Chinsegut (noun): The Inuit word for “the spirit of things lost and regained.”
For all of my Orlando readers who want to make a quick road trip getaway, look no further than Brooksville, Florida. Located in Hernando County in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area, Brooksville is hardly more than a hop, skip, and a jump away — about two hours west. I was introduced to the area by the lovely Diane of NatureCoaster, and couldn’t wait to visit.
(Diane is a fellow blogger who contributed to my Hidden Gems of Central Florida post back in January. Check it out if you haven’t already!)
Chinsegut Hill Manor
Our first stop was the Chinsegut Hill Manor, a historic home last owned by social activists Raymond Robins and Margaret Dreier Robins until the mid-1900s. In fact, who better to lead our tour than Margaret herself? 🙂 Visitors can receive tours from costumed guides, adding even more magic to the Chinsegut grounds. With two wraparound porches, beautiful original furnishings, and a gorgeous landscape, history enthusiasts will love touring the manor house. Tours are just $5 and are offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment.
Sparacia Witherell Family Winery
After our tour, our group congregated on the porch to sample some of the best wines the Nature Coast has to offer from the Sparacia Witherell Family Winery. Each bottle tells a different story about the family who owns this winery. In addition to your traditional reds and whites, they also offer blueberry and currant wines. My favorites were the Honeymoon Wine, a muscadine honey wine infused with grapefruit and apricots, and the Sicilian Punch, a peach/orange sangria and overall crowd pleaser. Take a trip to their tasting room to try all of these delicious flavors! The winery often houses food trucks and local bands for a fun day or night out.
Chinsegut Conservation Center
In the evening, we trekked over to the Chinsegut Conservation Center for a guided night hike with Gina, the center’s director. During our tour, we learned about the various native wildlife, and had the opportunity to learn about the area’s bat population. Bat houses are located on site, and are home to roughly 250 bats per home. At dusk, we watched the bats fly out of their houses and into the night sky. I had never seen so many bats in my life! The conservation center hosts tour groups almost monthly, as well as various classes and events throughout the year.
Where We Stayed
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay during your time in Brooksville, check out the charming cottages at Chinsegut Hill Retreat, on the same grounds as the manor house. Each cottage has four bedrooms with two twin beds each, along with private bathrooms, a kitchen, and living room area. Our group stayed in the cottages and enjoyed s’mores and popcorn by the campfire on the grounds. Take time on the porch in the morning to enjoy the breeze, relax, and restore.
I truly can’t wait for my next trip to Chinsegut and to explore more of the Nature Coast!
What’s on your Florida travel bucket list? Share your adventures in the comments section below!