Indian River Lagoon and Swampland Boat Tours at the City Marina at 1 Avenue A in Ft. Pierce. We boarded the pontoon boat for a 90-minute tour with Captain Barry “Chop” Lege and Mr. Gill. Captain Lege narrated the tour as we cruised on the Indian River Lagoon a 156-mile estuary. During the citrus season boats, carry goods to 1,000 islands in the Bahamas. Two hundred islands in the chain but only 160 accessible. People camp out on the weekends and barbecue on one of the accessible islands.
Over 2,700 species of animals, 310 species of birds, 1,350 species of plants and 685 species of fish. We spotted a Great Blue Heron male building a nest in a tree, a Snowy Egret and a Pelican diving for fish. We caught a glimpse of a Bottlenose Dolphin. Dolphins appear from November through May. We didn’t see any Manatees or Turtles on our boat tour.
People dock their boats, fish on the pier or eat in a restaurant at Little Jim Marina. Canoeists rowing in the lagoon and people fishing underneath a bridge.
The St. Lucie Village along the lagoon established around Fort Capron, a fort established in 1850 during the third Seminole War. The St. Lucie Historic Village added to the National Register of Historic Places in the late 1980s.
Listen to a jazz band playing under the gazebo and enjoy the scenery overlooking the lagoon. Prices and hours of operation available on the website.
Fall is a good time to visit Heathcote Botanical Gardens at 210 Savannah Road in Ft. Pierce. Founded in 1960 by Mollie and Jim Crimmins. Meander on a brick path through a trellis to the Herb Garden. Bay Rum and Allspice Trees native to the Caribbean both used in cooking. Salvia Indigo Spires used as an herb and a Pomegranate tree native to Persia known for its health benefits.
Bonsai, a Japanese word that means “Tray Cultivation.” The Bonsai Gallery dedicated to James P. Smith, Bonsai Master. Walk along the path and admire the 100 Bonsai trees that grow in the garden. Weeping Fig Ficus, Willow Leaf Ficus, Ficus Retusa and Bougainvillea a few of the trees grown. A Japanese Pavilion on-site as part of the garden.
Many different sizes of Tillandsias air plants displayed at the entrance of the Japanese Garden. Japanese lanterns, a Dwarf Buddha’s Belly Bamboo plant and a statue of a Buddha. Stone steps form a circle to the top of the lily pond and back down again.
A replica of a 1880s Pioneer House, Children’s’ Pioneer Cabin and a Seminole chicken hut roof. Read the numerous engraved bricks donated on the main path in memory of or in honor of as you walk and admire the many flowers and trees.
Pass through the trestle to the butterfly garden. Coontie and Milkweed host plants two of the twelve butterfly hosts (Larval) plants in the garden. Atala a Florida butterfly, Monarch and Pipevine Swallowtail three of the twelve species of butterflies. White Shrimp, Periwinkle Vinca and Yellow tip three of the twenty-five nectar plants that inhabit the butterfly garden.
The Autograph, Hong Kong Orchid, White Champak and The Madagascar Olive Tree are some of the trees in the Rain Forest. Cross the bridge to view the picturesque waterfall or sit on a bench and listen to the relaxing sound the waterfall makes.
Once the doors swing open at the Reflection Garden, wash away all your cares at the reflection pond. Sit on a bench and reflect, meditate and admire the many plants that surround the garden including the Black Magic Ti Plant a plant with its dark purple foliage and the Milky Way Plant with its yellow polka dots. Entrance fees; hours of operation located on the website.
Polk Museum of Art located on 800 East Palmetto Street in Lakeland. Cyanotype, Chromogenic Prints, etching on laid paper and etching on wove paper a number of different works of art exhibited in the museum.
An Oil on canvas exhibition “Traveling Europe through Landscape Paintings from the 1860s through the 1920s.”
Ancient art of the Americas that embraces over 2,000 years of artistic development. Remojadas, Nayarit and Aztec Cultures. A ceremonial effigy urn, pottery and carvings numerous items displayed.
The children’s exhibit in the museum include pencil, chalk marker, pastel, mixed media and acrylic. Student artists from Lakeland and Winter Haven represented.
Stop in the gift shop on your way out. Jewelry, art, clocks, postcard history series of Lakeland, games, puzzles and crafts for sale. Entrance to the museum is free; hours of operation are on the website.
TRIKE – James Westermann
Ten sculptures made the final cut for the Lemon Street Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit in downtown Lakeland during the 1st Friday in April. Two awards given for Best in Show and Honorable Mention. Visitors and locals voted for People’s Choice.
SELF PORTRAIT AS ARMADILLO – BEST IN SHOW – PEOPLE’S CHOICE – Bob Dorsey
AROUND THE GATE
Gran-ANT – C.R. Gray
YELLOW TAIL – Honorable Mention – Roger Halligan
SUMMER & SPRING – 2nd Place – Hanna Jubran
TREE – Adam Walls
Blue Spring State Park at 2100 W. French Avenue in Orange City. Take a cruise on the St. Johns River in Blue Spring State Park where the Manatees are plentiful as early as October. Florida Nature Tours offered daily at 10:00 am, 1:00 pm and seasonally at 3:30 pm. Cabins, canoes and kayaks for rent. Walk along a four ½-mile nature trail. We stood on the pier, felt the breeze and watched people paddling in canoes down the river.
The Thursby family, The Golden Age, Manatees and different fish species featured in the many kiosks along the one-third mile boardwalk that chronicles the history of the Blue Spring Park. Louis Thursby built a home in the mid-1850s. The Golden Age referred to steamboats that ferried people on steamships from the Jacksonville Wharf to Blue Springs Landing. Before the expansion of the railroad, the steamship was the only mode of transportation.
Many items for sale at the gift shop that include snacks, coffee mugs, books on the Manatees and postcards. Barbecue on the grill while your children play on the playground.
On-going renovations to the Thursby House; the park ranger doesn’t know when the house will reopen. Check the website for hours and fees.