To learn about the long and storied past of the forestry industry in Florida – one that certainly has shaped the habitats you see today – stop in at this museum surrounded by 13 acres of longleaf pines, dogwood, and wild azalea. In addition to the museum, the park has an 1863 Cracker homestead, picnic area, and playground, and is host to the annual Florida Forest Festival each October, a tradition that spans over 50 years.
Lat-Lon: 30.078200, -83.566700
Fees: Free. Museum $2 per person.
Open: 9-5 Thu-Mon. Closed holidays.
In Florida’s heart of forestry, this lively museum focuses on the importance of Florida’s timber, particularly its pine forests. In addition to a diorama on the historic turpentine and naval stores industries, there are life-sized replica habitats and a talking tree to teach the kids about the life cycle of Florida’s trees. A wooden map of Florida showcases the variety of native trees in the state (314 types), with each county made out of a different type of wood.
Outside the museum, walk beneath the stately longleaf pines through a reconstructed Cracker homestead, a circle of buildings where you might catch someone weaving a basket or whittling a walking stick. The homestead is included in the museum fee. Outside the museum, colorful spring blooms pop on the native azaleas, and a large picnic pavilion under the pines provides a lunch stop.
Explore the park
There is no marked trail on the grounds. However, there is a circuit to walk between the historic buildings inside the farmstead behind the museum, and a ramble along the edge of the cypress swamp near the picnic area is good for viewing large longleaf pines and for birding.