Astor, Barberville offer hidden treasures



Astor Bridge sits on the St. Johns River.

SENIOR LIFE Courtesy of Leonard J. DeFrancisci

This is a day trip from Brevard County that is wallet-friendly, educational and a delightful treat for the entire family. There will be two stops. In the morning, you will visit the Pioneer Settlement in Barberville. After lunch, you will enjoy a delightful afternoon informative cruise on the St. Johns River that departs from the nearby historic town of Astor.

The Pioneer Settlement Museum and Cultural Education Center focuses on the lives of the early settlers and residents of rural Florida. This site has evolved into an outstanding village of 17 historic structures. The centerpiece of the campus is the original Central High School of Barberville (c. 1919), a National Register of Historic Places site. Other historical buildings and artifacts that would otherwise have been destroyed have been relocated to the inviting grounds.

Others are reproductions of 1900-era buildings, which house excellent educational collections.

The Settlement maintains a growing historical collection of more than 10,000 objects and features two exhibition and educational venues, six annual festivals, daily tours and frequent educational programs and workshops. The settlement is on 30 acres in rural Northwest Volusia County adjacent to Lake George State Forest. Pack a lunch and enjoy the meal on the lovely grounds. 

The Pioneer Settlement is at 1776 Lightfoot Lane, Barberville. For information, call 386-749-2959 or go to info@PioneerSettlement.org. It is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The admission fees are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $4 for children ranging in age from 5 to 12. The Pioneer Art Settlement in Barberville is a fun place to visit. <i>  | SENIOR LIFE Creative Commons <i/>

It is fairly easy and fast to get to the Pioneer Settlement from Brevard County. Take I-95 North to exit 268. Then, take Route 40 West for 20 miles to the village of Barberville.

The Pioneer Settlement is located just west of junction U.S. 17 and Route 40 in Barberville.

The St. Johns River Tour departs at 2:30 p.m. from the Blackwater Inn in Astor.

Astor is just eight miles west of Barberville on Route 40. The Blackwater Inn is located on the west side of the St. Johns River on Route 40. For reservations, call 866-349-0674. It is closed Mondays. The tour costs $25 for adults. Rates for seniors and children might be cheaper.

This informative two-hour pontoon boat tour goes through Blue Creek in the Ocala National Forest. Blue Creek is a unique habitat and, in the warmer months, is a prime feeding area for manatees. The boat tour then goes to Lake George, Florida’s second-largest body of water. The eco tour features alligators, bald eagles, manatees and all types of trees and plant life.

After the boat tour, an early dinner at the Blackwater Inn is enticing along with its view of the beautiful St. Johns River. It has a great salad bar, fresh fish, beef and chicken. It opens for dinner at 4:30 p.m. For information, call 888-533-3422.

This is a great, stress-less day exploring nearby Central Florida on a budget from Brevard.

Enjoy, John A. Trieste