Access and Resources
Twenty-eight one-, two-, and three-bedroom cottages are available for $180 to $385 per night in summer.
As we neared the sleepy fishing town of Steinhatchee (pop. 1,100) on the southeast end of Florida's Panhandle, my family and I half expected to see Tarzan come swinging through the tangle of moss oaks and silver palms. Far removed from Mickey and his perky pals, we'd ventured into what tourism folks call "Old Florida"a pre-theme-park haven of lush vegetation, snoozing alligators, and wild turkeys.
Our base in this unhurried paradise was Steinhatchee Landing, a 35-acre resort on the Steinhatchee River, built to resemble a 1920s village of two-story vacation cottages, many of them Cracker-style (the term "cracker" refers to the state's early settlers, who cracked long whips to herd cattle). Each has a tin roof, a big front porch, and all the modern conveniencesmicrowave, stereo system, washer and dryer, VCR, and even a refrigerator pre-stocked with soda. Though just 12 years old, the place enticed us to savor the syrupy-slow pleasures of past generations: listening to crickets, fishing for shiners off the dock, and watching the sun melt like red sherbet into the Gulf.
When my husband, daughter, and I felt like budging from the porch swing, we found much to do: We swam in the riverside pool, paddled canoes, and rode bicycles on the dirt trails through the resort into town. On a sunset pontoon cruise, our guide pointed out rare brown pelicans guarding their nests. One afternoon we drove 50 miles and soaked, under a canopy of cypress, gum, ash, and maple trees, in the clear, 72-degree waters at Manatee Springs State Park, where an industrious spring churns out 81,250 gallons every minute. Entrance fees at some 30 natural springs and state parks, all within an hour of the resort, are waived for Steinhatchee guests.