25 Florida Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day
On Sunday, May 14, moms around the country will be treated to flowers, candy, and other gifts for Mother’s Day. While those are splendid choices and are greatly appreciated, we have put together a list of some of our favorite places to celebrate a memorable day. Whether it’s a park, a botanical garden, an “old Florida” attraction, a bite to eat, or a refreshing beverage, any one of these Florida-style treats will surely put a smile on your mom’s face.
***Click on each of the locations to learn more.
Florida Parks for Mother’s Day
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park – Located about 19 miles southeast of Gainesville, this park celebrates the Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Yearling. Take your mom on a tour of Rawlings’ homestead and learn about her life in Cross Creek.
Dudley Farm Historic State Park, Newberry – Dudley Farm is a living history farm from the late 1800s that comes alive with activity on certain days of the year. There are no special events scheduled for Mother’s Day, but you can still take your mom on a self-guided tour.
Ft. Christmas Historical Park, Christmas – This historical park in east Orange County features a full-size replica of Fort Christmas as well as a living history settlement. Fort Christmas provides a look back at the role the community played during the Second Seminole War.
Homeland Heritage Park, Polk County – Located just outside of Bartow, this is the only historical park in Polk County. The five-acre park is home to original buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s, all donated and moved to this location. Walk around the grounds, take a look at the Homeland School, the Homeland Methodist Church, or the old pole barn. This is perfect for a leisurely afternoon with mom.
Blue Spring State Park, Orange City – Although one of the best times to visit Blue Spring State Park is during manatee season, this park is the largest spring on the St. John’s River and encompasses more than 2,600 acres. Walk along the river, take a boat tour, or visit the Thursby House. This is a great place for those nature-loving moms.
De Leon Springs State Park, Volusia County – Does your mom like canoeing? Hiking? Swimming in the springs? How about pancakes? That’s right. You can find all of the above at DeLeon Springs State Park. The Sugar Mill Restaurant at the park is a favorite among guests and will probably be a big hit on Mother’s Day. Each table has a griddle and you pour and flip your own pancakes from pitchers of pancake batter delivered the table. If you plan on eating at the restaurant, expect a wait. Not to worry, there are plenty of other things to do until your table is ready.
Silver Springs State Park, Ocala – Although it is considered to be Florida’s first attraction, Silver Springs has evolved with time. However, one thing that has stayed the same is the glass-bottom boat ride. This 30-minute excursion will be a relaxing way for mom to spend some time. After the boat ride, a boardwalk and other trails provide opportunities to walk through the park.
Fort Desoto Park, Pinellas County – Whether you visit the fort or the beach, this is a popular spot for moms (and the whole family)! Get a close up look at the mortars, learn about the historical significance during the Civil War, or take along a blanket and umbrella and lounge at the beach.
Wakulla Springs State Park – Wakulla Springs State Park incorporates 6,000 acres includes a lodge, one of the largest springs in the world, a nature trail, and a river tour that offers an up-close look at the wildlife along the Wakulla River. A restaurant in the lodge offers a great setting for a Mother’s Day lunch.
Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens, Port Orange – Dunlawton is a 12-acre mix of gardens and Florida history. Take mom through the gardens to see the old sugar mill or sculptures from Bongoland, a tourist attraction from the 1940s and 50s that featured animals, an Indian village, and a series of dinosaurs created out of chicken wire and concrete.
Harry P. Leu Gardens, Orlando – Although this is a great place to visit any time, Leu Gardens is offering free admission for moms on Mother’s Day. Take a leisurely stroll along the winding walkways through 50 acres of camellias, magnolias, ferns, and other botanical beauties. Picnics and blankets are not allowed in the park, and be sure to leave your pets at home.
Old Florida Attractions for Mother’s Day
The Citrus Tower, Clermont – Built in 1956 on one of the highest hills along the ridge, the Florida Citrus Tower has recently had some upgrades and added a new coffee shop to the lobby. Ride the elevator to the top and treat mom to the greatest view in the area.
Presidents Hall of Fame, Clermont – In the shadows of the Citrus Tower, this oldie but goodie gives a comprehensive look at all of the U.S. presidents, from George Washington to Donald Trump. In addition to the wax figures, there’s an impressive replica of the White House, as well as other artifacts and presidential memorabilia. Test mom’s presidential knowledge!
Solomon’s Castle, Ona – Because all moms should visit a castle on Mother’s Day! Solomon’s Castle is a shining three-story structure in the middle of a swamp. The late Howard Solomon was the creative genius behind this castle who used aluminum printing plates from the local newspaper for the exterior of the castle and filled the inside with his artwork, all made from recycled materials.
Boyett’s Grove and Citrus Attraction, Brooksville – Boyett’s Grove and Citrus Attraction not only offers delicious citrus fruit, but also a nostalgic look at Florida oddities, along with a walk on the wild side. This Mother’s Day adventure is sure to fill mom’s day with an experience she won’t soon forget!
Trapper Nelson’s Zoo and Jungle Gardens, Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Hobe Sound – Did you know Florida had its own Tarzan? Learn about Trapper Nelson and his zoo on this island accessible only by boat. Treat your mom to a relaxing tour boat ride to the site where you will see remnants of Trapper Nelson’s eccentric lifestyle.
Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, Maitland – The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey has been treating, rehabilitating, and releasing raptors since 1979. However, the Center also provides an educational, yet closeup view and stories of birds that are now permanent residents.
Restaurants, Wineries and Distilleries to Take Your Mom for Mother’s Day
Cherry Pocket, Lake Wales – Situated on the banks of Lake Pierce, Cherry Pocket is laid back and unpretentious. The restaurant bills itself as a “steak, seafood shak and oyster bar.” From the appetizers to the entrees, the food is made from fresh ingredients and is cooked to order. The desserts are all homemade.
Kappy’s Subs, Maitland – Living in Central Florida, this is one of our favorite casual places to eat. Place your order at the walk-up window, then sit in your car in the limited covered parking outside or have a seat at one of the picnic tables for that true outdoor Florida feel. If your mom would rather sit inside out of the heat, there is a counter inside with limited seating.
Angel’s Dining Car, Palatka – Billed as the state’s oldest diner, Angel’s Dining Car is actually an old train dining car converted into a restaurant. Like other restaurants, Angel’s has its specialties. Their onion rings are a must-have. Treat mom to a Black Bottom – scrambled eggs, bacon and ground beef on a bun or a Pusalow – a chocolate frosty drink that tastes a lot like a Yoo-hoo.
Andy’s Drive-In, Winter Haven – Andy’s has been serving up meals for nearly 70 years and is a favorite gathering place for locals. From the iconic sign in the parking lot to the retro interior, Andy’s serves up a comfortable, home-like atmosphere. On the menu: burgers, seafood, steaks and ice cream. Of course, don’t forget to top off your meal with one of their delicious award-winning milkshakes.
Goodrich Seafood and Oyster House, Oak Hill – Treat mom to some great seafood and relaxing views at Goodrich Seafood and Oyster House on the Mosquito Lagoon. Whether it’s a smoked fish dip, cup of chowder or golden fried oysters on a toasted hoagie roll, the food is delicious and the service is outstanding.
Lakeridge Winery, Clermont – If mom likes jazz, Lakeridge Winery is the place to be on Mother’s Day. Lakeridge offers its Weekends at the Winery, so get mom a glass of wine and let her sit and sip and enjoy the music on the outdoor stage.
Henscratch Farms Vineyard and Winery, Lake Placid – Another of Florida’s gems off the beaten path, Henscratch Farms offers daily wine tastings (on Sundays after 1:00 p.m.), a chance to shop in an old country store to pick up a bottle of your favorite wine or some homemade jams and jellies.
Richloam General Store – We can’t forget one of our favorite places to visit off the beaten path near Webster. This little store has been restored to the way it was more than 80 years ago and sells items from the time period. Do you still want to get mom a gift? She is sure to find something in here she likes.
Florida is home to a lot of great places to take your mom, whether it’s on Mother’s Day or any day of the year. Whatever you choose to do, make it memorable. Happy Mother’s Day!