Tropical gardens from the 1920s grow lavishly around the historic winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, their centerpiece one of the biggest banyan trees in the United States.
Established in 1938 as one of the world’s largest collections of tropical plants, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is an integral part of the history of Florida botany and of Coral Gables.
From its roots in a citrus grove, a nonprofit botanical garden sprouted through the efforts of Floyd and Lula Wray. In 1927, they purchased 320 acres to grow citrus and a year later, Floyd hired Frank Stirling to create a botanical garden for test planting of tropical fruit and flowering trees.
A dip into Florida’s only show cave at Florida Caverns State Park brings on an instant sense of cool. Opened in Marianna in the 1930s by the hardworking Civilian Conservation Corps, the tour route wraps through more than a dozen rooms with their own distinct and colorful landscapes.
Fort Clinch State Park offers camping by the sea, and extensive bike trails along a slender peninsula. But the main reason to visit is its namesake. Fort Clinch is one of the largest brick structures in Florida, and a must-see for architecture buffs.
Part of Hillsborough River State Park, Fort Foster State Historic Site takes you back to the era of Florida’s earliest pioneer settlers and their clashes with the native Seminoles.
With layer upon layer of human habitation atop the highest hill on the Southeastern Atlantic coast, Fort George Island still shows signs of the human touch: the coastal scrub forest is filling in former golf greens.
A little-known chapter in Florida history is that of Fort Mose, the first free African settlement in the South in pre-Colonial America. The settlement site is preserved and interpreted at Fort Mose Historic State Park.
Once the grand sentinel that protected the fledgling town of Key West from attack, Fort Zachary Taylor is still an imposing presence from the sea as sailboats – and monster cruise ships – pull into port in downtown Key West.
Flanked by three-hundred-year-old oaks, the grand entrance to the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park evokes Tara. It’s an unmistakable landmark along US 301, which cuts through what was, in 1843, Major Robert Gamble’s 3,500-acre sugar plantation along the Manatee River.