US 19 in Florida from Perry to Cross City: Lost in Time

Downtown Perry, Florida

There is a sign somewhere in St. Petersburg and I’ve passed it dozens of times showing Perry as being something like 131 miles away – or some ridiculous figure.  Like there was nothing between here and there.  So, I’ve always been curious to actually see Perry.  After being in Florida thirty years, I finally got my peek.  And it was interesting.  Not that I’d spend a vacation there or make a special effort to drive hours out of the way to see it but it was well worth visiting if you’re in the region.

One of the interesting historic structures in downtown Perry, Florida.  This one houses an active pharmacy.
One of the interesting historic structures in downtown Perry, Florida. This one houses an active pharmacy.

There’s enough to occupy some time here on a break from driving.  It is the county seat of Taylor County and has a few businesses located in the town center.  There’s plenty of suburban stuff too, but we like to prowl the streets of the old town center.  In this case, there seems to be revitalization movement in the town center and while it is far from a tourist destination, it is a real and living small north Florida town that is actually quite interesting.

Downtown Perry, Florida is small but quaint and well worth a stop.  I was sorry I hadn't stopped in until now after living in Florida for nearly 30 years.
Downtown Perry, Florida is small but quaint and well worth a stop. I was sorry I hadn’t stopped in until now after living in Florida for nearly 30 years.

Johnson’s Bakery on South Jefferson Street is definitely a place you want to hit if you’re hungry.  We were and enjoyed a delicious plain and simple cheeseburger each that was from another decade in its goodness.  And the selection of baked goods that were available when we paid was too tempting.  We ended up buying quite a bit of eclairs and doughnuts and other really delicious carbs!  It was so worth it though.

The inside of Johnson's Bakery is nothing special on one hand but on the other, the place is completely special and worth a trip - the food is great and the baked goods fabulous.
The inside of Johnson’s Bakery is nothing special on one hand but on the other, the place is completely special and worth a trip – the food is great and the baked goods fabulous.

Old Highway Motels and Neon Signs

US 19 in this area is known as the Nature Trail and is well worth exploration by anyone interested in nature, history or just plain old Florida kitsch.  Personally, I was intrigued, as I have always been of this stretch of road, of what it once was.  There were numerous old travel lodges, tourist motels and campgrounds that dotted this road along with the old gas stations and roadside restaurants and the odd orange grove stand.

One of the many fabulous old neon signs that dot the old US 19 Highway in Florida.
One of the many fabulous old neon signs that dot the old US 19 Highway in Florida.

Much of what once was here still is in one form or another.  The large old neon signs of some of the larger tourist courts was what caught my eye.  Grand and bright they must have once stood beckoning tourists on their Florida journey to stay the night or more.  It is a road that wasn’t quite forgotten when the interstate system expanded into Florida.

The El Dorado Motel and Restaurant sign on US 19 in Florida.
The El Dorado Motel and Restaurant sign on US 19 in Florida.

This is one of our final legs of the 17 day RV trip.  We will have one more stop in Cedar Key, Florida before we head home.  The trip actually took place at the end of 2013 and we’re just getting around to completing the journey on the blog.  We’ll do a recap of the trip after the Cedar Key story.  Thanks and enjoy the back roads and byways.

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