(Last Updated On: January 6, 2023)
Museum entrance at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

Museum entrance at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. Photo: Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Overall Florida has 158 state parks in its system, but none of them are quite like Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park.

Located within the small town of White Springs, about 15 minutes from the city of Wellborn, the park differs from others in Florida. This is because it is entirely dedicated to the musical achievements and legacy of the acclaimed songwriter Stephen Foster.

Although he died in 1864 at the tender age of just 37, he wrote over 200 songs in his lifetime. Incredibly Foster never once stepped foot in Florida, despite bringing the Suwannee River to the consciousness of the nation in his iconic song ‘Old Folks At Home’.

This song was decreed as Florida’s official state song in 1935. Just 15 years later, the park was created to commemorate his musical repertoire.

At just 247-acres, this Florida state park is fairly small. Though it does feature the river flowing through its southern sections.

It also has a museum onsite as well as the Carillon Towers – which houses the world’s largest tubular bell carillon.

The park is also a haven for outdoor recreational activities like fishing, hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, picnicking and camping.

The latter of which takes various forms including RV sites with hookups for water and electricity, cabins and primitive campsites for large groups.

Activities

Visitors to the park can enjoy its fascinating exhibits and stunning scenery in several ways.

Here are further details about what you can see and do whilst you are there.

Touring the Carillon Towers at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

One of the park’s main attractions is its Carillon Towers.

Standing 200 feet high, this stately structure features an impressive set of 97 bells which are tuned to play a specific melody if they are hit in a particular order.

Tours of this system, which is the largest carillon of tubular bells in the world, are conducted regularly throughout the year.

Visiting the Stephen Foster Museum

The park’s museum aims to honor and preserve the musical legacy of of Stephen Foster.

Opened in 1950, it possesses ten original dioramas of some of his most iconic and celebrated songs.

There are also many fascinating exhibits on display which include his old pianos and desks.

Visitors can embark on a guided tour that will take you through the museum while his songs play over the sound system.

Canoeing at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

As there are plenty of alligators along the Suwannee River, you are not allowed to swim in its waters.

However, canoeing, kayaking and SUP are permitted at various times of the year when water levels have risen enough.

When conditions are right, park visitors will be able to take in wonderful views of wild azalea flowers that bloom on the riverbanks. They will also get to see turtles and alligators within their natural environment.

Fishing at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

Given the presence of the alligators, most anglers choose to fish from kayaks or canoes on the Suwannee River.

You may need a license to fish in the park, but on a good day, the likes of crappie, catfish and largemouth bass should all bite.

Trails at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

The park boasts several miles of trails that will take you into the heart of it. Most of them are multi-purpose so can be accessed by hiking, biking or horseback riding.

One of the most popular trails is The Florida Trail. This takes you throughout the whole of the park and showcases its diverse ecosystems. This includes, rock formations, swamps, limestone outcroppings, river bluffs and stately pines.

If you want to explore the trails on horseback you will need proof of a negative Coggins test. Bikes can hired from the gift shop.

Should you go riding with your children, they will have to wear a helmet if they are under the age of 16.

Pets at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

Dogs are welcome to join you at the park but they must be well behaved at all times. If not, you could be asked to leave its confines.

Pets must also be cleaned up after they have made a mess and should also be kept on a leash of no more than six feet when not in your vehicle.

Other conditions apply, so it is a good idea to contact the park’s main office to ascertain what they are.

Camping at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

The park offers a range of camping accommodation options for those who want to stay the night.

At the main campground you will find 45 shaded campsites that are situated beneath large oak trees. These campsites take the form of back-in and pull-through sites, most of which can accommodate large size rigs.

Each of these sites are ADA accessible. They also come with hookups for electricity and water, as well as individual fire rings and picnic tables.

Amenities at this campground include restrooms, a dump station and laundry.

As well as these sites there are five cabins located down by the riverside. Each of these dwellings has two bedrooms and features air conditioning, heating, a kitchenette and basic furniture. One of them is ADA-accessible and all of them come with their own picnic tables and grills.

Within the park there are also two large group campsites, both of which can accommodate 20 people.

As they are set up for primitive camping they do not have any amenities. Therefore you will need to pack in all your provisions and take your trash out with you.

Park Location

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
11016 Lillian Saunders Drive
White Springs, FL 32096
Phone: 386.397.4331

Website
Reservation

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park: