Lake Louisa State Park

 

 

 

 

Be aware of wildlife crossing the road at Lake Louisa State Park at 7305 US Highway 27 in Clermont. The Green Swamp surrounds the boardwalk towards Lake Louisa. Take a swim, have a picnic on the shores of the lake or watch your children play on the playground.Step inside the Habitat Garden strolling along the path through a trestle. A Southern Red Cedar part of the evergreen family has many uses. Sit on a bench or in one of the two gazebos. Listen to the sounds of birds and try to spot a butterfly.Sightings of birds of prey, grassland and migrating birds along the Florida Birding Trail. Hike and bicycle on one of the many trails. Swim in one of the six lakes. Launch a canoe, kayak or go horseback riding. I recommend the park a lot to see and do. Hours of operation and fees located on the website.

 

 

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Cedar Key Historical Society and Museum

Cedar Key Historical Society and Museum a historic state landmark at 609 2nd Street in Cedar Key located on the Gulf of Mexico. Throughout the museum artifacts dating back eleven thousand years. A replica of a steamboat on display. Many railroad companies came to Cedar Key. People would board the trains from southern and northern states to the town of Fernandina then continue to Cedar Key. They brought most of their belongings in their steamer trunks for travel on the steamships to cities on the Suwannee River and other towns throughout Florida.

John Muir an early conservationist visited Cedar Key from Indiana after walking a thousand miles through wilderness taking plant samples along the way. Photographs of early life throughout the museum. A map of Florida from the 1870s. Cedar Key from the 1800s to 1932. A chronological history of the United States, The Florida Treaty allowed transfer of land from Spain to Florida. From 1800 to the beginning of the 20th century, many industries came to Cedar Key. Tourism and Shellfish farming the main industries of Cedar Key today.

David Levy Yulee owned the Florida Railroad. He was the first Jewish US Senator from Florida. Judge Augustus Steele founded the town of Cedar Key in the late 1850s.

Items for sale in the gift shop include a local photographer’s artwork in note pads, calendars, books on Cedar Key, children’s books and t-shirts.

After visiting the museum, step inside the Andrews House a history of Cedar Key that depicts the contributions of Dr. Andrews a retired dentist from Indiana. I recommend visiting both museums.

Oxbo Eco-Center

Found throughout Florida, the Gulf Fritillary a butterfly that makes its home in the Butterfly and Contemplation Gardens at the Oxbo Eco-Center located at 5400 NE St. James Drive in Port St. Lucie. Named Oxbo because of the U-shaped bend in the St. Lucie River.

Interpretive plaques along the boardwalk describe the many plants and flowers with so many uses. Hike the numerous trails situated on the 225-acre preserve. Climb to the top of the observation towers and observe some of the numerous animals in the preserve. Canoe or kayak and get a close-up look of the many species of animals.

Stroll along the trail in the Butterfly Garden taking pleasure in the natural beauty. Sit on a bench or bring a picnic lunch and listen to the songbirds or sit in The Contemplation Garden and see if you can spot the butterflies.Over 800 species of fish in Blackwater and freshwater that make up the St. Lucie River. An interpretive exhibit describes in detail the flow of the river and the thousands of plants and animals that inhabit the river.

Different species of turtles and snakes reside in aquariums in the Discovery Room. A Rose Hair Tarantula found in Chile on display. Watch a live feeding of the reptiles every Saturday afternoon while visiting the Discovery Room.

Rent the amphitheater for special events. Free admission to the center, donations accepted. I recommend the environmental learning center and preserve a lot to see and do.

 

 

Sebastian Area Historical Museum

Formerly an elementary school the building now home to the Sebastian Area Historical Museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places at 1235 Main Street in Sebastian. Sebastian originally a fishing village. Numerous photographs in each room depicted life in Sebastian, and the settlers who were influential in developing the town.

 

 

 

Our docent a life-long resident took us on a tour of the museum describing in detail each room. Different rooms portray different periods of early life in Sebastian throughout the museum. Maps of Florida, artifacts of the Ais Indians, and valuable objects found in the sea on display. Photographs of steamboats the mode of travel from the late 1820s until 1880 when trains became the means of travel. People arrived by train at the Sebastian Railroad Depot, and stayed at Hotel Sebastian.

Paintings by local artists and an early Larkin a secretary desk. Train memorabilia, and military items that represent Military History from the Civil War to World War II.

Pelican Island a five-acre island that became the first National Wildlife Refuge in 1903 by Executive Order signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. Paul Kroegel became the first warden of Pelican Island.

Purchase books and DVDs on local history, prints and tote bags. I recommend the museum a lot of history in a small town. Free admission, donations accepted. Hours of operation on the website.

 

St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park

St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park located at 1000 Buffer Preserve Drive in Fellsmere. Bring a pair of binoculars while standing at the viewing area and watch the endangered Scrub Jay the only bird native to Florida. Hike the three trails, go horseback riding or take a bicycle ride on the 17 miles of trails. Before hiking the trails, pick up the pamphlets inside the visitor center.

Observe the threatened and endangered wildlife at a distance throughout the park. Visit the park from November 1 to April 1 to observe the Manatees at the observation deck.

A diorama and poster displays throughout the visitor center describes the many ecosystems and the different threatened and protected species that survive in their habitats. The threatened Diamondback Terrapin found mostly in brackish water in the eastern and southern United States. The Gopher Tortoise a protected species that live up to 60 years in the wild and can live up 100 years in captivity.

In the late 19th and early part of the twentieth century, early settlers arrived in Fellsmere on the Fellsmere Railroad and stayed at the Fellsmere Inn. People homesteaded and started successful citrus, turpentine businesses and cattle ranches. Inside the park, some remnants of the businesses still exist. Free entrance to the visitor center and park, donations accepted. Hours of operation located on the website.

The Lawton House

 

 

 

 

The Lawton House located at 200 W. Broadway Street in Oviedo a historic home now a museum built in the late 19th century by J.H. Lee, Sr., an early settler to Oviedo. A historic marker on the property chronicles the Lawton House.

 

 

 

 

Storyboards give a detailed history of Oviedo throughout the years. Photographs of historic homes in the late 1800s into the early 1900s as well as photographs of early settlers. After the citrus freeze in the late 1890s, celery became the main crop. Memorabilia shown throughout the museum. Tools used in the Oviedo Fire Department through the years exhibited. Early kitchen appliances that includes an antique stove and a Mangler iron still in use today. The early hand-cranked Mangler irons had two rollers that made it easy to iron.

A map of the Orlando-Winter Park Railroad that owned the Dinky train line began service in the late 1880s. The 6-mile train line ran from Orlando to Winter Park eventually extended service to Oviedo and by the late 1960s service ended.

Located in the town of Oviedo and founded in the early 1960s the University of Central Florida originally called Florida Technological University home to 53,000 students. A lot of history in a small town. Free admission to the museum, open the first Saturday of the month along with the Farmers Market. After visiting the museum, listen to music on the porch.

Manatee Sanctuary Park

 

 

 

 

Stand at the edge of the boardwalk while watching the cruise ships on the Banana River at Manatee Sanctuary Park located at 701 Thurm Boulevard in Cape Canaveral. Realistic looking sculptures of a Manatee with her calf and three turtles by Ken Laudadio. Read the plaques and learn about the species and their habitats. Walk along the water’s edge and see if you can spot a Manatee.

Stroll along the boardwalk while feeling the breeze along the Banana River. Keep your mind fit as well as your body at the exercise stations along the 1/2 mile trail. Rent a pavilion for parties or bring a picnic lunch and relax while your children play on the playground.

Stop at the bridge and see if you can identify some of the different bird species that inhabit the park. Hours of operation and rental information posted on the website. Before boarding your planned cruise, spend a relaxing couple of hours at the park.

Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge

Stand at the observation tower and see if you can identify any of the 215 species of migratory birds in the Lake Woodruff Wildlife Refuge at 2045 Mud Lake Road in DeLeon Springs. Walk on the stepping-stones that lead to the Butterfly Garden that includes a variety of host plants.

Storyboards throughout the visitor center chronicle the early life in Volusia County. Over 8,000 years ago, the Timucua a Native American Tribe settled the land. Artifacts displayed used for hunting and warfare, sharpening tools, fishing, jewelry, utensils and numerous other uses. In the early part of the nineteenth century, William Williams bought the property and built Spring Garden Plantation. In the early 1820s, Major Joseph Woodruff bought the property and named it Lake Woodruff after a nearby lake.

Bears, Coyotes, and Deer some of the animals that you might encounter while hiking the many trails. Take a canoe or boat ride and see some of the magnificent wildlife.

In the mid-1960s, the alligator on the brink of extinction listed as an endangered species eventually made a full recovery. A diorama of the alligator and plaques that surrounds the diorama describes the recovery process. Free admission to the refuge, hours of operation on the website.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

 

 

 

 

A winding road leads you to the Visitor Center at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville. Stand inside a replica of a Bald Eagle Nest that is 2 feet deep and 5 feet across made of interwoven sticks, grasses, and moss. Bald Eagles mate for life and lay 2 eggs a year.The Bobcat remains elusive and the Gopher Tortoise creates a borrow that provides shelter for a large number of animals. Storyboards throughout the center describe the different species of animals in the refuge and the varied habitats allow different species to survive.

 

 

 

 

Look outward to the freshwater pond while standing under a gazebo, and view the turtle on a ramp basking in the sun. Walk along the quarter mile boardwalk and read the many plaques that describe the different trees, plants, berries, and vines. The Timucuans and the Ais early Native American tribes used the bark of the trees for medicinal purposes. Native Americans crushed the leaves of the American Beautyberry to repel insects. The Timucuans smashed the acorns of the Live Oak Trees to make bread. The fruits of the trees provide food for the many animals in the refuge. The Virginia Creeper a climbing vine that provides food and shelter for the songbirds.Walk underneath the trestle to the Butterfly Garden. Different varieties of butterflies surround the garden. Host and Nectar plants in abundance. Six trails that offer opportunities to explore many habitats and the different species of wildlife.Browse the gift shop for books on birds, butterflies, Manatees and watercolor prints as well as the usual items found in gift shops. Fees and hours of operation on the website.

Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center

Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center located at 840 Johnson Way in Lakeland. The education center housed in a 1925 Sears Catalog Home.  During the Great Depression Frank Lloyd Wright commissioned to design thirteen buildings on the campus of Florida Southern College the only college in the United States designed by him.

 

 

 

 

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 1930s the Usonian House built in 2013 adjacent to the Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center. Sit on a bench and admire the bronze sculpture of Frank Lloyd Wright and fountain that surround the Ruthven Family Plaza. Browse in the gift shop for an unusual assortment of items for sale. Purchase guided tours online or in the Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center.