A destination for environmental education with a dash of regional history, the St. Johns River Center in downtown Palatka tells the story of Florida’s longest and most storied river.
Address: 102 N. First Street, Palatka
Land manager: Putnam County
Open Tue-Sat 11-4, Sun 1-4. You may see crowds here on weekdays before these posted times, as the center is a destination for field trips for local schools.
From SR 19, follow SR 100 east to where it merges with US 17. Continue south along US 17 through downtown Palatka, making the final right turn off US 17 just before the bridge over the St. Johns River. Parking for the River Center is immediately on the right, with additional street parking along First Street.
Inside this interpretive center, the kids can keep busy with a succession of hands-on activities designed to introduce them to the St. Johns River, its habitats, and history.
No kids in tow? No problem. There’s plenty to learn by reading the interpretive panels along the walls and in the themed exhibits.
The center serves as a welcome center for the Bartram Trail in Putnam County, so you’ll find a map of Bartram Trail sites in the region, as well as background on naturalist William Bartram, who documented the St. Johns River by journaling and sketching what he saw in 1773 and 1774. Learn more about those sites in our video.
Learn more about the St. Johns River at these nearby stops on the Bartram Trail in Putnam County.
- Palatka Riverfront Park- Recently re-imagined to showcase the beauty of the St. Johns River, Palatka Riverfront Park offers a quarter-mile riverfront walk with panoramic views.
- Palatka Water Works- On the grounds of the Water Works Environmental Education Center, explore the historic Palatka Water Works and a short interpretive trail dedicated to William Bartram's travels as Puc Puggy, the Flower Hunter.
- Ravine Gardens State Park- Known best for its hillsides of blooming azaleas each February, Ravine Gardens State Park melds historic planted public gardens with the intriguing setting of a deep steephead ravine above the St. Johns River in Palatka.