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Historic Sites in Florida
In a state filled with so much beauty, take some time to appreciate its storied past. Soak in the Sunshine State's true heritage by visiting the best historic sites and landmarks that are not-to-be-missed.
As the oldest city in Florida, St. Augustine is chock-full of history and is filled with a multitude of historic attractions from days gone by. Stop at the Old Town complex and check out Gator Bob’s, the Florida Heritage Museum, the Fountain of Youth, Old St. Johns County Jail, and Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, just to name a few.
Over in the Florida Panhandle, discover Pensacola's rich Spanish heritage and explore some of the sites that put this city on the map. Visit Fort Barrancas, a historic U.S. military fort, which scenically overlooks the Pensacola Bay in the center of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Pensacola is also the home of its iconic lighthouse, Fort Pickens, the National Naval Aviation Museum, and Historic Pensacola Village, the perfect place to tour for a journey back in time.
Old Town St. Augustine
Chock-full of history and entertainment, Old Town St. Augustine serves as a hub for excellent tourism in St. Augustine. Visitor are invited to hop on the Old Town Trolley for a 70-minute narrated tour exploring over 500 years of St. Augustine history, with over 100 points of interest along the way.
It’s flexible, too – you can hop on and off the trolleys along the way; they come by every 15 to 20 minutes. At the Old Town complex, check out Gator Bob’s, the Florida Heritage Museum, the Historic Old Jail, and more northeastern Florida coast attractions.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine
Serving as the seat of the Catholic Bishop of St. Augustine, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine is located in St. Augustine, Florida. Recognized as a U.S. National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the cathedral was completed in 1797.
Numerous previous versions of the cathedral, dating back as early as the 1500s, stood in its northeastern Florida location before being brought down by weather, attacks, and fires.
Architecture enthusiasts visiting the Basilica will note the its striking Spanish Colonial and Renaissance Revival characteristics, including a bell tower containing what is thought to be one of the oldest church bells in the U.S.
Old St. Johns County Jail
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Old St. Johns County Jail, also known as St. Augustine's Authentic Old Jail, offers guests a glimpse of northeastern Florida's past. Take a guided tour throughout the jail's cells, maximum-security area, and gallows area.
Don't forget to visit the Old Jail Museum, which preserves the sheriff's living quarters, the prison's weaponry, and exhibits on the prisoners and their grisly stories. You'll also "meet" the famous historical Sheriff CJ Perry and be "processed" by costumed guides as a new prisoner.
Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center
Built in 1919, the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center is a refurbished event venue located in downtown Jacksonville. Given the convention center’s historical presence, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
The Prime Osborn features two large exhibition halls, several ballrooms, and a host of meeting rooms, all totaling over 260,000 square feet. The northeastern Florida entertainment staple still hosts plenty of unique events and expos.
Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood
Resembling a capitol-style building, the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood sits on Circle Drive on the shore of Lake DeFuniak. The first Florida Chautauqua convened on the banks of Lake DeFuniak in 1885; the building was constructed in 1910.
A 4,000-seat auditorium wing was destroyed in a 1975 hurricane; today, the Hall houses a branch of the Walton County Chamber of Commerce. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Hall of Brotherhood sits on Lake DeFuniak in DeFuniak Springs in the Florida Panhandle.
Originally built in 1787, Fort Barrancas is a historic U.S. millitary fort located in Pensacola in the Panhandle region. Given its historical significance, the fort, which scenically overlooks Penascola Bay, was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.
Long since out of service, Fort Barrancas is now open to the public as a visitors center of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Visitors may take tours of the fort, viewing brick structures, like the Water Battery, once used to protect the Penascola Navy Yard.
Walton County Courthouse
This lovely courthouse is part of the downtown historic district, along U.S. 90. In front of the courthouse is the first monument ever erected honoring Confederate soldiers; it was constructed in 1871 and moved to the courthouse grounds several decades later.
This Florida Panhandle landmark is open from Monday through Friday. Plan your next visit to DeFuniak Springs and the Panhandle and be sure to make a day of it with a tour of the Walton County Courthouse. You can make the drive it from nearby Fort Walton Beach, found just to the southwest.
Circle Drive Historic District
Circle Drive encircles Lake DeFuniak, one of only two nearly perfectly round spring-fed lakes in the world (the other is in Switzerland.) A loop on Circle Drive takes you past over 250 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the Florida Panhandle.
They include many lovely and historic homes, the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood, the cozy Walton-DeFuniak Library, and the Walton County Heritage Museum. Just to the north, across the railroad tracks, are blocks of shops in the historic downtown district.
Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College
Designed by Schultze & Weaver, then historic Freedom Tower is located in downtown Miami in southern Florida – set on Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus.
Both a U.S. National Historic Landmark and listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Freedom Tower was established in 1925 – then the Miami News headquarters.
Formerly the tallest building in both Miami and Florida from 1925 to 1928, Freedom Tower Miami Mural now commemorates Cuban American heritage.
The historic Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College is now home to the MDC Museum & Galleries of Art + Design – free of admission and featuring scheduled tours of the permanent collection and exhibits.
The Miami Dade College Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.
Koreshan State Historic Site
Found along the Tamiami Trial in the southwest Florida Gulf Coast, the Koreshan State Historic Site is premier attraction. From nearby Naples, visit this landmark historic site near which preserves the early 20th century colony of Koreshanity. It was a religion once established by Cyrus Reed Teed in 1894.
Today, the site welcomes visitors looking to fish, picnic, hike, and boat on and near the Estero River. The site is open from 8 a.m. to sundown, 365 days a year. The next time you plan a visit to the southwest gulf coast of Florida, be sure to make the most of your time with an adventure at Koreshan State Historic Site.