While DeSoto County was named for Hernando DeSoto, the Spanish explorer who landed in the area in the 1500s, the prehistoric fossilized shark teeth that visitors delight in finding along the Peace River are fascinating evidence that our history runs much, much deeper. Over previous centuries, people have been drawn to the Peace River as a source of water and a source of life, and today our culture reflects a delightfully diverse mix of river, rural and civic influences. We are a place of cattle ranches and lush farmlands and river recreation, but also a place of richly historic architecture, with some of our buildings, like our Opera House, repurposed to an inviting effect. It’s important to us to preserve our heritage, which is one of the reasons we are a Florida antiques market mecca, and why our historic downtown district, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, stretches over more than 3,000 acres.

Something else we’ve preserved: A warm and old-fashioned attitude of hospitality, which you will encounter everywhere you go during your visit to DeSoto.

The DeSoto County Historical Society partnered with South Florida State College to create an online, self-guided, mobile-friendly tour of downtown historic Arcadia. Click here for the guide.