Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
Looking for a different day out in Florida, then we would thoroughly recommend Fort Christmas. This is an easy thirty minute drive from the Orlando area, in the direction of Titusville (please either use a sat-nav or get more accurate directions than that! ).
This area, maintained by the Fort Christmas Historical Society, contains a replica of the original Fort Christmas. Fort Christmas was first established by soldiers on the 25th of December 1837, as part of the Second Seminole Indian War (1835 – 1842). The original fort was actually situated at a site close to this park. Within the fort are exhibitions featuring information about the war and the Seminole Indians, what life was like, preserving many artefacts and showing just how life was. Compared to the usual Florida type visitor attraction, it is actually quite refreshing that this is a more low-key exhibit, featuring real artefacts. For example there are musket rounds, that have been flattened, because they have actually been used, rather than looking how some imagineer would envisage them to appear.
As well as the many artefacts, there is a wealth of information boards, historical photographs and family stories that you can explore at your own pace. You are sure to find something within the exhibits that engages different members of any family and once they are engaged, they start to find more and more interesting things to look at.
This is not all that Fort Christmas has to offer, though. Moving on past the fort, there are also seven historical homes that have been moved to this site and are preserved here. These range in time from the 1870’s through to the 1930’s and contain items which give a representation of what life was like in the era of the house. The houses give a real flavour of what the early pioneers, the ‘Crackers’ life was like and what the focus of their lives was; homesteading, farming (in particular citrus and cattle), lumber and hunting and trapping.
As you wander through the houses it is easy to see the progression of time from house to house (probably best explored in chronological order by either exploring clockwise or counter-clockwise). Again, you are free to explore this in your own time and unlike other museums, where it can be sterile and remote, you are asked to walk softly through these actual original homes. You hear the floor timbers creak and you wonder at how many could live in such small basic houses. As you wander around, there are surprising touches as well. At one point we passed a family of chickens, only for one of our brood to ask, “but, are they real chickens? ” …. mmmmh, maybe a little too much time spent looking at animatronics I think! ; -)
As you finish off wandering around the exhibits, there is then an excellent play park for the children to enjoy. As well as this, there are also picnicking facilities with barbeque grills available, and there is even a screened room with plenty of seating that you could reserve for use.
All of this is provided through the benefit of donations and there are helpful staff on hand if any questions arise. The area also has plenty of natural shading, so keeping out of the heat of the sun shouldn’t be too difficult. We would definitely recommend Fort Christmas as a quieter and well-worth afternoon activity for any visitor.
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