Central west Florida is home to the naturally beautiful and serene DeSoto County. Located only an hour north of Fort Myers and an hour east of Sarasota, the county spreads across the Peace River Valley in lush abundance. It is one of Florida’s leading producers of oranges, watermelons, olives, and tomatoes. It’s also one of the state’s most beloved tourist destinations with endless possibilities for adventure. Whether exploring fragrant fruit orchards, unearthing hidden fossils beneath the sands at Peace River Campground, or hunting for exquisite antiques in Arcadia’s historic downtown, there’s always something new to discover in DeSoto County.
“I would describe us as being in the middle of everywhere – some might say we are small and rural, but DeSoto County is right in the heartland of Florida, surrounded by urban amenities, yet we get to enjoy the quieter life,” shares Mandy Hines, County Administrator. “Our cost of living is 11.4 percent lower than the U.S. average. Yet we have easy access to the adjacent counties of Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, and Highlands. So, in an hour you can be at the beach, or an airport, or seaport. In 30 minutes, you can be at a mall, but we don’t have to live in the same congestion that often comes with living near those types of amenities.” Arcadia is the only incorporated city and is our county seat. Of the county’s population of just under 37,000, about 75 percent live in the unincorporated area.
Hines admits DeSoto County is also very fortunate with lots of unique tourism to entice both visitors and residents. One of the most popular is Arcadia’s Downtown Antique District run by the Antique Association of Arcadia. The district boasts more than 25 antique shops, but every fourth Saturday of the month, over 100 antique dealers temporarily set up shop. It’s no wonder that Florida Monthly magazine named the district as the state’s “Best Place for Antique Shopping.” The County is also home to the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo, sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). It’s an annual three-day event that celebrated its 92nd year in 2020.
The biggest natural attraction is the gorgeous Peace River offering many different activities from airboat tours to fishing. Sondra Guffey, Director of Economic Development & Tourism, reports, “Tourism is part of everyday life in the county. People like our agricultural activities and that’s part of our appeal. Some visitors enjoy going to the citrus groves where oranges grow, or to a ranch to watch a cowboy work the cattle and horses. It’s the real thing.”
Website: https://businessviewmagazine.com/desoto-county-florida-home-heartland/
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