Tag Archives: National Memorial

De Soto National Memorial

Overview

Why create a memorial to a genocidal Conquistador when he was not the first Spaniard to land in Florida?  Good question.  Juan Pónce de León and Pánfilo de Narváez had both already met their demise in this region, but that did not deter Hernando de Soto from trying again in 1539.  He did not die until three years later, after he led his soldiers all the way to the Mississippi River leaving a path of destruction in their wake.

Highlights

Camp Ucita, film, Memorial Trail, Holy Eucharist Monument

Must-Do Activity

De Soto made landfall in Florida somewhere in the vicinity of modern-day Bradenton, Florida where the Manatee River reaches Tampa Bay on the Gulf of Mexico.  He left behind 100 men there in Camp Ucita, a replica of which was built on the site of the 27-acre De Soto National Memorial.  In the winter (a.k.a. touristy) months, costumed interpreters work at the replica Camp Ucita.

Best Trail

Hike the half-mile Memorial Trail through the mangroves to the Holy Eucharist Monument.  Then cool off in the air-conditioned visitor center to watch a 22-minute film on the Spanish expedition. 

Instagram-worthy Photo

If you visit around Halloween, a scary skeleton Conquistador atop a skeleton horse will greet you at the entrance to the National Park Service visitor center.

Peak Season

Winter

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/deso/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

A paved road leads through a residential neighborhood to the visitor center, so watch out for dog walkers and joggers on the road and trail.

Camping

Myakka River State Park is southeast of Bradenton (where private campgrounds are also available).

Explore More – The Spaniards brought many diseases to the indigenous peoples, but the introduction of which domesticated animal had the longest lasting ecological impact?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Overview

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is a series of sculptures representative of the variety of struggles he faced during his twelve years as President.  Opened in 1997, this unique memorial is appropriately wheelchair-accessible.  After contracting polio at age 39, the future President would never walk again without assistance, but that disability gave him the courage to lead the nation through the Great Depression and World War II.

Highlights

1930s breadline statue by George Segal, FDR in a wheelchair statue

Must-Do Activity

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) dedicated the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on April 13, 1943, exactly 200 years after Jefferson’s birth.  The nearby memorial to FDR is not such a grand and imposing coliseum, but is more approachable and unassuming as it winds past small waterfalls and statues depicting FDR’s four terms as President.  Here two great Presidents are remembered in two very different, but equally eloquent ways.

Best Trail

The Inlet Bridge connects a walking trail between the FDR Memorial and Thomas Jefferson Memorial which passes some of Washington, D.C.’s famous Japanese cherry trees.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The memorial is on the Tidal Basin of the Potomac River, so it is a great place to see reflections of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, especially when it is lit up at night.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

Open 24 hours a day, NPS rangers present 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved and street parking is available near the memorial

Camping

None

Explore More – Was any U.S. President other than FDR elected more than twice?