Crossed off. No longer exists? Maybe. Maybe not. Earlier in my "Florida outside the theme parks" posts for this challenge, I have blogged about some of Florida's former glory (the old Grand Hotel in Lake Wales, and the Kress Building in Tampa, Florida, for example.) Now it is some time for happier news.
If you are wondering the attraction I have to Old Florida, know that my first visit to Florida was in 1966. I flew with my Dad (my first airplane flight) to visit relatives living in Tampa, Florida. To use an old expression, this native of New York City was "blown away". We made two more trips - I (alone) in 1969, and again with my Dad (and a cousin) in 1972 for a family wedding.
In 1974-1976, as a newlywed, my spouse and I lived in the Tampa Bay area for just under two years. I visited various attractions, not realizing that the Florida I knew and experienced would, one day, be a historical curiosity.
So why am I blogging about these places, when I am supposed to be blogging about "Florida Outside the Theme Parks"? Because some of these places, which have existed for well over 100 years, feature natural or man made wonders. Or, are just plain part of Florida history.
Before we get into this history, a couple of more Florida sky pictures for #SkywatchFriday. Johns Pass Village, a fishing village in Pinellas County, Florida has reinvented itself as a tourist destination and has not been "x'd" out.
Now, back to our history lesson.
Weeki Wachee, whose advertisements I watched so intently while growing up in New York City. I have not made it there yet, but it's on my bucket list. Fortunately, this is now a state park, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Here's a video clip from 1948.
Another now-state park, Silver Springs, bills itself as "Florida's first tourist attraction". Some of the early Tarzan movies (and some other movies) were filmed there. I remember visiting Silver Springs in the mid 1970's, and again, with my then-teenaged son, in 2006. I would gladly go back, although it is not quite what it was like in its heyday. The admission charge can't be beat - only $2. (How much do Disney or Universal cost?) The best news: those wonderful glass bottomed boats are still running. Alas, I do not have handy the pictures I took back in 2006 - or, in 1975, for that matter.
Cypress Gardens, Winter Haven, which was the #1 tourist attraction in the United States in 1963. When I visited it in 1974, it was both a beautiful garden and a water ski show attraction (this is another place I remember from seeing on TV while I was growing up). It was in danger of closing (with condos built on the land) in 1986. Now, parts of it are preserved in the theme park Legoland, complete with Southern belles built from Legos. Just think of all the celebrities that have visited over the years: Elvis, John Kennedy, Johnny Carson, and more.
Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg. In the middle of a historical neighborhood, it is alive and well. I had photos at one time, but I can't find them.
The Kapok Tree restaurant in Clearwater. My spouse and I ate there several times while living in Tampa during the mid 1970's. It must have been reasonable as we didn't have much money. Now closed (1991), but, happily, the building is maintained. As of 2011, the tree was still alive and well.
No, not all of Old Florida has been X'd out.
"X" day in the #AtoZChallenge and day 27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost
And, joining Yogi and other bloggers who watch the sky at #SkywatchFriday.