Long before New England's residents began gaining a foothold in North America, the native Apalachee Indians as well as Spanish missionaries settled here. On the site of a 17th-century Spanish mission and Apalachee Indian town, this museum focuses on the archaeology of the late 1600s, when the Apalachee village here had a population of at least 1,400. By 1704, however, threatened by Creek Indians and British forces, the locals burned the village and fled. About once a year,
researchers conduct digs, and then they spend the rest of the year analyzing their findings. If you're here when they are, you can watch them dig. Otherwise, you'll have to be content with roaming around the re-creation of a 17th-century Spanish village and speaking with the living-history guides, who offer tours by advance arrangement. Even without seeing researchers digging for clues, this is still a cool experience and a great way to learn about Florida's impressive history. A 24,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art visitor center offers an expanded exhibit hall and gift shop.