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Florida Travel Blog 

Travel destinations, beaches and attractions and things to do in Florida. Documented by RESIDENTS of Florida.

Dade City Florida USA – Iconic Part of Florida’s History

Throughout Florida, you will find small towns that paved the way for Florida to emerge from an impassable wilderness to one of the world’s most popular places to live, work and play.

Dozens of small towns were critical in pioneering and settling areas thought to be too wild to tame. Dade City Florida USA is one of those towns.

We added the “USA” because Dade City is representative of many towns in America that make this country great. A spirit that shines like a light that is impossible to dim. From the challenges suffered by early pioneers to the nurturing of small-town values into future generations.

historic towns of Florida - Dade City Florida USA
Dade City Florida USA county courthouse. Dade City is the county seat of Pasco County.

Dade City Florida USA Colorful History

Founded in 1884 by some Civil War veterans from Kentucky. However, Dade City was a small community settled well before the actual incorporation as a city.

The town is named after Maj. Francis L. Dade who served, and was killed in action, during the Second Seminole War between 1835 and 1842.

Prior to the final battle with the Seminole Indians, the area was protected from Indians by Fort Dade along with some fortified homes where neighbors gathered for protection.

Old records show the town was growing with stores, river bridges and farms well before the Civil War from as early as 1845.

dade city florida history
On the left is a Dade City Barbershop circa 1904 and on the right is sugar cane grinding circa 1909.

When war broke out between the North and South, the Dade City area was torn like so many other Southern cities. Being mostly leaning towards the Confederacy, they had their own “home guards” organized to protect them from northern sympathizers.

After the War the town again prospered as a farming town and incorporated as noted above.

With two railroads coming through town, even more growth came clear into the early 20th century.

Today, Dade City is a fun small town in Florida known for its quaint shops, historical buildings and its heritage as an iconic town that was part of Florida’s growth and statehood that came in 1848.

As the county seat for Pasco County, there are many festivals, fairs, and events that Dade City hosts.

things you need when flying

For more about Dade City History, Find it Here

Things To Do in Dade City Florida

Dade City, Florida, maybe a small town, but it’s rich in charm and offers various activities and sights for visitors to enjoy. Here’s a list of things to do and see in Dade City:

  • Pioneer Florida Museum & Village: Explore the history of Florida’s pioneers through exhibits, artifacts, and reconstructed buildings depicting life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Annual Kumquat Festival: If you’re visiting in January, don’t miss the annual Kumquat Festival. The event celebrates the unique fruit that’s a local specialty. Enjoy kumquat-inspired treats, crafts, live music, and more.
  • Withlacoochee River Park: Take a hike or a leisurely stroll along the Withlacoochee River and enjoy the scenic views, birdwatching, and picnicking opportunities.
  • Antique Shopping: Dade City is knownDade City Florida USA antiques on the main street for its antique shops and boutiques. Spend some time browsing for treasures in the downtown area.
  • Downtown Historic District: Wander through the historic downtown area, where you’ll find quaint shops, cafes, and historic buildings with architectural charm.
  • Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club: If you’re a golfer, enjoy a round of golf at this scenic course surrounded by rolling hills and picturesque landscapes. We have golfed at Lake Jovita a couple of times. It is a very scenic golf outing and recently many new improvements have been made.
  • Camping and Outdoor Recreation: Enjoy outdoor activities like camping, hiking, fishing, and kayaking at nearby parks such as Hillsborough River State Park or Withlacoochee State Forest.
  • Festivals and Events: Keep an eye out for local festivals and events happening throughout the year, such as the Pasco County Fair or the Dade City Garden Club Flower Show.
  • Cattleman’s Square: In nearby San Antonio, Florida learn about the area’s ranching heritage at Cattleman’s Square, where you can see a statue of a Florida Cracker cowboy and learn about the cattle industry along with the advent of railroads in the area.
  • Scenic Drives: Take a scenic drive through the rolling hills and countryside surrounding Dade City, especially beautiful during the spring when wildflowers are in bloom. We can attest to the beauty of the countryside after attending a wedding in Dade City Florida USA.

Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor activities, or simply soaking in the small-town atmosphere, Dade City has something to offer for every visitor.

More Things To Do in Dade City Florida

Dade City Florida USA history of Edwinola hotel
Dade City Edwinola Hotel in 1912 and today as a popular retirement center.

A Stroll in Downtown Dade City

Historic buildings in downtown Dade City are in abundance such as the Pasco County Courthouse built in 1909. Nearby is The Edwinola, a thriving hotel built in 1912 and now a popular retirement center.

If you are looking for a place to eat, we recommend the eclectic Kafe Kokopelli a block from the courthouse or the southern cooking of Steph’s Southern Soul on 5th Street.

Dade City Rustic elegance
If shopping is on your list of things to do in Dade City, the Rustic Elegance is the place to start.

If shopping is on your mind, try Rustic Elegance near 7th and Meridian Streets. Their sister boutique is Stalgia just down the street.

Just around the corner is Antiques on the Main Street. More antiques, spa’s, jewelry and clothing stores dot the downtown area.

You can easily spend the day wandering the historic buildings, shopping and eating your way through downtown Dade City Florida USA.

Where To Stay in Dade City

While Dade City doesn’t have a wide range of hotels, there are many nearby.

Our first choice for a hotel in Dade City would be the Hampton Inn Dade City just on the outskirts of town. It is clean and convenient.

Just 9 miles south is another good choice in the Microtel Inn and Suites. It is just a few minutes away just north of Zephyrhills.

Dade City Hampton Inn
Dade City Hampton Inn near downtown.

Another option for many people are the vacation rentals through VRBO.

For more information about places to stay in Dade City Florida check here.

Directions to Dade City Florida USA

Dade City, Florida, is located in Pasco County, in the central-western part of the state. Here are general directions to Dade City from some major nearby cities:

From Tampa, Florida to Dade City:
  • Take I-275 N toward Ocala.
  • Merge onto I-75 N toward Ocala.
  • Take exit 285 for FL-52 toward San Antonio/Dade City (east).
  • Turn onto FL-52 eastbound.
  • Follow FL-52 into Dade City.
From Orlando, Florida to Dade City:
  • Take I-4 W toward Tampa.
  • Merge onto I-75 N toward Ocala.
  • Take exit 285 for FL-52 toward San Antonio/Dade City.
  • Turn onto FL-52 eastbound.
  • Follow FL-52 into Dade City.
From Miami, Florida to Dade City:
  • Take the Florida Turnpike North.
  • Merge onto I-75 N toward Naples/Tampa.
  • Take exit 285 for FL-52 toward San Antonio/Dade City.
  • Turn onto FL-52 eastbound.
  • Follow FL-52 into Dade City.
From Jacksonville, Florida to Dade City:
  • Take I-10 W toward Lake City.
  • Merge onto I-75 S toward Gainesville/Tampa.
  • Take exit 285 for FL-52 toward San Antonio/Dade City.
  • Turn onto FL-52 eastbound.
  • Follow FL-52 into Dade City.

These are just general directions, and depending on your starting point within each city, there may be slight variations.

Dade City Florida USA courthouse square circa 1910.
Courthouse Square in 1910 looked much different in Dade City near the time the courthouse was built.

Dade City Florida Makes a Historical Road Trip

This small Florida town of Dade City is quintessential Florida. Almost two hundred years of documented history meets modern forward-thinking in a quaint city that should be a model for more American cities.

Dade City Florida USA is full of beautiful rolling hills, friendly people, quaint shops, historic scenery and fun restaurants. The attractions in Dade City make it a perfect day trip in Florida.

Where is Dade City Florida on the Map

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