Guide to Visiting Koreshan State Historic Park in Florida
Looking for something to do around Estero, Florida? Visit the Koreshan State Historic Park. This is the site of a 19th-century religious community, protected by the state for its historic and natural value. Koreshan is a beautiful park with lots to do and see, whether you’re interested in learning about the history of the community, taking in the unique architecture of the Victorian-style buildings, visiting the historic art at the Art Hall, or exploring the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. This is the ideal escape for a day-long adventure or a weekend camping trip with friends and family.
If you’re planning a trip, here’s our guide to five things to know before visiting the Koreshan State Historic Park.
Visitors Can Book a Guided Tour
One of the best ways to experience all that Koreshan State Historic Park has to offer is to take an official tour. We recommend pre-booking a spot in one of the park’s docent-led tours to guarantee you get your preferred time and date. Taking a tour allows you to visit the historic houses and buildings throughout the park, see the preserved bamboo gardens, and check out the Fairbanks Morse engine and machine shop. You get to learn about the lifestyle and beliefs of the Koreshan community, discovering their beliefs and history in an enjoyable and educational experience.
When planning your tour time, note that the park offers twice-daily tours from December to March. They offer these tours Wednesday to Sunday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. From April to November, the park only offers tours at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, with occasional Friday tours. Tours from January to March also allow visitors to stop by the Cast Iron Cafe, where they can sample traditional Koreshan dishes and desserts. Park employees prepare these foods fresh following traditional methods, including the use of a 19th-century wood-burning stove.
Tours cost $10 per person for guests age 12 and older. You can either purchase your tickets online or by using one of the QR codes available throughout the park.
The Koreshan Community Began in New York
Founded in 1893, the Koreshan community started as a utopian religious settlement under the leadership of Dr. Cyprus Teed. He originally started the sect in upstate New York before moving his headquarters to Chicago and, finally, Florida. The sect found its permanent home on a 320-acre piece of land in Estero. Dr. Teed intended for the sect to become the “New Jerusalem,” where the residents would live under an ideology that combined religion, science, and utopian communalism. Among their many philosophies, they believed in reincarnation, communal social organization, and gender equality.
The Historic Park Gardens Include Several Exotic Plants
In addition to the buildings and main settlement at the park, visitors should check out the surrounding gardens. You can take a self-paced tour through the gardens by picking up a leaflet from the parking lot when you arrive. Strolling through the gardens is a great way to check out the abundance of specimens that Dr. Teed brought to the Koreshan settlement. During his international travels, he obtained many beautiful and exotic plants, such as an Australian Monkey Puzzle Tree, a Red Silk Cotton Tree, and an Ear Tree.
There’s also a cheery orchard that guests can visit outside of the Planetary Court building, which can be wonderful to see in the spring when the trees begin to blossom. Other plants of interest include the red pineapples grown and harvested here. These fruits are prized for their lovely pink color. You can also see a variety of more common fruit trees, pecan trees, magnolias, and azaleas.
You Can Camp at the Park
Parkgoers can enjoy a full-facility campground for overnight stays at the park. There are 60 wooded campsites near the Estero River, which offers scenic views for nature walks and picnics. Campsite amenities include:
- Picnic tables
For the comfort, convenience, and entertainment of guests, the campground also offers washers, dryers, showers, a small playground, and a volleyball court. The park is even dog-friendly, so feel free to bring the family pet along.
It costs $26 per night to camp at the park, plus applicable taxes, a $6.70 reservation fee, and a $7 utility fee if you’re camping in any unit style except tent camping. The utility fee covers your costs for water, electricity, and sewage. Florida residents age 65 and over, those who have a 100% federal disability certificate, and those who have a Social Security disability certificate can receive a 50% discount on base campsite fees. To learn more about camping at the park or to reserve a spot at a campsite, visit the Florida State Park website.
The Park Offers Lots of Outdoor Activities
There’s plenty to do and see around the park, even if you opt out of touring the settlement or camping overnight. Some other activities available at Koreshan State Historic Park include:
- Nature trails
- Picnic areas
You can spend the day hiking in the beautiful, natural landscapes the park provides, or bring the kids to the playground to burn off some extra energy. There’s a boat ramp available for public use, so you can enjoy easy access to the Estero River. Bring your fishing poles and see what you can catch while spending a day on the water. If you love to bike, there are plenty of trails to navigate around the park. The park has a combination of paved, shell, and sandy trails, so plan accordingly.
The park allows visitors to rent kayaks and canoes, too. You can hit the water from the boat ramp and paddle to your heart’s content. The Estero River is known for its smooth, slow current, making this a great place for inexperienced kayakers or those looking to paddle at a slower, more leisurely pace.
These are our top five things to know before visiting the Koreshan State Historic Park. Did we miss your favorite park activity? Let us know by contacting us at Fort Myers Mitsubishi by phone or email. Planning a visit to the park? We’d love to hear all about your experience and what you’re looking forward to the most.