USATourist News MagazineMay 2003
In this issue:
For folks familiar with the Daytona Beach area Florida means racing, shopping, and seaside fun. For families who travel to Orlando, Florida equals Disney. And regular readers of USATourist.com know all about the incredible deals on Florida Vacation Homes all over the state.
But this month we're starting to bring you something really special, the hidden side of Florida, far beyond beaches, beyond Disney World, Universal Studios Tickets, Sea World, and the Islands of Adventure ---far from the madding crowd
While most tourists see only the glitz and glamour of the most popular sites it's a shame to miss the rich history and heritage of the sunshine state. Florida has hosted human habitation for around 5,000 years and each culture left a few footprints in the sand so that modern day explorers can catch a fleeting glimpse of the people and civilizations that preceded us.
Incredibly it doesn't matter which period of history fascinates you or whether your interests are drawn to art or artifice, the Daytona area has something that will spark your imagination.
It takes about thirteen minutes of driving to cover the eight miles from Daytona Beach to Ormond Beach. Once you are in Ormond Beach you can time travel back five thousand years to an era when Florida was a primal wilderness and the indigenous people developed a culture that's faded into the mists of time. Tomoka State Park is home to more that one hundred and sixty five species of birds including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, herons, wood stork and white ibis. Their neighbors include ninety species of fish. In the summer and spring you can spot Manatees in the river. River otter, alligator and the occasional bottlenose dolphin also hang out in the well-maintained park. As do mosquitoes and ticks so be certain to stock up on insect repellant before venturing into the wilderness.
While many parks offer abundant wildlife at Tomoka State Park you choose among a variety of hiking options that are really off the beaten path. A one-half (1/2) mile trail passes through the oak hammocks that were once inhabited by Timucuan Indians. Pride of place belongs to the Tomoka Mounds and Middens. This mound construction dates back to the Mount Taylor period, around. 5500 years ago. Among the more interesting things found at the site are artifacts imported from quite some distance, including a cache of six bannerstones made of materials that are native to north Georgia. The remains of shells at the site has revolutionized thought about when the area was inhabited. These early dwellers came to Central Florida before the streams were receptive to oyster development.
Access to the site is being developed and descriptive signage ought to be in place in the not-too-distance future. The park is unspoiled wilderness. The Florida State Park Service frequently reminds guests to "Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints." It's an easy walk through flat land and the shelter of trees provides ample shelter from the Florida sun. The park has one hundred campsites available with picnic table, grill and water at each site. A museum and visitor center has exhibits on natural history and canoe rental is available from the ranger station.
Bulow Creek State Park seems to flow from Tomoka State Park in an unfettered swash of green land and serene water. They are next-door neighbors. Bulow Creek State Park has a six-mile hiking trail traveling through oak hammocks, pine flatwoods and freshwater swamps. But the heritage sites are what makes Bulow Creek State Park special, within its boundaries you have the opportunity to visit the Dummett Sugar Mill Ruins, the remains of the first steam powered sugar mill in the USA as well as the site of Ormond Plantation and the enormous Fairchild Oak Tree.
Just next door you can stop off at Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park and get an idea of the life of the English plantation owners who developed central Florida. If you are tired of walking you can take the loop road through the park to the Bulowville Sugar Mill Ruins and Springhouse. You'll get an idea of the enormity of sugar cane making undertaking. Sugar cane and indigo were the cash crops that fueled the early economy of Florida's planters. Most of the plantations were destroyed during the Seminole Uprisings during the 1800s.
The Seminoles were a group of Native Americans from different tribes who banded together when the European immigrants forced them to move away from their original homes. The First Seminole War 1817-1818 started in southwestern Georgia. In 1819 the USA acquired Florida from Spain. Andrew Jackson was the first governor of Florida; he decided to relocate all Indians into a single tract in Central Florida.
In 1832 Seminole leaders met the whites near Silver Springs they agreed to a small portion of the Native America population relocating to Oklahoma territories.
The Seminoles were given until 1836 to prepare for the move. An important Seminole leader, Osceola was outspoken against the action and was briefly imprisoned.
The Seminole War was a result of resistance to forced deportation. The US military had, as many as 8,866 men in the field. The Seminole never had more than 1,500 warriors.
That's more than a full day of hiking and history, and more Florida secrets are forthcoming in next month's newsletter but if you want a great rest after all that walking or a perfect place to bask beachside, check out The Acapulco Hotel and Resort down at the quiet end of Daytona Beach. Right now our Hotel Search Engine is showing a special internet rate for this beachfront property with a beautifully landscaped beachfront pool, two whirlpools and an on site recreation staff that has programs for kids, grandparents and everyone in between. All of the spacious rooms have ample private balconies, data ports, and well-equipped kitchenettes. In addition to the cheery atmosphere of the hotel you won't find a better bartender than The Acapulco Hotel's own Shirley from Cincinnati anywhere on the planet. Shirley's been transplanted into the Florida sun for fifteen years and she can mix a mean margarita while giving great advice on where to grab a bite to eat.
Daytona Quick tip: The Daytona Beach International Airport's 175,000-square-foot Main Terminal offers a variety of services including a new U.S. Customs area, duty-free shopping, and foreign currency exchange. You will not find freestanding foreign currency exchange facilities in town but most banks offer exchange services during regular banking hours. The Acapulco Hotel and Resort also offers on-site foreign currency exchange services.
After 67 years of operation a decline in visitors resulted in Cypress Gardens closing its doors. The once popular Florida attraction was one of the state's first theme parks and attained fame as the site of several Ester Williams movies during the 30s and 40s.
Many historic attractions dot the Sunshine State including the recently renovated Marineland a honeymoon destination for generations. Check our monthly newsletter for more about great Florida attractions.
The biggest change in recent months is that smoking is banned in all interior spaces in New York City. Bars, restaurants, and other public places are now all smoke free. However, Midtown Manhattan hotels, New York Budget Hotels, and Times Square Hotels all offer both smoking and non-smoking accommodations.
If you are heading to Lafayette this year be certain to check out the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist Museum at 914 St. John Street in Lafayette where you'll find an exhibit on the Catholic Church's influence on the colonization of the south. Some of the volunteers who are available to show you around the Cathedral are fluent in French. If French is your primary language and you need assistance please contact the Cathedral in advance at (337) 232-1322 or email them at SJCLAF@bellsouth.net. The exhibit runs until December 30th of this year. You will also find a maginifcant Live Oak in the cathedral grounds.
And it just got easier for international visitors to come to Cajun and Creole country! Starting May 4th Delta Airlines is offering direct flights from Atlanta, Georgia to both Lafayette and Alexandria, Louisiana. Atlanta's airport is one of the busiest in the USA and is well served by numerous international carriers making it an easy point of entry into the USA. With a direct flight out of Atlanta you can be in Cajun or Creole country in less than two hours. You can book these flights from our airline search engine.
Amazing Smoky Getaways offers everything from unbelievably romantic honeymoon havens with hot tubs and fireplaces to vacation cabins suitable for large families. They offer five bedroom chalets with all modern conveniences, spectacular views, and other goodies. With a range of properties on offer in Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg you can find exactly the amenities you want for a family reunion, honeymoon, large group or small. They have cabins with hot tubs, whirlpools, game tables, even some with outdoor swimming pool access. Call 1-866-VISIT-SMOKIES or visit their web page.
This month I've noticed a slight increase in emails from people planning to visit us here in the USA and it has really cheered me up. I'm excited about the idea of more international visitors coming here and learning what we are really like. Please email me with any questions, opinions, or suggestions at MsTravel@usatourist.com; I really enjoy hearing from you. And please stop by next month when I'll be telling you even more about some of Florida's hidden treasures. Just as a come on, I'll leave you with this: I'm going to tell you about the home of a Russian princess where you can picnic in solitary splendor as though you owned your own tropical enclave.
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