By  Mike Miller  Updated June 26,  2022

Arcadia, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Arcadia, Florida is a town of about 7,420 people located in DeSoto County, Florida. It is located south of Wauchula at the intersection of US-17 and SR-70.

Cowboy at Arcadia RodeoCowboy at Arcadia Rodeo

This part of Florida is cattle country, although citrus and watermelons are important also.

Cowboys are seen everywhere in Arcadia and the surrounding farms and villages.  These are not drug store cowboys; they are the real thing.


Some historians say that a Reverend Hendry named the town in honor of Arcadia Albritton, a daughter of pioneer settlers who baked him a birthday cake.

In the 1880's Arcadia was the county seat of a very large county - DeSoto County - that would be broken into several smaller ones.

Charlotte, Hardee, Glades and Highlands Counties were broken out of DeSoto County, with Arcadia remaining the County Seat of DeSoto.

These lands in the heart of south central and southwest Florida had some of the most extensive cattle ranching operations in the state.

On Thanksgiving Day 1905 Arcadia was nearly destroyed by a huge fire that burned down most of the business district. Most of the older buildings in town are dated from the years after that event.

In World War One, Arcadia was home to Carlstrom Field.

Carlstrom Field, Arcadia, Florida - U.S. Army Photo

It was used for pilot training then, and was also activated again for training World War Two pilots.

Today the old base serves as the Desoto County Juvenile Correctional Complex

A plaque on the administration building memorializes the old Carlstrom Field.  You can still see the outlines of the old airfields on aerial photographs of the area.

Arcadia, Florida downtownArcadia, Florida


Arcadia is a Florida Main Street community, and has developed its downtown area into a pleasant location for antique shops, restaurants and mini-parks.  

Arcade-Koch Building, Arcadia Historic DistrictArcade-Koch Building, Arcadia Historic District

The city's historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places, and has become a destination for antiquers because of its historic downtown antique district.

On the fourth Saturday of each month the downtown streets are turned into a festival where vendors sell you art, produce, and other things.

Arcadia was the home country of pioneer cattleman Ziba King, one of the largest cattle ranchers in Florida at one time.

It's cowboy heritage is also evident in the many rodeos held each year.

Most prominent of these is Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo held in March.

Cowboys from all over the United States enter this competition each year.  Winners look forward to heading to the National finals in Las Vegas.

The annual Watermelon Festival is held each May during harvest season.  The celebration includes parades, car shows, music, and other events.

Solomon's CastleSolomon's Castle

Nature lovers also enjoy paddling canoes down the Peace River that flows along the west side of town on its way down to Charlotte Harbor at Punta Gorda.

When you're in Arcadia, swing west a little and visit Solomon's Castle in the tiny community of Ona.  The castle is one of Florida's most unusual tourist attractions.


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