Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park located at 4140 Suncoast Boulevard in Homosassa. Dr. Ray White, marine veterinarian instrumental in establishing the wildlife park for injured and rehab-ilitated Manatees.

Board the tram from the visitor center to the wildlife park or take a pontoon boat and cruise along the river watching an alligator bask in the sun and enjoying the scenery along the way. Inside the visitor center, a photography exhibit from the 1800s an early history of Homosassa Springs to the 2000s a new century begins.

Step down to the underwater observatory and view some of the twelve different species of fish that inhabit Homosassa River. Walk around the outside of the observatory and watch some of the birds that inhabit the park. From November through March, the Manatees arrive for the warmer waters. Stand at the river overlook and try to spot them.

Barred and Great Horned Owls, Crested Caracara a threatened species, and Large Wading Birds can be found throughout the Wildlife Walk. Educational programs and Wildlife Encounters. Walk the 1.2-mile Pepper Creek Trail. Entrance fees and hours of operation on the website.

 

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Dickson Azalea Park

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Welcome to Dickson Azalea Park located at 100 Rosearden Drive in Orlando. Walk down one of the stairways that connects the trail circling the park. Cross one of several bridges to the other side of the park, stop and admire the foliage at the creek below. Pink and Red Azaleas in bloom, ferns and Sabal Palms surround the park.

dickson-azalea-park-026dickson-azalea-park-008Sit on a bench underneath a tree and read a book, meditate, listen to the birds sing while relaxing and enjoying the surroundings. I recommend the park; the best time to go is February and March when the Azaleas are in bloom.

Riverwalk Family Park

pict1716Riverwalk Family Park located at 5355 US Highway 1 in Rockledge. The nature center, nature themed playground, and boardwalk comprise the park. Bring a picnic lunch and eat at one of the picnic tables.

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Aquarium tanks throughout the nature center house a Diamondback Terrapin that swims in the ocean and walks on land. A touch tank, and a quarantine tank that holds small turtles. An Oyster Toadfish, a Banded Tulip Snail in one tank and Crabs in another. The bones of a Bottlenose Dolphin and the West Indian Manatee in the display case.

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pict1751Join in the fun with your children in the Nature Themed Playground equipped with different activity zones. Explore an Aqua Zone, Organic Engineering, and Play Art.

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Walk along the boardwalk to the Indian River Lagoon and admire the native plants of Riverwalk Park. Sit on a bench, relax, and listen to the songbirds. Stop at each plaque and read a description of the different birds found in the lagoon. Feel the breeze as you reach the lagoon, stop and watch the waves as they break on the shore. Watch a speedboat racing across the lagoon or a sailboat slowing sailing across the lagoon. I recommend the park admission is free. An informative and relaxing way to spend the day.

Grant Historical House

pict1707Grant Historical House often referred to as the Benson House a Florida Heritage Site located at 5795 U.S. 1 in Grant. The docent took us on a tour of the house explaining the history and the inhabitants. Atley Benson built the 1,200 square foot Sears Catalog Home in 1916 that comprised the kitchen, living room, dining room and two bedrooms that cost $1,200 to build. The bathroom added in the 1940s included a claw foot bathtub, a pedestal sink and built-in shelves. Family photographs and keepsakes throughout the house.

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The Grant House converted to a museum in the late 1980s included original furniture pieces, some donated or bought. The bed and cedar chest both original pieces. The cedar chest belonged to the Jorgensen family from Denmark early settlers to Grant in the late 1800s. The docent told us that when the Jorgensen family came to America all the belongings that they brought were in the chest.

pict1656pict1661Walk along the engraved boardwalk that surrounds the house stopping to read the inscriptions. Bring a picnic lunch and watch people launch their canoes on the Indian River Lagoon or walk out to the edge of the pier, sit on a bench and watch boats go by on the lagoon enjoying a lazy afternoon.

I recommend the Grant House, an early twentieth-century pre-fabricated house. Free entrance to the house, donations accepted.

Dade Battlefield Historic State Park

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Dade Battlefield Historic State Park designated a National Historic Landmark located at 7200 County Road 603 in Bushnell. An eighty-acre park surrounded by Sabal Palms, Southern Red Cedars, and Live Oak Trees. Enjoy a picnic under a pavilion or relax in a gazebo. A replica of a six-pounder cannon on display. A monument dedicated to J.C.B. Koonce who was instrumental in establishing the Dade Battlefield Memorial.

dade-battlefield-historic-state-park-048Stop by the visitor center and see a film about the Dade Battle that occurred on December 28, 1835. Major Dade, Captain Gardiner of the U.S. Army fought the Seminoles led by Chiefs Micanopy, Jumper and Alligator. Every year a reenactment of the battle occurs during the time of the battle. A historical timeline of events inside the visitor center about the Seminoles from 1800 to the Seminole War of 1835 and the aftermath.

dade-battlefield-historic-state-park-042Walk a section of the Fort King Military Trail stopping to read the plagues along the way or walk the Pine Flatwoods Trail. Display cabinets filled with Seminole crafts. Palmetto Palm Weaving, books, and t-shirts for sale. Admission and hours of operation on the website.

Flagler Beach Historical Museum

flagler-historical-m-001pict1593-1Flagler Beach Historical Museum opened in 2001 located at 207 South Central Avenue in Flagler Beach. Our museum guide pointed out different events in the many photographs that depicted life in Flagler Beach formerly named Ocean City. George Moody the first mayor of Flagler Beach built the Flagler Beach Hotel and The Moody Hotel. Charles Lindbergh known as Lucky Lindy landed in Flagler Beach in 1931.

pict1539-1The Wickline Family early pioneers built a mercantile store and Etta Wickline became the first postmaster to run the post office located inside the store.

pict1577-1Different displays throughout the museum include The Wall of Astronauts including NASA Facts. A history of the Intracoastal Waterway that includes development of Flagler Beach. Indian Pottery, Indian Artifacts and Shell Tools part of the Prehistoric Period. Eight plantations flourished during the Plantation Period growing sugarcane, cotton, indigo, rice, and corn. During the Seminole Wars, Indians and slaves burned down the plantations. In the early 1830s, John James Audubon visited two plantations, painted two birds the American Coot, and the Greater Yellowlegs.

Museum coasters, postcards, books, and 8 x 10 art photos for sale. Free entrance to the museum, donations accepted. I recommend the museum, interesting artifacts and the guide was very knowledgeable.

Smithsonian Marine Station

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Smithsonian Marine Station located at 420 Seaway Drive in Fort Pierce. Over twenty coral reefs on display at the Ecosystems Exhibit. Three species of Seahorses found in the Indian River Lagoon and an aquarium in the marine station for farming Seahorses. 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.

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Seagrass, Mangrove and Hardbottom Ecosystems make up the Indian River Lagoon Habitats. Over four thousand species found in the lagoon as well as thirty-eight endangered and rare species including the Manatee (Endangered), Green Sea Turtle (Endangered) and Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Threatened).

pict1487-1pict1488-1A Sand Dollar, Sea Biscuit not as flat as a Sea Urchin and a Sea Egg Urchin found in seagrass areas and an assortment of shells on display. Red lionfish a highly venomous invasive fish first introduced to the United States from the Indo-Pacific region in the 1980s possibly released in the wild from home aquariums.

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Step outside to admire the “The Partnership” a sculpture by artists Patrick Cochran and Ginny Piech Street. Have a picnic underneath a pavilion or walk along the path by the Indian River Lagoon. Admission prices and hours of operation on the website.

The Cornell Fine Arts Museum

the-cornell-museumfrancesco-de-muraThe Cornell Fine Arts Museum located at 1000 Holt Avenue on the Rollins College campus in Winter Park. Wander through the galleries and admire the art of Francesco de Mura one of the greatest painters of the Golden Age of Naples during the Bourbon period from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

gneshaBronze statues by Elizabeth Catlett and Audrey Flack both American artists. A sculpture that depicts Greek mythology by Paul Jean Baptiste Gasq. A Ming-dynasty statue in the 16th century to the 18th century Ganesha a Hindu deity used in prayers. Paintings throughout the museum that used oil and canvas, oil on copper with silver, brush and gray wash and pen and black ink. Landscape paintings by American artist William Louis Sonntag to Alberto Pasini an Italian artist who painted “A Mosque in Cairo.”

Modern art that includes pencil on paper, oil on board by twentieth-century American and British artists. Decorative notebooks, postcards and an assortment of jewelry and books for sale in the gift shop. Free entrance to the museum donations accepted.

Museum of Geneva History

pict1380-1pict1381Museum of Geneva History located at 165 First Street in Geneva. A small community founded in the late 1830s, photographs of cattlemen and people who owned orange groves were some of the early settlers.

A sixth-generation resident of Geneva and a museum docent answered our questions as we walked around the museum. The residents of Geneva donated all the items. Every era of Geneva displayed. Steamships the mode of travel during the late 1800s. People boarded the steamship Astatula from Lake Monroe or Lake Harney and traveled the upper St. Johns River.

pict1385An early 1940s map of Orange County that included portions of Seminole and Osceola Counties. Newspaper clippings of the civil war and a handbook of civil war soldiers buried in the local cemetery. Put a special coin in the Violano Virtuoso a self-playing electric violin invented by Henry Konrad Sandell from Sweden.

pict1396-1marble-voting-boxA toy cradle from the 1850s and Children’s Christmas books from the early 20th century. A hardwood box that holds survey equipment belonging to surveyor Joel Allen Barber. The term blackballed came from the early voting box. Made from wood a voting box included a white marble for “Yes” and a black marble for “No.”

pict1403From Honor Our Veterans from WWI and WWII to Railroad History. Spikes from a railroad and a photograph of a Geneva Train Depot circa 1920. A 1912 plat map of Geneva, an early kitchen and photographs of Geneva Turpentine Farming from the late 19th century to the late 1920s.

Pen and Ink prints, books, t-shirts and Geneva license plates for sale. Free entrance to the museum, donations accepted. Hours of operation on the website.

Wekiwa Springs State Park

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Wekiwa Springs State Park a 7,000-acre park located at 1800 Wekiwa Circle in Apopka. Have a picnic on one of the tables or rent a pavilion. Walk along the wooden boardwalk to the concession store where canoes and kayaks are for rent. Bring a bathing suit and swim in the springs or sunbathe on the shore.

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Stop at the interpretive exhibit and read about The Red-Eared Slider a semiaquatic turtle, Hydrilla an aquatic plant and The Sailfin Catfish all alien invaders. Pollution a serious threat to the springs at another interpretive exhibit. A 3-legged tortoise lost his leg in a fight with a dog explained by a volunteer at the nature center. View the mounted Florida Black Bear, Barred Owl, Sherman Fox Squirrel and Great Blue Heron encased in glass. All of these animals reside throughout the park.

Bring a bicycle and ride the 7.75-mile trail. Pick up a trail map and walk the Sand Lake and East-West trails both under 2 miles. Bring along a hat and bug spray. Admission and hours of operation located on the website.