Rural Small Towns and Scenic Byways of the Florida Panhandle

Detour Back in Time off Interstate 10 in Florida: Blountsville and Lake Talqui

This is a great way to make a camping detour if you find yourself in the vicinity of Tallahassee, Florida.  You can do this run in reverse direction if coming from the east as well.  It is so much worth the views to get off the expressway. And this little trail isn’t something you’ll find in any state tourist trail map but it is a fun an fascinating look at a non-beach part of the Sunshine State.

There are at least two cafes that we saw in the town of Altha.  Mama's Kitchen is one of them pictured here.
There are at least two cafes that we saw in the town of Altha. Mama’s Kitchen is one of them pictured here.

Altha

Our first sight of any significance is the town of about 500 people called Altha, Florida.  It is tiny and somewhat historic with a small cafe, an auto parts store and an ACE Hardware comprising its town center along with a town hall though it is definitely more of a village than a town!  But in Florida I’ve seen towns with less than 10,000 people called “cities” so a town might be a similar misunderstood thing.

Downtown Blountstown has some surprising discoveries in its little historic center.
Downtown Blountstown has some surprising discoveries in its little historic center.

Blountstown

Blountstown along Florida 20 is another small town that is more of a town than a village.  It has plenty of buildings and a definable town center and is easily a place you could spend a little time in.  It is the county seat to Calhoun County and oddly the main road only has structures on the one side except for a newer bank if I remember right.  There’s some thrift store/antiques type of businesses and some cafes and worth a stop if this is on your route.  The town does call itself a “city” which is less hilarious than the banner on its website calling it “The Kingdom of Opportunity.”  Why can’t towns just embrace what they are?

In the town of Bristol, Florida, the hardware store and the florist is conveniently located in the same building.
In the town of Bristol, Florida, the hardware store and the florist is conveniently located in the same building.

Bristol

Central Avenue east will take you to another tiny place called Bristol.  It is mostly a few gasoline stations and streets with no sidewalks.  A town platted years ago with many unsold lots.  But these little towns are fascinating to me and this one is worth a poke around a few blocks if travelling through.  I had to double check I had a link to the correct Bristol, Florida because the only one I could find called itself a city.  It does date to 1859 so there is some history here and it is the county seat to Liberty County.

Crossing the stunning Apalachicola River in north Florida enroute to Bristol, Florida from Blountstown, Florida.
Crossing the stunning Apalachicola River in north Florida enroute to Bristol, Florida from Blountstown, Florida.

Lake Talquin

Our next stop would be Lake Talquin for the night.  We stayed at Ingram’s Marina for the night and there was a decent spot to pull into and we were right on the marina.  It wasn’t the most transient of places as a lot of the people looked as though they lived there.  Still a nice place to pull into for the night and Lake Talquin is incredible.  The staff here were also great and it is pet friendly and the shop is well stocked.

This is a slice of north Florida that is well worth visiting.  Fishing and boating were popular here and this would be a great place to base yourself if that was your primary interest.  Regardless of interest, it was a great place to visit and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.  It was, as with the rest of this day, a bit of a throwback in time – and that’s a pretty good thing these days!

Again, this was our route for this day but it could be done in reverse order:

Altha FL 71

Blountsvile FL 20

Bristol FL 20

Lake Talquin

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