Classic Old South Florida Attractions

Florida has always been a great state to visit for the beaches and lovely modern attractions, but if you want to take a step back in time and see what things were like in the old days than try taking the family to these classic historic South Florida spots.  Take a step back in time and enjoy Florida's diverse past. We have chosen a few interesting, educational, or one-of-a-kind places that just say "Old Florida" to us.  Native South Floridian? See if you've visited them all or, if you have, take a ride down memory lane with the kids.

1. Coral Castle , Miami Dade

Have you ever marveled at the creation of stonehenge, wondering how on earth it was made so long ago? Did you know that there's a more recent construction mystery in Old South Florida that could boggle your mind ever more? The Coral Castle is a magnificently large structure built with almost 2.2 million pounds of local stone. It was built by one man over the span of around 28 years. The mystery is that many of the structures, furniture pieces, and other permanent fixtures around the premises are made from whole stone pieces. So how did one single man manage to create a two story building and other massive stone structures with functional, moving parts and incredible details all by himself? 

Unfortunately, while the tour guides onsite can tell you a lot about the history of the place, no one can say exactly how he did it. The man never disclosed his secrets and took them to the grave with him. All you can do is go an be awed by this truly inspiring piece of architecture and Florida history. 

2. History Tours, Palm Beach 

Taste History Culinary Tours will introduce you to South Florida's cultural history through it's food.  Enjoy stories of the first peoples to the area as you ride an air conditioned van around parts of Palm Beach county.  Learn of some of the cultural influences on the food of the area and taste some modern day eateries that help color our community today. 

Take the Ride and Remember tour around Delray Beach's historic neighborhoods and learn about some of the early settlers to the area. Hop on board a restored old fashioned trolley and get one of the best views of the Delray Beach area you can find. Don't worry, you won't be just sitting on a trolley seat for the whole adventure. There are plenty of "pit stops" around town that will allow you to see the sites up close and personally.  Among the stops are the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum and the Old School Square. You'll also be taken to a number of other historical places around the area that will help you get a real feel of what life used to be like in the town and how it came to be what it is now. Make sure to sign up early, because tours only happen one day per month! 

3. Flamingo Gardens, Broward 


Operating since 1927, the Flamingo Gardens is one of the oldest botanical gardens and nature reserves in Florida. It's certainly one of the most exciting with wonderful displays of wild, exotic Florida plant life and thrilling collections of some of the crazy wild animals you can find in the area. This includes alligators, bobcats, peacocks, eagles, and of course flamingos. If you want to see the predators in action, a special show revolving around them is given at the park. 

Among the various displays on the land are the butterfly gardens, the hummingbird gardens, Bromeliad gardens, and the Croton gardens. You can also see the large open-flight aviary that contains all manner of interesting water and land birds. After you've done your exploring or if you need to take a break, there are a lot of shops that sell old fashioned snacks and treats alongside cafes with delightfully tasty and filling offerings and a great view of some of your favorite Florida birds. 

4. Clarence Higgs Beach Park , Monroe


The real attraction of Higgs Beach Park is not just the gorgeous sunny beaches with all manner of fun activities, but it also draws crowds who want to see all the surrounding and onsite attractions. There are plenty of historical sites in and around the park which you can walk around and enjoy. The first, which everyone should go to see, is the Historical African Refugee Cemetery. This is the place where African refugees who were found deceased aboard slave ships have been honored with a special burial site. 

Those who want to see some old architecture at its best should walk over to Old Fort Martello, right on the beach, and walk along the corridors of this old defensive structure. You can learn a lot about the history of the place and how it used to be a central location for those who were fighting against pirates on the high seas. 

Once you've seen all there is to see around the area, spend some time hanging out at the beach park itself. Play some volleyball, tennis, pickleball, go swimming, or take your pet to the dog park there. Whatever your plan is, you're sure to have a good time here! 

5. Charles Deering Estate at Cutler , Miami Dade


There's always something going on at the Deering Estate. You can check online for specific festivals or activities which might interest you the most, but even the place itself is enough to have you entertained for the day. Between butterfly walks, the nature conservancy, and canoe tours you'll get plenty of time outside on the grounds. For indoor activities you can walk around the onsite museum and learn about the history of this particular location and its importance to Miami. There are also fossils in the museums here to help you hear about even older history from the location. 

During some months you'll be able to sign up for the special programs at the Deering Estate such as children's summer camps or in-residence artist programs. On occasion you can buy tickets to special concerts hosted on the grounds to enjoy some live music in a fun and lively atmosphere. Whatever it is that you like to do, there's something for everyone in the group to enjoy at the Deering Estate! 

6. Yesteryear Village, Palm Beach


Yesteryear Village in West Palm Beach is situated on the South Florida Fairgrounds property.  School groups and other organizations can schedule a time to come out and see what life was like for some of the First settlers to South Florida.  The Village comes alive with volunteers who demonstrate daily chores and how stores, the jail and more operated.  Families can take Spooky Tours in the Fall or enjoy Spookyville at  Yesteryear Village.  During the South Florida Fair in January, yesteryear village opens up with live music, games, and more for all to enjoy.

7.  Vizcaya, Miami Dade


Coconut Grove's historic gem is this Italian style Villa and gardens.  Gorgeous paths through the garden allow for vistas out across Biscayne Bay as well as several vignettes that serve as backdrops for that perfect photo.  Most popular now for wedding, sweet 16 and Quincinera photos, this historic building was originally the home to James Deering (half-brother to the owner of the Deering Estate at Cutler).  Local South Florida materials and native plants were used to create this masterpiece of gardens and 34-room Mansion.  Enjoy touring the home and then pick up a cafecito and pastels in the Cafe.

8. Flagler Museum, Palm Beach


The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum is a wonderful place to visit with the family and step back in time to the 1900s.  The kids LOVE that there is an actual train car inside and enjoy the soaring ceilings in the entry with the big fancy stairs.  Learn about Florida history through the exhibits on the 2nd floor and see how one of South Florida's most famous man lived. Explore the ornate 100,000 square foot home and take a moment to stroll along the Intracoastal waterway.  Henry M. Flagler was a key figure in the development of South Florida and is known as the Father of Miami as well as the founder of Palm Beach.  Wonderful family-friendly events take place at the museum including a tree ligting at Christmastime and an Egg Hunt at Easter.   Every June 5th the admission to the Museum is gratis for their Founder's Day event.

9. The Venetian Pool, Miami Dade


Pretend you are in the Roaring 20s enjoying your tropical vacation to beautiful Coral Gables.  While you fancy playing a role in the Great Gatsby, the kids will enjoy some good ole fashioned water play in this spring fed magnificent landmark. Grottoes and waterfalls as well as other archetectural features help to give the place an almost other-worldly feel.  This spot is best for older children as there are age and height minimums for entry.  Drive around Coral Gables and see modern day tropical oasises as well as historic homes.  Snap some photos in front of the stunning Biltmore Hotel

 

10. School House Children's Museum, Palm Beach


Milk a cow, take a barge downriver, buy tickets for the train and so much more!  Young children get to run the local store, cook in a kitchen, or practice being the postmaster inside a schoolhouse that dates back to the early 1900s in Boynton Beach.  Learn about the Barefoot Mailman, Pierce the Lighthouse tender or Dr. Weems.  Early settlers and families are showcased in the museum's exhibits.  Families can enjoy hours of fun exploring and interacting with history.  Afterwards, take the kids thru the adjacent Butterfly Garden or the Kids' Kingdom playground.  Many seasonal and monthly events take place in the amphitheater right next door.  Take home some library books from the new library just across the street.

Old South Florida is a wonderful place to go for adventures into the past. You'll be able to learn all sorts of things that you didn't know before about life in the old days, all the while seeing the places where historic and important events took place. Hop in the car and head down to a few of these sites around Old Florida for a day of fun you and your family won't soon forget!

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