Our 3rd Annual “March Weekend Tour” was held March 16-19, 2023, in Tallahassee, Florida. The event included a Thursday night “Driver’s Meeting and Pizza Party” and three full days of touring. Ten vintage autos, mostly Packards, and twenty-six people participated.
Every day, we drove in a different direction from our host hotel. Although Tallahassee is the seat of state government and home to several busy colleges, our tourists rarely saw any city traffic. The hotel is in a rural setting and beautiful country roads are everywhere around it. The Tallahassee region boasts miles of lovely canopy roads, and we drove on these often.
The tour days went as follows:
Friday, March 17th – 110 miles. The first driving day began with a 37-mile drive to the home and car collection of the Prince family in rural Georgia. We had coffee and doughnuts and perused their eclectic collection. We saw many wonderful antique cars including, of course, a Packard.
Next was our lunch stop at Mr. Chick Restaurant, also in Georgia. The Hadden family, proprieters of the restaurant, hosted lunch. We enjoyed a delicious catered meal as we sat at tables among antique autos and automobilia. The Hadden collection includes several large buildings packed with cars and displays from all eras. There are also about a dozen firefighting vehicles, and one large building is a firetruck/firefighting museum.
Our third stop was the Pope’s Museum in nearby Ochlocknee, GA. This is the former home and studio of Laura Pope Forester, self-taught artist, sculptor, and advocate for women in the 1920s-50s. The museum is now owned by our host, Michelle Dean, and her family. The Pope story is a fascinating one, and can be found in detail online.
Saturday, March 18th – 92 miles. We left the hotel at 8:15 and drove on twenty-four miles of canopy and country roads to Bradley’s Country Store. The store has been operating continuously since 1927, and entering it is like stepping back in time. Rocking chairs greet customers on the store’s front porch and wares include all sorts of groceries and dry goods. Bradley’s is renowned for their country sausage, and we enjoyed samples of their sausage as well as some of their cheese and dips.
Then, more beautiful roads led us to Thomasville, GA. Here we enjoyed lunch and shopping. Most of us ate at Jonah’s Fish and Grits, a local favorite. Jonah’s is home to great Southern cooking, and everything on the menu is awesome!
The final stops before the 42-mile drive back to Tallahassee were the Thomasville History Center and an amazing Victorian home, the Lapham-Patterson House. Both were fascinating.
Sunday, March 19th – 70 miles. More lovely canopy roads led us to Wakulla Springs State Park, in Wakulla, FL. The park is home to one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs. The water is a constant 70-degrees year-round. Everyone was treated to a 45-minute guided boat tour along the beautiful Wakulla River. We saw alligators, manatees and all kinds of native birds in a magnificent natural setting. The park was also used as a backdrop for movies including Tarzan’s Secret Treasure (1941) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).
More country roads took us to O’Steen car collection, where we enjoyed a catered seafood meal and toured an outstanding collection of antique, classic, racing and micro-cars, and a restored Southern Cracker House. What a great stop!
Finally, we drove to the Tallahassee Automobile Museum. The world-class museum includes the collections of DeVoe and Shirley Moore. Countless items include nearly 200 show cars, trucks and motorcycles, including an unrestored 1896 Duryea and brands like Packard, Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Tucker and all the more common marques. There are Batmobiles and Batman Motorcycles, rare one-off Steinway Pianos, motors, fans, cash registers, calculators, knives, toys, dolls, sports memorabilia, law-enforcement items, firearms … the list goes on and on.
Tallahassee is one of Florida’s northernmost cities, and a far drive for most of our members. So, this year’s tour was smaller than prior tours. But participants raved about the roads, the tour stops and the food. Next year’s tour will be held somewhere in central Florida. Mark your calendar now for next year’s Tour. It will happen on the 3rd weekend in March 2024. Watch this website for details.
A more complete version of this report, including names of participants and the cars that were driven on the tour, will appear in the next issue of The Caribbean Courier, newsletter of The Florida Packard Club (available to members only).
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The Florida Packard Club is a Region of The Packard Club / Packard Automobile Classics, Inc.