These Small Florida Towns that are Among the Oldest in the State and Off the Beaten Path

L. Cane

Florida has a rich history because of its Spanish roots dating back to the early 1500s. Most people know that cities such as St. Augustine, Pensacola, and Tallahassee are among the sunshine state's oldest. But there are small towns in Florida that are also quite old and less well-known. I'll list some of them below.

Apalachicola: This tiny town in Florida's panhandle had a population of 2,572 in the 2020 Census. According to the City of Apalachicola, Native American people were believed to have settled the area during the Woodland and Mississippian periods. Although it is believed that Europeans explored the area in the 1500s, it wasn't until 1705 that the Spanish settled in what is now Apalachicola. The town was eventually officially incorporated in 1828, but at that time, it was named Cottonton. It was renamed Apalachicola in 1831.

Today, Apalachicola is a quaint town that appeals to nature lovers because of its beaches, bays, and marshes. It boasts over 900 historic structures in its National Historic District.

Mariana: The 2020 Census lists the population of Mariana as 6,607. This small city in north Florida has the official nickname of "the City of Southern Charm." The town was founded in 1828 by Scottish entrepreneur Scott Beverage, who came up with the town's name by combining the two names of his daughters, Mary and Anna. Because of its long history, you'll find many war memorials and large numbers of historic homes and buildings in Mariana. The town is also home to Florida Caverns State Park, where one can see caves. Although caves are the main attraction at the Park, the site has 1,300 acres for activities such as camping, fishing, swimming, or canoeing.

Quincy: With a population of just over 7,500, this town is located north of Tallahassee and was named after President John Quincy Adams. Established in 1828, the town was built around the tobacco industry, but had to find a new focus after that industry began to wane. In 1907, Coca-Cola put a bottling plant close to downtown Quincy. Many of the residents invested in the company and became "Coca-Cola millionaires." Quincy was named an All-American City in 1996. It is very picturesque, still maintains many historic structures, and is home to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs and Three Rivers State Parks.

Micanopy: Micanopy is a small town just south of Gainesville that was named for a Seminole Indian Chief and founded in 1821. Said to be the oldest inland town in Florida that has been continuously inhabited, many buildings in town are classified as a historic districts on the United States National Register of Historic Places. The town is arguably incredibly quaint and attractive. Part of the movie Doc Hollywood was filmed here. The 2020 Census list the population of Micanopy at 493.

Fernandina Beach: According to The Florida Center for Instructional Technology, the history of this city includes 9 flags, including the French, the Spanish, the English, the Patriot Flag of the Republic of Florida, the Green Cross of Florida, the Republic of Mexico, and the confederate and American flags. America took control of the city in 1821. The city was a favored resort town during the Golden Age, and attracted visitors like the Carnegies and the Vanderbilts. Today, you can see many historic remnants of the city's past, including Fort Clinch and an original 1899 railroad depot. In 2020, the city's population was around 12,622 so it's admittedly a bit bigger than some of the other historic towns.

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