Hidden Hernando: Five attractions locals know about, but you might not

Published March 28 2018

Looking for something to do on a quiet spring afternoon? Been a while since you went to Hernando County?

Try out one of the five attractions on our Hidden Hernando tour:

1. Historic Brooksville Cemetery • 1275 Olmes Road • 352-540-3806

The cemetery, originally called Chocochattee Cemetery, officially opened in April 1887 on a 5-acre plot of land already housing some graves. Now at more than 50 acres, it’s still in operation, offering various post-life services, including "Green Meadow" natural burial.

The first documented burial at the cemetery was of Charlotte Wynn Pyles Crum, killed by Seminole Indians in September 1842. The first marked grave there belongs to Jane Hope, wife of William Hope, who died at 30 in 1845. Theirs was one of the first white families to settle in the Brooksville area, thought to have arrived as early as the 1830s.

Brooksville Cemetery is the home of more than 5,000 grave sites, including those belonging to veterans from the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War and Vietnam War.

2. Nature Coast Botanical Gardens • 1489 Parker Ave., Spring Hill • 352-683-9933

The Nature Coast Botanical Gardens sit on 4.5 acres nestled in the suburban area east of U.S. 19 off Spring Hill Drive. It boasts 23 themed gardens — featuring roses, bromeliads, Florida natives, poinsettias, herbs, grasses, palms and more. It is an ideal setting for weddings, artists and folks just wanting to enjoy the scenery, with the Rose Garden and Oriental Tea Garden particular favorites for fancy functions.

The botanical gardens opened in 1994 and is funded and operated by the Spring Hill Garden Club. It is open daily during daylight hours. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. Guided tours are available for groups of five or more. An adjacent plant nursery is open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and Mondays, with proceeds going to create, maintain and beautify the gardens. To learn more, visit naturecoastgardens.com.

3. Little Rock Cannery • 15487 Citrus Way, Brooksville • 352-799-4226

The Little Rock Cannery is a one-stop location where local residents can their own fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood. It was founded in the mid-1970s in a historic stone school house built in the 1930s.

The cannery has the capacity to pressure can up to 96 jars at a time, along with a double water-bath processor, according to Hernando County’s website. High-speed commercial food prep equipment and a gas stove and oven allow members to prepare food and fill their jars in a timely, safe and clean setting. Professional staff are present to process jars and assist new and experienced canners.

Annual membership is $55 for unlimited canning. For a $12-per-day limited membership, visitors can put up 200 jars per year. The county is seeking sponsors to help keep the cannery running.

4. Richloam General Store • 38219 Richloam Clay Sink Road, Webster • 800-915-8027

At Richloam, visitors step past rocking chairs on the front patio and through the wooden double-door, straight into the 1920s. Remnants of the past are everywhere.

Shelves are stocked with iconic children’s toys, like Raggedy Ann dolls, sock monkeys and tin tops. Period-correct treats, like Moon Pies and Nehi sodas, are for sale, along with dry goods and jarred food, like pickled vegetables and homemade jams and jellies.

It was June of 1922 when a man named Sidney "Sid" Brinson opened the general store. It served as a post office and railroad depot, too, until 1936. The store was closed until 2016, when Brinson’s nephew Eric Burkes began to bring it back to life.

Restored and restocked, Richloam reopened in February 2017, with its century-old sign hanging above the door of the tin building. In October, the store became the eighth location in the county listed on the National Historic Register.

5. Birding at the Hernando County Landfill14450 Landfill Road • 352-754-4112

Yes, at the landfill. Visitors are welcome between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and can check in at the scale house.

"Come on down,’’ said Scott Harper, the county’s solid waste manager. He encourages bird watchers, and his staff sees everyone from experts with long-lens cameras to birding newcomers.

Bald eagles often visit the site, according to the Hernando Audubon birding site list, roosting in trees around the garbage piles. Herons and egrets hang out around the retention pond, as do shorebirds. Palm warblers and sparrows land along the grassy roads.

Also visible are starlings, grackles, cow birds and blackbirds, plus several varieties of gulls.

Visitors are urged to not interfere with the landfill operation or heavy equipment moving on the site.