Nestled in the southeastern region of the United States, Florida is a world-famous holiday destination. You’ll find many natural beauty, modern attractions, and must-visit historical places in Florida.
The Sunshine State is renowned for its year-round pleasant weather, idyllic beaches, and theme parks. The state has plenty of exhilarating adventures, from enjoying water sports to visiting Walt Disney World. However, some of the best experiences occur at places that form part of a bygone era and can be seen at some of the Florida historical sites in this article.
Whether you’re looking to explore state parks or intriguing museums, there are suitable historical spots for every kind of traveler. In this guide, you’ll find the most remarkable landmarks to explore on your next trip.
Here are 37 places that show off historical Florida.
Things to Book in Florida Before You Leave Home
Few things are more frustrating on vacation than missing out on that amazing hotel or tour because it is sold out. Here are my top things to book in Florida before your vacation.
🐊 Most Popular Tours in Florida:
1. Sunset Cruise in Key West – the best way to experience these amazing sunsets is from the water.
2. Miami Cruise of South Beach Millionaire Homes – see how the other half lives
3. Shell Island Snorkel and Dolphin Cruise – beautiful views and wild dolphins
4. Little Havana Food and Walking Tour in Miami – one of my favourites
🛏️Where to Stay in Florida:
1. Esme South Beach – stylish and charming with a fantastic pool
2. Conch House Key West – Adults-only heritage property
3. Berkeley Beach Club St Petersburg – charm, style, space and a great location
4. Hotel Haya Tampa – Cuban style in historic Ybor City
37 Historical Places in Florida
Table of Contents
- 37 Historical Places in Florida
- 1. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
- 2. Key West Lighthouse
- 3. Bok Tower Gardens
- 4. The Barnacle Historic State Park
- 5. Kingsley Plantation
- 6. Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
- 7. Fort Jefferson
- 8. Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
- 9. Lightner Museum
- 10. Dade Battlefield
- 11. House of Refuge Museum
- 12. Fort Matanzas National Monument
- 13. The Kampong
- 14. The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum
- 15. Stiltsville
- 16. Mound House
- 17. Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine
- 18. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
- 19. Ferdinand Magellan
- 20. Venetian Pool
- 21. Henry Morrison Flagler Museum
- 22. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
- 23. Pigeon Key & Seven Mile Bridge
- 24. Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse
- 25. Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island
- 26. Henry B. Plant Museum
- 27. Koreshan State Park
- 28. Mary McLeod Bethune Home
- 29. Cap’s Place
- 30. Fort King National Historic Landmark
- 31. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
- 32. Gonzalez Alvarez House
- 33. Coral Castle
- 34. Ybor City
- 35. The Dali Museum
- 36. Teco Streetcars
- 37. Sunken Gardens
- Historic Places in Florida
Are you ready to take a peek into the past? Below are 37 of the most impressive historical places in Florida.
1. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. It is located in one of the country’s oldest cities, St. Augustine.
The Spanish built this fort between 1672 and 1695 to protect their interests in the city. It also played a significant role in the Civil and Spanish-American wars. Stopping by this fascinating site on a St. Augustine tour offers a wonderful experience for history buffs and families. It is one of several castles in Florida that are well worth a visit.
2. Key West Lighthouse
The Key West Lighthouse is a magnificent landmark in Key West, Florida. This impressive lighthouse was built in 1825 to help ships navigate the dangerous reefs and enter the port. The 22-meter (73-foot) tower remained in operation until 1969.
Here you can discover the island’s maritime history and enjoy spectacular sunsets in Florida. You’ll have to climb 88 iron steps for the best views to get to the top of the lighthouse.
3. Bok Tower Gardens
The Bok Tower Gardens is one of the most picturesque places in the Sunshine State. It is a 250-acre garden and bird sanctuary atop Iron Mountain in Lake Wales.
Established in 1929, this National Historic Landmark is home to a 62-metre (205-foot) Singing Tower. You’ll hear the music of the Singing Tower carillon and experience artistic and cultural enrichment while strolling through the lush gardens.
4. The Barnacle Historic State Park
This charming destination comprises five acres of historic land along the breathtaking Biscayne Bay in Coconut Grove, Miami. Constructed in 1891, the Barnacle is the oldest house in Miami-Dade County and dates back to the sailboat era.
Today, you’ll come across remarkable replicas of historic sailboats. Additionally, the lawns are perfect for a peaceful picnic under the Banyan trees.
5. Kingsley Plantation
The Kingsley Plantation is a historical site situated in Jacksonville, Florida. It tells the story of Zephaniah Kingsley and his family, who lived on the plantation from 1814 to 1837.
The plantation produced Sea Island cotton, sugar cane, corn, and beans. The property features a plantation house, scenic garden, barn, and slave quarters. Here you can learn more about the location’s intriguing history with audio tours.
6. Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens is a historic home located in Fort Lauderdale. It is named after the beautiful bonnet lily. The scenic site is a must-visit destination for history buffs, nature lovers and birders.
Constructed in 1920, the Bonnet House was home to artists Fredric and Evelyn Bartlett. Here you’ll be transported back to the beginning of the 20th century on guided tours or self-guided audio tours.
7. Fort Jefferson
Nestled in Key West, Fort Jefferson is one of the best locations to visit during a Dry Tortugas National Park day trip. This massive and unfinished coastal fortress consists of more than 16 million bricks and spans across 16 acres.
It is one of the largest brick masonry structures in the United States. At this spectacular destination, you’ll learn about mysterious legends of shipwrecks and treasure chests.
8. Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is the former villa of an agricultural industrialist, James Deering. Located in Miami, this magnificent museum opened in 1916. Here you’ll experience an enchanting atmosphere as you tour scenic gardens and awe-inspiring architecture.
This landmark in Florida features 20th-century designs, and the rooms are filled with vintage artworks and antiques. The expansive garden boasts lush low-cut shrubs, striking flowers, and classical statues.
9. Lightner Museum
The Lightner Museum is an extraordinary attraction located in the ancient town of St. Augustine. It is set in the former Hotel Alcazar building and was once famous for supporting the world’s largest indoor swimming pool.
This 1887 Spanish Renaissance Revival style building leaves visitors in awe. Here you can admire the breathtaking architecture and spectacular 19th-century art collection.
10. Dade Battlefield
Nestled in Sumter County, the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park is one of the most famous landmarks in Florida. The 80-acre park is filled with pine flatwoods and oak hammocks.
It was established in 1921 to commemorate and preserve the site of the Dade battle in 1835. Thousands of travelers visit the park to witness the annual re-enactment of the battle. Other enjoyable activities at the park include picnicking, hiking, and wildlife photography.
11. House of Refuge Museum
The House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar is a maritime museum situated in Stuart. It was one of ten buildings constructed along the east coast of Florida to aid shipwrecked sailors.
Today, it is the only remaining House of Refuge and the oldest structure in Martin County. After viewing the captivating exhibits, you can take a short stroll to the shore for water activities like snorkeling and diving.
12. Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort Matanzas National Monument is another notable landmark situated in St. Augustine. It preserves the fortified coquina watchtower that was built in 1742.
The fort defended the city’s southern river approach during the colonial wars. It also guards an extensive area that features maritime forest, marsh, dunes, diverse fauna and flora, and endangered species.
13. The Kampong
If you’re looking for a peaceful adventure in a scenic setting, The Kampong is the perfect place to visit. This 9-acre botanical garden is located in Coconut Grove, Miami.
It once belonged to a famous botanist, Dr David Fairchild, who collected exotic flowers from tropical regions. At The Kampong, you can tour the historic main house and stroll through the lush gardens amongst the fragrant flowering plants.
14. The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum
In the 1930s, this stunning Spanish Colonial home was the residence of the famed author Ernest Hemingway. It is situated in Key West, just a short walk from the Key West Lighthouse.
The Ernest Hemingway House was converted into a private museum following Hemingway’s death. You’ll encounter several fascinating features at the museum, from stories of the late author to observing the sixty seven-toed cats.
Stiltsville is a historical landmark located in Key Biscayne, just 1.6 kilometers (one mile) south of Cape Florida. It is a collection of wood stilt houses about 3 metres (10 feet) above the shallow waters.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Stiltsville was a popular getaway destination for wealthy and influential visitors. A great way to see the colourful Stiltsville houses is with a thrilling Biscayne Bay boat tour.
16. Mound House
Mound House is a unique archaeological and historical site in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. This restored house museum sits atop an ancient Calusa Indian shell mound directly on Estero Bay.
It was built in 1921 and is the oldest standing structure in Fort Myers Beach. Here you’ll encounter captivating artifacts and a variety of cultural programs for an enlightening outing.
17. Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine
If you’re a history buff or architecture enthusiast, a trip to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine will not disappoint. It is home to the first parish of the United States.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine was first built in 1797 and reconstructed during the 18th century following fire damage. The style of the structure is truly mesmerizing, from the Spanish-Renaissance bell tower to the Victorian stained-glass windows.
18. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
If you’re looking for a family-friendly outing that’ll keep the kids entertained, visiting the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is perfect. This historical park is situated in Spring Hill.
It is home to the deepest natural freshwater cave system in the U.S. and abundant protected wildlife. Here you can step back in time and see live mermaid performances at the enchanting spring. Other fun activities include boat cruises, swimming, paddling, and learning about native wildlife.
19. Ferdinand Magellan
The Ferdinand Magellan railcar was used as a Presidential Rail Car from 1943. It was originally built in 1928 and refurbished in 1942 when it was presented to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
This must-see railcar was used extensively by President Roosevelt and President Truman for re-election campaigns and business and personal trips. In 1959, the Gold Railroad Museum in Miami acquired ownership of the Ferdinand Magellan.
20. Venetian Pool
If you’re looking for an epic pool day in the Sunshine State, the Venetian Pool might be your ideal spot. It is a historic U.S. freshwater swimming pool located in Coral Gables.
The Venetian Pool was constructed from a coral rock quarry in 1924. The 4-acre pool is an excellent pick for travelers looking to cool down on a hot summer day in Florida.
21. Henry Morrison Flagler Museum
You’ll adore this Gilded Age mansion if you love luxury and history. The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, also called Whitehall, is an opulent public museum in Palm Beach.
An oil tycoon, Henry Flagler constructed this Beaux-Arts style mansion for his third wife in 1902. Here you can admire the captivating European architecture, artwork, historical exhibits, and antique furniture.
22. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
The Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is situated in Key Biscayne. It is home to the notable Cape Florida Lighthouse which was constructed in 1825.
From atop this historic lighthouse, you can experience awe-inspiring views of Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. As the lighthouse is on a beautiful beach, you can enjoy other thrilling activities, including kayaking and shoreline fishing.
23. Pigeon Key & Seven Mile Bridge
The Seven Mile Bridge is a 10,888-metre bridge in the Florida Keys, Monroe County. It was constructed in 1978 and opened in 1982. Beneath the bridge, you’ll see a small island called Pigeon Key.
This 5-acre island is home to eight must-see historical buildings. There are also several displays and artifacts that tell stories of notable events, such as the deadly 1935 Labour Day hurricane. You can enjoy breathtaking views on this historic railroad and take a scenic boat tour to Pigeon Key.
24. Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse
The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse is a picturesque lighthouse and museum in Ponce de Leon Inlet. This spectacular structure was constructed in 1887.
The lighthouse stands at a staggering 53 meters (175 feet) tall. Here you’ll learn about the rich history of this remarkable landmark. Additionally, you can climb its 203 steps and enjoy stunning panoramic views from the top of the tower.
25. Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island
Fernandina Beach is a charming city situated on Amelia Island. The island’s historic district features more than 400 historical buildings, including homes, commercial buildings, and churches.
You’ll come across eye-catching Victorian-era architecture and several galleries and antique shops. One of the top spots in the area is the Palace Saloon. It’s an iconic 1903 bar where you can admire vintage murals and enjoy live music.
26. Henry B. Plant Museum
The Henry B. Plant Museum was built in 1891 in Tampa, Florida. It is situated in the south wing of Plant Hall on the University of Tampa’s campus.
The museum was once a resort for wealthy individuals and features stunning Moorish Revival architecture. It is home to several artifacts collected from around the world and educates visitors on Gilded Age tourism.
27. Koreshan State Park
The Koreshan State Park is a must-see ancient attraction located in Lee County. The park features several historic buildings and lush gardens.
You’ll also come across an abundance of majestic oak trees positioned along the banks of the Estero River. It’s a popular spot amongst history lovers and outdoor enthusiasts for activities like camping and kayaking.
28. Mary McLeod Bethune Home
The Mary McLeod Bethune Home is a notable museum in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is situated on the Bethune-Cookman University campus.
This remarkable landmark was built in 1904. It was the residence of a prominent civil rights leader and educator, Mary McLeod Bethune.
29. Cap’s Place
Established in 1928, Cap’s Place is the oldest restaurant in Broward County, Florida. It sits atop an island off Lighthouse Point and can be reached with an exciting boat ride.
Many world-famous individuals, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Al Capone, frequently visited Cap’s Place. Whether you want to indulge in delicious seafood or admire the historic designs, visiting this restaurant will not disappoint.
30. Fort King National Historic Landmark
Fort King is a former U.S. army frontier fort located in Ocala. The fort was built in 1827 and is a notable symbol of the Seminole War.
There are several programs and events at the Fort King National Historic Landmark where you can learn more about significant happenings of the past. Additionally, you can stroll down the walking trails and explore the scenic heritage garden.
31. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Fort Taylor is a historic state park located in Key West, Florida. The state park is home to an extensive collection of Civil War armaments.
The tour guides and interpretive panels convey the fort’s significance in the Civil War and Spanish-American War. In addition to immersing yourself in history, you can also enjoy activities like swimming and bird watching.
32. Gonzalez Alvarez House
The Gonzalez Alvarez House, also called The Oldest House, is a historic house museum in St. Augustine. As its name suggests, it is believed to be the oldest surviving Spanish colonial dwelling in the city.
The present house has a construction history that dates back to around 1723. It features both Spanish and British colonial architectural styles that leave visitors in awe.
33. Coral Castle
Coral Castle is an eye-catching limestone structure situated between Homestead and Leisure City. Edward Leedskalnin carved this magnificent castle in 1920.
He single-handedly sourced and carved more than 1,000 tons of coral rock to create this masterpiece. The exact story of its creation and how it remained intact remains a mystery.
34. Ybor City
In the late 1800s, Ybor City, Tampa became the cigar capital of the world. Founded by Vicente Martinez-Ybor, the city was almost entirely owned and populated by immigrants. The city flourished until the combination of the Great Depression and World War II led to it being abandoned. Rejuvenation of the area began in the early 2000s.
Whilst there are lots of plaques etc around the city, it really takes a tour guide to bring the stories of this neighborhood to life. Find out why chickens are protected in Ybor and wander the streets. Hear about Jose Marti and see the square in his honor. Learn about the social clubs that were the heart of the neighborhood, some of which are still in operation.
35. The Dali Museum
The building that houses The Dali Museum is a Florida landmark. Designed by architect Yann Weymouth, its 18-inch thick hurricane-proof walls become a glass dome known as the “engima”.
The museum and its collection have been around for about thirty years. Albert Reynolds Morse and his wife Eleanor became friends with Dali and major collectors of his works. They founded the museum and it is the largest collection of Dali’s works outside of his hometown, Figueres, in Spain.
36. Teco Streetcars
This historic streetcar system runs along a 2.7-mile route in Tampa and stops at popular attractions like Ybor City and the Tampa Convention Center. And it’s free!
37. Sunken Gardens
These gardens in St Petersburg began life as a sinkhole. In 1903, a local plumber purchased the land to drain the link and turn it into a glorious tropical garden.
Today, the Sunken Gardens are home to over 50,000 tropical plants and flowers, including orchids, bromeliads, and bougainvillea. There were loads of flamingoes, and it was possible to get quite close to them for photos (be aware they are rather smelly).
The gardens are quite wild and beautiful – as is the sinkhole today! As you walk around the gardens, you will realize that you are heading down about 15 feet to the original sinkhole – a quite pretty pond of sorts.
Historic Places in Florida
There are an abundance of historical sites in Florida, each with its own intriguing history. With so many historic sites in Florida you’ll easily plan a busy itinerary of this beautiful state.
Whether you’re looking to visit historical monuments or state parks, there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about the old days. Now that we’ve covered the top historical places to visit in Florida, where will you head first?
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