By  Mike Miller  Updated January 16, 2023

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

Milton, Florida is located in the western Florida panhandle near Pensacola.  It is on US-90 and about two miles north of I-10.

Aerial View Downtown MiltonAerial View of Downtown Milton

Milton has a population of about 11,000, and adjacent Bagdad has another 1,500.  The community is located on the Blackwater River.


Milton is one of the oldest cities in the state, having been incorporated in 1844 before Florida became a state. 

Florida was still a territory and did not achieve statehood until the following year, 1845. Milton is now the county seat of Santa Rosa County.

Santa Rosa County Courthouse, 1877, Milton, FloridaSanta Rosa County Courthouse, 1877, Milton, Florida

Milton is on the banks of the Blackwater River, which served as the major transportation system for the materials that went into Milton's main industry back then, ship building.

This area of Northwest Florida was rich in timber and the naval stores that come from timber and were important to Florida's maritime trade.

Most of Milton's industrial and commercial capacity was destroyed by the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Milton, Florida Home

Many Milton people left the area and headed to Alabama.  Most of them lost their estates and land to the Union. 

The town slumbered in poverty for almost 20 years after the war.  Then the railroad came to town in the 1880s. 

The timber industries in the area boomed with new access into the rugged interior of the Panhandle. 

After lands were cleared of timber, cotton and peanuts were planted and plantation farming became the major industry.

Milton Florida DowntownMilton, Florida Downtown

Two separate fires almost destroyed Milton in 1885 and 1892.  An even worse fire came along in 1909 which destroyed most of the remaining surviving buildings. 


The town rebuilt after those fires, and many of those buildings from the early 1900s can still be seen in the downtown section.

Bagdad Post OfficeBagdad Post Office

Bagdad is a small historic town on the south edge of Milton that has also done a good job of preserving some of their old buildings.

It began as a mill town.  Today it's a quiet town where people tend to relax and enjoy the water, canoeing, sailing and fishing.

Today's Milton is a vibrant city of more than 9,000 that supports manufacturing, small businesses and farming activities. 

The town is also a support center for the U.S. Naval Air Station Whiting Field, an important training facility for Navy pilots.

The combination of this and the nearby Pensacola Naval Air Station have given the entire area the nickname "Cradle of Naval Aviation."

Milton,  Florida: Historic Preservation

Historic preservation is important to Milton, and the City's Downtown Historic District does a good job of keeping the place looking like the authentic and historic Old Florida that it remains to this day.

Milton is a designated Florida Main Street Community and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visitors can learn about its history at attractions such as its Museum of Local History, the Imogene Theater built in 1912, and the L&N Train Depot, honoring their important rail history.

Arcadia Mill is another historical site that has a visitor center and museum.

Its rich history as a water-powered business has evolved through its early days as a sawmill, a grist mill, a textile mill, its demise after the 1855 fire, and then its further destruction during the Civil War.

Milton Florida St Marys Episcopal ChurchSt. Mary's Episcopal Church

St. Mary's Episcopal Church and Rectory is on Oak Street in Milton and is an example of Carpenter Gothic church architecture. 

The church was completed in 1888 and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The church was mentioned in Frank Lloyd Wright's book, The Aesthetics of American Architecture.  

It is also listed in A Guide To Florida's Historic Architecture published by the University of Florida Press.

The area offers a rich natural environment to enjoy, for all ages and activity levels. Blackwater River State Park is a popular park for camping, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking along the nature trails.

The Blackwater Heritage State Trail is a rail-trail, over 9 miles long and with paths 12 feet wide. It has the distinction of being a designated National Recreation trail.

Paved and ideal for biking, running, skating and birdwatching, there is also an unpaved shoulder for equestrian use. It winds through the middle of Milton and out to the country and over wooden bridges.

The Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park protects one of the last tracts of wet prairie in the state including pitcher plants, and is home to almost 20 plants and animals classified as rare and endangered.

There are no recreational facilities here but is an ideal spot for nature lovers and photographers.


Blackwater Bistro
5147 Elmira Street
Milton, FL 
Tel: 850-623-1105

Blackwater BistroBlackwater Bistro

This small cozy restaurant is located in downtown Milton near the Blackwater River.  The building is a renovated historic house.  You can dine inside or outside on either the patio or the shady porch. 

If you have your dog with you, it's okay but you have to keep Fido in the outside dining areas.

The menu here is American, but since it is in far west Florida there is a strong Cajun influence in many items.  Coastal Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana are not that far away.

Appetizers include crab cakes, chicken wings, hummus, and more.  If you feel like a bowl of soup before dinner, you can enjoy their Cajun Country Gumbo.  They have an extensive sandwich and wrap selection.

Several different salad selections are available, as well as plenty of side dishes such as mashed potatoes, green beans, lima beans, cole slaw, fruit cups, and french fries.

Blackwater BistroBlackwater Bistro

House specialties include Beef Wellington, Filet Delmonico, Baby Back Pork Ribs,  and offering from the sea such as Ahi Tuna, Atlantic Salmon, and Shrimp and Gouda Grits.

You can also get gourmet pizza here as well as hamburgers.  After all this, you can try their dessert menu featuring chocolate cake, cobbler, ice cream and pies of all kinds including Key Lime and Southern Pecan.

Their Sunday brunch is famous locally for its Bloody Marys and Bottomless Champagne and Mimosas.  The menu includes chicken and waffle, crab cake Benedict, Cajun omelet and a wide selection of salads and sandwiches.  

Blackwater Bistro has a full bar with beer, wine, and cocktails.  You can enjoy live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

Blackwater Bistro is open the following hours:

     1100am to 900pm        Tuesday-Thursday
     1100am to 1000pm      Friday-Saturday
     1000am to 300pm        Sunday Brunch


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