Food and Travel Nation with Elizabeth Dougherty
The TRUTH about Food and Travel

One of Elizabeth’s Destination Unknown segments took us to Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens just outside of the small town of Williston in north central Florida.  The abandoned mining operation sat empty for decades until a committed team of volunteers went to work raising money and performed an amazing transformation.



Come for a visit: CEDAR LAKES WOODS AND GARDENS – 4990 NE 180th Ave, Williston, FL 32696
From high up, the lake below is peaceful and serene.
One of the many fountains provides oxygen to the fish and plants that call Cedar Lake their home.
It’s a long walk, but worth it for this view.
Fast growing bamboo provides shade and the roots stabilize the soil below.
Just a bee looking for a late afternoon snack.
The gardens and walkways are filled with Camilla flowers.
Snapdragon flowers fill the spot where mining equipment once worked.
Walkways connect the gazebos and pavilions.
A cantilever deck over the water below.
It’s hard to imagine that 110 years ago, this was a limestone quarry. Volunteers with a little help from Mother Nature have turned it into a quiet place of relaxation and reflection..
Flowers line the walkways and the gaps between the rocks.
A quiet spot in the trail looking down on Cedar Lake,
A place to start a family.
Cedar Lakes Woods & Gardens was founded by Dr. Raymond Webber and opened for public enjoyment in January of 2014. And yes, he lives on the grounds and propagates many of the flowers found in the park.
Life’s more fun when you travel off the beaten path, as long as there are markers to point the way back.
Tropical flowers being grown on Dr. Webber’s deck. While his home is closed to the public, you can walk through his deck.
Well-deserved recognition to Dr. Webber and the volunteers who turned a former limestone mining pit into a 20 acre botanical wonderland.
The flowers along the paths love the filtered light from above.
Another view of Dr. Webber’s home and gardening workshop.
You’d never expect to see a Japanese garden in North Central Florida.
Volunteers transformed a former swampy limestone pit into a magical garden to reconnect with nature.
A lot of emphasis is placed on identifying the plants and educating the garden visitors.
Fountains and waterfalls create a living wall of sound.
An abandoned boat becomes part of the lake as water lilies take up residence inside.
Impatiens fill the gaps providing springtime color.
It’s impossible to overstate just how much work and care went into converting this former limestone quarry into a recognized botanical park.
Wear comfortable walking shoes… you’re gonna need them!
Cedar Lake Woods and Gardens in Williston, Florida. Our visit was in early April 2024.
The map given to visitors points the way through the 20 acre gardens.
In the early 20th century, mining operations left a giant hole in the ground that turned into a swamp. With the help of volunteers, the site is now home to birds, trees, a wide variety of flowers and of course, aquatic life.
The sun shines through the leaves of a Japanese Plum Tree.
A 142 year old Bonsai Boxwood Tree.
A Japanese pergola provides shade along the path.
Ferns and shade loving flowers line the steep walls as the paths loop the lake.
Volunteers bring their own specialties to the botanical gardens.
Centuries of dripping water created this ancient limestone boulder with a heart shaped hole.
Freshly planted lavender under a new tree.
Stepping back and looking across the park, there’s so much to see and enjoy.
We could hear the little ones calling for dinner.
Recent planting will be in full bloom later in the spring and summer.
From the boardwalk above, another look at the lake below.
Going for a swim… will be back soon.
An island in the middle of Cedar Lake.
Same island, but from up on the trail.
The National Wildlife Federation recognizes Cedar Lake and Woods for their amazing transformation of a former limestone pit into a beautiful home for plants and animals.
A Japanese Maple adds a splash of red to the scenic walk.
Of course there are huge Japanese Koi in the lake.
With the help of the Williston community, Dr. Webber turned his vision of a beautiful sanctuary into reality.
Whimsical characters welcome you to the gardens.
A tribute to the volunteer who helped create the cactus gardens and nursery.
One day we’ll understand the meaning of ancient structures and symbols.
Inside the cactus nursery.
One of the many residents at Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens.
This dragon seems at home watching over the trail.
A shady spot to relax.
Enjoy a rest along the trail.
Recognition for the volunteers, employees and financial supporters who keep Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens looking so good.
Back at the beginning of the trail. Don’t forget your map.
A shady tree stump makes a perfect spot for a new arrival in the gardens.
On your way to central Florida, visit Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens, one of Elizabeth’s Destination Unknown.

About Elizabeth Dougherty

Elizabeth Dougherty has been cooking and writing about food intensively for more than ten years. She is the fourth generation of chefs and gourmet grocers in her family with her mother, Francesca Esposito and grandmother, Carmella being major influences in her early cooking years. As a teenager, her family sent her to Europe where she became focused on French and Italian cuisine. She survived a year and half of culinary tutelage under a maniacal Swiss-German chef and is a graduate of NYIT, Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations. Food And Travel Nation has won two news awards for content. Broadcasting LIVE each week, nationwide, on FoodNationRadio.com and on stations around the country.

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