Erna Nixon Park

 

 

 

 

Erna Nixon Park located at 1200 Evans Road in Melbourne. Named after Erna Nixon who was instrumental in preserving over fifty-three acres of land for future generations. Stand alongside the Butterfly Garden and see if you can spot a butterfly warming himself or herself on a rock or relax on a bench under a trestle.

DSCN0985Although a small nature center different species of turtles, an Albino Red Snake inhabit the aquariums. Small animals and different species of birds mounted on the walls. A mounted Red Tailed Hawk a federal protected bird found in Florida, throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. Cuban Brown Anole an invasive lizard found in the Bahamas and the United States first sold as pets.

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Stroll along the three-quarter mile boardwalk that twists and turns. Tablets throughout the hammock and pine flatwoods help you to become familiar with the different palms, shrubs, small and large trees, and river grass. Sit under a gazebo and listen to the sounds of birds while feeling the breeze.

PavilionI recommend the park; the highlight of the park is the boardwalk. Have a picnic lunch in the pavilion. Free entrance to the park, donations accepted. Hours of operation on the website.

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Orange County Regional History Center

Before entering the history center stand outside and admire the classical-revival architecture formerly the home of the Orange County Courthouse. Orange County Regional History Center located at 65 E. Central Boulevard in downtown Orlando.

101Take an audio tour or walk throughout the museum and admire the many photographs and collectables of the many different people and their accomplishments. The St. Johns and Archaic people consisted of small tribes that lived thousands of years before the French and Spanish arrived in Florida. The Timucuans an early native people dwelled in Central and Northeast Florida. They built canoes, hunted and fished. The dioramas portray the Native Americans in their natural environment.

014024An exhibit displaying Jewish life in Orange County and surrounding communities that began 150 years ago. People in horse drawn carts arrived in downtown Orlando to shop in the dry goods store operated by immigrants from Europe. The oldest operating hardware store today opened in the mid-1880s in Kissimmee. Jacob Cohen an early settler helped write the first charter for Orlando in 1875. Photographs of a Purple Heart recipient from WWII and soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War. Commander Bernard Brender brought the Naval Training Center to Orlando in 1968.

A name known to the people of Orlando, Dr. Philip P. Phillips, a medical doctor moved to Orlando, bought citrus groves and owned two citrus packinghouses. He sold his assets and started a foundation, which is still in operation today.

075-1A history of African Americans during the Spanish and British Occupation, during slavery and after the emancipation. Washington Shores a black community, and the town of Eatonville, established in the 1880s still in existence today. A famous resident, Zora Neal Hurston, author and anthropologist lived in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. In January of each year, a festival honors her works.

084Some of the artwork exhibited from the Highwaymen African American landscape artists from Ft. Pierce who rode the highways selling their paintings.

Steamboats a popular mode of travel in the early part of the nineteenth century. Small towns boomed after the railroad came in the mid-1860s. After Henry Ford invented the Model T people hit the road. “Tin Can” tourists a name given to people who traveled to Florida in their cars, sometimes slept in tents and ate out of tin cans. Cabins for rent on a twenty-acre site owned by Henry Hand for people who didn’t like to sleep in tents.

The effect on Central Florida in wartime, NASA and astronaut memorabilia. A look inside the courtroom that is part of the museum tour. Stop inside the gift shop, books on beach camping and Florida, Arrowheads and Tektites. I recommend the museum, so much central Florida history to absorb. Admission prices and hours of operation on the website.

 

Museum of Winter Haven History

Early 20th century time clock

Museum of Winter Haven History formerly the home of the Woman’s Club listed in the National Register of Historic Places at 660 Pope Avenue in Winter Haven. Winter Haven, the early years depicted in photographs throughout the museum. Cabinets filled with memorabilia throughout the museum donated by the citizens of Winter Haven.

Winter Haven founded in 1890 elected Willie Smith their first mayor in 1911. The Eycleshimer, Inman and Harris families early settlers to Winter Haven. Envisioning a winter resort Peter Eycleshimer credited for naming Winter Haven. F.A.K. Harris and his wife Adele opened the first mercantile store. Frederick and Florence Inman opened the Florence Villas Hotel. Dan Laramore an early African American resident to Winter Haven became wealthy by acquiring orange groves and land.


 

 

 

 

Tourists would stay at the Florence Villa, Haven or Lake Region Hotel then board a steam-powered boat for a tour on one of the Chain of Lakes.

Cypress Gardens founded by Dick Pope in 1936, made famous by their ski shows, Southern Belles and Botanical Gardens. A room dedicated to Cypress Gardens mementoes. The Botanical Gardens all that remain of Cypress Gardens encompass 30 acres given to the people of Polk County to enjoy.

The docents longtime residents brought the history of Winter Haven to life with their stories. Admission is free, donations accepted. Hours of operation on the website.

Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science

American Mastodon

Sabertooth Cat

 

 

 

 

 

Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science located at 2201 Michigan Avenue in Cocoa. Exhibits throughout the museum portray different periods in Brevard County history beginning with the Paleo Hunters who lived during Florida’s Ice Age from 9,000 – 12,000 years ago. They used spears made of stone to hunt Mammoths and Mastodons. An exhibit of the tools on display. The Mastodon roamed in Florida between 10,000 – 12,000 years ago. The diet of the Mastodons consisted mainly of coniferous plants but the Mammoths ate plants but mostly grass. The Sabertooth Cat became extinct 11,500 years ago. The canine teeth shaped like a blade measured up to 7 inches.

 

 

 

 

The Taylor and Burnham families’ early settlers to Brevard County. Albert Taylor founded a bank and served as Cocoa’s second mayor. Grace Taylor taught herself braille and was the first braille transcriber in Brevard County. Captain Burnham an early settler from Vermont moved his family to Cape Canaveral in the early 1850s to live and work as a lighthouse keeper. The original lighthouse a 60-foot structure built in 1847. Construction of the 151-foot lighthouse started before the civil war but stopped during the war. Construction completed in the late 1860s.

Surfing has been popular on the Space Coast for one-hundred years. A map of all the surfing spots in Florida, the origins of surfing and a chronological account of the history of surfing.

A replica of a general store that sold everything from dry goods to horseshoes, coffee and perfumes. Early settlers to Brevard County worked in the turpentine, citrus, and tourism industry. They homesteaded and started their own orange groves. A Skeeter Beater made from hearts of cabbage used to swat the many mosquitos that the early settlers endured.

Steamships a popular mode of travel since the late 1820s. Passengers would board the steamships from Jacksonville to Titusville and dock at Titusville Landing or continue to Rockledge and dock at Rockledge Landing. Horses and wagons would take the guests to their hotels. After the railroad came in the mid-1880s, the train would take them directly to the hotel.

The Hubble Space Telescope launched in orbit on April 24, 1990 by the Space Shuttle Discovery. Atlantis the fifth and last orbiter to service the telescope in 2009. Posters along the wall describe in detail the Hubble’s features. The telescope named after Edwin Powell Hubble an astronomer who made important discoveries in astronomy.

Stop by the gift shop and browse the books on Florida History, Matted Hubble Prints, replicas of space shuttles and the usual items in a gift shop. I highly recommend the museum the docents at the museum made our visit more enjoyable. A butterfly garden and eight trails to explore all under 1 mile each. Call the museum before heading out, the trails closed because of Hurricane Irma.

O’Leno State Park

Drive down the road under a canopy of trees stopping for Gopher Tortoises at the crossing on the way to O’Leno State Park located at 410 SE O’Leno Park Road in High Springs. The site originally a town named Leno established in the mid-1860s. The town prospered until the railroad went around the town. By the 1890s, it became a ghost town.

Library and Museum

Step inside the museum and read about the early years of the men in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The location originally purchased as a forestry training camp. In the early 1930s, the camp became a state park one of the original nine parks built by the CCC.

Nature Center

A small nature center that houses the King and Red Snakes, both non-venomous and the Loggerhead Musk Turtle. Two Gopher Tortoises eyeing each other in the turtle pen. A Mounted Florida Bobcat, Barred Owl and an Armadillo. The Florida Bobcat remains elusive, the Barred Owl found during twilight hours. While hiking in the woods you might come across an Armadillo.

 

 

 

 

Relax along the river’s edge and admire the Magnolia and Cypress Trees. Walk along the boardwalk to the suspension bridge stopping in the middle of the bridge to take photos looking out at the Santa Fe River. The bridge built by the men of the CCC. Hike on one of the many trails through pine forests and hardwood hammocks.

Have a picnic or a barbecue. A playground for children and a designated swimming area. I recommend the park, a lot to see and do. Fees and hours of operation on the website.

Orlando Wetlands Park

 

 

 

 

Orlando Wetlands Park a 1600-acre park located at 25155 Wheeler Road in Christmas. Take a tram tour with a park volunteer who points out different species of birds, numerous trees and aquatic plants. The Sabal Palm, Florida’s state tree produces berries that birds eat. The Bulrush and Cattail plants both aquatic plants can grow up to ten feet tall in shallow water. Over seventeen hundred alligators inhabit the park. Sometimes the eyes and snouts of alligators is all you can see the rest lies hidden just beneath the water. Listen to the grunting sounds of the pig frog.

Stop by the interpretative exhibits area and pick up a map and guide. Read about the different plants, mammals, fish and birds in the wetlands and a history of the early pioneers in the town of Christmas. While hiking in the wetlands you might come upon these different species.

 

 

 

 

Stroll along the dirt path in the wildlife garden and enjoy the different native plants that attract the many species of birds and butterflies.


 

 

 

Inside the educational building resides an alligator, a Striped Mud Turtle and a Florida Softshell Turtle. The alligator is on loan from the alligator farm. When he gets too big for the aquarium, he goes back to the alligator farm. Descriptions of the turtles, their diet and habitat found next to their aquariums. Private owners donated the mounted animals on display. Other items on display in the center. Birdhouses, books, t-shirts and postcards for sale.

I recommend the park; the park volunteers are very knowledgeable. Free entrance to the park, donations accepted. Hours of operation on the website.

Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum

Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum located at 4155 W. Vine St. in Kissimmee. Listen to the crying sounds of the Limpkin bird while learning about the native people that survived living in the cypress swamp. Coacoochee a Seminole Warrior fought in the Seminole Wars. From early hunting tools to the River otter, Raccoon, Alligator and the Panther an endangered species all found in the swamp.

Early settlers to Florida included the Cadman family from England who built a citrus packinghouse and Hamilton Disston a wealthy tycoon from Philadelphia who bought four million acres of land in Florida and built a sugar plantation. The Shakers, a religious community owned a commercial fishing and pineapple farm.Trains came to Kissimmee in the early 1880s. The rails eventually extended to Tampa. People would ride the train from Sanford to Kissimmee then stay at a downtown hotel. They would board the Steamer Lillie to take day trips or 4-day trips along the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.

“Tin Can” tourists a name given to people who traveled to Florida in their cars, sometimes slept in tents and ate out of tin cans. An exhibit on display until October of this year show cooking utensils, bedrolls and other items necessary for traveling on the road. Trailer Topics, a magazine geared for people who owned trailers and a model of an early Airstream on display.

A replica of the 3,700-pound bronze sculpture on display at the Osceola County Courthouse that celebrates Osceola County’s Centennial.

 

 

 

 

Different species of mammals and reptiles found in the hammock. The Red Shouldered Hawk and the Yellow-bellied sapsucker a few of the birds found in hardwood and cypress trees. The Whopping Crane, an endangered bird, Osprey, a hawk and a Bald Eagle all popular with bird watchers. A replica of a Bald Eagle nest on display.

I walked around the museum and was in awe of the dioramas that are on display. The workmanship that went into building them is phenomenal. Stop inside the gift shop that is a replica of a steamship. Children’s books and books on the first one-hundred years. Jars of raw natural honey from the honey farm, coffee mugs and other items sold in the gift shop. Free entrance to the museum, donations accepted.

 

Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center

Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center located on the grounds of the MANN-WAGNON MEMORIAL PARK on 1101 East River Cove Street in Tampa. Sulphur Springs a community established in the late 1800s. The museum exhibit depicts the history of Sulphur Springs from the tourists who visited to the people who lived in the community.

People came from around the country for the therapeutic health benefits of the natural springs. Activities for the tourists who visited Sulphur Springs included a community pool that people watched competitive swimming and a Toboggan Slide. Reproductions of postcards of the era shown along the wall. The locals as well as the tourists would shop at the Arcade a Mediterranean style building. The Water Tower built in the late 1920s provided water for the increasing number of tourists who came to Sulphur Springs. In the late 1980s, the tower designated an historic landmark but no longer in use.

 

 

 

 

 

Urchins, Conchs, Sponges and other forms of sea life displayed in the aquarium exhibit. Walk through the museum and read the Poster Exhibits about Coral Reefs. “Coral Reefs are in Danger” and the eight ways to solve the problem. “Coral Reefs Nurseries of the Sea” show different species found in the reefs. The age, length and how food and shelter provide for the different fish species indicated in “Coral Reefs Are Amazing.”

A shark exhibit will dispel any misconceptions that people have about sharks. Seven species of sharks and 3 kinds of Hammerheads found in Tampa Bay.

 

 

 

 

Bring a picnic lunch and sit under a pavilion or under a garden trestle, relax while looking out at the Hillsborough River. Learn about the different sea creatures and other exhibits at the museum. Free admission to the museum, donations accepted.

Groveland Historical Museum

 

 

 

 

Groveland Historical Museum established in 2007 located at 243 S. Lake Avenue in Groveland. Our museum guides born and raised in Groveland would point to the photographs and articles throughout the museum that tell a story of early Taylorville, Groveland Commerce and Groveland Early Leaders.

Groveland originally named Taylorville after the Taylor brothers who built a turpentine still. The Taylor brothers, Edge Family who built a mercantile, a lumber mill, and the Arnold family who purchased the lumber mill from the Edge family all early pioneers to Groveland.

Groveland High School built in 1937 by the Work Progress Administration (WPA) during the depression. Famous graduates from Groveland High School included Edmond “Darrell” Cashwell a scientist with the Manhattan Project, Austin “Red” Robbins a professional basketball player who played with 5 professional basketball teams and Derrick Graham, a football player who played with the National Football League. A coach and teacher at Groveland High School played professional baseball with the minor leagues during the summer months.

The bank closed in Groveland during the depression. Our guide told us that Mr. Edge had a safe in his mercantile store and during the depression; people would bring envelopes with money for him to put in his safe.

As the story goes, while living in the old west, George McClellan Myers won a horse race against Apache Chief Geronimo. He was town marshal in Groveland in the 1920s and 30s. Police Chief Tommy Merrill who retired in 2012 after 43 years of service was the longest running police chief in the United States.

I recommend the museum a lot of history for a small town. Free admission to the museum, donations accepted. Hours of operation on the website.

After visiting the museum, walk across the street to the park. Enjoy a picnic lunch in a gazebo while looking out at the lake.

Rainbow Springs

Rent a canoe, kayak or a tube; swim in the springs on the Rainbow River in Rainbow Springs formerly a tourist attraction from the 1930s to the 1970s located at 19158 SW 81st Place in Dunnellon. Rainbow Springs designated a registered natural landmark exemplifying the natural history of the United States.

 

 

 

 

Walk along the path to the end of the boardwalk and admire the beauty of the river. Stand on a boardwalk and listen to the rippling sounds of the water in the creek below or sit on a bench and listen to the sounds of the waterfalls while enjoying the lush surroundings. The rock formation and the water recirculated to create Rainbow Falls came from the river.

 

 

 

 

Stop and read the interpretive exhibit about the creation of the gardens. Lilies, Azaleas, Camellias and other native plants make up the gardens. Native plants used to create the Butterfly Garden. Golden Rod a yellow flowering plant that provides nectar for 9 species of butterflies. Fire Bush a shrub that attracts the Zebra Longwing and Gulf Fritillary Butterflies. Sand Cordgrass grows 3 to 4 feet tall and considered drought tolerant.

Three trails to explore each under two miles in length. Have a picnic on one of the tables at the Visitor Center. I recommend the park, many activities to discover. Hours of operation and fees on the website.