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Antebellum home in Florida

Gamble Plantation Historic State Park

Notable as the last surviving antebellum home in South Florida, the Gamble Mansion once anchored a 3,500 acre sugar plantation along the Manatee River.

Ellenton       ( 27.521906,-82.526326 )      

Flanked by three-hundred-year-old oaks, the grand entrance to the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park in Ellenton evokes Tara.

It’s an unmistakable landmark along US 301, which cuts through what was once Major Robert Gamble’s 3,500-acre sugar plantation along the Manatee River in 1843.

What remained of the plantation and Gamble’s antebellum home was purchased by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1925.

They donated it to the state with the proviso that it be designated the Judah P. Benjamin Confederate Memorial.

Large Greek Revival mansion

About the Park

A visitor center provides context about plantations in Florida prior to the Civil War, with a particular emphasis on this historic site.

Purchase your ticket for a guided tour. A walk around the grounds reveals more background through interpretive markers, but your guide will take you inside the home.

Displays and a mural in a building

Built of tabby, a mix of oyster shells and lime, the walls of this Greek Revival mansion are two feet thick.

The home was designed to trap cool air like a cave. Wooden downspouts funneled rainwater off the roof into an underground cistern for fresh water.

1830s cistern

Restored to its original beauty, the mansion features period furnishings and artwork, which your guide can answer your questions about.

Because of its early conservation, it is one of the few remaining examples of a Florida antebellum plantation home statewide.

tour guide and audience with an antique coffee maker and beans

Six years of fine craftsmanship went into the construction of this mansion, which incorporated much work by enslaved laborers.

Gamble’s fortunes with sugar production fell flat before the Civil War began. In debt, he sold the property to Capt. Archibald McNeil in 1859.

Antiques in a dining room

According to historic documents, this plantation played a pivotal role at the end of the Civil War in assisting the escape of Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin.

Prior to the war, Benjamin was a state senator of Louisiana and the first Jewish member to serve out a term in the U.S. Congress.

Benjamin’s cousin Florida senator David Levy Yulee, was the first Jewish U.S. senator elected, but renounced the faith while in Congress to marry a Christian governor’s daughter.

Writing desk with quill pen

He disguised himself as a French journalist, “M. Bonfal,” fled to Florida, and was briefly hid on these premises by McNeil, who arranged for a boat to Nassau for Benjamin’s escape.

From there, Benjamin sailed to Great Britain. He resumed his profession, becoming a renowned barrister in the area of commercial law, retiring in 1883.

Bedroom with fine bedspread on four poster bed

Leaving the house, note the oak-lined entrance out front. The Manatee River was the transportation channel of its time, so this impressive entrance once reached a river landing.

A cane grinding exhibit and garden sit behind the mansion along with picnic tables and an accessible picnic pavilion.

The ruins of the Gamble sugar mill are roadside along SR 683, north of Memphis Rd.

Sugar rollers in green space

Explore More!

Nearby adventures.

Madira Bickel Mound

Park Map (PDF) Official Website

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Florida Rambler

Gamble Mansion: Civil War history near Sarasota

By: Author Bonnie Gross

Posted on Last updated: January 26, 2023

I live in South Florida, but not in “the South.” I do not hear Southern accents. I do not see grits on many menus. Iced tea is rarely “sweet tea.” As a result, I forget that I live in a state that actively fought for the Confederacy. It was eye-opening, then, to tour South Florida’s only antebellum mansion, Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, a house with white columns to rival Tara and the site of a dramatic Civil War event.

Gamble Mansion in Ellenton, near Sarasota

It’s located near Sarasota, just two miles off I-75, minutes south of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to St. Petersburg. 

The Gamble mansion makes an interesting hour-long stop on a road trip. (My tour included a businessman squeezing in a visit between appointments in Sarasota and St. Pete.)

Gamble Mansion in decay 1902

To go inside the Gamble plantation house, you must take a guided tour, offered for $6 at 9:30 a.m. 10:30 a.m., 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. from Thursdays to Mondays. (The visitor center is closed and there are no tours on Tuesday and Wednesday.)

The mansion was built in 1844 and has survived wars, hurricanes and tropical humidity – but just barely. After being used to store fertilizer, it sat vacant in the 1920s, decaying away.  The United Daughters of the Confederacy came to its rescue, purchasing the property and deeding it to the state.

View of Gamble Mansion from the Patten House

Today, the house sits at the center of a park filled with towering live oaks cloaked in Spanish moss, near the 1895 Patten House, a pioneer farmhouse also preserved and maintained by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Picnic tables are situated under the trees and a small museum tells the Gamble mansion history and exhibits a few Civil War objects. (There’s no fee to visit the grounds or the museum.)

Gamble Mansion coffee roaster demonstrated Gamble Mansion: Civil War history near Sarasota

The Gamble Mansion was built shortly after the Second Seminole War ended, opening the area for settlement. Robert Gamble, a major during the war, built a sugar plantation on the Little Manatee River, starting in 1844. 

He was a bachelor, and yet he built a lavish 10-room two-story mansion on the Gamble plantation. Its tabby walls are nearly two feet thick and it has wide shaded verandas wrapping around three sides of the house.

Grounds of Gamble Mansion near Sarasota are ideal for picnics

The original cistern, which collected water from the mansion roof, remains. All the labor was done by enslaved people, including digging 16 miles of canals, necessary to grow sugar. (One of those original canals runs along the park’s borders.)

Records show that in 1847, Gamble owned 69 enslaved people and by 1855, that number had increased to 151. No slave quarters remain. Gamble only lived there and operated the plantation for 12 years. Deeply in debt, Gamble was forced to sell it (including the then 185 enslaved people) in 1856 after sugar prices sank.

The museum today is furnished with period items, though none are original to the house. A knowledgeable guide takes visitors through the rooms, pointing out such items as a 19 th  Century piano, the painted floor cloth and a tea caddy that could be locked after use to protect its valuable contents.

Gamble Mansion visitor center exhibits Confederate uniform

Judah Philip Benjamin and the Gamble Mansion

The story that makes the Gamble Mansion famous, though, is its role in 1865 just after the Confederate collapse. The secretary of state for the Confederacy was Judah Philip Benjamin, an unusual and fascinating character. He was a prominent Jewish New Orleans plantation owner and a trusted confidante of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

After the war, there was a $40,000 reward for his capture. Traveling in disguise, he made his way south, staying at homes of Confederate supporters until he reached Gamble Mansion, then the home of Archibald McNeil, a famous blockade runner, where he took refuge for two weeks. With McNeil’s help, he stole away on a boat to Bimini.

After stops in Nassau, Havana and St. Thomas, he sailed to London, where he was an immediate success as a barrister. He had a long, lucrative career and was much admired by his British colleagues. The United Daughters of the Confederacy in the Sarasota region, who saved the house, are the Judah P. Benjamin chapter and the park is designated the Judah P. Benjamin Confederate Memorial.

Gamble Mansion carpetbag Gamble Mansion: Civil War history near Sarasota

Gamble Plantation handles sensitive topics

As an acquisition from the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Gamble Plantation State Park works carefully to get the history right and in neutral terms. The UDC was highly influential in the property through much of the 20th Century, seeing the site as one devoted to Confederate history.

Today, the Florida Park Service keeps the focus on the history of the property and the people who lived there.

A carpet bag on display, once probably used to tell a Confederate narrative, is descibed in the blandest possible terms — carpet bags were used by travelers after the Civil War, it explains. There’s no explanation that “carpetbagger” was a derogatory term for Northerners who came South during Reconstruction.

Also in the museum, there is on display a Census Bureau document listing the enslaved people on the plantation by name. It is referenced during the tour with a solemn pledge from the ranger guide: “We know their names and we honor every one of them.”

Gamble Plantation Historic Park 3708 Patten Ave., Ellenton, FL 34222 (942) 723-4536

Tours are $6 for adults; $4 for children. The visitor center/museum is open Thursday through Monday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. but closed  for lunch 11:45 a.m.  to 12:45 p.m., Thursday through Monday. Visitor center is closed and tours are not available on Tuesday and Wednesday as well as the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The park is open 365 days a year until sunset.

  • Gamble Mansin park official website
  • Interesting background on Gamble Mansion 

If Civil War history interests you, you might be interested in two other rare Antebellum plantation homes in Florida about which we’ve written: the Kingsley Plantation , which is much older, going back to when Spain ruled Florida, and Chinsegut Hill near Brooksville , a fascinating spot that tells the stories of both white and black people over its 180 year history.

 More about Gamble Mansion for history buffs

  • A writer for ghosttowns.com says intrepid history fans can seek out the ruins of the Gambler plantation’s sugar mill: “The ruins of the mill after it burned down during the Civil War are three-quarters of a mile from the house. They are not restored and call for some walking into a jungle but it is not difficult and quite interesting,” the site says.
  • An ancient Native American ceremonial mound is preserved in the nearby 10-acre Madira Bickel Mount State Archaeological Site.

More things to do near the Gamble Mansion

We love the beaches and overall ambiance of Anna Maria Island, about a half hour a way. Here’s a guide to things to do on Anna Maria Island .

Near Anna Maria Island, the picturesque fishing village of Cortez is an outstanding place to get fresh seafood and enjoy the ambiance of Old Florida. Here’s a guide to visiting Cortez , including my favorite fish shack there.

DeSoto National Memorial Park , 8300 Desoto Memorial Hwy, Bradenton, FL 34209, is a national park, although quite small and modest. It has a spectacular location on the Bradenton River and a well-done three-quarter-mile trail along the water and through the mangroves, telling the story of the indigenous people and the Spanish explorers. There is a small museum. It’s free.

Kayaking Frog Creek in Palmetto . This is one of the best paddles you’ve never heard of. Your launch point is hidden behind a private campground in Palmetto. You can launch your own kayak ($10 fee) or rent one. What makes this paddle remarkable is that in one trip, it encompasses two completely different environments — a canopied fresh water cypress and oak creek with open water areas flowing into tidal salt water mangrove tunnels.   Here’s a Florida Rambler story on Frog Creek.

Fort DeSoto Park : One of Florida’s best beaches and a historic fort is a half hour away. Passe-a-Grille , an Old Florida neighborhood on St. Pete Beach is a great beach town.  

All articles on FloridaRambler.com are original, produced exclusively for our readers and protected by U.S. Copyright law. Any use or re-publication without written permission is against the law. Read more: floridarambler.com/licensing

This page contains affiliate links from which Florida Rambler may earn a small commission if a purchase is made. This revenue supports our mission to produce quality stories about the authentic Florida destinations at no cost to our readers.

Bonnie Gross

The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.

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THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Plantation

Things to do in plantation, explore popular experiences, tours in and around plantation.

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Giant oak tree and lush green open landscape with Wesley House in the back drop.

Eden Gardens State Park

8 a.m. until sunset, 365 days a year

$4 per vehicle. Please use the honor box to pay fees. Correct change is required.

See all fees

181 Eden Gardens Road Santa Rosa Beach FL 32459

Contact Info

Welcome to eden gardens state park.

Eden Gardens includes 163 acres of land that were part of the historic Wesley homestead.

Pay Online, Single-Use Day Pass

The focal point of this park is a beautifully renovated two-story house with elegant white columns and wrap-around porch. In a setting of moss-draped live oaks, the 1897 mansion recalls a prosperous era before the virgin forests of longleaf pine and cypress were exhausted in this part of the state. 

In 1963, Lois Maxon bought and renovated the home, creating a showplace for her family heirlooms and antiques.

Visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the Wesley House, meander through the gardens, enjoy a picnic and fish off the dock in Tucker Bayou.

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Manager's Message Eden Gardens State Park

Manager's Message

Wedding Tree

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Historic Wesley House

Experiences, eden gardens state park photo gallery.

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Tucker Bayou

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plantation tour florida

Exiting nps.gov

Alerts in effect, visiting kingsley plantation.

Last updated: November 9, 2023

Park footer

Contact info, mailing address:.

12713 Fort Caroline Road Jacksonville, FL 32225

904-641-7155

Plantation's Kings Bay Scenic Cruise

Plantation's Kings Bay Scenic Cruise

  • Duration: 60 Minutes (approx.)
  • Location : Crystal River, Florida
  • Product code: Scenic

The scenic cruise is our one-hour dry tour of Kings Bay. We’ll cruise through the bay looking for wildlife while the captain points out the highlights of the area. During the cruise there’s always the chance of seeing manatees, but we can never guarantee it. These are wild animals in their natural habitat that come and go as they desire. Our boats are fully covered to protect you from the sun and rain. Besides manatees there is always a chance of seeing dolphins, otters, turtles, a variety of birds and fish. Every tour is unique! Be sure to bring a pair of polarized sunglasses for your best chance at spotting wildlife. We offer a wide selection that are available for purchase in our gift shop as well.

All bookings are subject  to a 7 day cancellation policy. Inside 7 days all booking are non transferable and non refundable.

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  • The ranking of tours, activities, and experiences available on Tripadvisor is determined by several factors including the revenue generated by Tripadvisor from these bookings, the frequency of user clicks, and the volume and quality of customer reviews. Occasionally, newly listed offerings may be prioritized and appear higher in the list. The specific placement of these new listings may vary.

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9386 NW 8TH CIR

9386 NW 8TH CIR, PLANTATION, FL 33324, photo 1 of 56

Coming Soon

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Listed By Coldwell Banker Realty , Justin Brooks

9386 NW 8TH CIR PLANTATION, FL 33324

1,956 Sq Ft

Status Coming Soon

MLS# F10442782

Welcome to your dream home in the serene Jacaranda Parcel of Plantation, FL! This stunning 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom single-family residence features a newly installed roof and impact windows, ensuring durability and energy efficiency. The open-concept living area, filled with natural light, is perfect for entertaining. The master suite includes a walk-in closet and a spa-like en-suite bathroom. Three additional spacious bedrooms and bathrooms complete the interior. Outside, a screened-in patio awaits your relaxation. This home has a community pool, is walking distance to local shopping and the Plantation Walk entertainment complex, with easy access to dining, shopping, and entertainment. It is also close to major highways, top-rated schools, and parks. Don’t miss this exceptional home.

Details for 9386 NW 8TH CIR

Built in 1991

$302 / Sq Ft

2 parking spaces

$201 monthly HOA Fee

Central Cooling

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1 Day on website

0.09 acres lot

Automatic Garage Door Opener, Dishwasher, Dryer, Electric Range, Icemaker, Microwave, Refrigerator, Smoke Detector, Washer

Bathrooms Full

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Vinyl Floors

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First Floor Entry, Kitchen Island, Foyer Entry, Walk-in Closets

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1,956 SqFt.

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Residential

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Broward County

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COMMENTS

  1. THE TOP 10 Florida Plantation Tours (UPDATED 2024)

    The best Plantation Tours in Florida according to Viator travelers are: Everglades Tour from Miami with Transportation. Everglades Airboat Tour from Fort Lauderdale with transportation. Miami Combo: City Tour, Biscayne Bay Cruise and Everglades Airboat Ride. Miami to Key West Day Trip with Activity Options. Plantation's Kings Bay Scenic Cruise.

  2. Kingsley Plantation

    This includes the slave quarters, barn, waterfront, plantation house, kitchen house, and interpretive garden. There are interpretive signs everywhere detailing the history of the plantation. We learned about the history of Kingsley Plantation taking a self-guided audio tour "Lion's Story Teller." So much interestng history to learn about.

  3. Gamble Plantation Historic State Park

    Florida State Park Ranger Jesse Tower led the tour. He was very knowledgeable and quite entertaining with quips worked into his presentation. The tour of Gamble Plantation centers on the lavish two-story, ten-room mansion. Walking over across the lawn, the most noticeable feature of the house was all the columns in front of the mansion.

  4. THE TOP 10 Florida Plantation Tours (w/Prices)

    A: Florida Plantation Tours with Instant Confirmation include: Plantation's Kings Bay Scenic Cruise. Small group Manatee Tour with In-Water Divemaster/Photographer. Private Manatee Swim for up to 6 with In-Water Divemaster/Photographer. Plantation's Kings Bay Sunset Cruise. Ultimate Florida Self Guided Driving Audio Tour Bundle.

  5. Sugarland Tours

    Board a bus with a very knowable tour guide right out to sugarcane fields to cut and taste the cane! Discover the entire process all the way to the factory. Visit the local orange juice factory site to find out how orange juice is made. Buffet lunch at the historic Clewiston Inn. Then tour around the city seeing the dike and area. 5 hour tour.

  6. Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park

    The 150 acres of Bulow Plantation Ruins stand as a monument to the rise and fall of sugar plantations in East Florida. In 1836, the Second Seminole War swept away the prosperous Bulow Plantation where the Bulow family grew sugar cane, cotton, rice and indigo. Ruins of the former plantation, a sugar mill, a unique spring house, several wells and ...

  7. Judah P. Benjamin Confederate Memorial at Gamble Plantation Historic

    It is the only surviving plantation house in South Florida. A stately antebellum plantation home has been preserved and restored for visitors to enjoy. It is the only surviving plantation house in South Florida. ... Tours: $6 per adult, $4 per child (6 to 12 years) See all fees . Location. 3708 U.S. Highway 301 Ellenton FL 34222 Get directions ...

  8. Gamble Plantation Historic State Park

    Entrance to the site is free and fascinating guided tours are offered Thursday through Monday. The Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. The Visitor Center and Museum is open Thursday - Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please note: The visitor center is closed for lunch 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Visitor Center is closed and tours are not ...

  9. Tour Gamble Plantation Historic State Park

    Learn more Florida history and interesting facts at the small museum in the Visitor Center. There are plenty of local exhibits and storyboards giving detailed information about the sugar plantation, the Gamble Mansion, and the neighboring Patten Home (1872), which are all part of the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park.Entrance to the site is free and fascinating guided tours are offered ...

  10. Gamble Plantation Historic State Park

    Centered on the last antebellum mansion in South Florida, Gamble Plantation Historic State Park interprets the Civil War in Florida along the north shore of the Manatee River near Bradenton. ... Guided tour $6 adult, $4 child Restroom: At the visitor center Land manager: Florida State Parks Phone: 941-723-4536 Open 8 AM to sunset. Leashed dogs ...

  11. Kingsley Plantation: Moving tale of slavery unique to Florida

    Planning your visit to Kingsley Plantation. The Kingsley Plantation is convenient if you are visiting Jacksonville. It's within the city limits (35 minutes from downtown) -- or Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach (40 minutes from Fernandina Beach). Kingsley Plantation, 11676 Palmetto Avenue, Jacksonville, Florida 32226 Phone: 904-251-3537.

  12. Gamble Mansion: Civil War history near Sarasota

    It was eye-opening, then, to tour South Florida's only antebellum mansion, Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, a house with white columns to rival Tara and the site of a dramatic Civil War event. ... To go inside the Gamble plantation house, you must take a guided tour, offered for $6 at 9:30 a.m. 10:30 a.m., 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. from ...

  13. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Plantation (Updated 2024)

    8. Island SPACE Caribbean Museum. Island SPACE is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the development and advancement of arts, culture, history, and educational initiatives that represent the Caribbean region, in South Florida and the broader diaspora community. 9. Soref Jcc.

  14. Eden Gardens State Park

    Eden Gardens includes 163 acres of land that were part of the historic Wesley homestead. The focal point of this park is a beautifully renovated two-story house with elegant white columns and wrap-around porch. In a setting of moss-draped live oaks, the 1897 mansion recalls a prosperous era before the virgin forests of longleaf pine and cypress ...

  15. Plantation on Crystal River

    Welcome to Plantation on Crystal River! Click here to learn more about our hotels, and the amenities we have for you to enjoy for your next visit. Reservations: 800-632-6262 RIVER CAM

  16. Visiting Kingsley Plantation

    Contact Information. Kingsley Plantation is located along the Fort George River on Fort George Island. Kingsley Plantation admission is free. Visit our calendar to learn when the planter's house is open, ranger programs are scheduled, and events are taking place. The audio tour is offered daily through our website.

  17. TOP 10 BEST Plantation Tours in Tallahassee, FL

    Top 10 Best Plantation Tours in Tallahassee, FL - May 2024 - Yelp - Goodwood Museum & Gardens, The Grove Museum, Tallahassee Museum, Betton Hills Plantation Cemetery, Chemonie Plantation, Swamp Monsters Hunting Fishing and Outdoor Adventures, Horseshoe Plantation, Blackwood-Hartwood Plantation Cemetery, Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, Killearn Lakes Plantation Home Owners ...

  18. The Stetson Mansion

    It has recently been rescued, restored and updated in a timeless fashion. Christmas Tours will be offered Nov 1, 2024 to Jan 18, 2025. The Mansion is closed between Jan 21th and Oct 31st in 2024. USA Today's 10Best named the Stetson Mansions' outstandingly lavish "Christmas Spectacular!" the #1 Holiday Home Tour in Florida and #2 in the ...

  19. Plantation On Crystal River Adventure Center

    At the Plantation Resort on Crystal River Adventure Center, guests and visitors can fully immerse themselves in the authentic thrill and adventure of Florida's nature coast. From snorkeling and swimming with manatees to fishing, boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding, if you're looking to get out on the water, this is the place for you.

  20. Plantation's Kings Bay Scenic Cruise

    Plantation's Kings Bay Scenic Cruise. From USD $25.00. Duration: 60 Minutes (approx.) Location: Crystal River, Florida. Product code: Scenic. The scenic cruise is our one-hour dry tour of Kings Bay. We'll cruise through the bay looking for wildlife while the captain points out the highlights of the area. During the cruise there's always the ...

  21. Tour Kingsley Plantation Near Amelia Island

    Directions To Kingsley Plantation From Amelia Island. Address: Kingsley Plantation, 11676 Palmetto Avenue, Jacksonville, Florida 32226. (Also see Google map below). From Amelia Island, travel south crossing the Nassau Sound Bridge onto Heckscher Drive/A1A. It's a scenic route, about a 20 minutes, passing through Big and Little Talbot Islands ...

  22. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Plantation

    8. Island SPACE Caribbean Museum. Island SPACE is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the development and advancement of arts, culture, history, and educational initiatives that represent the Caribbean region, in South Florida and the broader diaspora community. 9. Soref Jcc.

  23. 861 SW 66th Ave., Plantation, FL 33317

    Find Property Information for 861 SW 66th Ave., Plantation, FL 33317. MLS# A11589646. View Photos, Pricing, Listing Status & More.

  24. THE BEST Plantation Tours & Excursions for 2024 (with Prices)

    Fort Lauderdale to Key West Tour with Optional Add-ons. 42. Full-day Tours. 6+ hours. Travel from Fort Lauderdale to Key West in a coach bus, worry free. Ride across 34 islands and 42 bridges known as the Florida…. Free cancellation. from. $119.

  25. 9386 Nw 8th Cir Plantation, Fl 33324

    Take a video tour of this $590,000, 4 bed, 3 bath, 1,956 Sq Ft, Single Family for sale, located at 9386 NW 8TH CIR in PLANTATION, FL 33324.

  26. 106 Gardenia Ave, Plantation Key, FL 33036

    Zillow and GreatSchools recommend that parents tour multiple schools in-person to inform that choice. As of October 2020, the GreatSchools Ratings methodology continues to move beyond proficiency and standardized test scores. ... 116 Coral Ave, Plantation Key, FL 33036. For Sale. MLS ID #607621, LISA FRINS P.A., Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices ...