.adobe.com
- The Hernando Historical Museum, Photo: The Hernando Historical Museum
- Sweetfields Farm, Photo: Sweetfields Farm
- Sparacia Witherell Family Winery and Vineyard, Photo: Sparacia Witherell Family Winery and Vineyard
- The 1885 Russell Street Train Depot, Photo: The 1885 Russell Street Train Depot
- Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area, Photo: oriolegin11/stock.adobe.com
- Chinsegut Hill Museum, Photo: Chinsegut Hill Museum
- JG Ranch, Photo: JG Ranch
- McKethan Lake Recreation Area, Photo: rsooll/stock.adobe.com
- Boyett's Grove, Photo: Boyett's Grove
- Frazier Farms, Photo: Frazier Farms
- Uptown Art Gallery, Photo: seksan94/stock.adobe.com
- Mutual Mine Recreation Area, Photo: SaulGoodman/stock.adobe.com
- Sertoma Youth Ranch, Photo: Sertoma Youth Ranch
- World Woods Golf Club, Photo: artea_art/stock.adobe.com
- Coney Island Drive-In, Photo: Coney Island Drive-In
- Florida Cracker Kitchen, Photo: Florida Cracker Kitchen
- Papa Joe's Italian Restaurant, Photo: Papa Joe's Italian Restaurant
- Cover Photo: bbourdages/stock.adobe.com