I’m sure many of you have been to Wakulla Springs State Park, but it had been five years since my last visit and my son and his wife had never been there. Even though it was a cloudy day, we took the 25-minute ride to Wakulla on Sunday (Jan. 21).
We happily walked around the grounds, watching brave teens — and one reluctant dad — jump off the top level of the observation deck despite the brisk breezes into the gleaming springs. Just thinking about it now still makes me shiver.
After taking the boat ride, where we saw a few manatees (at least their tails) and a few gators (including Joe Jr.), lots of birds and moss-covered trees, we ate in the The Edward Ball Dining Room at the The Lodge at Wakulla Springs.
There’s a retro soda fountain serving ice cream cones, hot dogs and casual food, but we decided to have a heartier lunch instead. The menu has a good mix of appetizers, handhelds and entrees.
My family was impressed at the start with our order of raw oysters, a cheesy tomato pie and large wedge salad (with bacon, cherry tomatoes and blue cheese dressing).
Lodge does a fine job on its fried chicken. My dish brought half a chicken — moist and flavorful with a golden crisp crust — mini beignets and two sides. I had a feeling the mini beignets would disappoint because it’s hard to recreate the iconic New Orleans snack. They were OK but indeed denser than true beignets. But both of the sides I picked — the creamy mashed potatoes and perky cole slaw — were both really good.
We also liked our entree of jambalaya, with chicken, sausage and crawfish, crushed tomatoes and okra in a vibrant sauce.
We were stuffed but couldn’t resist the delicious, old-fashioned coconut cream pie (here’s my son about to have a bite). Another treat: the hot chocolate with a hefty dollop of whipped cream.
Thanks to my daughter-in-law, Julia, for these wonderful pictures.
Another good thing: The dining room is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Buffets are available on Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.