Posted by: RasmaSandra | June 7, 2018

Georgia – Off the Beaten Path

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Cloudland Canyon State Park is located in Trenton. The Sitton Gulch Creek has carved a large gorge through the western edge of Lookout Mountain making the elevation between the highest and lowest points more than 1,000 feet. There are wonderful scenic views of rugged rock faces, ridges, valleys and waterfalls.

Hemlocks, dogwoods, holly, mountain laurel and rhododendrons fill the forests. For hikers and nature lovers there is the 4.7 mile Rim Loop Trail which leads through thickly wooded mountain terrain. Along the way, one can see cardinals, red-tailed hawks, barn owls and pileated woodpeckers. Grey foxes and white-tailed deer can often be seen and on occasion a bobcat. There are several picnic areas and a playground.

Among the activities to be enjoyed here are hiking, camping, swimming and even tennis. Accommodations include rustic cabins with fireplaces and screened porches, family camping areas and more remote primitive sites accessible only on foot.

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Dahlonega Courthouse Gold MuseumProspectors came rushing to this area when word spread that gold had been found here in Cherokee country in 1828. This led to the illegal annexation of much of the Indian’s ancestral land. In less than 10 years time more than $1.7 million in gold had been shipped to the Philadelphia Mint. One of the new districts created from Cherokee Territory was Lumpkin County. Dahlonega takes its name from a Cherokee word meaning “precious yellow” and it became the county seat. Today one can visit the handsome 1836 brick building which served for nearly 130 years as the courthouse.

The Lumpkin County Courthouse is the oldest courthouse in Georgia. Here one can see many interesting reminders of the quest for gold. Visitors are introduced to the region’s history by a short talk and a 12-minute slide show. Exhibits and paintings illustrate the sad fate of the Cherokees and show the methods used in gold mining. Among the many fascinating displays are gold nuggets and coins, a working miniature model of a stamp mill and a chart showing Georgia gold-production totals from 1832 to 1942.

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Traveler’s Rest is located east of Toccoa. In the early 1800s, the Tugaloo River Valley was inhabited by the Cherokee Indians. It became a busy crossroads for stagecoach and riverboat travellers. An enterprising local plantation owner Devereaux Jarrett bought a small wayside inn in 1833 and expanded it into a long, rambling structure with eight rooms on the ground floor and five more above. The building housed an inn, a store, a post office and a home for the Jarrett family.

It was also the headquarters of Jarrett’s 14,000-acre plantation.  It became known as the Traveler’s Rest and stayed in business until 1877 but it remained in possession of the Jarrett family until 1955. It has now been restored to its mid-19th-century appearance as a combined plantation hall and hostelry. It is panelled throughout with wide, unpainted pine planks and contains many original pieces including a roundtable with a Georgia marble top, a 1840s cherry plantation desk and a 1840s walnut corner cupboard. One can see the original second-floor post office and a common bedroom with a tin tub and two beds (each large enough for three guests). The outbuildings surrounded by white oaks and American holly include slave cabins and a loom house. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark on January 29, 1964.

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Etowah Mounds Historic Site – From 1000 A.D. to 1500 A.D. the Etowah Indians lived on this 54-acre site. Here along the river that is in their name, the Indians built a village with two public squares or plazas, three great earthen mounds with flat platform tops and several lesser mounds. The plazas were used as gathering places for the villagers and other Indians who came for commerce, important festivals and burial ceremonies. The largest of the mounds (63 feet high, with a platform a ½ acre in extent) is thought to have been a temple as well as the priest ruler’s residence. Excavations of one of the smaller mounds revealed the burials of more than 500 of the tribal elite.

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Today the plazas are overgrown with grasses and the great mounds loom over them in silence. One can see traces of the moat and the borrow pits from which earth was taken to construct the mounds. Climbing atop of the highest mound you can see on the eastern horizon a deep notch in the Allatoona Mountain range. When the summer solstice (about June 22nd) arrives the sun rises through this notch, a phenomenon that may have figured in Etowah rituals. Near the entrance of the site is the Etowah Archaeological Museum which displays artefacts, slides, and a diorama depicting the life of the Etowah.

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Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton is where the fabulous characters from the Uncle Remus stories were born – Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Sis Goose and others. The author Joel Chandler Harris was born in Eatonton and the slaves “Uncle” George Terrell and “Uncle” Bob Capers worked on Joseph Addison Turner’s plantation. Turner was a lawyer, a scholar and the publisher of a small newspaper. He gave Harris his first job at the age of 13. The museum is housed in two connected slave cabins. In these simple log structures the world of tar-baby, the laughing place and the brier patch are brought to life by dioramas and other exhibits.

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Colourful scenes in each of the windows depict the countryside of a southern plantation during the antebellum days. A replica of Uncle Remus’s fireplace is at one end of the cabin and around it are displayed the various 19th-century household articles mentioned in the tales. Against one wall of the cabin hangs a large portrait of Uncle Remus and Joseph Sydney Turner, the Little Boy in the stories and the son of Joseph Addison Turner. The first editions of many of Harris’s works, including his stories of the Old South and the Reconstruction days are on display and copies of his and other children’s books are on sale.

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Providence Canyon State Park is a scenic 200-acre canyon area (massive gullies as deep as 150 feet were caused by poor farming practices during the 1800s) which is dominated by the 1,208-acre park. Here wild plants and shrubs grow including the rare Plumleaf Azalea whose flowers range in color from orange to various shades of red. It blooms from July to September. Other indigenous plants include verbena, maypop, wild ginger, and prickly pear.

There is a two-mile trail called the Canyon Rim Trail which has 20 overlooks. It winds past clumps of sumac and stands of hickories and slash pines. One may see racoons and opossums and hawks circling overhead. The park also offers picnic groves, two short trails leading to the canyon floor and an eight-mile backpacking trail. Camping and cottages are available at nearby Florence Marina State Park on beautiful Lake Walter F. George.

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Seminole State Park was named for the Indians that lived in the region before settlers came. This 300-acre park is known for its water sports – boating, water skiing, canoeing and swimming. The main feature here is Seminole Lake which is a favorite with fishermen. The lakes shallow waters contain more species of fish than any other lake in Georgia. It is reputed to have the best largemouth bass fishing in the U.S. Other fish to be caught here are crappies, jack, bream, catfish, and yellow perch. Along the lakefront one can find picnic tables some beneath shelters.

You can also view the lake from rented cottages, tent and trailer campgrounds which are shaded by longleaf pines, poplars, sweet gums and cedars. Pioneer camping is available in the more remote areas of the park where the blooming of dogwoods and wild blackberries signal the arrival of spring. Bird watchers can view several species of large hawks and the gopher tortoise which is an endangered species can also be found here. Observant visitors may also see alligators, osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife.

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Cumberland Island National Seashore – This historic sandpit which is the southernmost of Georgia’s sea islands has been inhabited for some 4,000 years. To help protect their holdings in Florida the Spaniards built a fort here in the 16th century. A Franciscan mission was established and many Timucan Indians were converted. The Spanish called the island San Pedro. In the 18th century, an Indian who had visited the Duke of Cumberland in England suggested changing the name of the island in honor of him. This small island, about 18 miles long and 4 miles at the widest point supports a fascinating range of ecological zones, each with its own population of plants, birds, and animals.

The beach is great for swimming and is frequented by shorebirds that follow the tides. The grasses and the sand are stabilized by sea oats and low-growing plants carpet the meadows between the dunes. At the place where the soil is the deepest a maritime forest of oaks, magnolias, red bay, and various pines has been established and a salt marsh sanctuary on the estuary side supports its own waving sea of cordgrass. The sloughs and ponds are home to alligators, otters, and minks. Wild horses may also be seen. The island has walking trails and camps for backpackers. There is a museum displaying Indian artefacts and interprets the history of the island.


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Posted by: RasmaSandra | June 5, 2018

Amazing Atlanta


Atlanta is the capital of the U.S. state of Georgia. It played an important role in both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The city had the honor to host the 1996 Olympics.

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The World of Coca-Cola is a fun museum that lets you take a look at Coca-Cola all through the years. You’ll learn about how it was developed and see lots of memorabilia and Coca-Cola artifacts. There is a 4D theater that celebrates the experiences of people with Coca-Cola all over the world.

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The Georgia Aquarium is home to 120,000 marine animals including California sea lions and dolphins.

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The marine animals have ten million gallons of water to swim in. You can see rare albino alligators and watch trainers interact with the California sea lions. Visitors can even dive or snorkel in a tank with sharks. To participate you must have a SCUBA diving certification. There is an impressive acrylic tunnel to walk through and view fish all around you. The aquarium also has a 4D theater, a restaurant and offers “behind the sea” tours about how the aquarium operates.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site celebrates the life and achievements of well-known civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. This national historic monument takes up several blocks just east of downtown Atlanta.

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There is a visitors center which offers information and a map of the site. There are exhibits that focus on racial segregation and violence that occurred in America and were the basis of King’s work.

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The High Museum is an impressive modern building and is known for its world-leading art exhibitions. It was designed by architect Richard Meier and enlarged with three new buildings designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. It is known for its artwork by 19th-century French artists and there’s an extensive collection of 19th and 20th-century American art. Visitors can also delight in European paintings, decorative art, modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The museum also hosts an annual film series that features foreign, independent and classic cinema.

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The Centennial Olympic Park was built for the 1996 Summer Olympics hosted by Atlanta. It is now a popular public park

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The highlight of the park is the Fountain of Rings. Four times during each day the amazing water feature “plays”.

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The Center for Civil and Human Rights was added to the park in 2014. It pays tribute to both the American Civil Rights and human rights movements all over the world. One memorable part of the museum shows a powerful simulation of what being a protestor at the Woolworth’s Lunch Counter was like in the 1960s.

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Next, to the park, you’ll find The Children’s Museum of Atlanta. This is a museum built as a “museum without walls” and takes up 30,000 square feet of space. Children love it and there are different interactive exhibits.

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College Football Hall of Fame features college football which is a vital part of American culture. It has three floors, lots to see and an interactive experience based on which team you support and an attempt to kick a 20-yard field goal.

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The Fox Theater in Midtown is both an iconic landmark and a venue for the performing arts. It offers entertainment like operas, ballet, rock concerts and movies. It was built in the 1920s as the Yaarab Temple Shrine Mosque with an Arabian-themed design. It has a prominent place on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Inside the 1929 appearance has been preserved.

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The theater also has two ballrooms – the Egyptian Ballroom and the Grand Salon. Both are available for special events. Visitors can get a tour of the theater, exploring ten different locations including the orchestra pit and the largest working organ of its kind in the world.

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Stone Mountain Park is one of the most popular places to visit near Atlanta. It is located 16 miles east of the city center in DeKalb County. At the heart of the park is an 863-foot-high mass of exposed granite with a circumference of five miles.

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On the east side of the hill is a relief of the three Confederate leaders – President Jefferson Davis and his two generals, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Visitors can climb to the top of the hill or take a cable car. Around the hill runs a 1940s locomotive on a five-mile circuit through the park. You can enjoy endurance courses of suspended rope walks and bridges through the treetops, a petting farm for small children, a land/lake tour on a 1940s Army DUKW that includes some local history, a restored antebellum plantation and a museum with Native American artifacts and exhibits.

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The CNN Center is the headquarters of CNN. There are several news programs filmed in the building. The best thing here is the studio tour which lets visitors see how news is broadcast and meet some of the stars of the morning news broadcasts. You’ll find the world’s largest and longest freestanding escalator here with a model of the earth at the top.

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In the center of the city is Grant Park which is home to Zoo Atlanta with tigers, elephants, and flamingos.

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Its most popular residents are the panda cubs. A huge mural on the southern edge of the park depicts the Battle of Atlanta.


The Turner Field Baseball Stadium is an iconic landmark and home of the Atlanta Braves. It opened in 1997 and is one of the most state-of-the-art baseball stadiums in the U.S. Tours are available.

The Atlanta History Center is located in the historic area of Buckhead. It portrays the history of the city.

This large complex includes:

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The Atlanta History Museum,

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the Centennial Olympic Games Museum, Swan House, Smith Family Farm and the Kenan Research Center as well as a number of historic gardens.

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Swan House is the former home of Emily and Edward Inman. This mansion was built in the neo-Classical style and is one of the finest period homes in the city. There is a double stairway leading up to the house, separated by a cascading water feature. This is an open house with costumed performers.

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Nearby is the Margaret Mitchell House with the apartment where Mitchell wrote “Gone With the Wind”. Guided tours include a look at this room and a brief film and exhibition on Mitchell.

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There are six historic gardens. The Frank A. Smith Rhododendron Garden is the loveliest in the spring when rhododendrons and azaleas bloom.

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There is also the Tullie Smith Farm with a 1860s-style garden.

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The Botanical Gardens include formal flower beds and majestic trees. Some of the highlights here are the Orchid Display House, the Winter Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Conservation Garden and the Desert House.

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Two of the major specialties are the Rose Garden and the hydrangeas. There is a special garden for children and an elevated boardwalk that gives visitors tree-top views of the forest below.  You can see tortoises and frogs in natural environments.

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The First Ebenezer Baptist Church is the church where Martin Luther King Jr. was the pastor as well as his father and grandfather before him. This is also the church where his mother was murdered by a gunman as she sat at the organ. It has been preserved in the style of the 1960s.

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The New Ebenezer Church just across the street holds Sunday services.


The Carter Center features the history of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. There is a Japanese style garden with butterflies.

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The Oakland Cemetery is located about a mile from downtown Atlanta. It is the final resting place of some of the city’s most important residents. Tours are available on the weekends.

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You can find the final resting places of Bobby Jones and Margaret Mitchell. The cemetery was declared a National Historic Landmark. There is also parkland with gardens, sculptures, and wildlife. Here you’ll also find a Visitor Center and Museum shop.

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Piedmont Park is the oldest and largest park in the Atlanta metro area. The grounds were the site of the Battle at Peachtree Creek during the Civil War.

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In the park, you can find walking and running trails as well as off-leash dog parks, gardens, sports fields, a lake with a fishing pier, playgrounds for children, a swimming pool at the Piedmont Park Aquatic Center and a splash pad for children at the Legacy Fountain.

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On Saturdays, local farmers and artisans gather for the Green Market where you can purchase almost anything. From 11 AM to noon are chef demonstrations. On Saturday mornings from April through November there are free guided walking tours available and on the first Saturday of every month special bird walks, exploring the many different habitats in the park. The park plays host to different events, from musical entertainment to fitness programs.

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Varsity is a modern-day Atlanta icon. It is a fast food chain serving classic American food like burgers and hot dogs.

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The flagship restaurant in downtown is the largest drive-in burger joint in the country and has room for 600 cars. It is most popular with the students at Georgia Tech especially when football games are held.

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Six Flags Over Georgia is a Six Flags theme park. It is the most popular family attraction in Atlanta. In 2016 a virtual reality rollercoaster was added. There are thrill rides like Superman: Ultimate Flight and the Great American Scream Machine.

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The Museum of Design is the only museum in the southwest of the U.S. dedicated to the appreciation and history of design. Exhibits change regularly. Children enjoy the Lego workshops that teach the fundamentals of design.

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The Center for Puppetry is one of the few museums dedicated to the puppetry art.

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The museum teaches visitors about the beginnings of puppetry through interactive exhibits and shows them how entertaining puppet shows can be.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | June 1, 2018

Spectacular Savannah

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Our armchair travels have taken us from the U.S. state of Florida to Georgia which is just above Florida. Our first stop will be the coastal city of Savannah which is separated from the state of South Carolina by the Savannah River. Georgia is a southeastern state.

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Forsyth Park is a lovely green and lush landscape. There are 30 acres of flowers, foliage, and trees. You can have a relaxing time, catch open-air concerts and find a farmer’s market every Saturday.

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The most well-known feature in the park is the large fountain located at the north end. It was built in 1858. There are benches all around the fountain and on St. Patrick’s Day the fountain spurts green water.


The is the Confederate Monument in the center of Forsyth Park. It is a large ornate column with a bronze soldier on top. It is dedicated to all the men who fought on behalf of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

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The City Market is fantastic to see with four blocks of open-air shopping. It is surrounded by restored warehouses in which you can also find shops, art and even dining. It is a great place to sit and watch people going by. In the evening the bars can get lively here.

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The Owens-Thomas House is an impressive example of English Regency architecture. It was built in 1819 by a Bermuda merchant and late purchase by a congressman.

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Today it is a National Historic Landmark. There is also a carriage house, the parterre garden and one of the earliest urban slave quarters.

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Telfair Museum of Art is the oldest art museum in the South. It has found its home in a classical Regency mansion that was designed by an English architect and purchased by the son of the Georgian government. It was completed in 1819. There was a sculpture gallery and a rotunda added to it. Visitors can see the restored interior rooms, paintings from German Impressionists and American French period furniture. The museum is also home to the largest public collection of paintings by Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist.

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The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is referred to as the most impressive building in Savannah. It has towering spires and stained glass.

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You can attend a religious mass or enjoy a guided or self-guided tour. The cathedral was built in 1876 and after a fire, it was rebuilt.

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The Historic Savannah Theater is the oldest continually operating theater in the U.S. It was built in 1818.

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It sits on Chippewa Square. It offers nightly shows.

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Right outside of the theater is the bench where several scenes of the movie “Forrest Gump” were filmed.

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Wormsloe Historic Site is so lovely with mossy oak trees hanging over a beautiful lane.

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There is a wonderful avenue lined with oaks and Spanish moss that leads up to the ruins of Wormsloe, a colonial estate. This is the oldest standing structure in Savannah.

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You can visit the museum with colonials artifacts and hike the nature trail that takes you through the ruins, to a march, and around the grounds. There are guided tours available.

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The Savannah Waterfront stretches along the Savannah River. You can walk the cobblestone streets and check out the businesses in the warehouses right on the river. You can find it all here – shopping, dining, drinking, and galleries.

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The Wilkes House offers the finest in Southern cooking. On the menu, you can find food like fried chicken, sweet potatoes, okra, gumbo, cornbread and biscuits and so much more. The menu changes daily. The seating here is family-style where everyone pays a flat price for dining.

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The Bonaventure Cemetery with ghostly Spanish moss and some Southern ghosts can take you on a real adventure. This is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. You can take a tour or just wander about. You can get a free guided tour on the second Sunday of each month.

Among the famous graves are:

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Johnny Mercer (1909 – 1976) who was the founder of Capitol Records.

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Poet Conrad Aiken 

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The grave of Little Gracie Watson is perhaps the most famous grave in Bonaventure Cemetery is that of Little Gracie Watson a little girl who died of pneumonia in 1889. She was popular with people because her father managed the famous Pulaski Hotel at that time and she was adored by all.

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Old Fort Jackson is the oldest standing brick fort in Georgia. It was built in 1808 and attracts 50,000 visitors every year. The fort was named after a Georgian governor who freed Savannah from British rule.

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There were additions made to the fort during the War of 1812. There are self-guided tours available and from the top, you can get spectacular views of the Savannah River.

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Fort Pulaskee National Monument was built in the 1800s and stands on an island in the Savannah River, between Savannah and Tybee Island. It was the first Confederate masonry fort to fall under Union cannon fire, marking a turning point in military history. There are trails like the North Pier Trail to explore. The trail goes through the original construction building an passes a 19th-century battery.

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There is a lighthouse, a historic dike system, bike paths and much more.

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Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is a house museum that was created especially for girls and celebrates the woman who founded the American Girl Scouts.

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Low was born in this house which now belongs to the Girl Scouts of the U.S. She established the Girl Scouts in 1912. There are 45-minute guided tours available.

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The University of Georgia Aquarium is a marine education center and aquarium on Skidaway Island. Here you will find exhibits on the marine animals that live nearest the state. You can also see wooly mammoths and mastodons, ancient creatures once living in this area.

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The Mercer-Williams House was once the home of lyricist Johnny Mercer. It was also once the home of Jim Williams who found fame among the pages of the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt. He is the only person in the state of Georgia who was tried four times for the same crime. It was a grisly murder that occurred in this very house. You can explore the house with furnishings dating back to the 1700s but you cannot see the murder site.

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The Andrew Low House was built in 1848 and features an Italianate exterior.

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This was the family home of Juliette Gordon Low. After Low died it was purchased by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America

Tri-centennial Park is where you can find three different museums.

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The Savannah History Museum and Battlefield Memorial Park

The history museum offers a self-guided introduction to the economic and cultural history of Savannah from the pre-Colonial period to the present day.

The Battlefield Memorial Park is a memorial to the hundreds of soldiers who fought and died for freedom On October 9, 1779, over 8,000 troops of three armies fought during the Revolutionary War Battle in Savannah. It was the second bloodiest battle of the war and about 8,000 troops died or were wounded.

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The Georgia State Railroad Museum is thought to be the largest and most complete Antebellum railroad repair facility still in existence in the world. Visitors can walk about the ground and learn the function of each building. You can also take part in scheduled activities such as a train ride, rail car tours, the hand car and children’s activities in the Baggage Car.

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The Savannah Children’s Museum is an entirely outdoor museum that features many programs and exhibits specially designed for the imagination of children among them an exploration maze, reading nook and sensory garden.

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Leopold’s Ice Cream is a little ice cream shop that has remained the same since 1919. It was opened by Hollywood producer Stratton Leopold.

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The ice cream is made on site with fantastic ingredients and recipes passed down through the generations. Its signature flavor is Tutti-Frutti.

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The Olde Pink House Restaurant offers a lovely setting with chandeliers, 18th-century architecture and a beautiful dining room fireplace. The cuisine is Southern. It also has some ghostly visitors. It is one of the oldest and most haunted buildings in Savannah.

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Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum has found its home in the house of the man who owned the very first steamship to successfully cross the Atlantic Ocean. It has one of the largest gardens in the Savannah historic district. The museum was founded in 1966 and exhibits ship models, paintings and maritime antiques most from the great era of Atlantic trade and travel between America and England in the 18th and 19th centuries. The house was built for William Scarbrough, one of the principal owners of the Steamship Savannah and president of the Savannah Steamship Company. The lush gardens are available for weddings and corporate events.

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Colonial Park Cemetery dates from 1750 and has many graves from some of the very first colonists.

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There are also graves of those who died from the yellow-fever epidemic. It has become the place for ghost hunting after dark.

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Fort McAllister State Park is famous for sustaining many attacks during the Civil War. It finally fell under General Sherman. You can camp on site if you like. See the museum with many Civil War artifacts and enjoy the nearby wetland wildlife.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | May 30, 2018

Florida Off the Beaten Path

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Blackwater River State Park is one of the few remaining sand-bottom rivers in the Southeast and even though its water is tannin-stained it is one of the cleanest. It is located in Holt, Florida. The park offers both canoeing and swimming and has fine sand beaches. There are nature trails which wind through more than 600 acres, a boardwalk across a swamp and a picnic area. The ecological systems here include the river floodplain with swamps, sand levees, and small lakes. In the woods, one can see white-tailed deer and turkeys.

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The river otter roams the floodplain. One of the largest and oldest Atlantic white cedars stands among the other trees that line the river.

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You’ll find the Paynes Prairie State Preserve in Micanopy. It was named in honor of the Seminole Indian King Payne who was killed in a battle with American settlers near the Georgia border in 1812. In 1970 the state purchased some 18,000 acres to make a habitat for wildlife.

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A panoramic view can be enjoyed from a 50-foot observation tower. Birding is superb here and at the visitor’s center, one can get a list of the 215 species making their home at the preserve. There is a recreation area at Lake Wauberg and Sawgrass Pond that is popular for picnicking, swimming, boating, and fishing.

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The preserve also has several miles of riding trails and a corral.

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Buffalo and other wildlife can be seen and there are guided observation walks available.

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Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Historic Site – Marjorie Rawlings came to live in Cross Creek in 1928. At that time she was an unknown writer and lived in poverty. Seven years later she sold her first story and her reputation started growing.

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Finally, she wrote her most famous work “The Yearling” which won a Pulitzer Prize. Her home is a typical Cracker homestead which is designed for optimum cross-ventilation. The house consists of three clapboard units which are connected by porches and shaded by wide overhangs. The home is surrounded by orange trees and magnolia. In 2007 Rawlings house and farmyard was designated as a National Historic Landmark, in 2008 the United States Postal Service released a commemorative stamp honoring her and Marjorie Rawlings was honored as a First Floridian by Governor Charlie Crist in March 2009.

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Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore – Merritt Island was inhabited by Indians since about 7,000 B.C. This refuge shares a border with the John F. Kennedy Space Center.

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There are 13 miles of unspoiled golden sand between Apollo and Palyalinda Beaches. One can hike and take the time to swim and gather seashells. One can also shellfish, and surf cast for pompano, bluefish and other species. Boating, canoeing, and fishing can be enjoyed at the adjacent Mosquito Lagoon. The refuge has two nature drives which can be explored by car and on foot two short hiking trails. There are 250 bird species to be observed. Birds such as great blue and green herons, snowy egrets and the rare anhingas and black skimmers can be seen here. There are also 19 endangered species most notably the southern bald eagle and the brown pelican.

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Offshore one can occasionally see porpoises, manatees, and whales. The Canaveral information center offers a slide show on the history of this tidal area and the wildlife it supports.

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Fort Foster Historic Site is located south of Zephyrhills in Florida. The log fort and the wooden bridge that spans the Hillsborough River are reconstructions of the originals that were built here in 1836 during the Second Seminole War which is said to be the most costly Indian War in United States history. The fort was meant to safeguard the bridge along Fort King Military Road from Tampa Bay to what is now Ocala. The frontier bastion remained garrisoned until June 1838 and during its last few months was in the command of General Zachary Taylor who was later to become the 12th U.S. president. The fort may be visited only by one of the tours leaving hourly on weekends from adjacent Hillsborough River State Park.

A quarter-mile trip by van from the park’s visitor center takes one to a shelter 900 feet from the site. Then visitors continue on foot along the old Fort King Military Road to the fort. Rangers in the uniforms of those 2nd Artillery soldiers who manned the fort in 1837 explain the events of that time and the life of the artillerymen posted here.

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Hillsborough River State Park is noted for its beautiful scenery and flanks 10 miles of riverfront.

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There are some 3,000 acres of hardwood, hammocks, pine flat woods and marsh.

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The river and its rapids attract fishermen, who catch bass, catfish, garfish and other game fish. The park also has a swimming pond, a network of trails and canoe rentals.

Elliott Museum and Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge is located on Hutchinson Island, Stuart.

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At the Elliott Museum, one can see replicas of 19th-century shops – an ice cream parlor, tobacco and apothecary shops, a shoe store, a millinery, and a combination general store and post office complete with display items and original fixtures. Children will be fascinated by an elaborate four-ring toy circus with animals, performers and spectators, and a furnished dollhouse of the Revolutionary War period. Some of the other hundreds of items to be admired are model trains, lead soldiers, a collection of clocks and watches, classic automobiles, glassware and Indian artifacts. These exhibits reflect the interests of Harmon P. Elliot who built the museum in memory of his father, Sterling. Both father and son were prolific inventors and between them, they obtained more than 220 patents. One of the more intriguing innovations to see is the father’s knot-tying machine which was patented in 1881.

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Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge was named for the pirate Don Pedro Gilbert. It opened in 1876 and served until 1945 as a way station for seamen shipwrecked off the treacherous coastline here. It has been completely restored and is included in The National Register of Historic Places. The clapboard house contains some fine Victorian furniture and an array of antique nautical equipment, woodworking tools, and memorabilia. On display are such lifesaving devices as a Lyle gun, used to fire lines from shore to ship, and a breeches buoy.

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Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples includes over 11,000 acres of wilderness. There are pine flat woods, wet prairie, swampland, and typical hardwood hammocks. Native plants can be enjoyed on foot along a beautiful 1 ¾ mile long boardwalk overhung by Spanish moss. It is the home of the nation’s largest surviving stand of virgin bald cypress trees many of which are about 700 years old. One can see lettuce lakes, cypress knees, floating russocks, water hemlock, ropes of the strangler fig, ferns and lilies, brilliant hibiscus, royal palms and various epiphytes (plants such as the tree-growing butterfly, cigar and clamshell orchids that grow on other plants).

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Among the birds seen here are cardinals, red-shouldered hawks and rare birds known as limpkins and the country’s largest colony of wood storks. There are also alligators, Florida water snakes, mosquito fish, and turtles. At the visitor’s center on display are photos of the wildlife found in the swamp and a diorama of the ecological profile of a swamp. The sanctuary is managed by the National Audubon Society.

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Biscayne National Park is an oceanic expanse of 175,000 acres encompasses the keys and living coral reefs of southern Biscayne Bay. It is one of the largest marine preserves in the United States. Waters here are turquoise and crystal clear. They are great for fishing, boating, snorkeling, scuba diving and marine gazing in general. The best way to explore the park is by boat. Visitors can launch their own at Convoy Point, the mainland information center or take a tour. One can take a 1 ½ hour excursion in a glass-bottom boat along the mangrove-fringed shoreline. It gives a colorful view of the grassy seabeds and the shrimp, lobster, green turtles, sponges and exotic tropical fish lurking along the bottom.

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Visitors can also take an excursion on a 50-foot excursion boat to Elliott Key seven miles offshore. Here one can find a small swimming beach on the ocean side and get a chance to snorkel or dive around coral reefs. There is a boardwalk on a 1 ½ mile nature trail through a hardwood hammock. The visitor center on Elliot Key presents programs on the ecosystem of the wetlands and the plants and wildlife inhabiting them. At Convoy Information Center visitors are familiarized with the local coral, sponges, and shellfish. Along the shore are picnic tables with grills beside tree-high sea grapes and mahogany trees. Here you can watch brown pelicans, double-crested cormorants, white and blue herons, terns and gulls. The fish most often caught are bluefish, pompano, striped bass, and groupers. One can also catch blue crabs and crayfish. Lobstering is not permitted because this preserve is a sanctuary for this shellfish.

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Flamingo Area Everglades National Park – Flamingo on the shore of Florida Bay is the center for sightseeing in the southern sector of the primeval Everglades. Visitors can choose foot trails, canoe trails or privately operated cruises. There are four walking trails.

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The most popular is Snake Bight Trail along which one can go on foot or ride the wilderness tram which starts near the park ranger station. There are some 345 bird species and nearly 100 kinds of butterflies including such rarities as the dingy purple wings, least Florida skippers, mimics and byssus skippers.

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The park is also host to Seminole bats, nine-banded armadillos, black bears, Everglade minks, and bobcats. On the Rowdy Bend, Bear Lake and Christian Point trails one can see other facets of this unique ecological system. Four cruises go along the local waterways, three of them along scenic Florida Bay. At low tide, you can expect to see brown pelicans, egrets, great blue herons, and other large birds looking along the shoreline for food. For those who are interested in seeing the inland waterways and plant life there is a pontoon boat that goes into the Everglade wilderness. Any of the five different trails can be taken by canoe. There is even a 100-mile Wilderness Waterway which takes one through the backcountry between Everglade City and Flamingo. Canoes, skiffs, outboard motors, pontoon boats, bicycles and fishing gear may all be rented.


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Posted by: RasmaSandra | May 28, 2018

Fantastic Florida


The U.S. state of Florida has much to offer tourists. We will take a look at some of the tourist attractions.

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One of the most popular of all the tourist attractions in Florida is Walt Disney World. It offers much joy to both children and adults. There are many things to do and see among them thrill rides like Space Mountain.

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Children enjoy the Disney characters roaming about the park. It opened on October 1, 1971, This is a very large property that includes four theme parks, two water parks, twenty-seven themed resort hotels, nine non-Disney hotels, several golf courses and other entertainment venues.

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Universal Studios or Universal Orlando in Orlando is a working movie and TV studio as well as being one of the most popular amusement parks in the U.S. There are a wide range of rides and adventures to be had.

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There are two theme parks, a water park, a nighttime entertainment complex and six Loews Hotels. The park hosts a large selection of live entertainment, shopping, and restaurants.

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Kennedy Space Center has been the site for the most important space shuttle launches in American history. Visitors can take a bus around the vast complex and visit the different displays and exhibitions in the  Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center. There are tickets available for the viewing of certain rocket launches.

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Busch Gardens in Tampa is an animal theme park with many thrill rides like the roller coaster Cobra’s Curse and SheiKra, a floorless roller coaster with a 200-foot vertical drop. Besides exciting rides, this is the place where you can also see many different animals and birds.

The Bird Gardens has many tropical birds from around the world among them parrots and flamingos. The Walkabout Way is like an Australian outpost and you can see and hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies. There are kookaburras, magpies, black swans and frogmouths. You can see lorikeets at the Lory Landing.

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At Edge of Africa, you can see a Nile crocodile named Sobek, meerkats, two prides of lions, a pack of spotted hyenas, two hippos named Moyo and Kita, vultures and lemurs.

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The Serengeti Plain offers you the Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, addax, white rhinoceros, eland, impala, ostrich and marabou stork. In a secluded area, you’ll find a black rhinoceros named Jodi.

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Miami Beach is located on an island that is linked to mainland Florida by a series of bridges. Its beach is famous for golden sand and art deco beachside buildings. Along Ocean Drive, you’ll find hotels and restaurants.

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The Daytona 500 Race is legendary and looked at as one of the most important in the NASCAR cup series. It is held at the Daytona National Speedway and starts off the racing season in February.

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The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg is housed in a building resembling a glass sphere. Here you can find a fascinating collection of artwork by Dali and you can take a look at his life.

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St. Augustine’s Historic District is one of the oldest settlements in Florida. Here you can see some impressive architecture and interesting historic sites.  It is home to the oldest masonry fort in North America, the Castillo de San Marcos.

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There is also the 19th century Flagler College. The site was built in the 19th century and is well-preserved.

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Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami has found its home on the former estate of wealthy businessman James Deering. Here you can see more than 2,500 pieces of art and there are ten acres of formal gardens.

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More than 200,000 visitors come here every year. It has served as a diplomatic seat in the past playing host to visitors like the King of Spain and Queen of Great Britain.

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Gatorland south of Orlando offers thrills to visitors viewing hundreds of crocodiles and alligators.

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There are feeding shows. The reptiles provide great entertainment just by being themselves.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | May 25, 2018

Terrific Tallahassee



Tallahassee is the capital of Florida.

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Tallahassee Museum of History & Natural Science consists of 52 acres of manicured gardens and wilderness and is located on the outskirts of the city.

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The museum offers living exhibits of flora and fauna native to Florida.

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Here you can see the rare Florida panther and red wolf and the otters have found a new home.

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Mission San Luis is a mission that once was home to Spanish colonists and the Appalachian tribespeople. The compound includes the soaring Council House. Tours are available. There are costumed interpreters. You can get an idea of how life was 300 years ago.

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Knott House Museum has found its home in a white-columned 1843 house. During the Civil War, it was occupied by the Confederates and later Union troops before the Emancipation Proclamation was read here in 1865. Free tours are available.

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Florida State Capitol is most impressive rising up 22-stories. At the top floor is an observation deck from which you can get 360-degree views of the city.

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Florida Historic Capitol Museum has made its home in the former Florida capitol building dating from 1902. It is a political museum that includes a restored House of Representatives chamber and governor’s reception area. There are many portraits and exhibits on immigration, state development, and the infamous 2000 U.S. presidential election.

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The Florida State University is a liberal arts school with over 35,000 undergraduate and graduate students. There are free campus tours.

Lake Ella and Fred Drake Park

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Lake Ella is situated right in the center of the Fred Drake Park.

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Here you can enjoy fountains, shaded picnic areas and walking trails. You can walk, bike or skate. There are ducks, geese, and turtles.

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The Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is a lovely botanical garden. This is a U.S. Historic District named the Killearn Plantation Archeological and Historic District. There are many historic buildings and the park was first opened to the public in 1823.

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You can see lovely flora and fauna including azaleas and camellias. There are Japanese maples and dogwoods. You can enjoy walking, cycling, hiking, and fishing.

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The Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park is located on the south shore of Lake Jackson. This park has an archaeological significance in the area. The mounds are thought to date from 1950 to 1500 A.D. Two of the mounds can be visited and are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

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The park has many wonderful walking trails and you can enjoy the lovely Florida landscape.

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The St. Marks Wildlife Refuge opened in 1931 and is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the U.S. It stretches for 68,000 acres with plant life from the Gulf of Mexico area and marshlands, inlets, creeks, and estuaries.

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Among the wildlife making their home here are coyotes, bobcats, and black bears. If you like you can also go fishing and boating. All through the refuge are hiking trails and if you like you can go cycling.

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St. Marks Lighthouse dates from 1831 and is also part of the refuge. It is the second oldest lighthouse in Florida and registered on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

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The Goodwood Museum and Gardens has a plantation house that was built in the 1830s.

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The gardens surround the house and there are rolling lawns and lush foliage. It still has the original features like glass work, antique furniture, period porcelain, textiles and vintage artwork including paintings and etchings. The plantation house is also known for its fresco ceilings.

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The Lake Talquin State Forest has an amazing 17,000 acres of land. Here you can hike, horseback ride and bike and if you wish you can camp in the forest.

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There is a lot of local flora and fauna. Among the animals, you might see are bobcats, deer and wild turkeys. There are also lovely oak trees and maples.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | May 22, 2018

Wonderful West Palm Beach


Our armchair travels have taken us to West Palm Beach in South Florida. So sit back and let’s take a look at what this city offers visitors.

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The Palm Beach Zoo stretches for more than 23 acres. It is set in a tropical garden that imitates the natural habitats of the animals. There are over 700 animals and an aquarium and a replica of a swamp.

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Some of the attractions here include a reptile house, a tiger exhibit and a koala and wallaby area. Children can enjoy an interactive play fountain and an old-fashioned carousel.

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Visitors can ride around the zoo in a safari train.

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The Norton Museum of Art was founded in 1941 and is known to be one of the major cultural sites in Florida. Visitors enjoy international art with Chinese and European art collections.


You can see artwork from the 19th and 20th centuries. There are paintings and sculptures from leading American artists. There are also rotating exhibits all year long as well as lectures, guided tours, and art programs.

This is what the museum looks like at present but it is in the process of getting a $100 million dollar expansion. It is presently open and admission is free during construction. However, it will be closed from July 16, 2018, to February 8, 2019, to complete the project.

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The Flagler Museum was built in 1902 and is the former home of Henry Flagler the co-founder of Standard Oil. It is a National Historic Landmark. This is a large museum with two floors. It has impressive decorations. There are artworks from the most talented artists in the West Palm Beach area. Visitors can see the touches of French and Spanish decorative styles, particularly in the central courtyard.

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Mounts Botanical Garden is known for being the oldest and largest garden in West Palm Beach that is open to the public. Here you can find more than two thousand plants from six continents. There are herb gardens, citrus gardens, fruit gardens and palm gardens among others. Altogether there are over twenty different gardens.

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For a real shopping and dining experience head for Downtown West Palm Beach. There are many kinds of entertainment venues to choose from like bars, live music events, and clubs. You can experience music festivals and outdoor movie nights.

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Rapids Water Park is where you can have a lot of fun and cool off when it gets too hot. There is a wave pool where waves can reach up to six feet in height and for relaxing a lazy river. The park features 35 different water slide attractions and even toddler pools.

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Grassy Waters Nature Preserve includes lush wetlands. There are tours to educate visitors about this incredible ecosystem.

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If you prefer you can hike the trails over the wetlands offering amazing views and a look at local plant and wildlife.

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There is a visitor’s center and educational programs available.

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The Ann Weaver Norton Sculpture Garden is located in the former home of the famous sculptor Ann Weaver Norton. It features more than 100 of her artworks. It is one of the most historic and well-known attractions.

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She created these sculptures from 1905 to 1982. Her artwork can be seen in the gardens and in the artist’s studio. There is educational signage about each of the sculptures and art programs are offered for both adults and children.

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McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary is a working wildlife sanctuary. It gives homes to hundreds of injured and homeless animals in South Florida. Visitors can take a guided tour and see how the facility works.

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You can get up-close to the animals and help in their care like bathing or feeding. Guilds provide a learning experience. All the proceeds from the tours go to taking care of the animals.

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The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts is the place to go for culture and entertainment. It has showcased some of the best performances from famous acts and some of the biggest names in the U.S. have performed here.

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The South Florida Center and Aquarium has an 8,000-gallon saltwater tank featuring the marine life and exotic species from the region. To educate visitors there is an interactive approach where they can get up close to the aquatic life. There are also freshwater tanks and a planetarium featuring films about life under the sea. There is an exhibit hall with interactive installations for visitors to enjoy. An Everglade exhibit informs about the impressive and complex ecosystem of the Everglades.

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Okeeheelee Park stretches for 900 acres and has two lakes offering visitors boating, fishing, and waterskiing. If you’re not into water sports you can choose from a 27 hole golf course, basketball courts, tennis courts, and baseball fields. There are walking and biking trails and a BMX biking area.

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At the north end of the park is the Okeeheelee Nature Center with a butterfly garden and viewing platforms for bird watching.

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Peanut Island offers more than 80 acres of lush tropical parkland. It is just off West Palm Beach. It got its name because the island resembles a peanut. There are sandy beaches and tropical waters to swim in. Snorkeling is a popular activity and if you wish you can camp out here with a permit.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | May 18, 2018

The Everglades National Park

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In our armchair travels, we just started exploring the U.S. state of Florida. So before we take a look at some cities we begin at the southern tip of the state and will explore the amazing Everglades National Park. 

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 The Everglades National Park is a 1.5-million-acre wetland preserve on the southern tip of Florida. It consists of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and pine flat woods. Hundreds of different animal species make their home here among them the endangered leatherback turtle,

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Florida panther,

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and West Indian manatee. There are many unusual things to see here so take the time to explore when you visit.

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Coral Castle, an inscription on the quarried wall reads “You will be seeing unusual accomplishment”. The legend states that a Latvian man got snubbed at the altar and decided to travel to the U.S. and he settled in Florida. He then carved a monument to unrequited love under the cloak of darkness in the night.

This rock-walled compound has a throne room, a sundial, a stone stockade, a telescope trained on Polaris and a revolving boulder gate. It was all built by a short man named Edward Leedskalnins and all done without machinery. He built it all using pulleys, hand tools, and other devices. To finish his masterpiece it took him 28 years.

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Museum of the Everglades in Everglades City has found its home in the town’s former laundry house. Here you can find a collection of information on the settlement of the area from the early pioneers in the 1800s to the boom days of the 1920s and tragic moments from Hurricane Donna in 1960.

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Tamiami Trail Bridge over the Caloosahatchee River

A man named Barron Collier who was the largest landowner in Florida in the early 20th century created the town from scratch. The town was meant to serve as the base for building the Tamiami Trail through the Everglades. The trail was completed in 1929. There are photos, models, and films that tell the story.

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To get an up-close view of alligators take the Anhinga Trail. You can see gators sunning on the shoreline. There are wading birds walking through the reeds.

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The trail is not a long one and begins at the Royal Palm Visitor Center. At the various overlooks at times you can see many alligators all piled together during the day. If you come back at night with a flashlight you can see the gators swimming along the waterways. The park offers ranger-led walks along the boardwalk at night.

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Shark Valley is located in the cypress and hardwood and riverine section of the Everglades. There is a 15-mile trail you can take to see small creeks, tropical forest and borrow pits which have become basking spots for gators, turtles, and birds. This is a great trail for bikes which can be rented at the entrance. If you prefer there is also a two-hour tram tour.

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Halfway along the trail is the 50ft-high Shark Valley Observation Tower offering fantastic views all around.

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At the entrance, you’ll find the easy Bobcat Boardwalk Trail that loops through a thick copse of tropical hardwoods.

Shark Valley – Everglades National Park, Fl | Warsh Gone Wild regarding Otter Cave Hammock Trail

The Otter Cave Trail leads over a limestone shelf that has holes in it from rainwater and animals have taken up residence here. Native Americans used to live on top of the shelf.

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10,000 Islands one of the best ways to experience the Everglades is by paddling along the many waterways skirting the northwest part of the park. This consists of many tiny islands and a mangrove swamp long the southwestern-most border of Florida.

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The Wilderness Waterway is a 99-mile route between Everglades City and Flamingo and is the longest canoe trail in the area. Most of the islands have narrow beaches with white sand. If you like you can camp out here. If you are a good navigator it is not hard to get around the 1,000 islands. At the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, you can get nautical charts.

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At the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian Museum, you can learn about the Native Americans in Florida. You will get to know about Seminole life, history and about them today. The museum is located in a cypress dome cut through with an interpretive boardwalk. There are several dioramas with life-sized figures and some temporary exhibits. There is also an old-school living village and recreated ceremonial grounds.

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Big Cypress National Preserve is an area of protected mangrove islands, hardwood hammocks, orchid flowers, slash pine, prairies, and marshes. The area is filled with pond cypress trees. You can find information at the Oasis Visitor Center that has exhibits for children and a water-ditch usually full of alligators.

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Flamingo Visitor Center overlooks a marina and the water-filled wilderness beyond. You can choose to take a boat tour or hire a kayak or canoe. This is a great spot to see manatees, alligators, and the rare American crocodile. You can hike

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along the Coastal Prairie Trail or the Bayshore Loop Trail.

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Birds and gators can be spotted along the trail circling the Eco Pond.

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Miccosukee Indian Village is an informative open-air museum about the Miccosukee Indian way of life. You can see traditional homes and dance and music performances. Visitors can get an airboat ride into a hammock-cum-village with raised chickee or wooden platforms built above the water huts. There is a crafts gift store and an on-site restaurant.

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Fruit and Spice Park is a public park on the edge of the Everglades. Many different tropical fruits grow here. The park is divided into continents like Asia. There are about 500 different types of fruit, spices, and nuts.

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Visitors cannot pick the fruit but can take that which has fallen down. Free samples are available at the gift shop. You can have a snack at the cafe or bring your own picnic. There are free narrated tram tours available.

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Schnebly Redland’s Winery is referred to as the southernmost winery in America. This is the place for wine made from different fruit such as mango, passion fruit, lychee, avocado, coconut and other flavors. Tastings are available. The back garden has a waterfall and a restaurant is on the premises.

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Smallwood Store sits on piers overlooking Chokoloskee Bay. This wooden building dates back to 1906. It was first opened by a pioneer named Ted Smallwood as a trading post, post office, and general store. Along the wooden shelves, you can see antiques and old artifacts. All along the waterfront are great views. Boat tours can be arranged.

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The Fakahatchee Strand Preserve is home to a 20-mile by 5-mile estuarine wetland. The 2000 ft. boardwalk brings you into this amazing place where you can spot panthers in the black waters as well as blooming orchids, birds and reptiles.

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The Everglades Outpost gives a home to wild animals and cares for them. These animals have been seized from illegal traders or have been abused and neglected. Among the residents are a lemur, wolves, a black bear, a zebra, cobras, alligators and a pair of tigers. Your money goes to helping the outpost with its mission.

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Kirby Storter Roadside Park has an elevated boardwalk that leads to an overlook from where you can see different birdlife like ibis and red-shouldered hawks as well as alligators.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | May 10, 2018

The Amazing Florida Keys


In our armchair travels, we just took a look at Cuba. Now we are moving on to the United States. It will take us some time to tour the states but as long as you can sit back comfortably in your armchair you can see quite a lot. Our first stop is The Florida Keys. These are tropical islands that stretch for about 120 miles off the southern tip of the U.S. state of Florida, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

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Travel is accessed by the Overseas Highway, U.S. 1 which runs over 42 bridges and many artificial causeways.

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Just off of Key Largo, the longest of the Florida Keys are John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the only living coral reef in the continental United States.

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Here snorkelers and scuba divers can find rich underwater life and quite a few interesting shipwrecks. The park offers a small swimming area with a shell covered beach. There are picnic areas and an information center which displays the habitats and marine life. Tours are available such as glass bottom boat tours.

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Bahia Honda State Park is home to the nicest beach in the Keys. This park has two beach areas, one faces the open ocean and the smaller beach looks across to the old railroad bridge. There is a campground area and there are also picnic areas.

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Dry Tortugas National Park located 70 miles from Key West in the Gulf of Mexico is accessible only by boat or seaplane. This is an archipelago of seven beach ringed islands. It is home to Fort Jefferson, a huge fortification that takes up one island entirely.

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Big Pine Key is located between Marathon and Key West and it is home to the National Key Deer Refuge. The Key deer is a miniature species that fully grown reaches the size of a large dog. The refuge was established in 1957 and created as a sanctuary for the endangered Key deer.

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Here you’ll also find Blue Waters Hole which is a freshwater pond located in a former quarry and home to turtles and alligators.

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The Dolphin Research Center is where visitors can learn about Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions.

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You can watch trainers interact with the dolphins.

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Key West is home to the most southern piece of land in the U.S. A striped marker stands at the location on the seafront.

Key West, a U.S. island city, is part of the Florida Keys archipelago. It is a well-known cruise ship stop and accessible from the mainland by the Overseas Highway. It is known as a destination for snorkeling and diving and for beaches.

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In Key West, you can find the former home of well-known author Ernest Hemingway.

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Visitors can tour the home see the free-roaming cats, who are descendants of Hemingway’s original pet cats. This is a lovely Spanish-style Colonial house. Hemingway moved here in the early 1930s. He wrote “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” and “The Green Hills of Africa” here.

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Museum of Art & History at the Custom House is a good place where to learn about the history of Key West. Among the highlights are photos and archival footage of the building of the Overseas Highway, the model of the ill-fated USS Maine and the role of the Navy in Key West.

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Mallory Square once the sun goes down you can come here to see a dog walk a tightrope, a man swallows fire and British acrobats. You can enjoy beer and snacks and enjoy the music.

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Take in the beauty of the different colors of the amazing setting sun.

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Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden is the creation of Nancy, an environmental artist.

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You can take a look into her backyard and see rescued parrots and macaws. She will give an insight into these very intelligent and rare birds.

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Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center this is a 6000-sq.-ft. center and one of the best places in the Keys to learn about the amazing marine environment of South Florida. There is a 20-minute film with lovely footage of life in the reefs, hardwood hammocks, seagrass beds and mangroves. You can take a look at sea creatures in the small aquarium, making up the “Living Reef” section.

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Studios of Key West showcases many artist studios in a three-story space. It hosts some of the best art openings in Key West on the first Thursday of the month. There are TSKW hosts readings, literary and visual workshops, concerts, lectures and community discussion groups.

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Head on over to Duval Street which is the most famous road in Key West. This is the main strip known-for “The Duval Crawl” one of the wildest pub crawls in the country.

Duval Street at night, Key West, Florida Keys, Florida USA

It is amazing to see the mix of neon drink, drag shows, T-shirt kitsch, local theaters, art studios, and boutiques.

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Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is home to an impressive fort that was built in the mid-1800s and played roles in the American Civil War and in the Spanish-American War. It has one of the best beaches in Key West. Free guided tours are available.

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Key West Cemetery is at the center of the town. It was built in the 1847 and is darkly Gothic. It sits on Solares Hill, the highest point on the island. You can get a guided tour.

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Fort East Martello Museum & Gardens is an old fortress that was built to look like an old Italian Martello-style coastal watchtower.

florida martello 2

Here you can find historical memorabilia, artifacts, the folk art of Mario Sanchez and sculptor Stanley Papio, who worked with scrap metal.

florida martello doll

This is also the place where you can find the creepy haunted doll known as “Robert the Doll” which is a terrifying child’s toy from the 19th century that supposedly caused many misfortunes.

florida white house

Little White House is the place where the 33rd President of the US Harry S. Truman loved to vacation. It has been well-preserved and open for guided tours. A small gallery displays photos and historical items with a short video on the ground floor. There are many Truman possessions all about.

florida light

Key West Lighthouse visitors can climb up 88 spiraling stairs to the top. This white lighthouse was built in 1846 and offers great views. You can visit the lighthouse keeper’s cottage with photographs and artifacts.

florida rum

Key West First Legal Rum opened its doors in 2013 and is a distillery that makes fine rum with Florida sugarcane and infused with coconut, vanilla, and key lime. You can try up to eight kinds of rum in the shop for $11, which include a shot glass. Visitors can take a self-guided audio tour of the one-room operation or go for the chef-guided tour.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | May 5, 2018

Exploring Cuba

cuba varadero 2

Varadero is one of the most famous beach destinations in Cuba and is home to one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. The beach stretches along the Peninsula de Hicacos, jutting into the sea off the north coast. There is a drawbridge connecting it to the mainland. Here you’ll find over 50 hotels.

cuba punta hicocoa

Among the highlights is the Parque Natural Punta Hicacos a nature reserve with a lovely beach and two caves – Cueva de Ambrosio and Cueva de Musulmanes.

cuba josone park

There is also the lovely Parque Josone with lush flower gardens, a restaurant, swimming pool and a small lake where visitors can paddle in rowboats.

cuba underwater

To the northeast of Varadero is the Cayo Piedra Underwater Park which is a popular diving and snorkeling area. Underwater you can find shipwrecks and shoals of brightly colored fish. Other activities include deep sea fishing, golf, and skydiving.

cuba trinidad

The town of Trinidad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can enjoy beautifully restored buildings and cobblestone streets. Many of the buildings date back from the 17th century to the 19th century.

Among the highlights:

cuba trinidad plaza mayor

Plaza Mayor the central square with

cuba trinidad plaza mayor holy trinity

the neo-Classical Church of the Holy Trinity,

cuba trinidad plaza mayor saint francis

Church and Monastery of Saint Francis with its distinctive bell tower,

cuba trinidad plaza mayor architecture

the Museum of Colonial Architecture,

cuba trinidad plaza mayor casa alderman better

the art gallery  Casa de Aldeman Ortiz

cuba trinidad plaza mayor palacio brunet

and the Palacio Brunet which is a grand home built in 1812 with original frescoes and marble floors.

cuba ingenious

Valle de Los Ingenios is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located east of Trinidad with many relics and monuments from the 19th century when the sugar cane plantations and mill flourished.

cuba ingenious 3

You can go horseback riding through the green sugar cane fields, past palm trees, and mountains.

cuba guarda

Guardalavaca in the Holguin province is surrounded by glittering beaches. This is an area divers and snorkelers like to explore. There are day trips available from here to enjoy the jungle or take sailing trips.

cuba guardo dolphins

These include Cayo Naranjo with the popular Dolphinarium offering close encounters with dolphins.

cuba cayo coco

Cayo Coco is a great beach destination and one of the most isolated. It was the setting in Hemingway’s novels “Islands in the Stream” and “The Old Man and the Sea”. It is connected to the mainland by a bridge.

cuba cayo coco flamenco

On the Atlantic side of the island are  Playa Los Flamencos

cuba cayo coco prohibida

and Playa Prohibida offering a nature trail. The island also offers great birding.

cuba cayo coco pilar

Connected by a causeway to Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo has lovely beaches like Playa Pilar with many all-inclusive resorts.

cuba vinales

Parque Nacional Vinales is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a lovely valley in the Sierra de Los Organos. A dramatic landscape is formed by steep limestone hills. There are agricultural areas where tobacco, fruit, and vegetables are grown. There is great hiking and horseback riding.

cuba vinales town

Nearby is the charming town of Vinales.

cuba bara

The city of Baracoa is one of the highlights of eastern Cuba and the oldest city in the country. It was founded in 1511. Here you can see charming colonial architecture and a lush countryside with waterfalls and lovely beaches.

cuba bara yunque

Hovering over all is the flat-topped peak of El Yunque. Hikers can climb to the 589-meter summit. The hillside is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with rare birds and plants.

cuba cajebo fuerta

Taking the La Farola Highway from Baracoa will take you to Cajobabo. Where the highlights include the Museo Municipal which has found its home in the Fuerte Matachin military fortress and offers a glimpse into the fascinating history of Baracoa. There are great views over the bay. If you prefer you can also get here by bicycle.

cuba santa clara

Santa Clara is the famous site of the last guerrilla battle that was led by Che Guevara in 1958.

cuba santa clara monument

The town’s biggest attractions are his mausoleum Mausoleo del Che Guevara and monument Memorial Comandante Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.

cuba santa clara revolucion

In the Plaza de la Revolucion is a bronze statue of Che Guevara with his final letter to Fidel Castro etched here. The Mausoleum lies beneath.

Adjacent to the monument is the Museo Historico de la Revolucion exhibiting some of Guevara’s personal items. There is also the site of the final battle Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado.

cuba zapata swamp

The Peninsula de Zapata is the place for birders and nature lovers. It is a remote, sparsely populated area of Cuba with diverse landscapes and one of the largest wetlands in the Caribbean. The Cienaga de Zapata or the Zapata Swamp is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that is home to about 150 different species of birds among them water hens, parrots, and herons.

cuba zapata montemar crocs

This is also home to crocodiles. One part of the peninsula is a designated nature reserve the Gran Parque Natural de Montemar where you can see creatures in their natural habitats.

cuba playa giron

Playa Giron lies at the mouth of the Bay of Pigs and is the famous site of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.

cuba playa larga

At the top of the Bay of Pigs is Playa Larga with a long beach and lush vegetation. Divers can enjoy exploring underwater.

cuba croc farm

Boca de Guama is the peninsula’s tourist center and the main attraction is the Criadero de Cocodrilos, a crocodile farm. Nearby, on Laguna del Tresoro or Treasure Lake is Horizontes Villa Guama, a rustic tourist resort that has been designed to look like an Indian village.

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