This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about the Sunshine State’s most famous historical sites. From St. Augustine to Key West, there’s something for everyone in this guide. So, sit back, relax and get ready to learn about Florida’s rich history!
Best Historic Landmarks in Florida
Florida is a state with fascinating history, and its plethora of historic landmarks brings that history to life. From the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in North America, St. Augustine, to the De Soto National Memorial, which celebrates one of the first Spanish explorers to traverse the coastline, there is something ancient around every corner. For a dose of nostalgia, be sure to visit the Castillo de San Marcos. Or, take a detour down memory lane at any one of the remaining eight Spanish colonial missions that stand along what’s known as El Camino Real (The Royal Road). There are even remains of pre-Columbian Indian sites. With so many amazing historic landmarks in this sunny state, you won’t want to miss out on exploring any of them. And although this would go against historically accurate standards, perhaps consider ignoring time for an hour or two!
Truman Little White House
Located in Key West, Florida, the Truman Little White House has a rich history that promises to engage visitors the moment they walk through its doors. As the name indicates, this was the winter White House of President Harry S. Truman — although it initially served as a command and control center for the U.S. Navy back in 1890. Since then, five other presidents have spent time here, although none quite captured people’s minds like Truman did. With multiple tours on offer, plus amenities such as a gift shop and a space for private events and weddings, there’s something for everyone at the Truman Little White House.
Ringling Museum of Art
With its historic charm and vibrantly colored exhibits, the Ringling Museum in Florida offers plenty of entertainment for anyone looking for an extraordinary experience. While there, marvel at the magnificent architecture, explore the galleries of world-class art and wander through the serene courtyards and terraces. Not to mention, with its lush gardens and extraordinary manor house, it’s almost like stepping into a piece of history. From classical pieces to contemporary works, there’s something here that everyone can appreciate!
While Miami may be known for its glittering nightlife and vibrant culture, the Kampong, a hidden treasure on the city’s north side, provides a refreshing contrast. Located in an unassuming corner of Coconut Grove, the National Tropical Botanical Garden features lush greenery and an abundance of rare plants — making it truly paradise-like. Visitors can take a stroll through one of eight distinct gardens and appreciate this tropical oasis away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Miami. While many have compared the Kampong to Eden itself, with its incredible biodiversity, it is packed with beauty that none of us should miss!
Key West Lighthouse
Take a look at the oldest lighthouse in Florida and one of the most beautiful, the Key West Lighthouse. Located in the historic Step Street district, just two blocks from the southernmost point in the U.S., this 19th-century lighthouse has been guiding ships near the Florida Reef since 1847. Standing at a tall 87 feet (26 meters) high, it is no surprise that the Key West Lighthouse is known to embrace both beauty and strength. Although tours are not offered every day, visitors can still marvel at its 180-year-old architecture as they enjoy a peaceful stroll around its manicured grounds.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is a nature lover’s paradise! Located just south of Miami, this beautiful park sprawls over 1,000 acres and is lined with stunning coastlines along the Atlantic Ocean. As you make your way down winding paths and through lush gardens, you may come across some incredible wildlife, such as ospreys, roseate spoonbills, or even American alligators. Whether you’re looking for an adventure or a quiet escape from everyday life, a visit to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park promises to be unforgettable.
Bonnet House Museum
Step inside the Bonnet House Museum and feel like you’ve been whisked away to a different time and place. Located right in the heart of the idyllic Fort Lauderdale Beach, this lush 35-acre estate has been an oasis of awe and wonder since 1895. Enjoy a guided tour around the traditionally styled main house, where past owners Frederic Bartlett and his artist wife Helen have left behind a treasury of trinkets, artifacts, oil paintings, murals and more pieces of their glorious past.
Fort Matanzas National Monument
Located near St. Augustine in Florida, Fort Matanzas National Monument is a special place that offers visitors an amazing glimpse into our nation’s history. It was built by the Spanish in 1742 to guard against any threats from the British to their newly established colonies. Take a free ferry across the river and explore its massive walls and barracks. There’s even a lookout area to view the large forts and other nearby attractions! Once inside the fort, you’ll be amazed at how well-preserved its structures are. Despite its military use, the Fort Matanzas National Monument remains a peaceful reminder of our country’s shared past, so make sure to add it to your travel itinerary!
Castillo de San Marcos
For a true blast from the past, be sure to check out the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine. Built in 1672 by the Spanish government, it has been a major feature of the city for centuries! It has seen the likes of three different national flags during its time — Spanish, British and American. Surely, there have been plenty of events inside those historic walls that could keep us talking for hours. Despite its grandeur, however, Castillo de San Marcos was built as a military fort, and you can still see evidence of this all around.
Bok Tower Gardens
Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, FL, is an awe-inspiring sight to behold! From its lush gardens and mesmerizing reflecting pools to its impressive 205-foot majesty, the garden captivates visitors from all walks of life. The iconic Singing Tower carillon has been playing for almost a century now and still continues to astound people with its one-of-a-kind melodies and chimes, not to mention its renowned bonsai display built on years of training and maintenance.
The Barnacle Historic State Park
The Barnacle Historic State Park is a hidden gem located off of Miami’s Biscayne Bay that you won’t want to miss! Originally acquired by Ralph Middleton Munroe in 1891, the 6.5-acre park showcases his former home, still featuring its original architecture. With plenty of flora and fauna unique to the area, this picturesque site is perfect for a leisurely outdoor stroll or museum exploration. Although modestly sized, the Barnacle Historic State Park packs an abundance of history and charm into every nook and cranny, awaiting your discovery.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Located in Miami, Florida, the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens offers beauty and brain food. This museum is a delight for the senses with its lush and colorful gardens, classic sculptures and mesmerizing Biscayne Bay views. The gardens are filled with over 500 species of plants from all over the globe, and visitors can wander through 14 acres of winding paths that are perfect for exploration and relaxation. Inside, between the ornate gold chandeliers and grand marble staircases stands an impressive collection of European antiques acquired during the early 20th century. There’s something for everyone: Art lovers can marvel at paintings from masters, such as Gainsborough and Tiepolo, while history buffs can listen to detailed accounts about Vizcaya’s fascinating past. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful escape or some activity-filled fun, the stunning grounds at Vizcaya have plenty to offer.
Florida is a state with a rich history, and there are plenty of landmarks that reflect that. From the Truman Little White House to the Ringling Museum, there are plenty of places to learn about the past. There are also beautiful outdoor spaces, such as Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and Bok Tower Gardens. If you’re interested in history and beauty, Florida is the place for you.
What are the best historical landmarks in Florida?
Florida has plenty of historic sites that will make your trip memorable. Whether it’s Castillo de San Marcos or the Barnacle Historic State Park, there is something for everyone to explore and to learn about the state’s past. Head to Bok Tower Gardens or Vizcaya Museum & Gardens for a bit of outdoor beauty. Florida has something for history buffs, art enthusiasts and nature lovers and is sure to leave an impression.
Which is the oldest historical landmark in Florida?
One of the oldest and most renowned historical landmarks in Florida is Castillo de San Marcos. The construction of this iconic structure was completed in 1695 and was erected to serve as a fort to protect St. Augustine from enemy attacks. The building still stands today as one of the few remaining Spanish-era structures in the United States. This stunning masonry star fort has withstood numerous sieges, survived a catastrophic hurricane and continues to stand as a testament to the history of Florida. Visitors can explore the grounds or take tours of the interior and learn about the fascinating history of this magnificent landmark.
What is the most beautiful historic landmark to visit in Florida?
One of the most beautiful historic landmarks to visit in Florida is Bok Tower Gardens. Located in Lake Wales, this stunning garden sanctuary offers breathtaking views and a variety of activities for all ages. Visitors can admire more than 50 species of birds that call Bok Tower home, explore miles of nature trails, take guided tours, and even witness the famous 205-foot Singing Tower carillon. The gardens also feature stunning landscaping and a number of different sculptures, making it the perfect place for visitors to relax and take in the beauty of nature.