There are so many wonderful things about the State of Florida and many of them are just plain free! On this site, I'll be exploring the free side of Florida as well as low cost options for your weekends or vacation. But because I don't want to steer you wrong, I'll post after I visit these places myself. Have a great time on the site and on your own adventures!

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Historic Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens, Port Orange, FL

Although it hasn't been an active sugar mill in nearly 200 years, the Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens still has parts of the original structure and machinery used in the early 1800's. Now covered by a recently constructed pavilion, the remains of the plantation  mill are vivid reminders of what life must have been like during the settling of this part of Florida. With massive, steam-powered equipment, the enclosed building, the Florida sun and lack of any cooling system the workers (generally slaves) of the Mill were in virtually torturous conditions.

And that wasn't the only threat to safety. The real Florida natives, the Seminole Tribe, were on a constant attack.  It seems the plantation/mill was under a number of different hands before finally giving up the production ghost for good in 1836 due mainly to these attacks.

Since those years, the grounds have gone through many transformations: from a sugar plantation, to abandoned grounds, to a site for postcards to be photographed for Florida tourism, to "Bongoland" - a strange little theme park in the 1950's equipped with a real baboon, an Indian village, and huge concrete dinosaurs that are still standing.

Nowadays, Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens are around 200 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and tree'd areas that also house the ruins of the original mill building, as well as those giant concrete dinosaurs. Sort of an odd mix, but somehow it all seems to work. Visitors can also find a human sun dial that accurately tells the time if the visitor stands next to the stone naming the appropriate month. One could wander for hours on the grounds, but my recommendation would be to visit in the spring. Not only will the weather be a bit less hot, but it seems the gardens were designed for the best show at that time of year. Another word of advice is to remember that this location is in the woods of Florida - wear some sort of bug repellent.

But don't let the bugs stop you. This is a place to see and the price is right - Free! The Gardens do accept monetary donations from visitors, but also for the small area near the entrance where visitors can do a little live herb and vegetable plant shopping. Additionally, the Gardens can play host to garden club meetings, troop outings and even has several beautiful areas for weddings, however there are no pets allowed.

For more information on the Historic Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens, click the name or go to

Click HERE for a map.

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