Located just north of Gainesville, Bradford County is home to Starke, FL, a haven for nature lovers and history buffs. While the county’s forests and woodland areas make its rustic terrain the perfect camping destination, its historical monuments and landmarks attract visitors of all kinds. In order to experience the best of what Bradford County has to offer, use this one-day trip agenda to guide your visit:
Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park
Established in Starke in 1939, the Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park honors the Florida National Guard and other military units. The park maintains a large military memorabilia exhibition inclusive of monuments honoring nine Army Infantry Divisions, and the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, all of whom trained at Camp Blanding. Other monuments on the campgrounds honor Prisoners of War and Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipients.
The museum portion of Camp Blanding is home to a collection of U.S. and foreign weaponry, barracks, uniforms and artifacts from World War II, as well as multiple photo exhibits, monuments, statues and aircrafts. Guests have the opportunity to interact with the museum through live lectures and demonstrations offered onsite at the park. Additionally, the museum’s gift shop offers books, videos and souvenirs, and more literature on the history of Camp Blanding. To learn more about Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park, check out their information page.
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
About 15 miles south of Camp Blanding is the Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park. This 2,000-acre park was developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and is noted as one of Florida’s first state parks.
The state park is situated in the central ridge of Florida. This area is known for its rolling sand hills and springs, which stem from the region’s narrow gorge. The Park’s marshlands, lakes and scrubs are a refuge to various types of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, gopher tortoises and different species of birds. Visitors are encouraged to walk the many nature trails and paths (ideal for both biking and hiking) to experience the natural habitat these animals live in.
Mike Roess State Park is fully equipped for aquatic recreation activities, including swimming, fishing and canoeing. Visitors are encouraged to use the Park’s picnic areas, pavilions and playgrounds, which provide tables, benches and grills for the perfect outdoor lunch.
Camping is also permitted on site. The park features three full-facility campground loops and 73 campsites. The sites are equipped with picnic tables, grills and potable water stations, and the grounds offer electricity hook ups as well. Bathhouses are available onsite, and well-behaved pets are permitted. For information on camping at Mike Roess State Park, please visit the state park’s website.
Bradford County has multiple lodging options to choose from. Places to stay include Hampton Lake Bed and Breakfast, Econo Lodge, Finnegen Lodge and Starke Moose Lodge. In terms of restaurant destinations and eateries, Call Street Cafe, Laredo, Tony and Al’s Deli and Powell’s Dairy Freeze are some local favorites.