Florida has a rich history of both Native American and European culture. Saint Augustine is the oldest permanent European settlement in the United States. The city is filled with Spanish architecture and important monuments and is a must-see for any history buff. Other historical sites in Florida include Native American sites, old military forts, beautiful lighthouses, and houses once belonging to important historical figures such as Ernest Hemingway and Zora Neale Hurston.
Caladesi Island State park is one of the few untouched islands along the Gulf Coast and it's only accessible by boat. Visitors can kayak through the bayside mangrove forest and walk along the beautiful shores of the beach. There's also a nature trail along the island where guests can see a multitude of animals in their natural habitats. Also on the island is the historic ruins of the Scharrer Homestead, once home to a family who lived in peace on the island. Myrtle Scharrer Betz, who lived in the home, called this place "paradise" in her memoirs.
Visitors to this area can take a self-guided tour through the museum that houses displays from the mid 1800s when Florida hosted its first State Constitution Convention. The constitution became the Organic Law of Florida after four more constitution conventions and Florida was finally admitted to the Union as the 27th state. There are actual artifacts from this time period and an audio-animated mannequin demonstration of the debates and the process of drafting a state constitution. It's definitely a history lesson if you happen to stop by!
This National Historic Landmark is 61 acres of pre-Columbian, Native American lands with burial mounds, temple platform mounds, a plaza area, and a midden. For over 1,600 years, the site served as a ceremonial center for Native Americans and people traveled to the complex from great distances to bury their dead. It's estimated that 7,500 Native Americans may have visited the area every year. Aside from the history, this park is also great for bird watchers and fisherman.
Travel to the oldest city in Florida and visit a centuries-old colonial fort that has changed ownership between the British, American, and Spanish forces numerous times before the formation of what is now the United States of America.
Listed as a historic place in Florida, visitors of this park can learn all about Florida farming from the 1850s to the mid 1940s through the generations of the Dudley family. The property consists of 18 buildings, including the farmhouse that still houses the original furniture, an 1880's kitchen outbuilding, a general store, post office, and a functional cane syrup complex. It's extra fun here since the park staff dress up in period clothing to go about their general chores, like raising the crops and tending to the livestock. If you've ever been curious to how a farm really worked more than one hundred years ago, this is a great throw back in time to check out. There are also some nature trails here that are perfect for hikers and gardens that are beautiful to enjoy when everything is blooming.
Ernest Hemingway is one of the most famous former residents of Key West. This house was his home beginning in 1931 and was a common place for him to visit even when it wasn't his permanent home for the rest of his life. It was built in 1851 and became the first home in Key West to have an in ground pool in the 1930s. One of the most well-known residents of the home was Hemingway's six-toed cat, and many of the descendants of that cat, who also have six toes, live there still. Now the home serves as a museum to honor Hemingway. You can tour the home for an in-depth history lesson, or it can be rented for events such as weddings.
Fort East Martello was an incomplete Confederacy fort during the American Civil War that has since been restored and opened as a museum in 1950. Immerse yourself in the imaginative art of Stanley Papio and meet the infamously haunted Robert the Doll.
Few people know that the prolific author, Jack Kerouac spent a short time living in the College Park region of Orlando when On The Road was published. It was here that he wrote Dharma Bums. The house is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it is home to the Kerouac Project, a program that offers residency to writers working on their own projects. The house is not available to tour due to the residency programs, but check out the website for special events that allow you access.
The Key West Cemetery is a unique final resting place. Built on the ruined remains of the old cemetery destroy by the Great Havana Hurricane of 1846, the Key Cemetery is lined with a crowded jumble of grave and alabaster-white above ground vaults forming a miniature city of the dead.
The National Navy Seal Museum in Fort Pierce is the only museum in the United States that is dedicated to preserving the history and heroic attributes of the Navy SEALs. Starting with their creation to what they continue to do today, there is a vast amount of information to be learned through the artifacts and exhibits here. With old uniforms, both land and sea equipment, and hanging exhibits, this is a history lesson for those who love learning about the American military. Come check out where the Navy SEALs started and what they continue to do for the country.
The Oldest House in South Florida is in Key West on the historic Duval Street. It was built in 1829 and has survived many disasters that nearby houses did not. Today it is a museum that shows visitors what life was like back then and how people lived on the islands.
The Sarasota Opera House opened in 1926 as a multi-purpose Mediterranean Revival style venue. It was purchased by the Sarasota Opera Company in 1979, and has been the home to their performances and many others ever since!
The Tampa Theatre is one of America's most elaborate movie palaces. It was built in 1926 featuring a romantic Mediterranean style so people could enjoy a beautiful environment while they watched the latest silent film. Today it is a not-for-profit foundation that hosts more than 600 events each year.
The Truman Little White House has had many purposes through history. It began as a naval station’s command headquarters in 1890 and remained so for decades. It is most famous as the winter White House of President Harry S. Truman. Today it serves as museum of presidential history and Key West's place in it.
The Wells' Built Museum is located inside of the historic Wells' Built hotel, a hotel built by one of Orlando's first African-American doctors, William Monroe Wells in 1921. It was built to host black travelers who were not welcome in the segregated hotels in the area. Today it is a museum dedicated to African-American history in Central Florida.