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on June 6, 2007
What a great guidebook this is to the back roads and the stories that await. Douglas Waitley has presented the Center of Florida in such a way that even those who have lived in these parts for years will find new places worth exploring.

Waitley is an advocate of getting off the interstates as much as possible, which is harder to do in Florida than most places since there simply aren't as many back roads as in other states that have had a couple of centuries more of transportation and travel. Then again, there is plenty to explore if you are willing to slow down and see what is around the next bend.

And around the next bend are places with exotic names like Chassahowitzka Swamp and Lacoochee, Micanopy, Mascotte, Okahumpka, Yalaha, Lake Beauclair and Hontoon Island. In these pages, Calvin Coolidge rubs shoulders with Elvis Presley and you will find everything from horse country and swimming holes to missionaries and the Honky Tonk Freeway.

The guidebook takes you on consecutive journeys of under 50 to about 125 miles each, and there is a lot of history and scenery and lore packed in to each of the tours. With Waitley we travel to places where Desoto wandered, to the dens of alligators and thieves, to early settlements that were so close knit ethnically that when the young moved away they became virtual ghost towns, and more.

We find out about J C Penney's lost utopia and Ma Barker's last stand. We hear about buried and yet to be found treasure and the best places to shop for antiques. Want to see the manatee or a 3000-year old tree? Waitley can get you there. The maps and directions are easy as can be. Suggestions for enjoying nature and for stopping for a meal are included in each of the tours.

The book includes lots of good black and white photos taken by the author on his rambles and travels. The people he met populate the text and make the region come alive for the reader.

David Waitley loves Florida and it shows. By the time you read this book, you will have fallen in love with it, too; with all of its surprise and mystery, its local color and eccentricity. A perfect guidebook for being on the back roads, it is also a great armchair traveler's companion.
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on January 29, 2000
We recently used this terrific book in exploring some wonderful and little used roads in Pasco County. It's great to have direction to unique Florida locales that aren't centered around Disney World or the beach.
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on March 14, 2012
I have enjoyed this series written by Douglas Waitley very much. I read them even when I am not traveling. As a Florida native, the bits and pieces Waitley can add to my understanding of my state are invaluable! Rather than being turned off by his descriptions, I love them. He paints a picture of every site discussed without ever becoming flowery. If you want just directions and current prices, get an AAA book. If you want to know where to go to see real Florida and to learn fascinating tidbits about its quieter places, this is your book.
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on February 10, 2012
We followed Backroads for a week's travel in southern Florida. We would not have found such interesting places without the help of this book. The trips include little known stops and are of reasonable length. I find two problems with the book -- it badly needs updating as prices are uniformly wrong. They were correct once, but time has marched on. Second, the author is badly in need of an editor. While many of his stories help the reader learn the back story of Florida, verbosity is distracting. A travel guide needs concise descriptions not Pat Conroy tableaux.
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on January 3, 2012
Not worth the $$. We took one of the driving tours recommended in this book - the SW florida tour including Cape Coral, Boca Grande, etc - and it is very out of date. Written in 2001, revised in 2005, and this is 2011! Wish I had taken a closer look at the publication date. Many of the roads are no longer 'scenic' since a lot of development has taken place. The book does provide interesting history re: the failed developments (Cape Coral, Rotonda) but it wasn't worth driving to see. It has only one small map covering the whole region; it does not provide any detailed maps for each drive. I had to buy a map in order to figure out where we were going.
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on July 10, 2005
Our family just spent a weekend following the trails of this book. It was so interesting and fun to read along the way. It's great to learn more about Florida -- especially how life was before a/c and the Disney era. Bravo!
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on August 15, 2005
We would like to take mini vacations on Florida's backroads. In reading this book, I can see that it will make planning our trips much easier.
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on February 28, 2015
Great
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on July 22, 2014
A well written book on the heartland of Florida. I would like to find other books by Waitley.
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on February 26, 2014
Wanted more information but book seemed to be OK for price Did find some quaint places to eat/visit and enjoy mother nature
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