The Original Garden of Eden?

By  Mike Miller Updated October 13, 2022

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

Bristol is the county seat of Liberty County, Florida.  It is at the intersection of State Roads 20 and 12 about 50 miles west of Tallahassee and about 20 miles south of the Georgia state line.

Adam and Eve in the Garden of EdenAdam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

This town of less than 1,000 people lies about 5 miles east of the Apalachicola River.

It is far east in Northwest Florida, so it could be considered to be near the border between Florabama and Florgia

These regional terms were invented by the late author Al Burt in his classic Florida book "Becalmed in the Mullet Latitudes".

As you might guess, Florabama is that portion of North Florida that borders Alabama;  Florgia is the portion that borders Georgia. 

This is grits, fried green tomato, and sweet tea country.

Bristol, Florida Garden of Eden SignState Archives of Florida

An old timer named Elvy Callaway got a lot of publicity a generation or two ago by claiming that the biblical Garden of Eden was in northern Liberty County.   Elvy was a country lawyer and a Baptist preacher.

He said the evidence was that the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee River system has four heads, just like the river described in the Bible.

He also said the area is rich in gopher wood, the same stuff that Noah used to build his ark.

Liberty County Courthouse, BristolLiberty County Courthouse, Bristol

Further evidence, said Elvy, was that the area from the Chattahoochee River south to Bristol contains 28 of the 30 varieties of trees mentioned in the Bible.

He believed that the Garden of Eden started about 4 miles north of Bristol and extended north into Georgia, and it was 25 miles wide in an east-west direction, and 35 miles long in the north-south direction.

The Garden of Eden was a Bristol, Florida Tourist Attraction

The area of Callaway's Garden of Eden became a minor tourist attraction in the 1950s through the 1970s. 

People visited it for the chance to see the birthplace of Adam and to look at the amazing variety of plants and trees in the area.

Old Building in Bristol, FloridaOld Building in Bristol, Florida

You can get a glimpse of the natural beauty of this area by visiting Torreya State Park. Keep your eyes open for the gopher wood tree, torreya taxifolia.

Torreya State Park and Apalachicola River near  Bristol FloridaApalachicola River at Torreya State Park

If a Florida snake invites you to take a bite of an apple, you might think twice about it.

Bristol, Florida Recommended Restaurant


10536 NW State Road 20
Bristol, Florida 32321-3440
Tel: 850-643-2264

Apalachee RestaurantApalachee Restaurant

Since Bristol is a small town of less than 1,000 people, there are not that many restaurants to pick from. 

Nearby Blountstown has a few, but a good choice is the Apalachee Restaurant on the main highway through Bristol, State Road 20.

Although you can order from the menu, the buffet is usually a treat too.  North Florida is Southern in culture, and the food in this small restaurant confirms it.

Among the offerings are Southern Fried Chicken, Barbecue Beef Brisket, catfish, turnip greens (just called greens down here), corn bread and corn bread dressing, white acre peas, biscuits, and other Southern staples.

Apalachee Restaurant, Bristol, FloridaApalachee Restaurant, Bristol, Florida

The buffet also has pork chops, beets, collards, baked chicken, green beans, potatoes (mashed and not), fried squash and okra, and plenty of bread and desserts.

Most of these offerings are also available from the menu, but you can also get hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries, and other standard fare.

The staff is friendly and so are the customers.  Even though you may not be from Bristol, you will feel at home.  You will enjoy being addressed as "yes sir" and "yes ma'm" by the young folks you might encounter.

Apalachee Restaurant is open 7 days a week from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm except they close at 3:00 pm on Sunday.


Apalachicola River 
Bristol, FL 32321  
Start your Bristol adventure with a scenic kayak or canoe trip along the majestic Apalachicola River. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature as you paddle through lush forests and winding waterways.

Keep an eye out for native wildlife, including alligators, turtles, and a variety of bird species. It's a serene experience that allows you to connect with the natural beauty of Florida's landscape while enjoying a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

Veterans Memorial Railroad 
10561 NW Theo Jacobs Way, Bristol, FL 32321 | (850) 643-6646 

All aboard! Climb aboard the Veterans Memorial Railroad for a nostalgic journey through Bristol's history. This charming railway offers scenic train rides aboard vintage locomotives.

Travel through pine forests, cross over trestles, and admire the picturesque countryside. Along the way, learn about the railroad's role in shaping Bristol's past and gain insight into the town's rich heritage.

It's a family-friendly activity that combines education with entertainment, providing a memorable experience for visitors of all ages. 
Panhandle Pioneer Settlement 
17869 NW Pioneer Settlement Rd, Blountstown, FL 32424 | (850) 674-2777 

Step back in time at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement, located in nearby Blountstown about five miles away. Journey to the Settlement and discover a living history museum that preserves Florida's pioneer heritage.

Explore historic buildings, including log cabins, a schoolhouse, and a blacksmith shop, as costumed interpreters bring the past to life. Participate in hands-on activities such as butter churning and candle making, gaining insight into the daily lives of early settlers.

It's an educational and immersive experience that offers a fascinating glimpse into Florida's pioneering days. 

Sam Atkins Park 
17316 NW Silas Green St., Blountstown, FL 32424 
Unwind and enjoy some leisure time at Sam Atkins Park, a peaceful oasis around five miles away from Bristol in nearby Blountstown. This charming park features picnic areas, playgrounds, and walking trails. 

These make it the perfect spot for a family outing or a relaxing afternoon stroll. Breathe in the fresh air, soak up the sunshine, and admire the scenic views of the surrounding countryside.

With its serene ambiance and recreational amenities, Sam Atkins Park offers a tranquil escape where you can unwind and recharge amidst nature's beauty. There is a dog park, picnic tables and a basketball court.

Torreya State Park 
2576 NW Torreya Park Rd, Bristol, FL 32321 | (850) 643-2674 

Conclude your Bristol adventure with a visit to Torreya State Park, a hidden gem nestled along the bluffs of the Apalachicola River. This scenic park offers hiking trails, picnicking areas, and breathtaking views of the river valley below.

Explore the rugged terrain, discover rare plant species, and marvel at the towering bluffs that rise above the river. With its natural beauty and recreational opportunities, Torreya State Park provides a fitting finale to your Bristol escapade, leaving you with memories of adventure and exploration in Florida's picturesque Panhandle. 


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