Take a step back in time by visiting Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park. On what was once the property of acclaimed writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, you will see the wild land that she fell in love with. You can tour her preserved home, wander the citrus groves, or go hiking through the park.
Who was Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings?
Marjorie was born in Washington DC in 1896. She loved writing and storytelling from a very young age. In fact, she starting winning writing contests when she was just a teenager. She went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she received an English degree. It was there that she also met Charles Rawlings, who she would marry in 1919.
In 1928, after receiving a small inheritance from her mother, Marjorie and Charles purchased a 72-acre orange grove in an area known as Cross Creek. Marjorie loved Cross Creek and drew inspiration from it for many of her books. Charles, however, did not love living in rural Florida and the couple divorced in 1933.
Her most successful novel was The Yearling, which was published in 1938. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1939. In 1941, Marjorie married Norton Baskin. He was an hotelier and restauranteur. Marjorie and Norton spent the majority of their time in Crescent Beach, just south of St. Augustine. Marjorie passed away in 1953 of a cerebral hemorrhage. She left most of her property to the University of Florida. It was eventually turned over to the state, and the house opened to the public in 1970.
Where is Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park?
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park is located near the village of Cross Creek, between Ocala and Gainesville. The park is located on the eastern shore of Orange Lake. It is easy to drive to and can be found right off of South County Road 325.
Visiting Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. There is a small parking lot on the south side of the Rawlings house. Admission to the park is $3 per vehicle and should be left at the honor box. Remember to bring exact change.
There are two 15-minute hiking trails inside the park. There are also mallard ducks, chickens, and other birds to be on the lookout for. The citrus grove is no longer as big as it was when Marjorie lived there, but there are still orange, grapefruit, and tangerine trees. You can wander through the grove and imagine how it must have been in Marjorie’s day.
Near the house there is also a seasonal kitchen garden. It has herbs, vegetables, and flowers that are grown every fall and spring. These are the same kinds that Marjorie would have grown.
Dogs are allowed at the park, but must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times.
Touring The Rawlings House
Of course, the main attraction at the park is the Rawlings house. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2007. You can take a guided tour of the house Thursday through Sunday at 11 AM, 1 PM, 2 PM, and 3 PM. The tour costs $3 for adults and $2 for children. Note that you must bring exact change and credit cards are not accepted.
The tour starts at the barn. From there you walk through the farmyard and on to the Rawlings house. Stepping into the house is like going back in time. Marjorie’s husband Norton kept all of her things very well preserved so you see the house as it was in the 1930s when Marjorie lived there. You can even see the table and typewriter she used to write The Yearling. The guides also do a very good job of setting the scene and telling you interesting tidbits about Marjorie and her life in rural Florida.
You can only enter the Rawlings House while on a guided tour. If you’re visiting the park when there isn’t a tour available, you can still see inside of the house while walking around the outside. There are brochures available that describe the buildings in the park. There is also a guided tour of the interior of the home that can be watched from a flat screen TV inside the barn.
After visiting Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park, you’ll have a much greater appreciation of rural Florida and what makes the area so unique. Marjorie believed Cross Creek was truly magical. It’s no wonder she wrote, “Enchantment lies in different things for each of us. For me, it is this: to step out the bright sunlight into the shade of the orange trees; to walk under the arched canopy of their jade-like leaves; to see the long aisles of lichened trunks stretch ahead in a geometric rhythm; to feel the mystery of a seclusion that yet has shafts of light striking through it. This is the essence of an ancient and secret magic.”
Read about more of Florida’s awesome parks from Vicky’s other posts:
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Bio: Vicky Sosa is a Florida-based blogger traveling around the world with her stuffed monkey Buddy. Her website Buddy The Traveling Monkey provides useful travel tips, inspiration, and destination guides. Although she writes about her travels all over the world, she loves to focus on Florida and show how much more there is to the state than the typical tourist attractions. You can follow Vicky and Buddy’s adventures on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.