DeFuniak Springs Florida, is a small town of about 6,000 people in the northwest part of the state.  

It is located at the intersection of US-331 and US-90 just north of I-10, about 60 miles east of Pensacola.

This little village at Lake DeFuniak started life as a small way station on the Pensacola & Atlantic Railroad. 

It was named after Col. Frederick DeFuniak, an executive of the Louisville-Nashville Railroad.

DeFuniak was a hard-working Italian immigrant who had been an officer in the army of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the George Washington of modern Italy. He also was an office in the army of the Confederate States of America.

The Colonel allegedly won the right to name the town in a card game.

Descendants of Colonel DeFuniak still live in north Florida and Alabama.

Lake Defuniak FloridaLake DeFuniak

Members of a Methodist educational movement called the Chautauqua Assembly, headquartered in New York, further developed the small hamlet. It soon became their favorite winter retreat, growing in importance and beauty.

Seemingly frozen in 19th century amber, DeFuniak Springs is one of the prettiest of Florida towns.  Numerous Victorian era homes encircle little Lake DeFuniak, and it's at times difficult to tell the old homes from the new ones built in the same Colonial Revival and Queen Anne styles.

Home of former Florida Governor Sidney J CattsHome of Former Governor Sidney J Catts, Photo by Ebyabe

The town has around 200 historic buildings surrounding the lake, 40 or so which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  With a population of about 6,000 people, DeFuniak Springs might just have the most historic sites per capita of any town in Florida.

DeFuniak Springs St Agatha ChurchSt Agatha's Episcopal Church

One of the many interesting old buildings is St. Agatha's Episcopal Church.  It is a Carpenter Gothic church in the town historic district at 144 Circle Drive.  The church was built in 1896.

Because of the old homes and Walton County's oaks and hilly terrain, DeFuniak Springs sometimes feels more like rural New England than rural Florida.


  • McLain's Family Restaurant, 622 Hugh Adams Road, DeFuniak Springs Florida. 850-892-2402. Southern style buffet. Lots of choices, plenty of deep fried deliciousness.

  • H&M Hot Dog, 43 South 9th Street, DeFuniak Springs Florida. 850-892-9100. The oldest continuously operating hot dog stand in Florida, still turning out the eats since 1947. Great Chicago-style hot dogs, kielbasas and homemade sauerkraut.

  • Bogey's Bar and Restaurant, 600 Baldwin Ave, DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433.  850-951-2233.  Downtown DeFuniak.  Fine dining in the historic downtown district.


  • Walton-DeFuniak Library. The oldest library in Florida still in use today, in operation since 1887. Some interesting exhibits inside, including an impressive collection of medieval armor from the Crusades and muskets from the American colonial era.

  • Lake DeFuniak. According to legend it was created by a meteor, but it's most likely a sinkhole lake. Spring-fed and almost perfectly round, though perhaps not as perfectly round as Lake Kingsley 250 miles to the east in Clay County.

  • L&N Train Depot. Built in 1882 and once serving thousands a day, it now houses the Walton County Heritage Museum.

  • Chautauqua Vineyards and Winery. A good place to visit and taste some delicious wine.


  • Hotel DeFuniak, 400 US Highway 90 East, DeFuniak Springs, FL 32433. Tel: 850-892-4383. Nicely restored 1920 hotel in the heart of historic downtown DeFuniak Springs. Loaded with antiques, reasonable rates. 


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