Dade Battlefield Historic State Park is known for the battle that started the Second Seminole War. Almost 200 years ago, in 1835, 108 U.S. soldiers were ambushed on what is now the park grounds, leaving only three alive to tell the tale. Every January, a reenactment commemorates the event and teaches visitors about Florida history.
Though the reenactment is one of the annual highlights of the park, Park Ranger Kristin Wood points out that there are many events year ‘round. When I visited during the summer, a large family reunion was under way in the Dade Lodge, kids and their parents running back and forth under the afternoon sunshine. Wood adds that “We have ongoing events, classes, walks, singalongs... We welcome you to come to our park whether it is warm or cold, we have something going on.”
I explored the site of the reenactment as well as some of the park’s nature trails and highly recommend checking out “The Ancient Oak Tree.” Located near the visitors center, the Live Oak is absolutely massive, so wide that it would take multiple people linking their arms to reach around its hefty trunk. Branches stretched wide in all directions, shading the grass beneath its Spanish moss-laden boughs. I can honestly say it’s the biggest Live Oak I have ever seen. Wood told me the Ancient Oak Tree provides a popular site for couples getting married, and I believe it.
Before we left, my husband and I made sure to stop in at the visitor center. In addition to books and crafts for sale, there is an excellent exhibit detailing the history of the Seminole Indians and the battle with the U.S. soldiers, as well as a 12-minute video for those who want to know more about the events leading up to the battle as well as an analysis of its ramifications.
This 80-acre park does an excellent job weaving together visitor events, history, and explanations of native Florida ecosystems. Whether you plan your trip in the summer, fall, winter, or spring, there is always something to see!
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About Erika: Erika Z. is a writer, birder and photographer living and working along the Emerald Coast of Florida. Her love of the outdoors and sense of adventure leads her to explore Florida’s state parks, state trails and historic sites in her free time.