Things to See & Do in Florida
Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park
This site was once part of a thriving sugar plantation owned by David Levy Yulee. Yulee was a member of the Territorial Legislative Council, and served in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate after Florida statehood. The park contains the remnants of the once-thriving 5,100-acre sugar plantation: a forty-foot limestone masonry chimney, iron gears, and a cane press. The steam-driven mill operated from 1851 to 1864 and served as a supplier of sugar products for southern troops during the Civil War.
Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park
This park commemorates the site of Florida's largest Civil War battle, which took place February 20, 1864. More than 10,000 cavalry, infantry, and artillery troops fought a five-hour battle in a pine forest near Olustee. Three U.S. Colored Troops took part in the battle, including the now famous 54th Massachusetts. The battle ended with 2,807 casualties and the retreat of Union troops to Jacksonville until the war's end just 14 months later. In 1912, when many living Civil War veterans still attended reunions, the battlefield became the state's first historic site. Olustee Battlefield has a visitor center with historical information and artifacts. A reenactment is held every February and a Civil War Expo takes place in late summer. Scenes for Civil War movies, including the 1989 movie Glory, have been filmed during the reenactments.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973, Florida's southernmost state park is popular for recreation, as well as U.S. military history. The fort was one of a series built in the mid-1800s to defend the nation's southeastern coastline. Completed in 1866, Fort Zachary Taylor played important roles in the Civil War and Spanish-American War. A beautiful beach at the southern end of the park provides opportunities for picnicking, swimming, snorkeling, and fishing. Visitors can also enjoy a short nature trail and bicycling within the park.
Cedar Key Historical Society Museum
The Cedar Key Historical Society was established in 1977 by a group of citizens dedicated to preserving the long and rich history of Cedar Key. The museum opened its doors in 1979 in the historic Lutterloh building on the corner of 2nd street and SR24. Exhibits include prehistoric and Native American artifacts, the 2nd Seminole Indian War, the Civil War, the cedar pencil and lumbering industries, maritime activity prior to Tampa’s development as a port and the seafood industry up to today’s successful clam aquaculture. There is also an extensive collection of old Cedar Key photographs in the archives.
Egmont Key State Park
Although this park is primarily a wildlife refuge, it can be a personal refuge - a place to relax and collect shells along secluded, pristine beaches. Accessible only by private boat, Egmont Key has a unique natural and cultural history, including a lighthouse that has stood since 1858. During the 19th century, the island served as a camp for captured Seminoles at the end of the Third Seminole War and was later occupied by the Union Navy during the Civil War. In 1898, as the Spanish - American War threatened, Fort Dade was built on the island and remained active until 1923. After touring the historic sites and trails, visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, wildlife viewing, and picnicking.
Pensacola Historical Museum
The Museum has been a part of downtown Pensacola for over thirty years. In that time, the Museum has moved from Old Christ Church to the Arbona Building. Many visitors who remember coming into the Museum in Old Christ Church bring their younger generations to the new Museum in the Arbona Building. The Museum houses two floors of exhibit space. The first floor is dedicated to our changing exhibits. The second floor of the Museum houses our permanent galleries, including Army/Navy Gallery, Maritime Gallery, Multicultural Gallery, Native American Gallery, and Forts/Civil War Gallery. The Museum also has a Museum Store full of those hard to find local publications.
Suwannee River State Park
About a quarter mile past the ranger station, a high bluff overlooks the spot where the Withlacoochee River joins the Suwannee River on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Vestiges of history in the park show how important the Suwannee River was to Florida history. Along the river are long mounds of earthworks built during the Civil War to guard against incursions by Union Navy gunboats. Other remnants from the past include one of the state´s oldest cemeteries, and a paddle-wheel shaft from a 19th century steamboat. Five trails, ranging from a quarter mile to 18 miles, loop through surrounding woodlands and provide panoramic views of the rivers.
Orman House
Built in 1838 by Thomas Orman, this antebellum home overlooks the Apalachicola River, and was used for both business and social gatherings. Orman was a cotton merchant and businessman in Apalachicola from 1840 to the 1870s. He helped the tiny town become one of the Gulf Coast's most important cotton exporting ports during the mid-19th century. The house features details of both federal and Greek revival styles with wooden mantelpieces, molded plaster cornices, and wide heart-pine floorboards.
Gamble Plantation Historic State Park
This antebellum mansion was home to Major Robert Gamble and headquarters of an extensive sugar plantation. It is the only surviving plantation house in South Florida. It is believed that Confederate Secretary of State, Judah P. Benjamin, took refuge here after the fall of the Confederacy, until his safe passage to England could be secured. In 1925, the house and 16 acres were saved by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and donated to the state. Today, the mansion is furnished in the style of a successful mid-19th century plantation. Guided tours of the house are given six times a day, Thursday through Monday and there are picnic tables on the grounds.
G. Howard Bryan Museum of Southern History
The Museum of Southern History invites you to take a step back in time Jacksonville’s only museum and library dedicated to Southern history. Exhibits range from War Between the States to the home life of our Southern ancestors. You'll find flags, weapons, medical and civilian items from the 1860s, a time when our country was torn apart by the bloodiest war fought in our nation’s history.
Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park
Located near the mouth of the St. Johns River, this site was an important military position during the Civil War, allowing access to the inland areas of Florida's east coast. There was never an actual fort on Yellow Bluff, but an encampment that was fortified and equipped with large guns for protection. Constructed in 1862, the site was occupied by both Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War and-at its peak-housed over 250 soldiers. The site has a T-shaped earthworks and covers about 1.3 acres.
John G. Riley Center/Museum of African American History and Culture
The Riley House is a little known historical and cultural gem that sits at the bottom of a hill in downtown Tallahassee, at the corner of Meridian and Jefferson Streets. In 1978, through the efforts of local preservationists, the Riley House became the second house in Florida owned by a black person to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the first being the Mary McLeod Bethune house in Volusia County. In 1995, a group of Tallahassee citizens established a museum at the Riley House dedicated to African-American history and culture. This facility draws more visitors and tourist into the area while providing a historically diverse attraction.
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