So, if you stopped by earlier today, you know that it is National Parks Week! I’m not even ashamed to tell you that I have a favorite National Park…and it’s right here in my hometown. Jacksonville, Florida is home to the largest urban park system in the country, with 46,000 acres of it belonging to the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. Within the preserve, you’ll find Fort Caroline National Memorial, the Ribault Club …and my favorite place – the Kingsley Plantation.
Located on Fort George Island, the Kingsley Plantation is the oldest standing plantation house in Florida. The home itself has been undergoing renovations for the past few years, in hopes of preserving the structure. However, you can explore the grounds at Kingsley Plantation which include the barn, the kitchen house, the interpretive garden and the tabby houses that were once slave quarters in the eighteenth century.
It’s amazing to me that these homes are still intact and that in some spots you can see carvings that were made in the walls. The rich history that lives on these grounds is fascinating. If you ever visit Kingsley Plantation, take time to visit with the park rangers. Besides being so friendly, they are a wealth of knowledge. My favorite ranger, Roger is a huge bird watcher – he can recognize a bird just from listening to it sing! Amazing!
I don’t get to visit Kingsley Plantation as much as I’d like to, but it’s certainly one of my favorite places in Northeast Florida. The history, the landscape and the peaceful setting make it perfect for families. One day, I’ll tell you about my encounter with a legless lizard (yes, they are real!) at the Kingsley Plantation.
Do you have a favorite National Park? What makes it special to you?