Tag Archives: History

Pinterest Boards We Love, Florida History for Kids

This week’s theme for “Pinterest Boards We Love” is Florida History for Kids

http://pinterest.com/krsonner/florida-unit-study/ by Kirsten Sonner

http://pinterest.com/edtechworkshop/florida-4th-grade-social-studies/ a Group Board

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Paynes Creek Historic State Park in Bowling Green, Florida

Paynes Creek Historic SiteI’ve always wondered what Bowling Green, Florida is like. Well, it’s like many small Florida towns, except it offers up Paynes Creek Historic State Park.

Here you’ll find a lot of history. The unfortunate part is that you won’t find the fort or a replica. However, this shouldn’t deter the history buffs or someone who wants to enjoy a fun day in a clean state park. I think the design of this park and the state of its facilities cannot be beat. It’s a great place for kids. It wasn’t busy on the day we went, but that was nice for a change. And I’ve never seen cleaner restrooms!

They have a hike to the site of the fort, along with some hikes that take you to historical markers and the meeting of the Peace River and Paynes Creek. That is one fast-moving body of water too. That alone is fun to see.

They also have a nice visitors center that offers up a small exhibit of the history of the area. There you can read about the massacre that happened there and see a partial replica of the trading post that used to exist there. It’s a good starting point for anyone traveling to all the state parks or for those that want to visit the big historical sites in Florida.

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Fort Foster at Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa, Florida

Fort FosterIt’s not every day you get to visit a fort. But luckily for Floridians, we have several. One such fort is Fort Foster, at Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa, Florida. While it is only a replica, it is still an awesome sight!

It is a short tram ride through Hillsborough River State Park to get to the fort. Along the way you are treated to a ranger talk that covers the history leading up to the building of the fort, as well as a good overview of the Seminole Wars. (Once you get to the tram stop though, be aware that there is a bit of a hike to the fort.)

Once upon Fort Foster, you are greeted with a large, oval wall made of wooden posts. The massive amount of beams that make up this historical place is mind-blowing. Inside, you find buildings made of the same material. There are a few different buildings inside, along with a large cannon. You can look out the cannon door, as well as out most of the “windows” along the wall.

Most of the buildings in the fort have old props and furnishings reminiscent of the time, ones that are often used in the living history events the park has from time to time. It’s fun to hear the stories of these props and envision in how they might have been used.

A trip to Fort Foster is not to be missed. The accompanying Hillsborough River State Park is also a pretty cool place, with its large pool and picnicking spots.


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Fort Christmas in Christmas, Florida

Yes, there is a Christmas, Florida. They’ve created an awesome replica of the fort with great historical exhibits and an interesting historical park. Perhaps the other thing you’ve heard about in Christmas, Florida is the post office there. Your mail will be posted with “Christmas, Florida” and who wouldn’t want that on their Christmas cards? Maybe a December visit is in order?

Inside Fort ChristmasOnce you get to Fort Christmas, you are greeted with a huge replica of the original fort. The beams are impressive and well placed. It has nice signage that discusses the fort and the wars it was involved with also. Once inside the fort you’ll find an impressive historical display. They have collected tons of artifacts that you don’t see every day. The displays discuss war history, local history, Seminole history, and more. Much of the display discusses local history, which is especially neat once you see the connected historical park. In fact, I might consider visiting the historical park first—because the exhibits in the Fort are even more interesting when you have that context.

Fort Christmas historical park interiorThe accompanying historical park includes many homes, a cow camp, and various buildings. The day we went there, they had a guide who greeted you at the beginning of the exhibit. She was knowledgeable and friendly, and offered a few extra tidbits of history. I think what was perhaps the best part about the historical park is that we were able to actually walk through most of the houses in the exhibit. So, you aren’t stopped by ropes or a gate most of the time. It’s a better way to get a feel for the times and the home, though it does surprise you at first. (But always pay attention to the signage when you go, because it looks like sometimes the houses cannot be walked through.)

The houses belong to early residents of the town. They have signage and pictures discussing what the occupants did and a little about them. Then you got to see clothing, accessories, cookware, and such from those times. It was neat to see how they lived and how their homes were built.

Run by the county, you can enjoy a fun few hours at Fort Christmas. The area comes with a playground, picnic tables, and restrooms. It is not a daylong adventure, so perhaps you want to also plan on a trip to Dixie Crossroads restaurant in Titusville. This was my first visit there, and the fritters are not to be missed.

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SOMALI PIRATES CAPTURED!, a guest post by author Terrance Zepke

Six weeks ago, an Iranian fishing vessel, Al Mulahi, was seized by Somali pirates. Thanks to a quick-thinking captain and crew, the men
aided in their own rescue by dumping fuel and requesting help over the ship’s radio. The captain spoke in a language that the pirates did not understand, so they did not know that he was summoning help! Despite their suspicions of piracy, the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service was not able to intervene until this week when the captain officially asked for aid. Otherwise, they might have sparked an international incident given our relations with Iran and the fact that the U.S. has been warned not to return to the region by senior Iranian defense officials. It was a coup for the international piracy task force given that fifteen Somali pirates were captured, along with their floating base and weapons cache.  The best news is that none of the thirteen hostages were harmed. The war on piracy continues…

Guest blogger Terrance Zepke
Author of Pirates of the Carolinas and Pirates of the Carolinas for Kids

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Warm Mineral Springs, Florida

A Florida spring with healing properties

That’s Warm Mineral Springs’ claim to fame, anyway. I’m not sure if that is true, but going there is a lovely way to spend the day. I’ve been there many a time and I do feel refreshed. But, keep in mind that you leave there feeling refreshed in a different way than most springs in Florida.

Warm Mineral Springs is, well, warm! It’s 87 degrees year-round. That’s a really nice temperature for water that you soak in. The other difference is that the water has the 3rd highest mineral content in the world. Because of this, it is a destination for many Europeans and visitors from across the world. That’s one of the fun parts of the springs–hearing many languages spoken around you.

Floating and swimming around the spring is a pretty neat experience. It might not be for the faint of heart–there is a sulfur smell and there is floating algae–but it’s usually enjoyed by all. It’s a great way to relax and meet new people. You can truly say this is not a theme park experience and your northern visitors will have something to write home about.

Now, I haven’t been there since the new owners took it over. So, I truly can’t speak for the atmosphere now. But the many visits I made in the past were highlighted by the food. A quick look at the menu shows me the food is a little different, but I see the pierogies on there. I hope they are the same! Try them! The rest of the menu looks updated and more spa-like. I bet they worked hard to create a menu that went with the healing properties-it looks healthy. Let me know how it is.

It’s also worth the time to read about the history surrounding Warm Mineral Springs. Ponce de Leon thought it was the Fountain of Youth and archaeologists have found cool stuff there. Some of the history is detailed at the springs and some also on their website. Don’t miss reading up on this unique aspect of the springs.

Warm Mineral Springs is a unique Florida experience. Check out their website to learn about their hours and prices. I’d love to hear about your experience, don’t forget to share by posting them on Twitter and doing an @pineapplepress. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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2011 Florida Holiday Events

Author Bruce Hunt is discussing Winter in Small-Town Florida today (Monday Dec 5th) at 12pm on Twitter via a Twitter chat.
Use hashtag #smalltownFla to follow along.
Follow Bruce on Twitter @BruceHuntImages. You can reach us via @PineapplePress

A sampling of Florida’s holiday fun for 2011

Florida is a fun place to spend the holidays, especially if you want a different spin on winter events. Those of you visiting from up north might be surprised about what Floridians created into winter fun!

South Florida

Holiday Historic Lighted Inn Tours: Visit beautiful Key West inns while sampling mouth-watering foods and seeing exciting performances. Dec 9-10 and Dec 16-17. Learn more at www.schoonerwharf.com

Annual Dropping of the Conch Shell: Sloppy Joe’s is home to this annual New Years Eve event. Learn more at www.sloppyjoes.com

North Florida

Pensacola Winterfest: Looks like it’s a month-long celebration in Pensacola this December. Learn more at www.pensacolawinterfest.org

Regatta of Lights: St. Augustine’s spin on Christmas lights. See a parade of boats in historic St. Augustine. Dec 10. Learn more at www.visitoldcity.com

Central Florida

Cruising Downtown DeLand Car Show: Classic cars and crafts bring the holidays to DeLand. Santa Claus is the special guest. Dec. 17. Learn more at www.plantcity.org

Mount Dora Christmas Events: Mount Dora is famous for their many Christmas events. Lights, shopping, and oodles more fun. Learn more at www.mountdorachristmas.com

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Win a copy of Lighthouses of the Carolinas 2nd ed by Terrance Zepke

Who doesn’t like to win?

Now’s your chance! Head over to author Terrance Zepke’s website and get the details about her upcoming contests. Next week, one lucky contest winner can win a copy of Lighthouses of the Carolinas 2nd ed. Don’t miss out. http://terrancezepke.com/

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FLORIDA: Give me an “F”, Give me an “L”….


Give me an “F”! Give me an “L”! Give me an “O”! Give me an “R”! Give me an “I”! Give me a “D”! Give me an “A”! What’s that spell? FLORIDA! Below are some words that help define Florida.

F Fakahatchee

L Lovebugs

O Overseas Highway

R Ringling Brothers

I Islamorada

D Daytona International Speedway

A Alligators


To learn more about Florida, read Florida A to Z!

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The Beach on Anna Maria Island, Florida

I’ve been to a lot of local beaches, but Anna Maria Island‘s is one I hadn’t visited much until I met my husband. He says that his family went there a lot when he was young. It’s nice because it has a playground and bathrooms nearby. The water is really close to the parking, which is great when you are toting a lot of stuff. We went there this weekend and last, at two different spots along the beach.

The weekend before last we went to a spot that is to the right of the City Pier. Our timing was perfect, because the tide was really low and we could go out pretty far in the water—which is perfect for the kids. The water was really calm and warm and there was hardly anyone on the beach. We found lots of neat shells in the water too. This past weekend we went to the spot that is to the left of the Pier, between Rod & Reel and City Pier. This is the more populated side of the beach and it was pretty crowded. The water is a little deeper, but that’s great for the adults in the group. You can see the Sunshine State Skyway from both places, but this second spot gives a view of it and Egmont Key and Fort DeSoto. It’s pretty neat to see all these places in one spot. You can even see the glint of the light on the Egmont Key lighthouse as it slowly turns.  I wanted to take some pictures of this lovely spot but was afraid of losing the camera in the water.

The Rod & Reel has some great food, according to author Bruce Hunt (@BruceHuntImages). He’s taken some photos of the area and has some nice history and related places to visit in the area in his book, Visiting Small-Town Florida Third Edition. Next time I visit I need to go into some of the neat shops that you find along the way to the beach. I think it would be a great place to vacation as I saw many people on rented bikes and scooters.

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Filed under Beach, Bradenton, Family travel, Our Town, Sarasota, Travel