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

Imagine a sun-kissed land of white sugar beaches, tropical forests and Moorish-style resorts built by visionaries like Henry Flagler. Florida – before that other visionary, Walt Disney, replaced Ponce de Leon with Mickey Mouse – and cypress swamps made way for theme parks. This tour does not include Disney World. But it does explore the winter homes and research labs of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford – the fabulous home, circus and art museum established by John and Mable Ringling – Flagler’s Palm Beach – the ancient Spanish settlement of St. Augustine, guarded by the massive ramparts of Castillo de San Marcus. We haven’t forgotten 20th century history. Our itinerary includes a full day tour of America’s spaceport, the John F. KennedySpace Center. And a pastoral outing at the iconic Bok Singing Tower and Gardens, the product of yet another visionary drawn to Florida for its natural beauty.

We’ve squeezed more than 450 years of history – from 16th century pirates to more recent robber barons – into nine days. And we’ve made sure to include free time to experience (re: shop) Palm Beach’s storied Worth Avenue and the Historic District of St. Augustine. Join us for a trip back in time (and away from the northern winter).

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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