I Got to Hug a Horse: Mill Creek Farm

After seeing a picture of the Devils Millhopper online we made plans for a road trip from Orlando.  I had a plan of other things we were going to do that day in the area, but all that changed when I saw two horses starting at me on the highway from their trailer and I said I wanted to hug a horse. So of course, Heather tells me to go online and see if there is a place nearby where we can make that happen. Our new goal for the day was to hug a horse and we found a way to do it! But first, we stopped at Devils Millhopper.

Devils Millhopper

Devils Millhopper is a bowl-shaped cavity 120 feet deep and 50 feet wide with over 200 steps leading down to the bottom. The bottom is flat, kind of dry looking but with a small stream running across it. The slopes are filled with greenery and small waterfalls, seemingly coming from underground. The overall effect when you are at the bottom of the bowl is of a rainforest with trickling water noises surrounding you.  We were told the amount of water is dependent on the rainfall and you could have no streams during a dry time or it can be covered in water if there is heavy rainfall. We talked to a local that said one time after a big hurricane the water level was so high it covered the boardwalk. It all depends on when you visit. 

The walk up and down the steps is easy as we stopped often to look at different things along the way. There is also a short trail around the sinkhole. We were a little disappointed we couldn’t see into the sink hole on this trail. Still, a nice short trail with a little bridge. Overall, Devils Millhopper is a nice place to visit to get some nature time in. The cost is $4 per vehicle, bring cash as it is a drop box.

Devils Millhopper

Okay, time to achieve the goal of hugging a horse! We found out that you can feed the horses every Saturday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Mill Creek Farm, a retirement home for horses. The entrance fee is two carrots, though you are going to want to bring more than that. How adorable is that entrance fee! We headed to the grocery store to pick up carrots and apples. We bought 2lb bags and we should have bought more. I mean look how cute they are! They need more carrots.

Mill Creek Farm

Luckily they sell 5 lb bags at the farm and we bought two bags. The apples need to be cored so they provide a spot and a corer so you can do so. I also didn’t know that horses like bananas so you can buy bananas as well.  They hand you a map and you are on your way. The horses that are hungry will come up the fence or will already be there watching and waiting for you. Some will allow you to pet them and others will just want your food. It was interesting that some preferred carrots or apples and wouldn’t bother eating the other that was offered to them, so I am glad we brought both.

Road Trip Around Gainesville
Heather having the best day ever!

If you haven’t feed horses before it is really fun. You can put an apple slice in your palm and lay your hand flat. The horse will use its lips to grab the food and depending on the size of the horse that may mean you have horse lips around your whole hand. It’s really fun and a little scary if you haven’t done it before. I definitely left with some horse slobber on me, but I loved it. The farm and the horses are so beautiful.  I can’t believe I got to hug a horse. Yay for spontaneity! Mission accomplished. Don’t worry, I gave him plenty of apples and carrots for that hug (though he didn’t seem bothered by the attention). I am so glad we found this place, it really made our day.  Make sure you go early so you can take your time and visit all the horses, the farm is larger than we thought.

 

We headed next to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.  We actually had talked to a woman at Devils and she suggested LaChua Trail to us and how much she enjoys it.  We visited the prairie back in January but decided to go again since our two friends traveling with us hadn’t been before. We were also hoping for another chance to see bison.

Paynes Prairie is a beautiful location and it changes depending on the time of year so plan to go more than once.  Even the view from the outlook tower looked different.

Paynes Prairie State Park
View of the prairie from the outlook tower.

Guess what? We saw bison!! They were a good distance away and we needed to use binoculars to figure out what they were. I took the photo below with my phone through the binoculars so I apologize for the quality. We were just so ecstatic we got to see wild bison in Florida!

We Found Bison in Florida

At this point, we decided to get some food and I’m not going to lie we kinda smelled a little like horse. But our adventure wasn’t over. I had found ZeeZenia via Yelp and since we had two vegetarians in the group I thought it would be fun to try something new. ZeeZenia is an Egyptian market that sells groceries, meat and has a window to order food as well as a couple small tables to sit.  I ordered the falafel platter with foul madames, which is a fava beans dish I have never had before. I knew we picked a good place when I saw a steady amount of people ordering food before the place closed at 7:00.  The falafel was different than the falafel I have had before but it had great flavor and a good crunch to it. The fava bean dish was delicious, lots of great flavors.  I love trying new things!

Just note that the to go window closes before the market closes so make sure you look at the correct times. We ended the day shopping around the market trying a couple of Turkish delights and some local candies. The gentleman that had taken our order came out and asked us our thoughts on the food. Everything was very good, very friendly staff and I would definitely go back. Very happy with our experience.

ZeeZenia - Falafel platter

Overall it was such a great day with friends. The spontaneity made the trip exciting and I honestly would go back to all of the locations we went today.

Melissa P.

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A retirement home for horses where you can feed the horses every Saturday from 11:00AM - 3:00PM in Alachua, Florida

10 Adventures From 2016 –>

 

 

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