Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you use them to make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Jacksonville Traveler!

Ultimate Guide to Palatka, Florida

Located in Putnam county, Palatka, Florida, is a growing city, rich in history. Surrounded by smaller cities like Hastings, Interlachen and Florahome, the population is only 11,000 and with a landmass of about 10 square miles. It’s about 47 miles to big cities like Jacksonville and a 3-hour drive to the state capital Tallahassee, and home to the St. Johns River Community College.

Like the rest of Florida, Palatka has a warm and humid climate. A hot and rainy season from June through September and a dry season from October through May.

Palatka’s history is vast as it has gone through different hands. First believed to have been inhabited by the Timucuans, it went to the Creeks, then Denys Rolle, an Englishman and philanthropist who tried building Rollestown. Then there was the Second Seminole War with the army. Then in the 1850s, after the Seminoles were displaced, people started trooping to Palatka to avoid the harsh winter. The Civil War happened, dispersing the tourists before they later came back.

Fun fact: Palatka has had multiple variations of its name. Palatka comes from the Timucuan Indian word Pilotakata, meaning “crossing.” During the eighteenth century, it was called  Pilo-taikita; then, in the 1770s, it became Pilatka. Finally, in 1875, it became Palatka.

Things to Do in Palatka, Florida

With so much activity and history, there’s much to visit and see.

Bronson Mulholland House

100 Madison St, Palatka, FL 32177

The Bronson-Mulholland House, built-in 1854, is a testament to the City’s rich history. It’s a beautifully furnished antebellum home on 2+ acres of greenspace shaded by live oaks and magnolias. The City of Palatka owns it and offers free guided tours and a rental venue for weddings and other events. The House is fully furnished with period antiques, and the surrounding grounds, which include expansive lawns and charming gardens with brick paths, have recently been restored to their historic splendor. The Bronson-Mulholland House’s first floor is ADA accessible via a ramp on the building’s left side. There are also wheelchair-accessible public restrooms and a modern catering kitchen. On December 27, 1972, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The house is open on weekends from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. However, other days can be scheduled for an appointment

Skydive Palatka

4015 Reid St, Palatka, FL 32177

Skydive Palatka is located in the Palatka Municipal Aiport, on the Lieutenant Kay Larkin Field. This is where your childhood dreams stop being dreams and become a reality. No more action movies, no more bed/pool diving, it’s skydiving, and it’s real. Skydive Palatka is a full-service skydiving training center and a USPA Group Member Dropzone. They offer newcomers and experienced skydivers a place to learn new skills and become more accomplished skydivers in a relaxed atmosphere. Imagine jumping next to the beautiful St. Johns River with views of both coastlines. Can you already see it? Jumping prices for beginners start at $199.

Ravine Gardens State Park

1600 Twigg St, Palatka, FL 32177

Ravine Gardens State Park is one of Florida’s nine New Deal-era state parks. The Works Progress Administration built the park with cypress buildings, rock gardens and fieldstone terraces. At 59 acres, the park contains two ravines up to 120 feet deep and steep banks at 45-degree angles. While you’re there, learn more about the park, which was created during a time of recession to increase tourism. Admission to the park costs $5, but it has all the amenities you’d expect. Wondering what to do there? Picnicking, cycling, wildlife viewing, the list is endless. The park is open between 8 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.  

Best Restaurants in Palatka, Florida

After all these fun activities, you probably wonder where you can get excellent food. We’ve got you covered.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

2441 FL-16, St. Augustine, FL 32092 Tel: +1 904-829-9222

This homey chain restaurant serves American comfort food with an on-site general store. The food here feels homemade as the service is excellent and the staff is friendly. Known for their southern cooking, you can try their unique menus, such as Uncle Hershel’s breakfast or Sunday chicken dinner. Whatever option you choose at Cracker Barrel, you can never go wrong. Cracker Barrel is open all week between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Bradley’s Seafood Steaks

909 N, FL-19, Palatka, FL 32177 +1 386-326-4334

Bradley is a locally owned seafood restaurant known for the best seafood in Palatka. Outstanding service and affordably priced, your time and money at Bradley’s will be worth it. Many have said it has the feel of a “mom-and-pop” restaurant with the menu a much more sophisticated eatery. Their fish selection always comes out moist and flaky. This shrimp and lobster are delicious. The steaks will melt in your mouth. Bradley’s Seafood Steaks is open Tuesdays through Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Angel’s Dining Car

209 Reid St, Palatka, FL 32177 Tel: +1 386-325-3927

Angel’s Dining car is a retro, long-running diner with curb service & a simple menu of burgers, sides & breakfast. Known to be very attentive and friendly, their staff are knowledgeable and polite when dealing with customers. Known as Florida’s Oldest Diner, you can notice the history throughout. While you’re there, try their hamburger steak and fried pickles. Angel’s dining car is open all week between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Where to Stay in Palatka, Florida

After an excellent meal, you can rest your head in these places.

Crystal Cove Riverfront Resort

Riverfront Resort Drive, 133 Crystal Cove Dr, Palatka, FL 32177 (386) 325-1055

You can fish onsite! There’s also a marina next door and a bar/restaurant, plus a waterfront pool. You’re close by to the state park and Palatka Golf Club. The property is not too far from Ocala National Forest, Juniper Springs and the Rodman Reservoir.

Quality Inn & Suites Riverfront

201 N 1st St, Palatka, FL 32177 +386-328-3481

Just off Highway 100, this riverside hotel is 0.8 miles from David Browning Railroad Museum and 1.4 miles from Ravine Gardens State Park. All rooms have en suite bathrooms, free WiFi and flat-screen TVs with cable, coffeemakers, microwaves and mini-fridges. Suites add living areas with pull-out sofas. Some also have whirlpools. A complimentary hot breakfast is provided, and an on-site American restaurant, Beef O’Brady’s. Other amenities include a riverfront outdoor pool, a 21-slip boat dock with water and electrical hook-ups, a fishing dock, meeting space and free large-vehicle parking. Nights cost around $125.

Grand Gables Inn

603 Emmett St, Palatka, FL 32177, United States 386-329-6166

Once described as ‘perhaps the most palatial home in all of Florida,’ the magnificent Major Sherman Conant house is now a Bed & Breakfast. Built in 1884, this three-story, eight bedroom, 6.5 bath home is a stunning example of Queen Anne architecture by famed New England architect Rufus Sargent. With twelve-foot ceilings, a grand staircase and a sweeping veranda, guests luxuriate in rooms steeped in American history. One block to the St. Johns River, 30 minutes to St. Augustine and 45 minutes to Gainesville. Grand Gables has standard amenities such as TV, wifi, snacks, antiques, artwork and custom-made breakfast. Nights cost around $198.

Best time to visit Palatka, Florida

Palatka, as a tourist hotspot, always has several local events. Let’s explore!

Blue Crab Festival

The Blue Crab Festival is held every Memorial Day weekend along the riverfront in Palatka, Florida, in remembrance of the members of the U.S. military who died while serving our country. The festival features carnival rides, a seafood cook-off, live music, arts and crafts, a petting zoo, a full gospel program on Sunday morning and much more. The Blue Crab is harvested from both Florida coasts and is a great reason for a party!

Florida Azalea Festival

Dating back to 1936, the Florida Azalea Festival is one of the oldest festivals in Florida celebrating the annual debut of azalea blossoms to the region. Held along the banks of the beautiful St. Johns River, this free event features live entertainment, arts & crafts vendors, food and gorgeous azaleas in full bloom. Highlight events are the Florida Azalea Pageant, an art show, antique car show and the Azalea Parade.

Other events include the Bostwick Blueberry Festival, Putnam county fair and others.

How to Get Around Palatka, Florida

Like most smaller towns in Florida, your best bet is always going to be a rental car. But there are a few public transportation options in Palatka.

Mass transit

Bus transportation in the city is provided by Ride Solution. The agency is responsible for public transit throughout all of Putnam County.

Intercity transit

Amtrak serves Palatka by the daily Silver Meteor and Silver Star intercity rail services.

Palatka also has a municipal airport, and ride-hailing alternatives start at $8.

Signup for our Jacksonville Updates

About The Author