Williston
Population (2016)
2,760
Area (Square miles)
6.75
Year founded
1853
Year incorporated
1929
The area now covered by Williston was first homesteaded by Jesse Mercer Willis in 1853. He was a tax collector for Marion County, Florida, and the land was actually part of Marion County at that time. The timber and fresh water springs in the area were well suited for the plantation he envisioned. As the years went by, Williston became a crossroads town with a railroad, and several major highways running through the city.

Today, Williston is still an active and thriving city - while retaining its small town charm. Located in the heart of spawling horse country, there are a number of ranches in the area that raise thoroughbred horses. "Foolish Pleasure", the winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1975, was raised on a farm near Williston.

Fresh water springs in the vicinty of Williston are an attraction for tourists and cave divers. Two of the most popular are Blue Grotto and Devil's Den. Admission to Devil's Den is limited to those who are snorkeling or scuba diving in the spring. Both of these are privately owned, and require an admission fee.

One of the more unique places you can visit in Williston is the Two Tails Ranch - a home and care center for elephants founded in 1984. Public tours are given, but advance reservations are required.

Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens is another private tourist attraction where an old limestone quarry was transformed into a botanical garden. Each year in May they hold a garden show and spring festival that includes live music and craft vendors.

Other unique attractions in or around Williston are the Kirby Family Farm - home to the longest privately owned narrow gauge raillway in Florida, and the Grand Liberte' Farm - which offers tours of a working horse fame, as well as scheduled equestrian performances. Neither of these atractions is open to the general public on a daily basis. You must check their event calendars and make advance reservations.

Getting there ...
Additional resources