We took a recent trip to High Springs on a lark. There we found one of the coolest little places we have run upon while traveling the Sunshine State. The cornerstone of our experience was a stop at The Great Outdoors Restaurant.

The Great Outdoors Cafe is a great find for dining indoors or out.

Located on North Main Street in the historic downtown district, the place is just as it seems. It has an outdoors theme, where you are surrounded by pieces of adventure equipment, from a giant canoe to all kinds of highly varnished and polished kayak paddles.

You can dine inside or out

There are three dining areas, one indoors and one outdoors. They are elegant, dark wood and rich lighting indoors, and breezy outside. The “patio” as they call it, has a myriad of different seating options – including a table beside a giant outdoor seating area.

They had several outdoor heaters – but this is the most attractive.

At the back of the outdoors room is a space for a band. The popular “Late Night Delivery” was playing the evening that we were there.

But as good as the ambiance is, the star is the food. Their award-winning chef prepares a wide variety of selections from their signature steaks and salads, to pasta from the pan, great big platters surf & turf as well as a full slate of burgers they call “Hamburger Heaven..”

How about a Bison Burger (yes it really is bison or a Portabello Burger? That’s made with a giant char-grilled Portabello mushroom cap topped with a spring mix and bleu cheese. I had the Weekie Wachee Burger. No, it’s not mermaid. It was a chicken breast basted with honey mustard, topped with melted cheddar and crisp, char-grilled bacon.

Their dishes are attractive and twice as tasty.

Mrs Funmeister went to the default Great Outdoors Nachos. Organic corn chips with melted jack and cheddar. For those who wish, there’s grilled pork, black beans and honey barbecue sauce. She went with a picco dip and gave it high marks (which is not always the case).

Apparently their chef has won a number of prestigious awards – and there’s no question in our mind how THAT happened.

Other Great Reasons to Visit High Springs

The Great Outdoors Restaurant is nestled in a small but target rich area of gift shoppes, specialty stores and small eateries. Shoppers can get goods from the Buffalo Girls Soap Shop, the River Run Olive Oil Company – which has everything from oil to the trees – or perhaps great mineral paints from Dixie Belle.

There are antique and curio shops galore including Home Decor Antiques, The Mantle – which also is a consignment shop, Decades on Main or The Bird House.

Want a small treat or a snack? There’s Bambi’s Market & Cafe or the very cool Talented Cookie organic coffee & cookie shop.

Great gifts, teas, coffees and of course cookies come from the Talented Cookie in High Springs.

Whether you are an adventurer seeking to enjoy the springs there by swimming, diving, camping, tubing, kayaking or canoeing – or you just want to visit a fun place, High Springs is a good choice. It is within easy access of Gainsville, Alachua and Micanopy for quick and cool day trips.

But whatever you do, don’t miss the Great Outdoors Restaurant.