Oak Hill, Florida

A must-see historic town

smithsonian.com

When I want to reminisce about Old Florida, the city of Oak Hill takes me back in time. With only one blinking light and a current population of less than 1500, the historic town is a must-see for those wanting to get a feel for what Florida was like prior to modern conveniences. This bedroom community's written history began on a map of a Seminole Indian village almost five hundred years ago and is now a part of some of Florida's only virgin land on the East Coast.

Oak Hill is a place where you can find oddities such as signs for a saddle shop and a real estate office on the same building that resembles a small Old-Florida-style house and a small park dedicated for the promotion of Korean-American friendship. While exploring the Old-Florida scenery, stopping to try one of the best New York hot dogs and boiled peanuts from a vendor on the side of the highway is a must. Oak Hill is the only place I have found locally which I can stand in the same spot to watch the sun rise on the east side of the waterway referred to as Mosquito Lagoon and turn around to watch the sun set on the west side without looking at structures on either side to obscure the view. At the same time I can get a glimpse of the gorgeous blue herons, egrets, and other interesting wildlife hunting for their daily catches, as well as the contrast of the perfect place to witness any of NASA's space shuttle launches.

Driving around Oak Hill, one can view panoramas of horses, cows, goats, large yards with swings blowing in the wind, and blooming oak trees on undeveloped land. Only a few of the Central Florida's orange groves remain right here, and for only a few dollars, some of the city's oranges can be bought at the Oak Hill Flea Market on weekends. Antiques, locally grown produce straight from the farmers, and homemade Magic Juice are some of the few treasures offered at the flea market. Another historic secret is the Seminole Rest Trail, formerly home to the Timucuan Indians between 500 to 2000 years ago. On this land sits one of Florida's most historic Victorian-style homes, built shortly after the Civil War.

Unlike most of Florida, Oak Hill is not a tourist town. You won't find any hotels here if you plan to visit, but there are a few small cabins and RV's are welcome. Besides doing a little sightseeing and visiting the flea market, what is there to do in Oak Hill without all of the modern conveniences? Enjoy the peace and quiet both day and night. Pretend you're back in time and enjoy an afternoon with lunch on the lagoon and go fishing on one of the city's piers for dinner, or take a boat out and explore Mosquito Lagoon. Just don't forget your mosquito repellent if you go during the hotter months!

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