The Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum

Four videos on sponge diving in The Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum at 100 Beekman Lane in Tarpon Springs. Greek immigrants settled in Tarpon Springs in the late 1890s to dive for natural sea sponges. The men who built the boats were craftsmen in the trade that can be traced back thousands of years. The boats fit 4 to 8 men depending on the size of the boat. Black and white photographs and display panels depict Greek life.Splendid homes built on an area of the Spring Bayou called The Golden Crescent. Built to cater to wealthy northerners from the mid-1880s to the early part of the 20th century. Health benefits from a mineral spring found on the Spring Bayou became a popular winter resort.

Early settlers bought land and built single pen homes described as a small home with a single floor plan. Families added on to the house at a later date.Ten-foot murals an exhibit by Christopher Still native Floridian. “In Ages Past” shows the Timucua Indians early inhabitants. “Beyond the Seven Mile Bridge” a painting that shows under the sea life off the coast of Key Largo. “The Spring of Life” Manatees swimming in the clear blue springs. Admission prices; hours of operation on the website.

Craig Park home to Heritage Park and War Memorial. Have a picnic or launch a boat. Sit under a Live Oak and watch the Manatees in winter and spring. A great way to spend the day.

Safford House Museum




The Safford House a “dog trot” architectural style built in the early 1880s at 23 Parkin Court in Tarpon Springs. Step into the long foyer while looking down at the white pine flooring original to the house. Our docent told us that people installed white pine because it kept away termites. Pointing to a door and parts of the dining room table the only original pieces to the house. The family would listen to classical music on the player piano after eating dinner. In the winter they would sit by a cozy fireplace while playing chess. A fireplace in Florida the only way people kept warm in the mid-19th century. Walk up the steps to the second floor to appreciate the different styles of furniture and clothes from the mid to late 19th century. The house one of the first to have running water.

Tarpon Springs got its name from the Tarpon a fish found in the Anclote River. Anson Safford one of the founders of Tarpon Springs. Before moving to Tarpon Springs, he served as territorial governor of Arizona. Anson Safford a leader in the community donated land to build a school and churches.

Dr. Mary Jane Safford sister of Anson Safford the first female physician to practice in Florida. She moved to Florida with her children to live with her brother Anson and his family. She was a nurse in the Battle of Shiloh during the Civil War. After the civil war she received her medical degree from The New York College of Medicine for Women in 1869. After graduating she studied in Vienna for two years.

An interesting house one of the few historic homes in Florida. I recommend the tour a knowledgeable guide. Visit the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum only a mile away. Admission prices and hours of operation on the website.

Old Courthouse Heritage Museum

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the early 1990s Old Courthouse Heritage Museum at One Courthouse Square in Inverness. Originally a wooden Victorian structure the second courthouse built in 1912 in Neo-Classical design. Renovated in the 1990s the courthouse celebrating twenty years as a museum. Photographs show how the courthouse looked in the early 20th century. Our docent told us that a pig farm was close to the courthouse and a fence had to be constructed to keep out the pigs.

Inside the rotating gallery an exhibit by a science teacher who taught in Costa Rica for two years. She came back to Inverness decided to set up a display with her students showing many similarities between Florida and Costa Rica.

Display panels show early Florida to the first Floridians. Pottery and early tools exhibited. The Spanish period and many tribes and runaway slaves made up the Seminoles. An early Seminole Indian sculpture on display.

Early settlers to Citrus County in the 1840s included people who were granted 160 acres and a mule. Many northerners traveled on steamboats and trains to the area to enjoy the scenery, fish and hunt. Prominent people who made a difference in Citrus County in the late 18th to the early 20th century include a judge, a U.S. senator and a woman who later became Florida’s First Lady. Famous people who lived in Citrus County include Winslow Homer a famous painter, Jules Breuchaud an inventor and three baseball players who were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“Follow That Dream” a movie Elvis Presley made in 1961. Some of the scenes in the movie filmed in the old courthouse. Read about the Courthouse history and how the museum came about.Pottery sold by Lee Partin a local who has a lot of experience as a potter. Her pottery sold in galleries and gift shops throughout the state. Books on Florida and other items normally sold in gift shops. A lot of history in Inverness I recommend the museum knowledgeable docents.

Harry P. Leu Gardens

Pick up a guide map inside the Welcome Center then stroll around the many paths to the spectacular gardens while enjoying the serenity at Harry P. Leu Gardens at 1920 North Forest Avenue in Orlando. Harry P. Leu and his wife Mary Jane lived at their home for twenty-five years that is now a museum. A history of their home and gardens on the website.

Wyckoff Overlook named after John Wyckoff one of the original board members. Lean over the rails facing Lake Rowena and see if you can spot River Otters, snakes or turtles all native to Florida. Six varieties of birds inhabit the lake as well as the alligator.




Sit on a bench dedicated to a loved one and listen to the songbirds. A Southern Oak, and a Camphor Tree from Eastern Asia both trees can grow 60 to 100 feet that provides shade for walkers and a home for birds. Stand at a bridge in the Tropical Stream Garden and listen to the rushing sounds of a waterfall.

Groundcover from Asia, Yellow Trumpet Tree from Brazil that can grow 30-40 feet. Angel’s Trumpet native to South America grow as high as 8-12 feet.

Stroll throughout the Butterfly Garden and read about the Monarch Waystation that provides a source of food for the Monarch butterflies. The Monarch Butterflies fly thousands of miles from Canada to Mexico each fall. Two hundred species of butterflies live in Florida and 7 found in Leu Gardens.

A bronze sculpture of Citrus Workers by William Ludwig, sculptor. He was born in Hartford, Connecticut and created original bronze sculptures throughout his career.

Herbs used for medicinal and healing properties for over 60,000 years. A large variety of herbs in the herb garden grown for cooking and medicinal purposes. Different varieties of vegetables grow in the vegetable garden.

I have toured the gardens several times and will return. Hours of operation and admission prices on the website.


Dunedin History Museum

Saved by demolition the original brick wall of the train depot built in the early 1920s that is now part of the Dunedin History Museum at 349 Main Street. The museum opened in 1970 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The town of Dunedin founded by J.O. Douglas and James Somerville from Scotland in the late 1890s.

Exhibition boards throughout the museum shows the role of Native Americans, early settlers, and visitors to the area. The Tocobaga Indians inhabited the area for 800 years in what is now Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. The Indians built dugout canoes for fishing and hunting along Tampa Bay. Artifacts displayed throughout the exhibit illustrates the way of life for the tribe.

The Bounty Land Act gave acres of land to veterans of wars from the Revolutionary War to the Indian Wars. The earliest homesteader to Dunedin given 160 acres to farm and raise cattle. Cotton the main crop before the citrus industry. The Orange Belt Railroad served passengers and carried freight from Sanford to St. Petersburg founded by Peter Demens the Russian Immigrant from St. Petersburg who the town was named for. Merchants opened general stores on Main Street. In the late 1870s James Somerville a Scottish Immigrant became the first postmaster.

Wealthy families vacationed in Dunedin at the turn of the century. People from the north came to Dunedin and hotels and businesses built to serve them. People would spend the day on Hog Island which is now Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island State Parks. “Yesteryear, I Lived in Paradise” written by Myrtle Scharrer Betz chronicles her life on Caladesi Island.

Shop in the gift shop for books on the railways, Florida’s historical homes, and lighthouses. A lot of items for sale unique to Dunedin.

Dunedin a charming town that has a lot to offer tourists and residents alike. Rails to trails paths include 22 trails encompassing 238 miles throughout Pinellas County. I recommend visiting the museum and spending time walking on the trail in the downtown area. Admission prices and hours of operation on the website.

Florida Museum of Natural History

Florida Museum of Natural History within the University of Florida campus at 3512 Hull Road in Gainesville. Bronze Sculptures of extinct birds by Tom McGrain a sculptor located across the street from the museum.

Stand on one of the bridges inside the Tropical Rain Forest that encircle the Butterfly Encounter looking down at the creeks and listen to the rushing sounds of the waterfalls while watching the different butterflies flying high. The life of the butterfly lasts only 2.5 weeks except for the Longwings that live six to seven months.

A timeline of events gives details of the museum’s history. Featured and Permanent Exhibits throughout the museum. Instead of eating a steak for dinner people around the globe eat bugs. Known for their high protein and taste. Pasta for dinner? Made from cricket flour. Working out at the gym snack on a cricket bar.

Mammoths like the modern-day elephant and the American Mastodon both mammals roamed the earth after the Dinosaurs. Due to over-hunting, climate change, and disease the main causes why they became extinct.

Dioramas of the tribes that existed thousands of years ago. Listen to the songs of the many birds while walking through the exhibit. The different tribes that lived throughout Florida hunted, fished and traded.

Step inside the gift shop and browse the shelves for books on Bees, Pre-Columbian and Florida Archaeology. A biography of Ponce Deleon who led the first exploration to Florida. Drinking glasses with pictures of scientists on them. Experiments in a box for sale. I recommend the museum a return visit a must. Free entrance to the museum donations excepted. Entrance fees to the Butterfly Rainforest on the website.


Nature Coast Botanical Gardens

Walk through the trestle, pick up a map at the Welcome Center and stroll along the brick path that surrounds the Nature Coast Botanical Gardens at 1489 Parker Avenue in Spring Hill.

A Japanese Garden Pagoda and statues throughout the Asian Garden. Garden statues found in the other gardens as well. Small, tart plums grow on the Chickasaw Plum Trees in the Native Plant Garden. The Spruce Pine native to North Florida grows up to 40-feet. The Needle Palm a slow-growing palm reaches heights of up to 8-feet and can tolerate temperatures below zero. Wild Coffee a shrub that produces berries that attract butterflies. The berries roasted and served as a beverage.

Stand at the bridge looking down at the pond while viewing some of the native plants in the wetlands area. With the sun streaming through the tree, stand at the Tree of Life dedicated to the thousands of people who died on 9-11.





Walk through the leaf-strewn path in the Rain Forest. Sit on a bench look up and see the many trees that offer a canopy. Sit in a gazebo relax and enjoy the surroundings. Twenty gardens make up the botanical gardens. Purchase a brick in memory of a loved one, donations accepted. The on-site nursery sells plants. Check the website for hours of operation.


Manatee Observation and Education Center





Walk up to the observation tower and stand along the rail to see the Manatees at the Manatee Observation and Education Center at 480 North Indian River Drive in Fort Pierce. Sit on a bench in the evening and feel the cool breeze while watching the boats entering and leaving the docks.

As you follow the trail throughout the butterfly garden read the signs of the many plants that attract butterflies. While sitting on a bench relax and enjoy the calmness of the garden.Three different species of Seahorses inhabit the Indian River Lagoon described at the Seahorse Exhibit. The threats of the Seahorse and their skeletal makeup. A female Seahorse deposits one thousand eggs at a time into the male pouch. The eggs incubated and delivered nine to forty-five days later. They’re hard to take care of in an aquarium setting. They mate for life and eat kelp and vegetation.





Many different species of fish live in the aquariums inside the education center that include two from South America. Closely related to the Corals the Sea Anemone offer a habitat for the Clownfish. Six species of predatory fish live in a separate aquarium for fear they might eat the other fish. The Lionfish an invasive fish from the Indo-Pacific an area that includes twenty-three countries.

All about the Manatees in the Manatee Exhibit. Manatees an endangered species brought on by several factors like speeding boats that collide with the Manatees, habitat loss and cold stress.

Hand-made earrings, jewelry, wind chimes, coasters, clothing made from recycled plastic and other items found in gift shops. I recommend the education center afterwards walk upstairs to the observation deck. Hours and admission prices found on the website.


Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

Purchase tickets inside the Visitor Center for a pontoon boat ride at the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park at 465 Wakulla Park Drive in Wakulla Springs. Our boat captain took us on a scenic ride on the Wakulla River pointing to the Alligator resting on the banks of the river. The different species of birds nesting in the trees. Ducks swimming along the boat and Manatees swimming below the surface.

Swim in the 120 feet deep springs or dive in the cave 185 feet below the surface. “Old Joe” an 11-foot alligator found at the bottom of the river the locals believed was murdered. Encased in glass inside the lodge. Artifacts displayed inside the visitor center going back 12,000 to 15,000 years. A poster board shows the Spanish as the first conquerors from the late 17th century to the mid-18th century.

The Wakulla Springs Trail a 6.3-mile trail that includes a Tree Walk a 0.6-mile walk. Try to name 14 trees by their leaves.

From the 1930s to the 1970s, movie studios filmed Tarzan movies, movies starring Lloyd Bridges and Jack Lemmon. A series of Creature movies and a WWII training film.

The Lodge at Wakulla Springs

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places The Lodge at Wakulla Springs a Mediterranean Revival Moorish, Spanish style architecture. Evening talk with a Ranger held once a month. This month’s talk about Edward Ball and the history of the lodge. He bought land in the early 1930s the construction of the lodge cost $75,000 to build that began in 1935 and completed in 1937.





The lodge state of the art originally built for Mr. Ball’s friends had marble and air conditioning. Different river scenes from unknown artists painted throughout the lodge. Stencil and hand-painted art on the ceiling, Mr. Ball wanted the artists to remain unknown. He didn’t want the artists’ works to take away from the beauty of the lodge. The ranger said that people who couldn’t afford wallpaper in their homes used stencil on the walls.





Sit in a stool in the longest marble top soda fountain. Real leaf ornaments dipped in copper. Wall hangings and tile trivets, Wakulla Springs Prints, hand-painted coasters and the usual souvenirs found in gift shops. I recommend the springs. Stay in the lodge and experience the atmosphere of a by-gone era. Wakulla Springs admission prices found on the website.



Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

Look to the top of the Carillon Tower that plays Stephen Foster’s music throughout the day at the Stephen Foster Culture Center State Park at 11016 Lillian Saunders Drive/US Hwy 41 in White Springs.





The museum is a memorial to Stephen Foster. Watch a film about Stephen Foster’s early life; he wrote 250 songs during his lifetime. The Florida state song “Old Folks At Home” became a state song in the mid-1930s. Dioramas and paintings throughout the museum that illustrate some of his songs. A piano that he played on, a piano used at a Jenny Lind the Swedish Nightingale concert all permanent exhibits. A desk on display that he used to compose his songs as well as articles and photographs about him throughout the museum. While strolling on the grounds sit on a bench and listen to the relaxing sounds of the fountain or bring a picnic lunch and sit on a picnic table under a shade tree on the museum grounds.

Thirty-three miles of trails throughout the park. Ride a mountain bike or hike the Mountain Loop Trail an 8-mile scenic trail. Canoes, bicycles, cabins and campsites available for rent.





Walk along the brick path to the craft square shops that sell arts and crafts. A blacksmith shop that demonstrates blacksmithing. Books on Stephen Foster’s music, jellies, jams, and other homemade crafts for sale in the gift shop.

The Florida Folk Festival held every Memorial Day weekend offers music, crafts and food. Check the website for other events throughout the year. I recommend the park a lot to see and do.