The group will travel north to Blue Spring State Park for a private two-hour narrated cruise of the St. Johns River. Participants will learn about the early history of the river from the Timucuan Indians to the days of steamboats, while enjoying a wide variety of birds and animals in their natural habitat.
Leaving Blue Spring State Park, the tour group will head to the Atlantic Coast to Bulow Plantation State Park. After a picnic lunch on the banks of picturesque Bulow Creek, the park ranger will lead a walking tour of the site. Bulow Plantation was the largest sugarcane plantation on the east side of the state. The plantation also produced rice, cotton, and indigo. For most of the plantation’s existence it was run by young John Bulow. He inherited it at age seventeen and proved an efficient manager. In 1831 he hosted John Audubon for the week of Christmas. With the outbreak of the second Seminole War in the early 1830s, Bulow originally supported the Indians’ cause, firing cannons at the U.S. army. As the war became more violent, he evacuated to St. Augustine and the Seminoles destroyed the plantation. However, the ruins of the sugar mill and spring house are still standing and offer an insight into the short and violent history of the plantation.
This group will head southwest to Bok Gardens. This beautiful botanic preserve was constructed on the highest point in peninsular Florida. Located on the Lake Wales ridge, the site offers a rare upland habitat that carries many endangered plant species. A guided tour will take the group along the three-fourths mile nature trail. After the tour, participants can enjoy the horticultural delights of the gardens, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and the Art Deco Singing Tower. Lunch will be provided in the gardens.
After lunch, the group will travel to the Florida Orange Juice Cooperative. Here they can explore the company’s museum and listen to a presentation by one of the cooperative’s vice-presidents.
Please note: Tours are limited to 55 registrants each. Tour registration will close when limits are met.