Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Williston, FL

  • Published 2022/01/05

There is an abundance of the best things to do in Williston, Florida.

Where else can you plunge into underwater tunnels, sit on an elephant, ride a vintage train, and enjoy the greatest Southern soul food you’ll find this side of Mississippi?

There are many things to say about Williston which may go unnoticed as you drive through the sedate downtown with a few antique stores.

It’s easy to imagine what these old storefronts may be used for when you look at them.

Williston’s name is a tribute to Jesse Mercer Willis, a homesteader and tax collector who arrived in the area in the late 1850s.

There are still many farms and fields outside of town where Williston got its start in agriculture.

Most of our food is grown right here in the neighborhood.

Cows are raised here, and horses; the 1975 Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure hails from one of these stables.

Many people go to Williston because of its many distinct natural marvels, which bring in tourists worldwide.

As a vacation spot, it’s easy to blend action with relaxation.

The city is a treasure trove that offers tourists a rare chance to see some of the few remaining traces of early Florida.

Here are some of the best things to do in Williston, Florida:

Go Snorkeling at Devil’s Den

Devil's Den in Williston, Florida


Seeing Devil’s Den Spring for yourself is the only way to appreciate it truly.

Even still, the causes that caused this primordial phenomenon remain a mystery.

Peer through its small aperture in the ground to see a bright azure pool of 72°F water.

Devil’s Den is fashioned like an inverted mushroom that dips 54 feet below the ground’s surface.

Archaeologists and cave divers have discovered animal fossils from Pleistocene Age in this dry cave.

Devil's Den in Williston, Florida

Jason Sponseller /

Subterranean swimmers and scuba divers descend stone steps into a swimming hole by the time the sun comes up.

Many people come here from all over the world to see the undersea rock formations there.

The attraction is a private training center for scuba diving with a heated swimming pool as a spot for teaching and rental diving gear.

Devil’s Den is exclusively accessible to snorkelers and divers, unlike other springs in Florida.

Arrive early since the site may restrict entrance on peak seasons.

Devil's Den in Williston, Florida

Jacob Sherbondy /

Release Your Stresses at Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens

Some people see beauty in an abandoned lime rock quarry, such as the owner of this enchanting garden attraction.

In the early 1990s, Ray Webber started constructing a botanical paradise, including gardens, waterfalls, and koi ponds.

Bamboo, ferns, gingers, palms, vines, and other tropical plants now cover the 110-acre site.

Trees such as hickory, pine, cedars surround this 54-acre tranquil haven.

While walking along the stone paths, a soft breeze stirs the bamboo.

Go Scuba Diving at Blue Grotto

A sand road that weaves through a dense green canopy when you turn off Highway 27 leads to a world-famous diving location.

Divers like Jacque Cousteau continue to visit Florida’s largest underwater cave, the Blue Grotto.

In the open water basin of the diving site, there are platforms for training.

A new supply of compressed air may be found 30 feet below the surface in the top cavern.

They can see the whole upper cavern from this remarkable pit stop.

The bottom cavern is formed like a crescent lined with prehistoric fossils, so they follow a guideline down another 50 feet.

Divers will find a swimming pool, rental equipment, a tank refill station, wetsuit storage, a bathroom, and cottages for overnight stays at the site.

Celebrate Central Florida Peanut Festival

Williston’s Heritage Park hosts the Central Florida Peanut Festival each year on the first Saturday of October.

This Williston custom honors the “nutty” side of life.

The festival features various activities, including rides, crafts, music, information booths, and the Little Peanut royal family.

Regardless of how you prefer your peanuts, this is the place to be.

It’s a celebration of all things peanuts, from peanut-themed crafts to the coronation of a Little Peanut King and Queen and a Little Peanut Princess.

See Horses Making Tricks at Grande Liberté Farm

Are you a horse enthusiast?

Go to the Grande Liberté Farm.

The owner Sylvia Zerbini, a well-known liberty rider, elevates the sport to a new level of equestrian performance art.

After making her theatrical debut at the tender age of five, she enthralled audiences with acrobatic skills.

Incorporating body language, verbal signals, and exact timing, her Grande Liberté performance has been well praised by the media, including the Los Angeles Times, CNN, Arabian Horse World, and several other equine magazines.

In addition to instructional seminars and clinics, Zerbini shares her wealth of knowledge about liberty horse training with anyone interested.

Her Grande Liberté Farm in Williston, Florida, will host performances on Saturdays and Sundays from November through April.

Dates, hours, and tickets may be found on the website.

Meet and Greet Elephants at the Two Tails Ranch

View of Two Tails Ranch

romarti /

How often does one get the opportunity to interact with and feed an elephant?

Make a reservation at Two Tails Ranch in Florida today for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

A facility specializing in the care of elephants is housed here.

Asian and African elephants in need of a temporary or permanent sanctuary might find one at this privately-owned sanctuary.

Over 50 elephants have been cared for at the ranch throughout the years.

Owner Patricia Zerbini provides guests with up-close and intimate interactions with these gorgeous animals on her guided excursions.

Patricia is her family’s ninth generation to work with exotic animals.

She’s a wealth of information that she generously imparts to those who see her.

Go Berry-Picking at Red, White & Blues Farms

Red, White & Blues Farm’s fresh Florida blueberries are the perfect springtime treat.

In north-central Florida, it has a 100-acre agritourism attraction.

Blueberries of all kinds, from Emerald to Springhigh to Prima Donna to Meadow Lark to Farthing, are some of the best-tasting fruits you may find here in the spring.

Besides blueberries, it also cultivates some of the tastiest strawberries and peaches you’ll ever taste!

Plus, there are 22 acres of sunflowers available for you to explore!

As you spend a day on the farm, its sunflower fields are ideal for photographing treasured family moments.

Go Camping at Williston Crossings RV Resort

Choose Williston Crossings RV Resort if you’re looking for a camping experience that includes all the conveniences of home and never a shortage of entertainment.

Williston Crossings is located in North Central Florida, between Gainesville and Ocala.

Located on 135 acres of rolling hills, this enormous RV community has a fishing lake, swimming pool, pickleball courts, shuffleboard, a health center, clubhouse, laundry facilities, a dog park, and more.

At the resort, you’ll find a wide variety of campsites ranging from those that can be accessed by vehicle to those that can be reached by walking.

Having a regular schedule of activities makes it almost all-encompassing.

You’ll have plenty to keep you occupied, so all you need to carry are some groceries and some exercise gear.

Take Photos with Awesome Vehicles at Jeeptoberfest

Some versions of Jeeptoberfest are hosted in Williston, FL, while others are held in Ocala.

Every year in October, this event is a must-attend.

It gathers more than 1,500 participants on three levels of courses at Marion’s Market for Jeeptoberfest.

It is one of the pioneering Jeep-only events in the Southeast.

Every year, Jeeptoberfest helps local organizations collect tens of thousands of dollars.

Go on a Private Railroad Trip at Kirby Family Farm

In the woods near the Kirby Family Property, Mr. Kirby discovered an abandoned engine and train, which he brought to the farm and turned into a private railroad.

As part of a deal with Mrs. Kirby, he could rescue the antique locomotive if she agreed to use the farm’s centerpiece as an educational center for its display.

Only three similar locomotives like #19 remain in service today, and you may board one and take a ride on the Kirby Family’s Railroad!

Field trips, family get-togethers, celebratory parties, and business picnics are all catered to at the farm.

It regularly holds exciting special events to aid this non-profit farm’s growth.

Experience Williston Winter Wonderland

If you happen to be in Heritage Park during December, you can find a Christmas Village set up by local companies and civic organizations.

Since its inception in 2013, the event has helped local families by raising money, donating gifts, and providing a festive holiday season.

It aims to provide a Merry Christmas to those in need.

Among the many offerings are food, entertainment, and gifts from Santa Claus himself.

Games and kids’ activities may be found here, and they’re all free!

In addition, the Chamber and its sponsors supply snow for children to play in if they cannot experience a wintry mix.

You may also eat at one of the food trucks or buy a commemorative Williston decoration from the Chamber of Commerce.

Spend the Night at Two Hawk Hammock

As a non-camping option, the Two Hawk Hammock guest house is within easy driving or walking distance of the Devil’s Den entrance.

According to owner Heidi Schwiebert, “we acquired the property since it was close to Devil’s Den and because of that tree,” referring to an ancient live oak.

Expansive branches of the tree produce a “hammock” (a Floridian term for a stand of trees) on the ground.

When Heidi and Ken moved into their new house, they discovered two hawks nesting in an oak tree in the backyard.

In that instant, Two Hawk Hammock was born.

The guest house has four bedrooms, each queen-sized bed, and two twin-sized beds.

Guests may use the communal kitchen/dining area and the laundry and TV rooms accessible from outside their rooms.

Family gatherings and weddings are welcome at the large property, which features a gazebo, shady picnic area, and an old-fashioned tree swing.

Dine at the Historic Ivy House Restaurant

It was a huge honor for Dr. Willis, the son of the city’s founding father, to bring a particular infant into the world decades years ago.

The infant was Mrs. Mimi Hale, owner of Williston landmark The Ivy House Restaurant, a favorite of residents and tourists alike.

When Mimi isn’t at the restaurant, she spends time with her family.

For those looking for a unique take on Southern cuisine, The Ivy House is the place to go.

By adding cabbage to traditional stewed collards, the bitterness disappears.

Sweet cornbread with only six ingredients is a great option for any day of the week.

Food and kindness will overflow from your plate — the amounts are large enough to share, and the welcoming staff will make you feel right at home.

Buy Some Home Décor at Rustified Antiques & More

Many sellers are represented at the 75-booth Rustified Antiques & More.

Everything from bespoke furniture to antiques to boutique-style apparel is available at this one-stop shop.

It felt like a journey back in time—a time capsule for the past.

The main distinction is that these long-term memories are available for purchase.

You may spend a leisurely afternoon browsing the many fairly affordable items.

There is also a little area inside that sells lady’s apparel.

Its owners are the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.

Grab Some Snacks at Williston Peanuts, Inc.

Williston Peanuts is a homegrown brand in Williston.

Peanut shelling is Williston Peanuts’ core business.

On the other hand, the company also sells roasted, raw, and southern-fried peanuts in addition to shelled ones.

During the Christmas season and other important events, they ship a lot of wonderful gift baskets and other goodies.

Visit the Williston Peanuts factory outlet store or the Central Florida Peanut Festival in early October for a sample of the region’s most well-known crop.

Final Thoughts

You’d be wrong if you think Williston is simply another sleepy Florida town.

Williston has a rich history, a beautiful wilderness, and the friendliness and welcome of a small town.

The pristine landscapes and miles of gorgeous rural roads that lead to Florida’s “Nature Coast” are a welcome respite from the city’s traffic, malls, and other distractions.

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