Palatka Florida
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Palatka Florida – Discover The Top Activities and Attractions

Heading to Florida for the weekend? Be sure to visit Palatka then! The city is situated on the western bank of the picturesque St. John’s River. With a population of approximately 10,500, Palatka, Florida, is located between Jacksonville on the northeast and Orlando on the south. This small town has a super interesting history and will definitely surprise you. Below we have compiled a list of must-see places – so read on and find out what Plataka offers!

Palatka Florida

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Palatka, Florida’s Amazing History In A Nutshell

Initially, Palatka’s lands were inhabited by tribes who were engaged in fishing and hunting for wild animals. Local residents also peacefully grew beans, corn, pumpkins, and tobacco. But with the arrival of the Europeans, infectious diseases came, and the wars devastated the tribes completely.

Spain later ceded Florida to Great Britain after the Seven Years’ War. And here’s when things changed: Denys Rolle, an English philanthropist, decided to build Rollestown by the St. Johns River. His plantation was an experiment for which he recruited would-be settlers on the streets of London. Basically, they were beggars, vagrants, and pickpockets.

The first settlers cleared the land for agriculture and livestock. However, working in a subtropical climate was too hard for them, and they gradually moved away to other places.  African slave labor replaced Rolle’s utopian ideals. Rice, corn and turpentine tar from pine trees were among the crops grown on the plantation

Over time, Americans of European origin arrived in these lands. They confronted the tribes living there, which led to war. As a result, the Seminole (Native American people) were driven out of the area, and the settlers began to develop the city. 

Why Visit Palatka, Florida?

Thanks to the river, Palatka, Florida, became a vacation destination, but the influx of tourists was interrupted by the Civil War. After the Civil War, the tourists returned, and the city became a crucial railway junction. In 1884 Palatka suffered a devastating fire. However, over time, it returned to its former popularity.

Since Palatka is greatly important as a port, the bank is truly the city’s heart. As for the architectural styles, many of them are represented in the city center. In Palatka’s historic districts, you will see Victorian and Colonial styles and Art Deco.

Palatka Welcome Center

Perhaps the best place to start is at the Palatka Welcome Center.  The visitor center is located in Palatka, Florida, USA. The center provides information and resources for visitors to the Palatka area, including information on local attractions, events, and accommodations.

The center is staffed by knowledgeable and friendly volunteers who can provide assistance with planning activities and itineraries for visitors to the area. In addition to visitor information, the center also has a gift shop featuring locally made crafts, souvenirs, and other items.

The Palatka Welcome Center is located at 900 St. Johns Ave, Palatka, FL 32177, and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.

Ravine Gardens State Park

A unique feature of this state park is the ravines with steep banks. Unlike ordinary ravines, trenches, or sinkholes caused by temporary flooding, steep-sided ravines are special. The spring stream never dries up there. Rushing groundwater cuts into the shore and carries the soil and sand downstream to the St. Johns River. In 1933, the ravines were turned into a full-fledged garden.

Part of the original landscaping still exists in the form of a trail system. Almost 2-mile-long paved road winds around the ravines, offering you unforgettable views. Why not take advantage of the numerous picnic areas equipped with tables and grills?

The peak of flowering in the garden is the azalea season, from January to March. Ravine Gardens has miles of hiking trails, a variety of azalea flowers, and two suspension bridges.

The combination of man-made and natural gardens is truly amazing! Explore the winding paths and bridges found throughout the park. Depending on the weather, when the azaleas reach their peak bloom each February or March, the park comes in magnificent colors. Plus, don’t miss the Florida Azalea Festival celebration!

Ravine Gardens

St. Johns River Center

The center is connected to the wetlands of the St. Johns River system. In fact, this is an educational resource telling about the importance of wetlands and the conservation of these areas.

Here, you can learn how wetlands affect ecological diversity in terms of flora, fauna, lakes, rivers, and streams of the St. Johns River system. You will see how the river has influenced and continues to influence the unique history, culture, recreation, trade, and industry of the city.

City of Murals

Palatka, Florida, is called a city of murals for a reason: it really justifies its name. Take a tour of the historic city center to glimpse Palatka’s culture and mentality! All of them are shown in murals. More than 20 of these can be found on the historic streets of the city center. You can explore them all on foot (why not take yourself on a quest?) or take a ride in a car. A map of their location is available in the Welcome Center or online. Read the story told by each of the murals – we guarantee that you will definitely be enchanted.

City of Murals Palatka Florida

Historic Downtown Palatka, Florida

In the city center, you will find chic boutiques and cozy restaurants, friendly pubs, and, of course, city tours. Here, you will learn the history and heritage of Florida in practice. Also, take a look at the festivals and fairs that are held in the city every year. For instance, Palatka is home to Florida’s oldest festival, called the Florida Azalea Festival. It is held on the first weekend of March. Be sure to enjoy a variety of plants, plenty of entertainment, live music, and delicious food. Ravine Gardens State Park joins the Azalea Days celebration each year. When they are at their peak, take your camera with you to capture all the beauty around!

Downtown Palatka, Florida

Riverfront Park Palatka, Florida

Riverfront Park is a charming and peaceful park located on the banks of the St. Johns River. It offers great views and a peaceful atmosphere.

From an observation deck across the park paths from the River Center, you can see the Old Memorial Bridge across St. Johns. The bridge now serves as a fishing pier. Bartram Trail Marker 4, located along the shore near where the bridge and park meet, beckons paddlers to stop and see Palatka or to launch their boats here.

Boat ramp, pier, and benches for rest – what else do you need to admire nature? Take time to relax and recharge completely. Many solo travelers appreciate this place for its tranquility, whereas those traveling in groups enjoy the available activities by the water.

Hog Waller Mud Bog & ATV

Do you love exciting outdoor adventures and aren’t afraid to get dirty? Then, go to Hog Waller Mud Bog! In fact, this is an area of more than 1000 acres with trails leading into the wild lands of Florida. Come here by truck or rent one for a truly wild experience.

Mud Bog in Florida

Rice Creek Conservation Area

After heading three miles west of Palatka, you will come across an incredibly lush section of the Florida Trail. Wild azalea blooms here, and cypresses grow to incredible sizes. The area was a rice plantation in the 18th century. Today you will find swamps and lowland forests here, as well as The Cross Florida Greenway.

By the way, in the center of the swamp, there is a historic dam built for a rice plantation. A part of the Florida National Scenic Trail also traverses through these territories. Plus, here, you will observe wild animals, namely bears, deer, turkeys, otters, ducks, and various birds.

Activities available include hiking, cycling, horseback riding, and camping.

Bronson-Mulholland House

The Bronson–Mulholland House, built in 1854, is a historic site located at 100 Madison Street. Many prominent families lived in it, so the energy in the house is special. But let’s start from the beginning! The Bronson family took an active part in the development of their hometown. For example, Judge Bronson drafted Palatka’s city charter in the state legislature. There were often guests in the house – namely, politicians.

According to some sources, during the Civil War, Confederate soldiers used the attic of the house as an observation post when Union forces approached the St. Johns River.

Later, the house was a school where Charlotte Henry White set up a school for freed slaves sponsored by the New York Chapter of the Freedmen’s Union Commission in 1866. Unfortunately, in 1868 the school was closed due to a lack of funding. In the late 19th century, the place became a summer home for the Whites.

The Bronson-Mulholland House

Bronson-Mulholland House

Mary Mulholland also lived in the house: she was a nurse who treated the poor and used her knowledge and skills to help them. After the outbreak of the First World War, Miss Mulholland became an active member of the Red Cross.

In the middle of the 20th century, house was divided into apartments and flats. In 1965 the place was sold to the city of Palatka, and that’s when a new chapter started. It was planned to restore the house to its original splendor, as it had become dilapidated over the years. The Bronson-Mulholland House was opened to the public in 1977.

Many efforts have been made to return its original beauty. While the City of Palatka owns the house and surrounding lands, the Putnam County Historical Society maintains the interior setting. Due to the history of the house, very little of its original furniture remains. Most of the items are mid to late-1800s antiques, and many are generous donations from local families.

Today, the house is a historical resource where various events are held. Every year in late September, Civil War reenactors gather on the front lawn to recreate the Allied occupation of Palatka in 1864.

Larimer Art Center

Larimer Art Center is a nonprofit arts organization located in Palatka, Florida, that was established in 1996. The organization’s mission is to promote and support the arts in the local community through exhibitions, educational programs, and community outreach. The center offers a variety of art classes and workshops for people of all ages and skill levels, including painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography. They also host rotating exhibitions of local and regional artists in their gallery space.

In addition to its regular programming, the Larimer Art Center also participates in community events and outreach programs to bring the arts to underserved populations in the area.

Larimer Art Center

Palatka Golf Club

Above the waters of the St. Johns River and through the charming city center, you will find an old field that offers an unforgettable experience. And all this for a reasonable price. The golf club was founded in 1925. In this natural environment, the holes roll over sandy ridges super smoothly.

So why is it worth playing golf here? Affordable prices, comfortable holes, and friendly staff who are super passionate about golf are its main advantages. On the field, you can play quickly and with great pleasure. So, if you are looking for a place that will bring a lot of fun and doesn’t require large expenses, go to this local golf club!

Putnam County Historical Museum

The Putnam County Palatka Historical Museum is a museum located in Palatka, Florida, USA. It is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history and culture of Putnam County, Florida, and the surrounding areas. The museum features exhibits on the area’s Native American heritage, early European settlements, agriculture and industry, transportation, and more.

The museum’s collections include photographs, documents, artifacts, and other items that tell the story of the region’s past. It also hosts events and educational programs throughout the year, such as lectures, workshops, and guided tours.

The Putnam County Palatka Historical Museum is open to the public and welcomes visitors of all ages. It is operated by the Putnam County Historical Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of the region.

Palatka Florida Hotels and Motels


What is Palatka known for?

With accommodations for 6,000 visitors, Palatka was known as the “Gem City of St Johns” and boasted several world-class hotels like the Arlington, Saratoga, and La Fayette.

What major city is near Palatka, Florida?

The nearest major cities are Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, and Saint Petersburg.

How far is Palatka from the beach?

The closest beach is The distance between Palatka and Crescent Beach, St. Johns County (near St. Augustine), and it is approximately 25 miles away. 

Closing Thoughts

Palatka, Florida, is a charming city of murals and festivals. It is situated near the picturesque St. Johns River. Enjoy the serene beauty of Waterfront Park, admire more than 20 beautifully painted murals in the historic downtown area, and visit the city’s annual fairs. Admire the Azalea Festival at Ravine Gardens State Park and spend a relaxing day in a quiet environment. Want something more active? Head to Palatka Golf Club with a big group of friends. There’s surely something for each taste and preference!

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Looking for more small towns in Florida? Start here:

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