We’re off on our second Exploring Florida adventure. This week we set our sights on historic Fort Christmas, a military fort built during the Second Seminole War. Because of the intense heat this time of year, we arrived about 8 a.m. when the park opened. It took us about two hours to walk through the park. We also rested for a bit under a shaded pavilion while the kids enjoyed the playground. We did not spend any time in the small museum.
The original fort was home to over 2,000 soldiers. Today, the park includes a replica of the original fort that houses a small general store, an outdoor cook area, an arsenal or stores shack, and many gun ports. The kids enjoyed walking through the fort and peeking through the gun ports. We also went in the general store for a look-see. The kids were amazed at the large cast iron pots, the tall barrels of flour or grains, and a glass case that showcased many relics from the fort’s historic era.
The park also include a traditional Florida Cracker house and eight pioneer homes; a schoolhouse and lunchroom; a sugar cane mill; a chicken coop; historical farming equipment; and, a small library and museum. We did not go into the Cracker house, but we walked around it and explored its structure. Cracker houses have raised floors and extra big porches that sometimes wrap around the house. Most cracker houses have metal roofs. I always thought that Cracker houses were designed to allow a breeze to flow through the house like some of the early Florida pioneer structures.
Much of the park is under shade. Beautiful, old oak trees covered in Spanish moss add to the park’s old south charm. I’m sure early pioneers counted on these trees to help filter the intense Florida heat. It did make for a comfortable walk.
We toured most of the early pioneer structures. Each had its own unique design, but all were clearly designed to catch a breeze. Some had long hall ways that ran from front to back doors; other houses did not enclose parts of the house. Without talking to anyone on the grounds, I’m sure these early structures were more than likely designed so that air could flow through the house. I’m not sure how pioneers could standing the summer heat without some sort of air flow. All of the houses were furnished in period specific furniture and primitives. I enjoyed examining the wood burning stoves, spindles, and old sewing machines.
The park also includes modern-day recreation facilities such as a ball park, basketball course, tennis court, picnic areas, covered pavilions, and a playground. (Read more about the amenities at Fort Christmas Historical Park.) Overall, Fort Christmas is one of our best finds for a short family outing. Admission is free, but there is a charge to reserve the pavilions. Fort Christmas would make a great place to hold a family reunion.
Fort Christmas Historical Park
1300 Fort Christmas RD
Fort Christmas, FL 32709