By  Mike Miller   Updated November 25, 2022

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

Crescent City is a neat little town of about 1,600 people in Putnam County about halfway between St. Augustine and DeLand on US Highway 17.   

It is located on Crescent Lake, and some fishing experts have declared this town to be the "Bass Capital of the World".

Black Bass by Winslow HomerBlack Bass by Winslow Homer

It is noted as one of the best places to catch largemouth bass, a favorite fish of the artist Winslow Homer, who loved to fish here in the winters.

One way to get to Crescent City is on US-17 north out of Deland.  It's a nice quiet scenic drive. 

You can also get there from St. Augustine on the backroads.  Go west out of the Ancient City until you reach Palatka, then go south on US-17.

Stop off at Welaka and enjoy the river views and the old buildings.


Like most Florida places, Native Americans were the first residents of the shores around today's Crescent City.  They began to disappear after Spain colonized Florida in 1565.

In the 1700s English landowners settled in South Putnam and throughout the area, establishing rice and indigo plantations along the shores of the St. Johns River.

Back then it was known as the Rio de San Juan and is the longest river in Florida.

Charles R. Griffing came to the area in 1876 and purchased large acreage on what was then known as Dunn's Lake. 

Mr. Griffing's wife Jennie, thought the lake had a crescent shape, and Mrs. Griffing named it Lake Crescent.

The creek that joins Crescent Lake to the St. Johns River is still known as Dunn's Creek.

The plat and layout for what is now Crescent City were soon created on the west side of the lake.  Mr. Griffing had formed the Crescent City Real Estate Company.

Like most developers of Florida real estate then and now, he spent a lot of money advertising his lots in northern newspapers enticing visitors to the shores of Crescent Lake.

People began to buy lots and come down, some as tourists and some as permanent residents.

The primary route used when people from up north came to Crescent City was by steamer along the St. Johns River, then up Dunn's Creek to the town.

The small town grew and was incorporated in 1883.  The early  economy was based on farming, citrus growing, and tourism.

The "Great Freeze" of 1894 and 1895 destroyed most of the citrus and the local economy tanked. 

Many people moved away and Crescent City lost population and the Great Depression did not help matters, when even the local banks failed.

The town did not make a comeback for many years, until after World War II, and it is still considered a rural area.

A famous person of historical note from Crescent City was A. Philip Randolph.  He was a leader in the civil rights movement and the American labor movement. 

He organized and was the leader of the Brotherhood Of Sleeping Car Porters for many years.  It was the first almost entirely black labor union.

Randolph was also active in the civil rights movement throughout his life, and in 1963 was the director of the march on Washington, D.C., the largest civil rights demonstration in American history.


In 1973, the old green Hubbard House, also known as San Sui (shown below), was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

Hubbard House on the National Register of Historic PlacesHubbard House on the National Register of Historic Places
Wikipedia, photo by Ebyabe

Built in the 1870s, Mr. Hubbard was a man of many interests including horticulture, history, real estate, and he was a lumberman and lawyer.

His son Henry was a horticulturist and entomologist who was instrumental in identifying and helping control agricultural pests in the Florida citrus industry in the late 1800s.

Then in 1996, most of the rest of downtown Crescent City was added to the National Registry.

This historic area is bounded by Lake Stella to the west, sitting right between both beautiful lakes. Crescent Lake is the 3rd largest freshwater lake in the state of Florida.

Home in Crescent City Historic DistrictHome in Crescent City Historic District

Many of the old buildings in the Crescent City area are pretty much the way they were 100 years ago. 

Crescent City Summit St at East Central Ave
By FloNight (Sydney Poore) and Russell Poore, CC BY-SA 4.0

The city fronts on beautiful Crescent Lake, which is a large appendage of the St. Johns River.  

Crescent City Florida Lodging and Dining

Crescent City Florida Sprague HouseSprague House with Crescent Lake in Background

Sprague House is a nice bed and breakfast in Crescent City.  It was built in 1892 as the home of one of the local citrus growers. 

Sprague House in Early Days, Florida MemorySprague House in Early Days, Florida Memory

A block away is a little restaurant named 3 Bananas that overlooks the lake.  3 Bananas has nice fried fish, wings and a lot of other casual dining fare, along with a full bar.

3 Bananas, Crescent City3 Bananas, Crescent City

3 Bananas has some nice vintage photos of the building dating back to when it was the old Masonic Hall. 

Outside Dining Area, 3 Bananas

An Old Time Florida Story About
Crescent City And The Masonic Hall

A friend of mine, the late Howard Hunter, told me a story about his father and uncle who lived across Crescent Lake near Espanola.  One night about a century ago when they were young bachelors they attended a dance at the Masonic Hall.  They had a few drinks and were feeling no pain, but it was two in the morning and time to go home back across the lake.

They got into their rowboat and began rowing east.  It was dark and foggy and visibility was near zero.  They realized they were lost on the large lake.  As the sun finally came up in the east and the fog began to lift, the sobered up boys discovered they had forgotten to untie their boat from the dock at the Masonic Hall.

Crescent City Florida Fire Dept MuralMural on Garage Door, Downtown Crescent City

You will enjoy looking at the old houses and buildings in Crescent City, Florida. 

Crescent City, Florida house on hillOld House in Crescent City

It is a city of pleasant tree shaded neighborhoods and beautiful vintage homes.

In the Historic District you can take a walking tour or stroll at your own leisure. There are some antique shops and local restaurants among the old houses.

Both Crescent Lake and Lake Stella are within walking distance.

Around the area you will still find food crops being grown, such as the Eagles Nest Organic Grove, which started in the 1950s and is now reported to be the northernmost citrus grove in the state.

The area has several family farms growing a variety of produce, and ferneries shipping out the area's cut foliage are still common.

Old House in Crescent City 2022Old House in Crescent City 2022

There are 2 public boat launches on Crescent Lake right in town, as well as 1 on Lake Stella, which is convenient since boating and the excellent fishing are big draws to the area.

In addition to bass, you'll find an abundance of blue crab, crappie, sunfish, longnose gar and others.

The Oaks Golf Club is a public golf course in Georgetown west of the city and north of the St. Johns River's Lake George.

The area has other smaller bodies of water along with the larger Lake George, so you'll find parks for camping and hiking throughout the area.


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