Washington County, Florida, just an hour’s drive north of Panama City, is home to the historic town of Chipley. This classic Southern town has an irresistible small-town charm, while still offering plenty of things to do and see throughout its downtown historic district and beyond.
A highlight of any visit to Chipley is taking in a play at the Spanish Trail Playhouse (680 2nd Street, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-638-9113). This community theater presents a variety of productions throughout the year. The first curtain was raised in the playhouse in 1962. After closing in 1968, the theatre was revitalized by a committed arts community and in 2008 began holding performances once again. In addition to typically four shows a year, this is also home to the Spanish Trail Opry, which showcases local talent and provides an additional music venue for the community.
Shopping in downtown Chipley offers a unique mix of local specialty shops. There are antiques and other treasures at the Galloping Goose (1367 South Railroad Avenue, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-676-4385) vintage market and T&B Hidden Treasures (1215 Jackson Avenue, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-768-0272) antique mall. At King’s Drugs & Outdoor (1242 Main Street, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-638-4875) and Louis & Nash Mercantile ((829 Main Street, Chipley, Florida 32428) shoppers can find everything from specialty gifts and clothing to an extensive collection of holiday items and fishing gear.
The bounty of the county’s farms is available to all at downtown farmers markets. The Main Street Market (1251 Jackson Avenue, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-638-7755) and the Chipley Farmers Market (685 7th Street, Chipley, Florida 32528; 850-638-6180) both bring fresh produce and locally grown and crafted goodies to their seasonal markets.
Chipley has preserved a special part of its history in the South Third Street Historic District. Designated a U.S. historic district in 1989, the area includes 13 historic homes. These preserved structures have been called the best examples of Queen Anne Victorian-style architecture in Florida. The history of the district and many of its homes can be found at the nearby Washington County Historical Society Museum (685 7th Avenue, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-638-0358). Located at the Bill Lee Train Depot, the museum strives to preserve the county’s heritage and culture. The building is a replica of the original L&N Railroad Train Depot that originally stood just north of it. Inside, documents and memorabilia, and exhibits interpreting the area’s natural history, turpentine and agricultural history, military and Native American culture are on display. (Hours are limited, check schedule prior to visiting.)
The Sullivan House Bed & Breakfast (1305 W. Church Avenue, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-900-7464) offers one-of-a-kind lodging in the heart of Chipley and a convenient place to enjoy it all. This beautiful 1927 historic home is within walking distance of restaurants, shopping and other downtown attractions. Its four guest rooms are complemented by a great room, fine dining room and sun porch, overlooking the beautiful property. Stays include a complimentary continental breakfast or an optional chef-prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is also a popular event venue and regularly hosts “Mrs. Shirley’s Tea” events.
Dining venues in Chipley are casual and are known for staples like good home-cooking and amazing barbecue as well as authentic ethnic favorites. These area favorites do not disappoint:
The Ugly Mug Coffee & Café (1306 N Railroad Avenue, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-703-2419) This local favorite is not only a hot spot for specialty coffees but also a popular sandwich shop.
Senor Sushi (1414 Main Street, Suite 9, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-676-4331) This contemporary sushi and hibachi grill has a menu featuring special rolls, lunch bowls and hibachi plates.
Sister’s Sweets, Eats & More (827 Main Street, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-676-4343) Here, a variety of tasty sandwiches and salads are complemented by amazing desserts and baked goods.
Skins & Bubba’s BBQ (458 Main Street, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-638-4227) At this local mainstay diners find finger-licking-good barbecue along with Southern favorite sides and dollop of hospitality.
If you go
When it’s time to venture to the surrounding area, many visitors choose these top attractions:
Seacrest Wolf Preserve (3449 Bonnett Pond Road, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-773-2897)–One of only a few facilities of its kind in the world, the preserve is home to 22 wolves and gives visitors an opportunity to interact with them in hands-on experiences. Seacrest is dedicated to providing a safe and humane sanctuary for these beautiful animals and educating the public about this magnificent keystone species. VIP tours are offered by appointment.
Orange Hill Gator Farm (3172 Orange Hill Road, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-527-1383)–Tours are filled with up close encounters with alligators of all sizes. Visitors experience gators, along with other animals enjoying sanctuary on the farm, in a safe, family-friendly environment. Experienced guides share facts about alligators’ growth, habits and habitats in both controlled and natural habitats. Tours are offered daily, by appointment only.
Sunshine Riding Trails (2273 Rolling Pines Road, Chipley, Florida 32428; 850-773-1900)–This family-owned business is known for fun guided horseback rides as well as lessons for novices. Riders enjoy access to more than 10,000 acres of Florida sandhills and preserved forest on beautiful Tennessee Walking Horses. Rides range from one to four hours all year round.
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