The Small Museums of Florida and Georgia
There was a time when small roadside attractions where the highlight of family road-trips. While they have been overshadowed by the mega-parks and major resorts, there are still a number of roadside gems that should be sought out – little pieces of history encased in small museums. If you take the time, you will discover these surprises everywhere.
Discoveries we have made in Florida and Georgia include:
The Georgia Rural Telephone Museum in Leslie, Georgia, is home to the largest collection of antique telephones and telephone memorabilia in the world. As a bonus, this museum is a stop on the SAM Short Line excursion train out of Cordele – a great day trip!
The Central Florida Railway Historical Society Museum is a beautiful collection of railroad memorabilia displayed in a train depot in downtown Winter Garden, FL.
Located in Lakeland, Florida off I-4, The Florida Air Museum displays a wide variety of vintage aircraft, ultralights, experimental homebuilts, air racers, military, aerobatic and factory-built aircraft from all eras.
- The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum offers an interesting and educational museum experience that transports you and your family back in time over 300 years to Port Royal, Jamaica, to the height of the Golden Age of Piracy.
National Civil War Naval Museum located in Columbus, GA. Tells the stories of the navies of the Civil War, connecting people with the past; giving them a better sense of place and time.
On a recent drive we decided to take a look at south-central Florida and visited a few small towns like Sebring, Lake Wales, Lake Placid and Clewiston. Planning the trip we researched a couple of stops that seemed worthy of a visit.
In Sebring, home of the the famous race course where the first 12 Hours of Sebring was held on March 15, 1952, we found our first museum of the trip.
The Military Sea Services Museum – an admittance free museum that has collected seagoing artifacts, stories, books and photographs relating to the time spent at sea by our military. In the collection are a large number of custom ship models, uniforms, weapons and some real finds like a commemorative brass plate cast for the WWII Japanese surrender on the battleship Missouri. The building sits in the middle of a WWII military training airfield.
Another stop in Sebring was planned as a visit to Highlands Hammock State Park. Established in 1931 and developed later by Florida’s Civilian Conservation Corps, the park features a lush and incredibly diverse 9,000 acre refuge for endangered animals and ancient flora. While the park is a great place for hiking, it is also home to the Florida CCC Museum. Chock full of memorabilia and AV displays, it is a remarkable place to learn about the Civilian Conservation Core, the New Deal program that gave hundreds of thousands of young American men an opportunity for paid work and training during the Great Depression.
While on the subject of Florida small museums, there is one that I have been visiting for years. Located on the southern end of North Hutchinson Island at Ft. Pierce is The National UDT And Seal Museum. It was located at Ft. Pierce because that was the site of the original WWII training facility for Underwater Demolition Teams. It was originally named the UDT Museum but was later updated to include Seals.
The Seal teams have overshadowed UDT in recent years but Seals are a progression from the UDT units that were active in WWII up to the early 1970’s and they share the same training program (Buds for Basic Underwater Demolition School). Stop by and learn something about Seals, their training, missions and their predecessor’s, the Underwater Demolition Teams..
UDT prided themselves as the first on the beach in a landing assault