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.
Formerly Flagler Beach State Park, Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area stretches from the orange sand beaches of the Atlantic Ocean to the windswept oak hammocks along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Fifty acres of lush formal gardens hug the shores of Lake Rowena in this urban display of botanical diversity in Orlando. The center of it all is the Leu House, purchased by Harry and Mary Jane Leu in 1936 – now a house museum – around which they developed their gardens.
One of the grandaddies of the Florida Park System, Highlands Hammock State Park protects the amazing beauty of an ancient oak and palm hammock dense with trees many centuries old. A network of short trails and a scenic one-way loop drive make it easy for all visitors to appreciate the natural grandeur of this park.
Water in motion: the Hillsborough rapids foam and froth over limestone boulders beneath grand cypress trees in Class II rapids. One of Florida’s oldest state parks, Hillsborough River State Park showcases this masterpiece of nature from an overlook and trail system built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.