An historic gem perched in the center of the Florida Panhandle, DeFuniak Springs is a charming small town in Walton County surrounded by untouched rural beauty. Life in DeFuniak Springs is slow-paced and neighborly, attracting many families, retirees and returning vacationers who enjoy life off the beaten path but still want to be close to all of the Gulf Coast’s exciting attractions. Its central location has made Walton County one of Florida’s fastest growing locations , yet DeFuniak Springs retains an irresistible small town charm reminiscent of an earlier day when life seemed less complicated and neighbors stopped by to chat.
Built as a railroad town in the 1880s, the town was named for Frederick DeFuniak, vice-president of the L&N (Louisville and Nashville) Railroad that opened the Florida Panhandle to national commerce and tourism. From the late 1880s through the 1920s, DeFuniak Springs was one of the premier cultural centers of the southeast and a leader in the Chautauqua movement. A national program that promoted adult education and cultural pursuits, Chautauqua revivals brought the nation’s elite to DeFuniak Springs. The stately homes and ornately-ornamented buildings constructed during that era still ring Lake DeFuniak, giving the town a distinctive historic aura. Visitors can experience the grandeur of that era at Bogey’s Bar & Restaurant in the historic Hotel DeFuniak which serves excellent fresh seafood and steaks.
One of only two naturally-round, spring-fed lakes in the world, Lake DeFuniak is said to have been formed by a meteor. A stroll around its circumference makes a pleasant one-mile walk. Fishing, hunting, golfing, boating and horseback riding are popular local pastimes. Just 20 minutes from the Choctawhatchee River and 40 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico, Lake DeFuniak residents can enjoy both fresh and salt water fishing. The Choctawhatchee Lake recreational area and access to the Gulf are just a short drive south.