Inside a restored barn in the middle of De Leon Springs State Park, you'll find rising steam, lots of laughter and the delicious smell of a griddle.
- The Old Spanish Sugar Mill is in De Leon Springs in Volusia County
- Visitors of the Sugar Mill grill their own pancakes
- Historic site has been a tourist attraction since the 1800s
“My father was a Gris Miller, so he took grain and turned it into flour. He found this location, and they were going to tear it down, but he said, 'Oh no, I love it,' " said Patty Schwarze, owner of The Old Spanish Sugar Mill and Griddle House.
That was in 1961 when Schwarze's family bought the old mill. To this day, it's thriving as a pancake house — with a twist.
Guests grill their meals right at the table, cooking up all sorts of pancake concoctions. It's an experience employees say is for all ages.
Customers agree — some keep coming back years later.
“The atmosphere is great, the park is great, the food is wonderful," said Mary Curtiss, who has been a visitor for almost 20 years. "That’s the charm of it all."
The surrounding land has appeal, too. You can find boating tours, hiking, wildlife, even historical structures. Right outside the Sugar Mill's doors you'll see what Central Floridians call the "Fountain of Youth," put there in 1880 to attract tourists.
“You get batter on you. It can be a wild experience, so it takes a unique person ready for an unusual adventure," Schwarze said.
The Old Spanish Sugar Mill is at 601 Ponce De Leon Blvd. in De Leon Springs. It's open every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It can get busy, so plan to spend a little time enjoying some of the actives and nature around the restaurant while you wait for a table.