Inventing Florida

In Tours by Richard Norton Smith

February 25, 2022 - March 5, 2022

Inventing Florida

From New Spain to the Space Age

Starting at $5,685

About Inventing Florida Tour

Time is running out to join us in February for Inventing Florida: From New Spain to the Space Age (February 25 – March 5, 2022). For those of you following the good news regarding COVID’s rapid plateau in South Africa and the United Kingdom as closely as we have, we are more encouraged than ever to be traveling again.

Imagine a sun-kissed land of white sugar beaches, tropical forests and Moorish-style resorts built by visionaries like Henry Flagler — long before that other visionary, Walt Disney, replaced Ponce de Leon with Mickey Mouse. 

When we promise you historical Florida, we don’t mean Disney World, although this trip is arranged so that you are perfectly free to add a visit there if you’d like. Instead of Spaceship Earth, we’ll spend a full day at America’s original launchpad, the John F. Kennedy Space Center.

We’ll explore the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller and Henry Flagler. In Tampa we’ll relive Teddy Roosevelt’s war before San Juan Hill.  In Sarasota the fabulous residence of John and Mable Ringling compliments world-class art and circus museums. A pastoral outing at the iconic Bok Singing Tower and Gardens introduces us to yet another visionary drawn to Florida for its natural beauty.  In the ancient Spanish settlement of St. Augustine, we’ll look over the massive ramparts of Castillo de San Marcos before visiting one of Flagler’s lavish hotels. By the way, even though this is peak season for Florida tourism, we’ve worked overtime to reserve hotels that evoke old Florida, in many cases taking advantage of prime waterfront locations.

We’ve squeezed more than 450 years of history — from Florida’s native inhabitants to 16th century pirates to more recent robber barons — into nine semi-tropical days. And we’ve made sure to include free time to experience and shop Worth Avenue in elegant Palm Beach and St. Augustine’s Colonial Quarter.

Tour Itinerary

Westin Sarasota • Bok Tower and Gardens

We’ll meet as a group this morning at 9:00am in the lobby of the Westin Sarasota, situated on lovely Sarasota Bay. Our first stop today is Bok Tower and Gardens, a 250-acre garden and wildlife sanctuary in Lake Wales. In February 1929 President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the stunning Singing Tower, with its 60-bell carillon built upon the highest point of Florida, some 295 feet above sea level. It is the legacy of Edward W. Bok, a Dutch immigrant who edited the Ladies Home Journal for thirty years, revolutionized American domestic architecture (hint: he popularized the term living room in place of the more formal parlor) and won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for his autobiography. This evening we’ll enjoy a Welcome Dinner & Sunset Cruise aboard the 96-foot yacht Marina Jack II, passing through the Inter-Coastal Waterway and out into the Gulf of Mexico. Overnight at the Westin Sarasota.

Meet Your Host

About the Author

Richard Norton Smith

Richard is an American historian and author specializing in U.S. presidents and other political figures. In the past, he worked as a freelance writer for The Washington Post, and worked with U.S. Senators Edward Brooke and Bob Dole.

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