Centuries of History
The Native American presence in what would become Florida’s Adventure Coast stretches back before recorded history. Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto’s expedition encountered these first residents of the region in 1539. Hernando County was established and named after de Soto on February 27, 1843. The newly christened town of Brooksville became the county seat in 1856. Confederate and Union troops clashed in the area during the Civil War, and re-enactors bring the battle to life today at the annual Brooksville Raid event. The Florida Legislature set the current boundaries of the county in 1887. In 2015, the Board of County Commissioners adopted the Florida’s Adventure Coast tourism branding, and thousands of visitors make vacation history here every year.
An Adventurous Destination
Florida’s Adventure Coast abounds in opportunities for outdoor activities in the county’s nature-packed 589 square miles. The area’s geographic features include rolling terrain, lush forests, miles of trails, and approximately 170,000 acres of protected parklands. About 20% of the county is water, including springs, rivers and lakes. The area has two incorporated cities—Brooksville in the center and Weeki Wachee to the west—and a number of other distinctive communities, such as Hernando Beach, Ridge Manor and Spring Hill. Each community offers visitors its own take on the exceptional Adventure Coast lifestyle.
The Adventure Coast is overflowing with beautiful locations to experience the Sunshine State’s best water-based activities. Anglers enjoy a variety of fishing experiences, including deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico for grouper, cobia and snapper; flats fishing for tarpon, trout and redfish; and lake fishing for largemouth bass, bream and crappie. Scallopers can bag the excitement of catching scallops along the coast during scalloping season, which in 2015 runs from June 27 to September 24. Paddlers can explore many miles of waterways by canoe and kayak. And manatee admirers can watch gentle sea cows in their natural habitat.
There’s so much authentic Florida to explore—from the coast to the Withlacoochee River, our diverse land-based activities can please any vacationer. For hiking, biking, four-wheeling or horseback riding, the Adventure Coast’s extensive trails take guests on a remarkable journey under a canopy of hardwood and longleaf pine, past unspoiled lakes and rivers, and into the heart of natural Florida. Bird and wildlife watchers also have ample opportunities to see native species, with two habitat clusters of the Great Florida Birding Trail. And golfers can take a swing at nearly a dozen championship courses, including the two award-winning Tom Fazio courses at the World Woods Golf Club and Pete Dye’s Southern Hills masterpiece.
Attractions & Parks
The Adventure Coast was home to some of Florida’s very first attractions—and today these dynamic destinations still delight thousands of visitors annually from across the world. Brooksville and Weeki Wachee have been attractive places to visit for generations. Highlights include Weeki Wachee Springs State Park—a vintage attraction with world-famous mermaids—the roadside attraction Boyett’s Grove, the 408-acre Chinsegut Conservation Center, The Chinsegut Hill Manor House and its adjacent retreat facility, the May-Stringer Museum and more.
An Essential Industry
Tourism gives residents of Brooksville, Weeki Wachee and the surrounding communities a sustainable industry that contributes greatly to the local economy. In 2013, Hernando County had over 5,300 jobs with $79.9 million in salaries in the tourism-supported Leisure & Hospitality category, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2014, the tourism-supported business sectors of lodging, restaurants and gasoline stations together grossed nearly $300 million in Hernando County, according to the Florida Department of Revenue. And many other types of local jobs and businesses benefit from tourism and the fresh dollars visitors bring. Local tourism also supports the shops, restaurants and vital government services that contribute to the overall quality of life enjoyed by all residents.
On Florida’s Adventure Coast…
Florida’s Adventure Coast is filled with an ocean of possibilities for stories that will delight nature-loving readers and viewers. The following are merely a few of the broad array of story topics that Brooksville and Weeki Wachee have to offer.
Families have made Florida’s Adventure Coast their destination for generations. And two of the state’s oldest attractions still delight thousands of visitors to the area annually—and would make a compelling feature story about fun beyond the beaten path.
For over 60 years, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park has lured visitors to the beautiful mermaids who swim in the cool, clear spring waters. Sitting in the Mermaid Theater, visitors feel like they are inside the flowing spring, and are transported back to simpler times, before super theme parks and super highways appeared. Within the park, Buccaneer Bay gives guests the chance to swim in the spring water, play a game, or just relax on the sandy riverside beach. A visit to Weeki Wachee Springs is a splendid experience of Florida lore in a place where dreams really do come true.
Another old-school attraction awaits just north of Brooksville. Boyett’s Citrus Grove is part orange grove, part ice-cream parlor, part zoo, part kitschy gift shop—and 100% fresh-squeezed Florida fun. Recalling a day when roadside attractions dotted the Sunshine State, Boyett’s remains a can’t-miss attraction today.
As birding continues to grow in popularity both at home and abroad, so a story about the bountiful birding opportunities found here has never been more relevant. Why select Florida’s Adventure Coast for your birding story? Because the area’s central location stretches from coastal habitats to inland forests, and 10 sites on the Great Florida Birding Trail are found within the county’s vast protected lands.
Here, birders have the chance to see rare birds including the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, the threatened southern bald eagle, the swallow-tail kite, and Florida sandhill cranes. birder’s checklists will quickly note such species as Florida scrub-jays, pileated woodpeckers, Bachman’s sparrows, southeastern American kestrels, red-shouldered and red-tailed hawks, chickadees, great blue herons, egrets, limpkins, loons, white ibis and ospreys. What’s more, Hernando Beach is one of the few places in Florida where budgerigars are regularly found. They are noted for their impressive green coloring and parrot-like chatter.
The same terrain that makes Florida’s Adventure Coast a popular hiking, biking and trail riding destination also makes it an unusually good place for a golf getaway. Internationally known golf architects like Tom Fazio and World Golf Hall of Fame member Pete Dye have used the area’s terrains and elevations to challenge even the most experienced golfer, yet provide novices the fun and the opportunity to learn. Ten par 72 courses, and two nine-hole executive courses enjoy rolling hills, fairways carved through old limestone quarries and breathtaking vistas from the courses on the Brooksville Ridge. The area also offers four courses limited to private membership. Consider a story that pairs championship golf with other excellent outdoor activities.
A first-person narrative of paddling the pristine waters of Florida’s Adventure Coast would make a perfect feature story, and the area has many options from which to choose. The crystal clear water of the Weeki Wachee River offers a glimpse into the world below the surface, teeming with aquatic life. Along the shore, paddlers will see the occasional white-tailed deer, Osceola turkey, abundant shorebirds, and may encounter a visit from a manatee or a dolphin as it glides alongside your craft. The Withlacoochee River offers a distinctly different experience, with its moss-laden trees and centuries-old cypress.
The Withlacoochee River Canoe Trail is officially designated as part of Florida’s Statewide System of Greenways and Trails. The river flows out of the Green Swamp in west central Florida, and twists and bends through the sandhill area as it moves northwest. The still, tannic waters provide near perfect reflections off the river’s surface, creating incredible scenic views.
Active is in! More and more Americans desire to make active outdoor adventures a part of their vacation plans. Baby Boomers are bringing their active lifestyles into retirement. And the internet age has inspired many to seek authentic, hands-on travel experiences.
Florida’s Adventure Coast is an ideal choice for a story highlighting these trends, as it embodies the best of outdoor activities in a single centrally located destination. From the rush of fighting glittering sport fish in the Gulf of Mexico, to the transcendent experiences of hiking ancient forests at daybreak or paddling scenic springs by starlight, the Adventure Coast overflows with opportunities for active, natural vacation adventures.
No matter what the economy is doing, a story on affordable travel will always capture an audience’s attention. And this is one of the few truly affordable coastal destinations along the often budget-busting Florida coast. Lodging, restaurants, and activities here are so affordable that many visitors return every year for extended stays of a month or more. For an appealing story, consider interviewing regular guests and highlighting the cost-conscious fun to be had at the area’s parks, preserves and historic sites.
Fill your publication or website’s special events calendar with the signature celebrations of Florida’s Adventure Coast. Festivals and events include the Brooksville Raid in January, the Brooksville Native American Festival in February, the Weeki Wachee Swamp Fest in March, Art In the Park in March, the Florida Blueberry Festival in April, holiday events and more. Visit FloridasAdventureCoast.com for complete listings of upcoming events and additional information.
Looking for a story that’s so fun it’s scary? Then look no further than the Adventure Coast’s very own May-Stringer House. Over the century and a half that the house has kept watch over downtown Brooksville, it has earned a reputation as one of the most haunted sites in Florida. A fascinating historical museum by day, ghosts tours are available at the house on Friday and Saturday nights by appointment. The tours include a discussion of the evidence recorded by paranormal research groups in the house.