Located just a short drive from Fort Myers Beach is Koreshan State Historic Site, a former utopia for a colony of religious Koreshans that can now be visited throughout the year. Along with many historic buildings and beautiful foliage from around the world, guests can also partake in many outdoor activities on the property. It’s the perfect way to spend an adventurous day in Southwest Florida.
History of the Koreshan State Historic Site
In 1894, Dr. Cyrus Reed Teed and 200 of his closest followers relocated from New York to Florida to practice their new religion, Koresh. They hoped to establish the “New Jerusalem” in this land and research their beliefs that the universe actually existed within a giant, hollow sphere in peace. According to records, they used education and science to prove that this belief could actually be true. They also made an entire community on the 305 acres of land they occupied that consisted of a printing facility, boat works, cement works, sawmill, bakery, store and hostelry, and many homes. The village thrived until Dr. Teed’s death in 1908 and membership of the Koreshan religious group began to decline. The numbers in the community dwindled over the years until only four were left in 1961. This was the year that the remaining Koreshans sold their land to the state of Florida as a park and memorial. The Koreshan State Historic Site is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Things to Do on Site
Get a Glimpse of Koreshan Life
Over 11 buildings of the once aspired New Jerusalem stand on the historic site. You can take a look at what their life would have been like dating all the way back to 1882 as you explore the old bakery, machine shops, the Art Hall, and beautifully landscaped Victorian gardens. You may choose to conduct a self-guided tour or be led by a knowledgeable member of the park staff.
60 campsites are located at the park, all providing electricity hookups, water, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Whether you arrive in your RV (40 ft. maximum length) or rough it in your tent, you will be able to enjoy the campsite amenities including a picnic area with playground, washer and dryers, a soft drink vending machine, and a volleyball court. Some of the sites are even located along the Estero River.
Canoeing and Kayaking
This is a very popular activity at the park. Paddle along the Estero River as you take in Florida’s natural beauty and year-round sunshine before flowing into Estero Bay about 3 miles west of the Koreshan State Historic Site. You also have the opportunity to take a guided paddling tour with the College of Life Foundation.
Hunt for Treasure
Learn all about geography using a process called geo-seeking as you search for a fantastic hidden discovery. Each person wields a GPS to find caches, some easy to find and others much more difficult. It’s a challenging, inexpensive, and interactive way to get to know the land. If you’d like to learn more about Operation Recreation GeoTour and the world’s largest treasure hunt, visit Geocaching.com.
Visit the Farmer’s Market Just Like the Koreshans Would
Every Sunday, get a taste of what food shopping would have been like over a hundred years ago as you explore the weekly Koreshan State Historic Site Farmer’s Market. You’ll be able to choose from a wide selection of fresh seafood, coffees and teas, candy, hand-made soaps, Cuban cuisine, jewelry, honey, artisan breads, and more! You won’t be able to find goodies like these anywhere else!
Many different kinds of animal wildlife populate the park including bobcats, grey foxes, alligators, river otters, and over 100 bird species. You may even be lucky enough to catch sight of a bald eagle, a frequent site visitor!
Visit Koreshan State Historic Site and More of Florida’s State Parks When You Stay With Sun Palace
The state of Florida is bursting at the seams with opportunities for adventure, and you can engage yourself in as many of them as you like all while enjoying a tropical beach side vacation. Request our FREE vacation guide to learn all about planning a Southwest Florida getaway and our luxurious vacation rentals.