(UPDATED MAY 2020) I am a big fan of exploring Florida, especially areas that do not have a theme park or beach. I visited Northwest Florida and not only enjoyed great food and scenery, but got up close and personal with amazing animals. Here are things you must do in Northwest, Florida, including the cities of Chipley and Vernon.
Seacrest Wolf Preserve
This wolf preserve is home to 44 wolves (Gray, Arctic, and British Columbian) and a few other rescued pets. The Seacrest Wolf Preserve understands the habits of wolves and works to maintain and protect these endangered animals to the utmost degree.
Visiting the Seacrest Wolf Preserve was unlike anything that I had ever done. We toured the Seacrest Wolf Preserve on a VIP private tour, which is available daily with advance reservation. Ricky, a passionate staff member who values the preserve as much as the owners do, led our tour. We were briefed on safety and “wolf business”. I was impressed by the level of expertise the staff exhibited, especially regarding mating season and introducing wolf pups to their pack.
We were led into the more than two-acre areas that house each wolf pack. Four 10-month-old wolf pups, weighing 80 pounds, interacted with us and gladly accepted our snack offerings. The pups ever so gently ate balls of raw meat from the palms of our hands and made their way over to us to be scratched and rubbed. One of the pups laid down in a submissive manner for one of the guys on the tour. It was adorable and I was immediately smitten.
One pup enjoyed gnawing on my jacket cuff and tennis shoes. They were very playful! I recommend the Seacrest Wolf Preserve to all animal lovers.
Holmes Creek Canoe Livery- Cypress Springs
Gear up and take a relaxing kayak or canoe trip, whetting your line along the way. You will not believe your eyes when you see how crystal clear this spring-fed slow-current water is! The waterway flows from the Florida-Alabama line to the Choctawhatchee River, but the Holmes Creek paddling area (in Vernon, Florida) runs only 16 miles on it.
Huge cypress trees and live oaks lined the banks of the waterway. The sun sparkled across our path. Birds and turtles congregated in the trees and on rocks. This is the joys of nature right here! Watch for wildlife along the way including woodpeckers, blue heron, turtles, and gators, which we were privy to see several.
Falling Waters is a 171 acre Florida State Park with the state’s highest waterfall, reaching 73 feet. This is not an ordinary waterfall, as the water flows into a sinkhole at the bottom. The hike to the waterfall is easy enough for beginner adventurers like me. The landscape was that of ferns, smaller sinkholes, and the occasional colorful flower, some deep red which looked gorgeous against the otherwise brown landscape.
Viewing platforms allow for a closer look at the falls from more than one level. I climbed down to the bottom platform to take the best pictures. The water runs over gorgeous limestone walls and the temperature was much cooler than it was where I entered the park. Swimming in the lake and picnicking are popular in Falling Waters. Keep your eyes open for birds as I spotted a red-headed woodpecker halfway there. Best of all, the park is well maintained and very clean.
Travel Note: Keep in mind that the more it rains, the more water the fall has. If there is low rain, it may only be a trickle.
Historical Society Museum
Washington County’s Historical Society Museum opened in the mid-1990’s. Named for George Washington, this historic county was a frontier town, major Indian settlement, and plentiful in mineral resources and timber. Today, the museum is home to artifacts and memorabilia from Washington County’s history. Stop by for a tour and first-hand account of how things used to be in this part of Northwestern Florida.
I learned that Laura Ingalls Wilder spent some time in the area of Holmes County. The museum had a nice visual display of her works and personal photographs. (Note: This museum is actually in Bonifay, Holmes County, not Washington County)
Where to Eat in Washington County, Florida
While visiting Chipley, Florida, you place you must eat at is Skins & Bubba’s Family Restaurant.
During my visit, we had such a wonderful breakfast that we came back for dinner the next night. For breakfast, I had Biscuits and Gravy with a sweet tea. The tea had the perfect percentage of sugar to satisfy this Southern TravelingMom. The biscuits were fluffy and tasty, plus everyone’s eggs were cooked to perfection. The service was so good that we never even made it halfway into our drink cups before they were refilled.
When we returned for dinner, I started with the salad bar and then had a plate full of delicious pulled pork and creamy mac and cheese. The salad bar was a big draw, with plenty of fresh veggies, dressing choices, and sides like cottage cheese. One of my friends ordered a Loaded Baked Potato and it was the biggest potato I had ever seen. It must have weighed 5 pounds!
Northwest Florida is an Adventure
The huge state of Florida has incredible offerings and many natural adventures. When planning a trip to Florida, keep the Northern Panhandle in mind. If you have any other recommendations for this area, please let us know! I had a great time exploring Washington County in Northwest Florida and hope that you will too.
Northwest Florida Photo Gallery
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