Brooksville is a city of nearly 8,000 residents that lies a few miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico along the central portion of the state’s west coast.
The city is part of the Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater Metropolitan area and offers visitors a wide variety of recreation and entertainment options, including state and national parks, world-class beaches, and art and cultural attractions.
Day-trips to Orlando to the east and Tampa to the south are easily doable, though for those who’d rather not waste valuable time in the car, there are plenty of nearby options as well.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Brooksville.
1. Brooksville Visitor Information Center
Though they’re usually overlooked by all but the savviest travelers, humble visitor information centers are true traveler’s gems, especially for those who are visiting an area for the first time.
The Brooksville Visitor Information Center is located on Cortez Boulevard in town and is staffed by knowledgeable and enthusiastic locals who are wonderful community resources in their own right.
The center is stocked with brochures, maps, and travel magazines that are free for the taking. Many of them have lots of valuable coupons inside for lodging, dining, and local attractions that usually offer discounts and special offers that’ll save you a few bucks.
2. Tom Varn Park
Tom Varn Park is conveniently located in the center of town and is a free attraction that’s a big hit with activity-minded locals and visitors.
The park features a number of trails that are perfect for a morning or afternoon stroll, and there are covered pavilions and picnic areas as well.
A playground, swings, and baseball diamond round-out the park’s amenities. Throughout the year, it hosts several fairs and festivals too – one of the most popular of which is the Annual Art in the Park arts and crafts festival that’s been going strong for 35 years.
3. Hernando Oaks Golf and Country Club
The Sunshine State is one of the country’s premier golf destinations, and when many states are digging out from a cold and snowy winter, golfers in Florida are smearing on the sunscreen and teeing-up.
The championship level 18-hole course at the Hernando Oaks Golf and Country Club is Brooksville’s premier golf course and plays just short of 7,000 yards from the blue tees.
That makes it longer than many of its contemporaries, though with a variety of tee box options, it’s appropriate for players of most ages and skill levels.
Tee times can be booked online, as can reservations for the facility’s popular restaurant.
4. May-Stringer House
The May-Stringer House is located on Museum Court in Brooksville and is home to the Hernando Heritage Museum; together, they’re must-visit attractions for those interested in learning about the area’s history.
The house is one of the most well-preserved historic buildings in the area and sits on a scenic hill overlooking the city.
Its exhibits include more than 10,000 items related to the area’s founding, settling, and development, and docent-guided tours are available regularly and last about an hour.
Rumor has it that the house is haunted, and for those less-than-squeamish travelers, evening ghost tours are available if scheduled in advance.
5. Belle Parc RV Resort
For RV enthusiasts who happen to be 55 and older, the Belle Parc RV Resort would be a great place to park your ride and relax while visiting Brooksville.
Belle Parc is more of a resort than it is a typical RV site, and its proximity to local attractions offers visitors an abundance of activities to choose from.
Though many choose to while away their days with good books and old friends, others opt for filling their schedules with trips to the beach, kayaking, and exploring the region’s many historical sites.
Check out their website for a full list of amenities.
6. Rising Sun Bistro and Market
Located in scenic downtown Brooksville on South Main Street, Rising Sun Bistro and Market is an ever-popular destination for those looking to enjoy good food at reasonable prices in a comfortable, family-owned restaurant.
The restaurant features breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus that include lots of traditional favorites, most of which are made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
They’re also particularly well-known for their coffee, which they source from local small-batch roasters and blend on-site.
Before heading out, check their schedule, because their hours vary by day. They’re closed on Sundays and are only open for dinner on Thursdays and Fridays.
7. NJoy Spirits Distillery
NJoy Spirits is one of the region’s premier distilleries and is comprised of nearly 100 acres of farmland. They are largely dedicated to growing sugarcane and rye, which are used to distill rum and whiskey respectively.
The facility is open to the public between Thursday and Sunday from 11 AM until 4 PM, and there’s no charge for admission.
Site and distillery tours are offered and include free samples along the way for those who are of legal drinking age.
Most guests find the process by which common ingredients are turned into intoxicating liquor fascinating, and there’s a great gift shop on-site as well.
8. Boyett’s Grove
Boyett’s Grove has been described as a unique combination of citrus farm, wildlife park, and prospector’s camp; it’s one of those cool local attractions that usually succeed in exceeding guest’s expectations.
It’s located on Spring Lake Highway in Brooksville, and in an attempt to corner the market on fun activities, it features a mini-golf course, gold prospecting areas, an art gallery, ice cream parlor, and gift shop.
Needless to say, boredom isn’t typically a problem at Boyett’s Grove, but the place does draw crowds. To avoid the hordes, consider a morning visit when they first open for the day.
9. Chinsegut Hill Museum
Brooksville’s Chinsegut Hill Museum is housed in a historic sugar plantation manor home that dates back to the middle part of the 19th century.
It features stunning, traditional southern architecture that was typical of the era, and guided tours are the best way to get an in-depth insight into the plantation, its history, and the lives of its previous residents.
The museum’s exhibits include historical artifacts and memorabilia, and they host special events and guest speakers regularly as well.
There are on-site cottages too for those who’d like to spend a night or two in a little slice of the Old South.
10. Brooksville Blueberry Festival
Blueberries haven’t always been staples of Florida agriculture like melons, strawberries, and tomatoes, but in recent years, they’ve begun to be cultivated by a large number of growers. The counties around Brooksville are some of the most prolific blueberry producers in the state.
The Florida Blueberry Festival is held annually in Brooksville over a few days in March or April when the weather is usually just about perfect. The event includes live entertainment, arts and crafts, and a variety of food and adult beverages, most of which are from local producers.
The festival is held on the courthouse lawn downtown; though adults pay a nominal entrance fee, kids under 10 get in free.
11. Withlacoochee State Forest
Withlacoochee State Forest is a large tract of preserved land that’s just 20 minutes north of downtown Brooksville, making it a convenient day-trip option for those who want to experience nature without spending half the day behind a windshield.
The forest includes diverse environments that are popular with wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, hikers, and mountain bikers, but it’s probably most well-known for its scenic state trail that stretches for nearly 50 miles.
It’s common to see a variety of unique Florida animals along the way, especially during the lowlight hours in the morning and evening when many of them are active.
12. Annual Halloween Haunted House & Fall Festival
Every year, the Hernando Historical Museum Association hosts an Annual Halloween Haunted House and Fall Festival. It’s held over two distinct periods in the middle and end of October.
The event is a celebration of fall’s arrival and includes a variety of fun and often spooky activities, like ghost stories around a bonfire, haunted house tours, and fortune-tellers.
Admission is inexpensive, but some activities may be a modest but additional cost.
The festival is usually fully stocked with local food trucks serving a variety of tasty grub, and little ones are encouraged to wear their favorite costumes.
13. Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art
For those with access to wheels who relish the idea of cruising south on a scenic stretch of highway that fronts the Gulf of Mexico, Tarpon Springs would be a great destination.
The Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art is located on the St. Petersburg College campus and is the quaint seaside city’s premier museum that focuses primarily on contemporary art.
Many of the works in the museum’s collection feature local themes like commercial fishing and sponge diving, and a great deal were created by local and regionally known artists.
Admission is cheap, and most guests are pleasantly surprised at the scope and quality of works on display.
14. Busch Gardens Tampa
Busch Gardens Tampa is one of the heavyweights of the Florida theme park scene, and each year it draws hordes of visitors from all over the country and world.
Busch Gardens is like a zoo, amusement park, and world-class live entertainment venue all under one roof. For many visitors with children, it’s where they spend a majority of their Florida vacation time.
In addition to its traditional animal attractions and exhilarating rides, Busch Gardens also offers a variety of lodging, dining, and entertainment options. There are even some that are for adults who happen to have an evening free to themselves.
15. The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts
Photography is often overlooked as an art medium, but in the hands of a professional, a camera can capture moments that elude other artists.
The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts is located in Tampa’s trendy Waterfront Arts District and was founded in 2001.
The museum’s collections include historical and contemporary examples of photography from local, national, and internationally acclaimed photographers.
In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum hosts temporary ones from other institutions and private collections. Guided tours, guest speakers, and instructional courses for both adults and children are offered as well, so check their website’s calendar of events.