DEFUNIAK SPRINGS,  FLORIDA

By  Mike Miller  Updated October 27, 2022

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

DeFuniak Springs Florida, is a small town of about 6,283 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 and is the county seat of Walton County.

Lake Defuniak FloridaLake DeFuniak

DeFuniak Springs is located on Lake DeFuniak, an almost perfectly circular 40 acre spring fed lake. 

HISTORY OF DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, FLORIDA

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 officer in the army of the Confederate States of America. He allegedly won the right to name the town in a card game.

Colonel DeFuniak's descendants still live in north Florida and Alabama.

Chautauqua Brotherhood HallChautauqua Brotherhood Hall

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.

Thousands would arrive to participate in the activities and keynote speakers ranged from well-known poets and authors to the inspirational and influential, including Julia Ward Howe ("The Battle Hymn of the Republic") to Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom's Cabin).

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, FLORIDA TODAY

Seemingly suspended in 19th century amber, the city of DeFuniak Springs is one of the prettiest in the Florida panhandle.  

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.

The homes and area around the lake are decorated from Thanksgiving to New Year in a celebration called "Christmas Reflections".

There are reportedly over 10 million lights, which reflect off the lake.

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 such a small population, 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.

Circle Drive around the lake, DeFuniak SpringsCircle Drive around the lake, DeFuniak Springs

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, FLORIDA ATTRACTIONS

  • Walton-DeFuniak Library. The oldest library in the state of 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.   There's also a charming little reading garden outside with a view of the water.

  • 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.

  • You can also take a walking tour which covers the history of the town, how the Chautauqua Assembly along with easy access to the railroad helped the town grow quickly, and see many of the key landmarks. The whole downtown area has been revitalized in recent years with small shops and local restaurants, and is continuing to grow.

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

  • In addition to the Christmas celebration, the other large festival held in DeFuniak Springs is the annual Lakefest, held the 3rd week in May. This family-friendly celebration is held to gather and enjoy the lake. Kayaking, Fun competitions, much food, live entertainment, and primitive (tent) camping are among the options during this week.

  • History buffs visiting DeFuniak Springs and nearby cities might also enjoy a visit to Eglin Air Force Base, about 45 minutes south. The Air Force Armament Museum is here, with a large repository of historic planes. The museum is free and open to the public.
Mansion in Historic Defuniak SpringsMansion in Historic Defuniak Springs

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS HOTELS

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

This brief walking tour video of the town will give you a taste of its historic character.

Recommended DeFuniak Springs Restaurant

BOGEY'S BAR AND RESTAURANT

660 Baldwin Avenue
DeFuniak Springs, Florida 32433
Tel:  850-951-2233

Bogey's is the perfect place to eat if you are visiting DeFuniak Springs. It is located in the center of the downtown historic district. It was formerly located in the Hotel DeFuniak.  

Bogey's InteriorBogey's Interior

Bogey's serves fresh food and has a great atmosphere and equally great service.

The restaurant also has a full service bar with a happy hour, and often features local musicians like a sax player and a guitarist.

Read More About Bogey's Bar and Restaurant



INTERACTIVE GOOGLE MAP OF DEFUNIAK SPRINGS



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