The West Volusia Tourism Bureau hosted us for breakfast at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant inside the park. I've heard about this restaurant and we were excited to get to try it! It's very unique, as you will read....
She advised us to get there right at 8 am when the park opened, to head straight to the restaurant to get our name on the list! We were surprised to see lots of cars ahead of us at 7:45! We waited in line and got inside the park right after 8. We were lucky to not have any wait in the restaurant. We were quickly seated in a booth next to a window covered with a screen to let the breeze in. Perfect spot for a nice breakfast!
Our sweet waitress Jessica explained the process. Each table has an electric griddle, and you cook your own pancakes on it. She brought us two pitchers of batter, and our drinks. We also ordered bacon and pecans (the pecans were an add in for the pancakes) and sprayed the griddle to get it ready. She also brought us a shaker of cinnamon to try on our pecan pancakes. (yum!)
Then we poured the batters on and began cooking our pancakes. These pancakes aren't exactly like the ones you make at home. They are Early American-style pancakes, with a lumpier batter than what you may be used to. One batter was made with unbleached white flour, the other a mixture of five stone-ground flours. Both were delicious! You have a spatula and cooking oil spray, so you cook them, flip them, put them on plates, then spray the griddle and start all over again. It was fun!
The prices are very affordable - pancakes are $4.95 per person. (Gluten-free option available for $5.95) They are served with raw honey, syrup and unsulphured molasses. You can choose add-ins, like bananas, pecans, blueberries, peanut butter or chocolate chips, for $1.95 each. Add bacon, sausage, ham or eggs for $2.95. They cook your bacon or other meats in the kitchen. You cook your own eggs on the griddle. Breakfast is available until 4 every day and there is a menu with salads, sandwiches and other items. We all enjoyed this unique breakfast in such a pretty setting!
Outside you will find some of the equipment from the old sugar mill, which was used to crush sugar cane in the 1830's, then rebuilt around 1900. You can still see a chimney from the original mill. We checked out the spring, which is rumored to be Ponce DeLeon's famous fountain of youth. There is evidence that as far back as 6000 years ago, Native Americans came here to fish and gather plants.
There is a small hill in the middle of the park, topped with a house, that is what remains of the shell and earth mound left by generations of Native Americans here. The spring produces 19 million gallons of water per day, and is 72 degrees year round. You can swim, rent canoes, paddleboats and kayaks, and even fish if you have a Florida fishing license! They also have a riverboat tour. The park is just gorgeous - so green and pretty!
There are picnic tables, grills, and a playground. You can walk the hiking trail or the paved nature trail. There is even a butterfly garden! The trees provide lots of shade.
One of the coolest things they offer is that kids can become a junior park ranger by completing activities in the activity book available at the park. We were headed to the Florida Cheese Festival in DeLand, FL right after breakfast so we didn't have time to do any of these other activities. They are on my list for next time we're down that way! David wanted to swim there so badly and I hated telling him no! But we sure enjoyed our time at the Cheese Festival. That will be in my next post, so stay tuned...
DeLeon Springs State Park is located at 601 Ponce DeLeon Blvd, DeLeon Springs, FL 32130
I paid the park entrance fee, but our breakfast was provided by the West Volusia Tourism Bureau Thank you Dena - it was wonderful!