The Historic Downtown Antique District of Arcadia, Florida
Florida is most famous for sunshine, beaches, amusement parks, oranges and maybe the Everglades. But there is so much more to our beautiful sunshine state. Most tourists visit Miami and Orlando, however some of Florida’s best secrets are in more remote locations away from tourist areas. Arcadia is one of those places and worth a visit.
Located just about one hour east of Sarasota and about one hour north of Fort Myers, Arcadia is nestled between miles of orange trees and cattle fields. It is a charming old Florida town with a beautiful historic Main Street. The Downtown Historical District now encompasses 3,400 acres with 293 historic buildings and is part of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Driving by beautiful historic houses and old trees covered in Spanish Moss, Arcadia feels like being transported to a different time. But the main reason, we like to visit, is the historic downtown antique district on main street. The charming antique stores are filled with little treasures, collectibles, rare finds, antiques, vintage deco and much more. It is a dream for antique lovers and was even named the state’s “Best Place for Antique Shopping” by Florida Monthly magazine.
The heart of the historical district is extends 18 blocks and consists of buildings constructed between 1900 and the late 1920. Three buildings that survived the devastating 1905 downtown fire as well as those that were rebuilt, are generally masonry vernacular in style. The most imposing structure is the 1912 classical Revival courthouse as well as the 1906 Opera House that is both museum and antique store. It houses an amazing collection of historical items and the theater is in near original condition.
My favorite store is the Vintage Garden right in the beginning of Main Street. It’s full of shabby chic furniture, accessories, treasures and more. I just looooove it so much and would love to buy everything. And it is pink too. The perfect store for me.
Another of my favorite buildings is the Rosin Building, which is commonly called The Pink Building and is one of the most iconic buildings on main street. Over the years, the ground floor of the Pink Building has housed different antique stores, restaurants, a bar, a barbershop, a post office, a hardware store, a beauty parlor and a drug store.
I like to include my kids in our adventures and antique shopping might not be on the top of favorite things to do for a child or a teenager. To get them interested, everybody gets $5 or $10 and can buy whatever treasure they can find. That usually works perfect for my older boys, because they are very careful to spend their money wisely and want to find the greatest and best treasure out there.
Another fun way of getting the kids interested, is to find something odd or funny. It can be anything. In our case, we were looking for creepy faces. There are lots of beautiful old dolls, stuffed animals and toys, but some of them do look a little creepy. My sister noticed the first doll and took a picture of the face. Once we started to look for them, we noticed more and more faces of dolls, clowns and little figurines that qualified. It became a game for everybody to find the most fascinating and creepy doll face. Of course, we could have looked for something else instead, but the dolls just found us. Sometimes a creepy face is all it takes to get kids interested. (by the way, that strategy has worked for us before…. One time we visited the Louvre in Paris and my youngest son was so excited about finding naked baby bottoms in the pictures) Here is a little selection of our favorite doll faces:
Most stores open around 10 am and close around 4pm. One of the largest antique fairs in the state, the Antique Association of Arcadia hosts over 100 quality dealers is held monthly on the 4th Saturday of the month. We haven’t been to this event, but it sounds very interesting.
Anyways, Arcadia was the perfect place to spend the day with the family on an overcast Sunday. We found several little treasures and spent a beautiful day all together.
One last thing: There is an Annual Watermelon Festival in May at the height of the harvesting season. A watermelon seed spit competition is the perfect reason for my boys to come back. Or maybe looking for shark teeth inside the Peace River…… We definitely will visit again.