Looking for Old Florida at its best? Head to Steinhatchee, a town of fewer than 2,000, located about three hours north of Tampa. One of Florida's first settlements, Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto and President Andrew Jackson both passed through here at one time, but today, the tiny fishing village caters to the outdoors crowd. The first thing you learn when you visit is how to say the name. Locals pronounce the "Stein" in Steinhatchee as "Steen," similar to "steam." The name is American Indian in origin. "Esteen hatchee" means river (hatchee) of man (esteen). The town has long been known for its scallops, but now that the season is closed, local fishing guides entertain tourists who come to fish the rich grass beds for trout, redfish, sheepshead, black sea bass and mangrove snapper. But the Big Bend region has more to offer than just scallops, crabs and fish. Head upstream and the Steinhatchee River provides great paddling opportunities. Be sure to pack a picnic lunch and check out Steinhatchee Falls. The spot was a historic crossing point for American Indians and other settlers. In terms of lodging, the laid-back luxury of Steinhatchee Landing Resort, a village of quaint rental cottages, is worth the trip. Complete with its own dock, pool, playground and neighborhood goats, you will find it an excellent base for any adventure.
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