a playset sits under a canopy of pines on a grassy lawn with houses behind it

Havana Park Group & Ice Cream

Havana Park Group & Ice Cream!

burgandy sign with white letters reading "Burmah Heights Park"
a pavilion with a green metal roof sits on a grassy lawn with a park bench, trash can and water fountain in front of it.

Havana Park Group & Ice Cream is not a blog post I would have found particularly interesting seven years ago. At that time, we lived in a cozy, fixed-up home in a Tallahassee suburb. Yes, we were looking forward our little organic homestead in the country. No, we were looking to move to the Monticello area… or maybe even Thomasville. But fates conspired. 

We got the rural all right. Wild neighbors –  otters, beavers, woodcocks, eagles and their sort – were great entertainment. But we had been looking for a different rural. East of Tallahassee. We knew no one west of Tallahassee in Gadsden. We kept up meeting with many our old groups, but kept a half an eye out for Gadsden County groups. We didn’t see much. But, a little research turned up gold! So today I am excited to tell you a bit about the homeschool community, parks and ice cream in gorgeous Gadsden County. 

How We Began to Connect

Let’s be honest. It’s far easier to stay in your old circles than scout new trails. So it was that over the years of driving to and from we found ourselves missing many opportunities. Co-ops. Service. Interest Groups. Our Tally friends missed them, too, and out of this dilemma TallyHOPS (Tallahassee Homeschool OPportunitieS) was born. There was plenty of material share about in Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, and into Thomas County, too. In fact, of the eleven counties covered for Tallyhops, my home county was quite possibly the biggest challenge. 

Enter everyone’s Frenemy: Facebook.

I stumbled upon a page that I’d missed earlier: Homeschooling In Gadsden County. This terrific group of homeschoolers had depths of knowledge that is most easily garnered from locals – although only one or two were native. They were quick to share the best parks and eats with me, as well as other opportunities in the area.

What Parks Can We Meet at in the Gadsden area?

children play on a swingset

At their recommendation, we met up at the  “Triangle Park”, or “Burmah Heights Park” in Quincy. It was a lovely park with terrific playsets, swings and pavilions, as well as a water fountain and trash cans. The neighborhood of charming cottages reminded me very much of the Midtown Tallahassee area – only much quieter. Kiddos played and moms networked. I found that these moms had experience with co-ops in both Leon and Gadsden. They shared not only a wish list of places to visit, but sage insight on co-op efforts in other locations. We enjoyed it thoroughly.

Here are some new parks on my wish list (although one is an old friend, it is well worth sharing):

1. Eugene Lamb, Jr. Park on Iron Bridge Road in the Havana Midway area. This park has a playground, picnic facilities, a basketball court, paved trails, restrooms, and a multi-use field. 

2. Bear Creek State Park in Lake Talquin State Forest. This is an educational center, much like Joe Budd Center below. Not only are there a myriad of trails with handicap accessibility, there are many classes set up for school children. There is a great mix of ravine trails and easy trails for hiking.

3. Joe Budd Youth Conservation Center is one which I was already familiar with. Scavenger hunts, fishing, nature walks, geocaching and more are offered year round. (At the moment the fishing pond is being overhauled.) Reservations should be made several months in advance. 

4. The Havana Community Park beside the Library is a small park with a playground, a gazebo, and a few benches. 

5. The Cypress Cove Nature Park in Chatahoochee has a few picnic shelters, a spillway and beautiful scenery. It looks like the perfect place for a nature study.

6. Angus Gholson Nature Park & Trail looks like another excellent place to hike and do a nature study

7. The Nature Conservancy Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines (Garden of Eden Trail) in Bristol is a lovely place to go hiking and birding. My children went with grandparents and a host of older birders. 

8..  There are also a few smaller neighborhood parks such as the Palm Street Park  and the Rosedale Park in Chattahoochee, 

On top of all of this, Gadsden is central to gems like Torreya State Park, Lake Talquin, Lake Seminole, Appalachicola National Forest and gorgeous stars. There is no shortage of meetup places in Gadsden County!

What about the Ice Cream?

child holding a scoop of light green ice cream in a waffle cone

I had not been to Havana for much more than pickups for an organic dry goods co-op many moons ago. It has changed. For the cuter

a chld stands in front of an outdoor mural of an old town scene

We made our way to the recommended ice cream point: Gocki’s. It is one of the many lovely shops on Havana’s Main Street. But, I confess, when we walked in we forgot all about ice cream because we have a greater weakness.

bacon lettuce tomato sandwich with a side of fries

Bacon greeted us at the door. Words would fail to describe this perfect BLT. It made up for the not-homemade-but-very-good-ice-cream. (We’ve been spoiled. But it really was lovely.) We were quite happy campers. 

To all of you who reside in rural areas, may you be inspired to connect to your homeschool neighbors. Don’t miss the gems (or the ice cream) in your backyard.

  •  Cell service can be spotty at times. Look to download maps before you head out.
  • In some areas ticks are plentiful, so bug repellant is a good thing.
  • Not all areas have a restroom (including most of the smaller parks above).
  • Dogs are not always allowed (again, Burmah is a case in point).
  • If you have nature guides (see the earlier Nature Journaling post), binoculars, magnifying glasses or Seascopes, or bug boxes this is a super time to find them. Whistles for getting attention aren’t a bad idea, if you can stand the noise when you’re at home!
  • A blanket for sitting on, as well as some park toys to keep olders happy can be worth another hour of visiting. A soccer ball has saved many a meetup when olders get a bit bored.

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