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Florida is more than just its pristine beaches and Disney theme parks.
While those are great reasons to visit Florida, there’s loads of history just waiting to be explored.
Florida’s known history started with the arrival of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce De Leon in 1513. From that time, Florida bounced around under several different countries’ rule, including Spain and Great Britain before finally settling under United States rule.
Along the way, conflict arose between the original inhabitants of the land, the Seminole Indians, and the United States Army. The Okeechobee Battlefield is the site of the most significant battle that was considered the turning point of the Seminole War.
Take a trip and find out for yourself how some of these landmarks tie into to the regional and national history of Florida.
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12 Historic Landmarks in Florida
#1 – Fort Jefferson
Fort Jefferson is located in the Dry Tortugas Islands 68 miles west of Key West, Florida. It was built in the mid-1800s as a coastal fortress to protect the deepwater anchorages.
The fort’s massive construction, consisting of over 16 million bricks, rivals as one of the largest forts ever built and the largest masonry structure in America.
Equipped with warships and heavy weaponry, it stood to protect the valuable harbor and remained a symbol that the United States was a power not to be messed with.
Although the fort never came under attack, it was used during the Civil War to blockade Southern shipping and was also used as a prison for Union deserters.
While Fort Jefferson is the central feature of the island, it is also part of the Dry Tortuga National Park, which is composed of seven islands with coral reefs, shipwrecks, and a vast variety of bird and marine life. The park is accessible only by boat or seaplane, so be sure to plan your transportation ahead of time.
Entrance fees to the park are $10.00 per visitor, and those who are age 16 and under are free. If you plan to camp, there is a nightly fee of $15 per site. Be sure to bring cash or check as the park has limited forms of monetary acceptance.
#2 – Coral Castle
Coral Castle is a modern mystery and has some folklore to go along with it. Although it’s not really a castle, nor is it made of coral, it is certainly astounding from an architectural and engineering standpoint.
Its construction has been compared to the Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt. In all, the grounds consist of 1,000 tons of stacked limestones that form walls and other various structures.
All this to say it was created by just one small-statured, 100-pound man named Edward Leedskalnin, which is bizarre and mind-baffling. He didn’t have machines to rely on, but rather worked with simple tools and pulleys to move the gigantic blocks.
The wild stories swarm around the fact that there is no actual proof that he built any of it. There are all sorts of theories to accompany how the castle was built, including aliens and magical powers.
However he accomplished the building of this structure, it is certainly something to marvel at.
#3 – Bok Tower Gardens
Bok Tower Gardens is the emblem of hard work and determination. As Edward W. Bok came to the United States as an immigrant from the Netherlands, he knew nothing of the American customs or culture; not to mention, he could not understand the language.
Through his dedication, he became a publisher and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, as well as a respected humanitarian.
Bok found inspiration on what he called Iron Mountain and one day formulated an idea to create something sacred and beautiful with nature. He arranged to buy Iron Mountain to accomplish his vision.
The first year was spent doing the arduous work of digging trenches and laying pipes for irrigation. With the help of a famous landscaper, he later turned the undeveloped land into a magnificent, perfectly landscaped garden.
Today, it translates into a place where visitors can:
- Marvel at exotic flowers
- Walk trails
- Visit the singing tower
- View over 126 species of birds
#4 – Ponce de Leon Lighthouse
As Florida’s tallest lighthouse, you’ll have to get somewhat into shape for the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse as you will have to climb 203 steps to get to the top if you want to see the magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean and the inlet and inland waters.
The history behind this lighthouse goes back to the Second Seminole War in 1835.
The Seminole Indians led an attack on the lighthouse, causing severe damage to the structure. The war halted repairs, and the lighthouse collapsed the next year.
Without the warning light from the lighthouse, there were many shipwrecks along the coast and many lives were lost. Nearly 50 years later, the need for the lighthouse was evident, and it was once again erected and has been there ever since.
Just 10 miles south of Daytona Beach, the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse is open year round. Admission is $6.95 for adults and $1.95 for children 11 years old and younger.
The lighthouse is close to other nearby attractions, including St. Augustine and the Kennedy Space Center.
#5 – Child of the Sun, Florida Southern College
Florida Southern College, a private college located in Lakeland, Florida, is home to one of the most exquisite collections of architecture from Frank Lloyd Wright.
When asked by FSC President Dr. Spivey to transform a 100-acre orange grove into a modern-day college, Wright rose up to the challenge and went above and beyond.
Frank Lloyd Wright completed 10 buildings in all that inspire and awe. His collection earned the name “The Child of the Sun” for his idea of transforming the campus into something that would “grow out of the ground and into the light, a child of the sun.”
#6 – Castillo de San Marcos
Castillo de San Marcos represents the struggle of a developing nation. The fort was designed in the late 1600s by Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza. At this time, Florida was still a part of the Spanish Empire.
Throughout the years, the fort would change possession a total of six times, before finally resting under American control.
All in all, Castillo de San Marcos served an astonishing total of 251 years under continuous military possession before finally being declared a national monument in 1924.
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#7 – Ca’ d’Zan, the Ringling Museum
John Ringling, nicknamed the Circus King, was the owner of the famous Ringling Bros. Circus. He and his wife Mable were one of the most wealthiest couples in the United States.
After traveling for an extended period of time throughout Europe, they developed a love for Venetian architecture. They used this inspiration to oversee the construction of their very own residence, the Ca’ d’Zan, that demonstrated their love for the Italian culture.
#8 – Villa Vizcaya
Villa Vizcaya was once nothing but Mangrove swamps and dense tropical forests. John Deering, an extremely wealthy businessman, bought and developed the land.
He transformed it into a villa, formal gardens, recreational amenities, and a beautiful expansive lagoon.
Just a few minutes from Downtown Miami, you can explore a historic Italian estate in a subtropical setting.
#9 – Fort King Site
Located in Ocala, Florida, Fort King is a national historic landmark.
The fort was America’s first attempt at establishing their presence in the dense wilderness of Florida’s interior.
It represents the tensions with the Seminole Indians and became an important base during the Seminole War. There are trails, a visitor center, picnic area, markers, and monuments.
#10 – Fort Zachary Taylor
Fort Zachary Taylor was one of multiple forts built to protect the southeastern coastline and played a monumental role in both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.
The fort offers guided tours to the public. You can also take the opportunity to enjoy Key West’s beautiful beaches.
#11 – Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Ernest Hemingway is known for his novels, works of non-fiction, and short-story collections.
Hemingway found his inspiration in the solace of his island home in Key West among the turquoise waters.
Take a guided tour through the home and gardens of where Hemingway penned some of his greatest works.
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is an extravagant facility dedicated to space exploration.
Back in the 1940s, the government used the station to test missiles. See where rockets and satellites are launched in one of their many tours.
Traveling Safely in Florida
So, now you are planning to take a road trip to Florida. Once you decide what landmarks you want to see, plan your route ahead of time.
Here are some tips to ensure a safe journey:
- Book your accommodations beforehand. Make sure you have a place to lay your head at night or you might end up sleeping in your car!
- Get a tune-up on your car. The last thing you want is to get stranded.
- Take an emergency travel kit with you. When you’re exploring new places, you never know what accidents might happen.
Comparing Car Insurance Rates
Be sure to verify you are covered with the right car insurance. Should a travel problem arise, you want to make sure you are covered under your policy.
Most insurance companies have a broadening clause that will increase the minimum limits of the policy to the state you are traveling in. It is always best to call and ask first.
If you want to get the best deal on car insurance, shop around and compare multiple quotes with online comparison tools.
Cost is not always the most important factor when deciding which insurance is right for you. Be sure the coverage offered is sufficient for your needs and that you are dealing with a reputable company.
Make sure you are covered by the best auto insurance rates by using our FREE online quote tool. Enter your ZIP code below to get started!