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History You Can See

A long history, from early Native American occupants through Spanish, French, and British settlers, has left indelible marks on Central Florida. Add to that the influx of wealthy vacationers from the North and hopeful immigrants from Europe, and history comes alive in these repositories of knowledge.

DeSoto National Memorial, Bradenton. Hernando de Soto came ashore with his men and 200 horses near what is now Bradenton in 1539; this federal park commemorates that landing. From mid-December to late April, park workers dress in period costumes at Camp Uzita and demonstrate how European explorers lived.

Ybor City, Tampa. One of only four National Historic Landmark districts in Florida, Tampa's rollicking Cuban quarter has antique-brick streets and wrought-iron balconies, hand-rolled cigars, and fresh-roasted coffee. The neighborhood has become one of Tampa's hot spots, as empty cigar factories and social clubs have been transformed into boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and nightclubs.

Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg. A permanent History, Heritage, and Hope exhibit; an original boxcar; and an extensive collection of photographs, art, and artifacts give new perspective to one of the largest collections of its kind. Conceived as a learning center for children, many of the exhibits avoid overly graphic content.

Tarpon Springs. Tarpon Springs has been the home of Greek sponge divers for more than 120 years, and the combination of sun, great food, and history can't be beat. Take time to visit St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, a replica of St. Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople.

Updated: 2013-09-10

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