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A Love Letter to My Hometown and Why You Should Visit

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

It sounds cliche but my hometown made me who I am today. It’s a small town where everyone knows everyone. There are three grocery stores and a handful of fast food chains: nothing like what’s here in Tallahassee. There’s lots of open space so you have to drive a while to go places. It might not seem like much, but it’s home. There also might be a lot of things we don’t have like a Target or a Starbucks, but what we do have is a community that can’t be replaced. 

Living in a small-town bonds you with the people there with you. You see the same people every day for most of your life, so you know everything about one another. It also gives you the opportunity to share a lot of stories once you come to college. A majority of the friends you make have no clue what it’s like to live in a small town, much less a small town in the South. 

An hour west of Tallahassee, you will find this small town that I call home. Marianna is the City of Southern Charm and it’s impossible to not be charmed by our local attractions. There are miles of rivers, lakes, ponds and walking trails open for exploring, not to mention local restaurants and stores that can give you a taste of local life. 

This small town has a lot to offer when it comes to day trips. You could even spend multiple days visiting all of these local hot spots. If you decide to make the trip over these are some of the wonderful places you should consider visiting! 

The Florida Caverns 

This might be our most well-known attraction. This state park is located right around the corner from where I went to high school and I grew up taking field trips here. Even for locals, this is a must-see attraction!   

The Florida Caverns give visitors an opportunity to explore dry caves filled with limestone stalactite and stalagmite formations. Temperatures are low and cool in the caves, making this a perfect place to visit to escape Florida’s hot and humid weather. 

There is so much history in the park as well as natural beauty. Tours of the caves are on a first-come-first-serve basis, so get there early to claim your spot. Trust me, it’s worth it. Just be sure to call the park and make sure it’s open. The caves are underground, so they have been known to fill with water during rainy seasons. This prevents tours from happening. It’s rare but it does happen. 

Merritt’s Mill Pond and Blue Springs

This is the place to be during the warm months. Jackson Blue Springs feeds the 202-acre body of water known as Merritt’s Mill Pond. 

This lake is known for its fishing and crystal-clear waters. Locals bring their boats to spend hours soaking up the warm Florida sun and enjoying the beauty of the lake. If they don’t have a boat or just want to avoid the hassle, Blue Springs Recreational Park is the ideal spot. 

The spring is open during the summer months and provides the perfect place to relax during the hottest time of the year. The spring is home to a variety of wildlife and offers some of the best scenic views in town. The park attached to the spring has a variety of amenities including rental paddle boats and canoes that allows visitors to explore the section of the Mill Pond just outside the main spring. 

If you take the time to visit, know that everything about this park is local. This is not your everyday tourist destination: this is a local hot spot. Tourists just happen to be there too! For just $4, you can spend a day exploring the crystal blue waters. You might even see some scuba divers exploring the caves! 

The Chipola River and Spring Creek

Covering three counties and 92.5 miles, the Chipola River is one of the longest rivers in Florida. This river is fed by 63 freshwater springs including the previously mentioned Blue Springs. The two bodies of water are connected by another local hot spot known as Spring Creek. 

This creek is known for being a natural lazy river ideal for tubing and kayaking. During the warm summer months, you will see crowds of tubers floating down the river from sun up to sun down. It’s about seven hours float from start to finish, so make sure to plan for the whole day. Be prepared to get caught in the afternoon rainstorms as well! 

These are just three of the attractions you can visit when you come to my hometown. There are also a variety of local restaurants and shops waiting for you to stop by. One of my favorites is Southern Craft Creamery. This is an ice cream shop that specializes in homemade ice cream using milk from their own dairy. Many flavors feature locally made products such as my uncle’s Smiley B Farms honey. A stop in this ice cream shop is perfect after spending time visiting the outdoor attractions of Marianna. 

This small town is close to my heart, and I hope that you decide to visit someday. 

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Peyton is a senior double majoring in Communications and Editing, Writing, Media. She is a member of the Majorette Line with the Marching Chiefs and she hopes to one day be a sports reporter.