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.
Camp Ucita, film, Memorial Trail, Holy Eucharist Monument
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
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
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.
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.
1930s breadline statue by George Segal, FDR in a wheelchair
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.
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.
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.
Open 24 hours a day, NPS rangers present 10 a.m. to 11:30
All roads paved and street parking is available near the
Explore More – Was
any U.S. President other than FDR elected more than twice?