(UPDATED MARCH 2021) When I first visited Sebring, Florida, in the heart of the Sunshine State, I knew this was a very special place. From a world-class racetrack to the first state park in Florida, delicious restaurants that won’t break the bank to the nation’s only craft soda festival, Sebring is a Florida town worth visiting.
In a time where authentic travel is on every radar, Sebring brings a host of opportunities in agritourism, sports, small-town charms, and a fantastic culinary scene. It also has several freshwater lakes, making outdoor fun and fishing a must! You’ll also find amazing orange groves, numerous cattle ranches, and Old Florida charms around Sebring and the neighboring Highlands County towns of Lake Placid and Avon Park.
Where to Stay in Sebring
Inn on the Lakes is the premier lodging in town. The property has 155 rooms, most freshly remodeled, on a beautiful lake with fabulous gardens and landscaping. Once you see the swimming pool deck, you may never want to leave! Customer service, comfort, and hospitality are the hotel’s strengths, convenience, affordability, and amazing food at Chicane’s, the onsite restaurant. Each stay includes a fresh-cooked complimentary breakfast, WiFi, and free parking. Hotel stays can be booked with golf privileges, too.
Besides Inn on the Lakes, Holiday Inn Express, Residence Inn, and LaQuinta Inn & Suites, as well as other chain hotels, are in the area.
Where to Eat in Sebring
Sebring, Florida, is a treasure trove of delicious restaurants. Chicanes serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Inn on the Lakes hotel, with a fine-dining look but a casual vibe. The burgers, salads, and rollovers (Filet Mignon rolled around Pepperjack cheese) are noteworthy, but be sure to have the truffle fries as your side dish.
For dinner, go for the Filet Mignon, cooked to perfection and served with Irish steak butter. Save room for Bananas Foster—yum!
Nutmeg’s Cafe is an adorable two-fold restaurant with a gourmet bakery and coffee shop, plus tasty sandwich and salad creations, with quiche and impressive side dishes. I loved the Mousetrap, a signature panini with five cheeses, spices, and artichoke hearts. The English Pea Salad is a blast from the past and paired nicely with my rich sandwich.
Be sure to have a hand-dipped ice cream cone or cake pop when you finish your meal. The display of beautiful cupcakes, macarons, big cookies, and other sweets and pastries made it hard to narrow down my final choice.
Cowpoke’s Watering Hole
Cowpoke’s Watering Hole is the biggest restaurant I’ve ever seen outside of Disneyworld or something of that equivalent. The tables (which can seat 370 patrons) are needed as this local hotspot gets packed—the town loves it! Between several different seating areas (and a thatched roof tiki hut) and rooms, guests are served thirst-quenching cocktails, superb steaks, and a huge variety of fresh seafood dishes.
Start your meal with Fried Green Tomatoes or the Bacon Wrapped Asparagus, but finish with a light and flavorful Florida Orange Cake. You won’t believe how moist and tasty this signature dessert is.
Faded Bistro & Beer Garden
Another cool place to eat and drink in Sebring is Faded Bistro and Beer Garden. This casual restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating areas with vibrant gardens and blooms everywhere. The Charcuterie and Cheese Board is chock full of cured meats, artisenal cheeses, olives, honey, spreads, and pickled vegetables. Another dish we are big fans of are the Irish Nachos with a stout beer cheese, bacon, and green onions.
From craft cocktails to seasonal ingredient dishes, you will love the ambiance and menu selections at Faded Bistro. They are open for Sunday brunch, too.
Appealing Food in Neighboring Towns
Locals love the famous Hookiemelt from Jaxson’s, a long-running restaurant in Lake Placid. Choose your style of chicken (fried, blackened, or grilled), which will be laid atop a bed of sour cream, onions, cheese, and wing sauce. The plate is then baked and served ooey and gooey with tortilla chips. Caution: it is super addictive!
Pop over to the neighboring town of Avon Park for a delicious gluten-free orange soft-serve ice cream from Maxwell Groves. They are celebrating 84 years in business. You can also pick up fresh fruits (namely citrus), juices, and specialty locally bottled dressings, jams, and wines while you are there.
What to Do in Sebring, Florida
Sebring’s two most popular attractions are the race track and golf. Sebring International Raceway is a NASCAR-owned park, but it is not the kind of race that occurs here. Instead, the track is the country’s premier high-speed endurance auto race track, with most luxury cars. Fun fact: Sebring International Raceway is also the oldest road racing track in the United States.
During my visit, the track was taken over by Ferrari Challenge comprised of both professional racing teams and gentlemen drivers (those who can afford the vehicles and drive as a hobby). The biggest event is the annual Twelve Hours of Sebring (March), which is part of the prestigious American Le Mans Series. Ooh-la-la, it even sounds fancy!
Golf is a huge draw. There are 13 courses (Citrus Golf Trail) in the area, including Pinecrest Golf Club and Country Club of Sebring. Two PGA Qualifier tournaments are also held in Sebring. Due to the affordability and sheer number of courses, Sebring has earned the title of being one of America’s best golf value destination.
Besides racing and golf, there is a darling downtown with local shopping at Linda’s Books, Groovy’s Records and More, and The Grateful Hearts Do It Yourself Craft Studio & Boutique, to name a few. Stop in Top Hat Coffee for a tasty drink or Sebring Soda & Ice Cream Works for a walk down memory lane as you browse craft sodas from around the country. There are several dozen different sodas in stock.
A Special Event in Sebring
Each April, the town hosts the Sebring Soda Festival, the only one in the country, where hundreds of people come to taste flavored sodas, get to know Sebring, Florida, and have some good wholesome fun. There are arts and crafts, live entertainment (The MoonRays four-part harmony musicians were this year’s act), a classic Show and Shine car show, food trucks, and a kid’s fun zone with face painting, games, sand art, and a Spiderman bungee.
A few of my favorite soda samples included:
- Boylan Black Cherry
- Avery Soda’s Unicorn Yak
- Fanta Orange and Grape
- Dad’s Blue Cream Soda
- MoneyBag Diet Soda (Gene Simmon’s line)
- Jarrito’s Guava and Tamarind
- Spreacher Orange Dream
Stop by the way cool Mon Cirque Wine Bar for a glass of vino (or a cold craft beer). While you are there admiring the circus-themed space, you may wish to have a go at the aerial hoop, which was a nice bonus and great for Instagram photos.
Or, if you prefer a stiff cocktail, check out Sugar Sand Distillery’s Tasting Room, making moonshine, rum, vodka, and whiskeys. They are the only open-air distillery in the county and Florida’s only estate-grown sugar cane distillery.
Highlands Hammock State Park opened in 1931, four years before Florida even had a state park system. Here you will find canopies of gorgeous oak hammocks over swampy areas, nine trails for hiking or walking in a 9,000-acre setting. One path includes an elevated boardwalk through a picturesque cypress swamp that is inches from the reflective waters.
Highlands Hammock is an excellent choice for birdwatching, and you will often see photographers there capturing nests of baby birds and rare birds. For those interested in camping, the park has 143 single-family campsites with water and electric hookups. Be aware of the wildlife as you may see Florida panthers or black bears inside the park.
Nearby, in the town of Lake Placid, are many cool murals to see and photograph, including scenes of orange groves, Native Americans, wildlife, clowns, cattle, and more. The town also boasts 27 freshwater lakes, so the fishing is out-of-sight in Lake Placid, some of the best in the state. For more great fishing, head back to Sebring’s Lake Istokpoga for trophy bass, gar, and catfish.
Sebring, Florida: Soaring High
Florida is full of so many cool towns, and Sebring has been my best find in ages. I hope you will make your way to it and see it for yourself. I feel quite sure that once the secret is out about how attractive the town’s offerings are, Sebring will be a Central Florida destination that everyone will want to visit.
To learn more about Sebring, visit the tourism site.
Thanks to Visit Sebring for hosting my visit. As always, reviews and opinions are 100% mine and unbiased.
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