Historic Florida Travel Guide

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Northwest

 

Bristol 

TORREYA STATE PARK

The park is the home to the Gregory House, a fully furnished antebellum plantation. Andrew Jackson’s armies crossed a river running through the park during the First Seminole War in 1818. The remains of a Confederate gun pit are visible. 

(850) 643-2674 
www.floridastateparks.org/torreya

 

EGLIN VILLAGE 

AIR FORCE ARMAMENT MUSEUM 

The museum features an extensive collection of planes and aerial weapons, including a WWII-era B-17 bomber. It also houses a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, first tested in 2003, which is often referred to as the “Mother of All Bombs” for its unrivaled explosive power. 
(850) 651-1808 
www.afarmamentmuseum.com

 

PENSACOLA

FORT BARRANCAS & FORT PICKENS 

During the Civil War, the Confederacy held Fort Barrancas while the Union held Fort Pickens. Well before that, the British and Spanish had built fortifications atop the bluff on which Fort Barrancas now sits. The postwar Fort Pickens held Geronimo, the Chiricahua Apache warrior who surrendered to the federal authorities in 1886. 
(850) 455-5167, (850) 934-2600 

www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/fort-barrancas.htm or www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/fort-pickens.htm

HISTORIC PENSACOLA VILLAGE 

The village includes the T. T. Wentworth, Jr., Florida State Museum, which covers nearly 450 years of history, while the Discovery Gallery inside the museum engages young visitors. The 8.5-acre village complex also contains the 1832 Old Christ Church, the 1871 Dorr House, and other museums, including the Pensacola Museum of Industry and the Pensacola Museum of Commerce. 

(850) 595-5985 
www.historicpensacola.org

NATIONAL NAVAL AVIATION MUSEUM 

The museum’s 300,000-square-foot building houses 150 Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard aircraft, including a number of A-4F Skyhawk jets that served in Vietnam. The most visited museum in Florida also contains a flight simulator and an IMAX theatre. 

(850) 453-2389 
www.navalaviationmuseum.org

Pensacola historical MUSEUM 

The museum contains the Army/Navy Gallery, the Maritime Gallery, the Multicultural Gallery, the Native American Gallery, and the Forts/Civil War Gallery. An interactive touchscreen kiosk displays 18th-century maps and focuses on the 1781 Spanish siege of Pensacola, as well as the history of nearby Fort George. 

(850) 433-1559 

www.pensacolahistory.org

Plaza ferdinand vii

The plaza, named for a colonial-era king of Spain and located near the Port of Pensacola, was the site of west Florida’s acquisition by the United States in 1821. Today a monument to Andrew Jackson, who accepted the territory from the Spanish, stands on the plaza grounds. 

(800) 874-1234 

www.visitpensacola.com/articles/pensacolas-rich-history

 

SANTA ROSA BEACH

wesley mansion and eden gardens state park

The 19th-century mansion contains an extensive assortment of original Louis XVI antiques, while the grounds feature the ornamental gardens once popular among wealthy Victorian-era elites.

(850) 231-4214 

www.floridastateparks.org/EdenGardens

 

Back to MapBack to TopNorth Central

GainesVILLe

dudley farm historic state park

The living-history farm, located west of Gainesville in Newberry, is a plantation complex that consists of 18 buildings, including the house in which the Dudley family resided, complete with the original furniture. Living-history actors reenact the duties of the farmers who worked the fields between the 1850s and the 1940s, from cultivating crops to caring for livestock. 
(352) 472-1142 
www.floridastateparks.org/DudleyFarm

tallahassee

Goodwood Museum & Gardens

The museum, once one of the area’s finest antebellum plantation houses and later a stately late-19th-century residence, features some of the state’s earliest frescoed ceilings. The garden has been restored to its landscaping of the early 1900s. 
(850) 877-4202 
www.goodwoodmuseum.org

Letchworth-Love Mounds State Park

The 46-foot-tall Letchworth-Love Mound, built between 100 and 900 C.E. by members of the Weedon Island Culture, is the tallest surviving Indian mound in Florida. Interpretive signs and guided tours lead visitors through the mound’s history. The park is in Monticello, to the east of Tallahassee. 

(850) 922-6007 

www.floridastateparks.org/letchworth

mission san luis

San Luis is Florida’s only reconstructed colonial Spanish mission. Living history presentations and hands-on exhibits illustrate the strong influence of Spain on the state’s colonial history. A council house and periodic reenactments of native ball games bring Apalachee Indian culture alive.

(850) 487-3711 
www.missionsanluis.org

museum of florida history 

The museum analyzes and interprets the state’s history through portraits of Seminole Indians, World War II uniforms and weapons, and exhibits about the first Native American inhabitants of the Tallahassee region, Spanish shipwrecks, and the use of the steamboat as a 19th-century means of transportation.

(850) 245-6400 

www.flheritage.com/museum

natural bridge battlefield historic state park

Because of the Confederate soldiers’ courageous stand at Natural Bridge Battlefield in 1865, Tallahassee remained the only Southern capital east of the Mississippi that was never captured. Reenactors fight the battle on the first weekend in March. 

(850) 922-6007 

www.floridastateparks.org/naturalbridge

 

Back to MapBack to TopNortheast

jacksonville

Beaches Museum and History Center 

The center contains a number of railroad buildings built when 19th-century oil tycoon and transportation pioneer Henry Flager ran the Florida East Coast railroad company, a steam locomotive dating from 1911, and the 1903 Pablo Beach post office. The museum contains traveling exhibits, an archives reading room, and the “Shore Stories” permanent exhibit, which explores the history of the six beach communities in the area. The museum is in Jacksonville Beach, east of Jacksonville. 

(904) 241-5657 
www.bm-hc.com

FORT CAROLINE NATIONAL MEMORIAL

The French established their first permanent North American colony here in 1564 at St. Johns Bluff. A visitor center provides background about the Timucuan Indians who inhabited the area for 1,000 years before the arrival of the French, the religious persecution that led the French to consider establishing Fort Caroline as a retreat for Huguenots, and the Spanish onslaught that destroyed the settlement only a year after its founding.

(904) 641-7155 
www.nps.gov/timu/historyculture/foca.htm

 

olustee

Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park 

On February 20, 1864, the rolling fields of Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park served as the site of Florida’s largest Civil War battle. Interpretive signs recount the battle, which resulted in a Confederate victory, and a monument pays tribute to the 2,807 casualties. 

(386) 758-0400 

www.floridastateparks.org/olusteebattlefield

 

st. augustine

CASTILLO DE SAN MARCOS NATIONAL MONUMENT 

Since 1672, the Castillo de San Marcos has guarded the northern gateway to St. Augustine along the Matanzas River; today it remains the only intact 17th-century fort left standing in the United States. Reenactors in dress dating from the colonial period and a museum help visitors learn about the Indians, African Americans, English, Spanish, and Americans who have interacted here over five centuries. 
(904) 829-6506 
www.nps.gov/casa

COLONIAL SPANISH QUARTER

The quarter offers a glimpse of St. Augustine when it was a remote Spanish outpost in the early 18th century. Costumed interpreters perform blacksmithing, carpentry, and other trades common in 1740. Also open is the Taberna del Gallo, a reconstructed tavern dating from the 1740s. 
(904) 825-6830 
www.staugustinegovernment.com/visitors/spanish_quarter.cfm

DOW MUSEUM OF HISTORIC HOMES

The nine houses in the museum, which date from 1790 to 1910 and include the William Dean Howells House, where the famous author and pioneer of literary realism lived in 1916, are accompanied by five exhibit galleries that delve into the local history of America’s oldest continuously occupied city. 

(904) 823-9722 
www.moas.org/dowmuseum.html

FORT MATANZAS NATIONAL MONUMENT 

The Spanish erected the fort on a small marsh island in the early 1740s to protect Matanzas Inlet, which offered a rear entrance to English and French warships wishing to attack St. Augustine. It is accessible today by guided boat tours. 

(904) 471-0116 
www.nps.gov/foma 

GOVERNMENT HOUSE MUSEUM

First built in 1598 by the Spanish, the House served as the residence of several Spanish governors, then as a courthouse and post office under the U.S. government through the 19th century. Today it hosts a Florida history museum containing coins from shipwrecks, archaeological materials, and other exhibits depicting life in St. Augustine from the first settlement in 1565 through the colonial period and to the beginning of the 20th century. 

(904) 825-5079 
www.staugustinegovernment.com/visitors/gov-house.cfm

OLDEST HOUSE MUSEUM COMPLEX 

Built in St. Augustine between 1702 and 1705, the Gonzalez-Alvarez House is the oldest standing Spanish colonial residence in the state. The complex encompasses a fruit garden and five buildings including the Museum of Florida’s Military and the Manucy Museum, which features local Florida history, weapons, and genealogy. St. Augustine. 

(904) 824-2872 
www.oldesthouse.org

ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE AND MUSEUM

The 165-foot-tall lighthouse boasts beautiful views of the St. Augustine area, while the museum presents artifacts and exhibits on northeast Florida’s maritime history, including displays on the Coast Guard and shipwrecks. 

(904) 829-0745 
www.staugustinelighthouse.com

Back to MapBack to TopCentral West

crystal river 

CRYSTAL RIVER ARCHAEOLOGICAL STATE PARK

Anthropologists theorize that the park served 7,500 Native American visitors annually for 1,600 years before the first Europeans arrived. The complex contains burial mounds, temple mounds, and a plaza area. Stairs lead to the top of the largest mound for scenic views of the surrounding area.

(352) 795-3817 
www.floridastateparks.org/crystalriverpreserve

 

TAMPA 

Florida Holocaust Museum 

The museum honors the millions of people who died in the Holocaust with a series of temporary exhibits and permanent displays, including a boxcar used by the Nazis to transport Jews to Polish concentration camps. The museum is in St. Petersburg, to the southwest of Tampa. 

(727) 820-0100 
www.flholocaustmuseum.org

Heritage Village

The village, located to the west of Tampa in Largo, offers hands-on demonstrations of activities such as blacksmithing and basket-weaving that bring 19th-century Pinellas County alive.

(727) 582-2123 
www.pinellascounty.org/heritage

Tampa Bay History Center

Opening in December 2008, the center will feature displays covering the past 12,500 years of regional history, from the Native Americans who flourished here for thousands of years through the explorations of Europeans and beyond. An exhibit on the early cigar industry in the Tampa Bay region will showcase original advertising posters and cigar boxes.

(813) 228-0097 
www.tampabayhistorycenter.org

 

Back to MapBack to TopCentral

BUSHNELL 

Dade Battlefield Historic State Park

In 1835, Seminole warriors killed 105 U.S. soldiers on the park’s grounds, including Major Francis Dade, for whom Florida’s most populous county, Miami-Dade County, is named. The visitor center contains displays about the battle, which kicked off the bloody Second Seminole War. Battle reenactments occur every January.

(352) 793-4781 
www.floridastateparks.org/dadebattlefield

 

LAKE WALES 

Bok Tower and Gardens 

The late 19th-century publisher Edward Bok, whose women’s magazines helped bridge the gender gap, commissioned architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design these gardens. Philadelphia architect Milton B. Medary designed and built the Gothic-inspired tower and bells.

(863) 676-1408 
www.boksanctuary.org

 

ORLANDO 

Hannibal Square Heritage Center

The center, located to the north of Orlando in Winter Park, contains thousands of photographs and oral history accounts of the African American community of West Winter Park. Also on site are two art galleries, a digital photography studio, and the Family History Research Library.

(407) 539-2680 
www.hannibalsquareheritagecenter.org

Orange County Regional History Center

The center’s many exhibits look at Florida’s past, from Indian prehistory, through pioneer times and the turbulent Seminole Wars that rocked the state in the first half of the 19th century, to 20th-century history. Close by is the Orlando Fire Museum, featuring a number of antique fire engines.

(407) 836-8500 
www.thehistorycenter.org

 

SANFORD 

Museum of Seminole County History

The museum’s 22 galleries draw from a large collection of artifacts, including photographs, documents, 19th- and 20th-century furniture, and the archaeological remains of Indian civilizations, to help illustrate the history of Seminole County, the longtime gateway to Florida. 

(407) 665-2489 
www.seminolecountyfl.gov/museum

 

Back to MapBack to TopCentral East

CAPE CANAVERAL 

Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science

Located in Cocoa near the Kennedy Space Center, the museum features exhibits and dioramas addressing subjects ranging from prehistory, including the nearby excavation of 6,000-year-old skeletons, to NASA’s exploration of space. 

(321) 632-1830 
www.nbbd.com/godo/BrevardMuseum

Kennedy Space Center

The center offers a glimpse into the history of America’s space program. Visitors can see—and sit in—replicas of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules in the Rocket Garden. A Saturn V rocket, the kind used to send 12 Apollo missions into space between 1967 and 1973, is also on display. There are guided tours out to the Mercury and Gemini launch sites from which America experienced some of its first successes in space.

(321) 449-4444 
www.kennedyspacecenter.com/visitKSC/NASAtours/index.asp

 

DAYTONA BEACH

Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse

Built in 1887, the 175-foot lighthouse is the tallest in the state and contains a museum that explores Florida history, lighthouse life, and shipwrecks. The lighthouse is in Ponce Inlet, to the south of Daytona Beach.

(361) 761-1821 
www.ponceinlet.org

 

VERO BEACH 

Laura Riding Jackson Home

Poet and writer Laura Riding Jackson, whose life spanned most of the 20th century, lived primarily here in her east Florida home, which today serves as a museum of her life and times. 

(772) 569-6718 
www.lauraridingjackson.com

 

Back to MapBack to TopSouthwest

BIG CYPRESS INDIAN RESERVATION 

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum

The museum, dedicated to preserving the traditions of the Seminole Indians of southwest Florida, contains exhibits in its main building as well as a living-history Indian village at the end of a scenic nature trail on the reservation. 

(877) 902-1113 
www.ahtahthiki.com

 

BRADENTON 

De Soto National Memorial 

The monument marks the probable spot where Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto landed in 1539. Nearby at Camp Utiza, a living-history site, visitors can watch reenactments of de Soto’s landing, as well as tour a Native American village. 

(941) 792-0458 
www.nps.gov/deso

SOUTH FLORIDA MUSEUM 

The Museum’s dioramas include three-dimensional reproductions of Ice Age mammals, artifacts from the first Spanish explorers who brought the state’s native peoples in contact with Europeans, and a replica of a 16th-century Spanish chapel.

(941) 746-4131 
www.southfloridamuseum.org

 

FORT MYERS 

THE EDISON AND FORD WINTER ESTATES 

Standing along with nine National Register Historic buildings on the grounds of the former winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford is a 15,000-square-foot museum with changing special exhibits, such as a display on Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1878.

(239) 334-7419 
www.edisonfordwinterestates.org

 

NAPLES 

COLLIER COUNTY MUSEUM

The museum’s extensive collection includes a 1910 Baldwin steam locomotive used in the cypress industry, Jazz Age swamp buggies unique to south-west Florida, and a WWII-era Sherman tank. Three historic structures are located on the grounds, including the field laboratory of pioneer environmentalist Frank C. Craighead, deemed the “scholar of the Everglades” by Governor Reubin Askew in 1976.

(239) 252-8476 
www.colliermuseums.com/locations/collier_museum.php

 

Back to MapBack to TopSoutheast

KEY WEST 

AUDUBON HOUSE & TROPICAL GARDENS 

During his 1832 visit to the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas, famed ornithologist John James Audubon lived in the house, walked its gardens, and produced 18 new drawings for his “Birds of America” folio. Visitors can wander the same pathways he did, as well as view the collection of 19th-century European antiques and 28 first-edition Audubon works.

(305) 294-2116

www.audubonhouse.com

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Ernest Hemingway finished the final draft of A Farewell to Arms and composed The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber during his eight-year stay in this Key West house. Visitors can tour his writing studio and the grounds.

(305) 294-1136

www.hemingwayhome.com

Fort Jefferson

The remote, Civil War-era island fort held prisoner Samuel A. Mudd, the doctor who provided medical treatment for Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Visitors can tour the fort, scuba dive, snorkel, and learn about the many shipwrecks in the surrounding area, including the 1622 wreck of vessels in a Spanish treasure fleet. The fort is on the Dry Tortugas, to the west of Key West.

(888) 382-7846

www.nps.gov/drto/index.htm

Harry S. Truman Little White House Museum

Between 1946 and 1952, President Truman spent his winters at the Little White House, which has now become a museum with exhibits ranging from a look at the 1948 election to the state of the world at the close of the 1940s.

(305) 294-9911

www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.com

MIAMI 

Cape Florida Lighthouse

The lighthouse overlooking Biscayne Bay was first built to a height of 65 feet in 1825. It was burned down during the 1836 Seminole War and rebuilt in 1856 to its present height of 95 feet. The lighthouse is in Key Biscayne, to the east of Miami.

(305) 361-6016

www.key-biscayne.com/about/light.html

Gold Coast Railroad Museum

The museum houses an extensive collection of train cars, including the “Ferdinand Magellan,” a Pullman railcar commissioned for use by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

(305) 253-0063

http://gcrm.org

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Agricultural industrialist James Deering built this Italianate mansion in 1916, living here during the winters until his death in 1925. Visitors can tour 34 decorated rooms with 15th–19th-century antiques and walk in the 10 acres of formal gardens. Vizcaya has hosted Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth II of England, and the Summit of the Americas.

(305) 250-9133

www.vizcayamuseum.org

 

PALM BEACH

Henry M. Flagler Museum

The Whitehall Mansion, originally built in 1902 by Henry Flagler as a winter home, today serves as a museum that chronicles the life of the co-founder of Standard Oil. The 22 rooms that are open to the public are ornately decorated in the same Gilded Age style as when Flagler lived there. Docents lead daily tours through the first floor of the mansion, including the Grand Hall, which features a double staircase and paintings on the ceilings. The museum's collection includes the railway car in which the Flaglers traveled to the site every winter.

(561) 655-2833

www.flaglermuseum.us

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum

The 105-foot-tall lighthouse, which dates from 1860, now serves as a museum offering exhibits that deal with Florida pioneers, maritime history, and Native American culture. The lighthouse is in Jupiter, to the north of Palm Beach.

(561) 747-8380

www.jupiterlighthouse.org