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!

Be sure to click the tab below for a full list of reviewed locations!

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(Very) Big Tree Park, Longwood, FL

The largest Bald Cypress in the country,
The Senator.
** UPDATE **   The Senator, one of the oldest living trees in the world, came to the end of it's life Monday, January 16, 2012. Fire consumed the historic figure, destroying it completely. We at Free Time Florida salute you, Senator, and thank you for the many centuries you stood watch over us and the lives you have affected.


For our readers, please enjoy this article written Dec. 2010.

It seems when most people think of Florida, they think "new"... Walt Disney World, Kennedy Space Center, South Beach Miami, new sophisticated cruise ships, etc. But what if I told you one of the oldest living things in the entire world resides right near the center of this state? Only four trees on Earth are older.

Big Tree Park is home to "The Senator", a National Champion Bald Cypress tree that is estimated to be 3,500 years old. That's 3,500 years this tree has stood in the forests of Florida withstanding what must be hundreds of hurricanes, every war the Earth has ever seen, witnessed the Magna Carta being enacted, saw the destruction of the ancient city of Pompeii, Christ's birth, Cleopatra's reign, and was a sapling at the time of Stonehenge's construction.

At one point standing around 165 feet tall and having a trunk diameter (not even circumference) of 17.5 feet, this is the largest Cypress in the United States and the largest tree of any species east of the Mississippi. Unfortunately, one of the four hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004 took the top portion of the tree, leaving the current height at 125 feet. Looking at the him now, it's difficult to imagine another almost half as much height on top. Home Tree from the movie Avatar comes to mind when the nasty guy with the scars on his head says, "that is one big damn tree". He would certainly be correct in this case as well.
For some size perspective,
here I am standing in front
of The Senator.

But The Senator is not the only ancient tree in this park. Just a few steps further down the boardwalk brings visitors to "Lady Liberty", another cypress that is 2,000 years old! Two of the oldest living things on Earth, right here and free to visit.
Standing in front of
Lady Liberty.

Big Tree Park is not really a place to spend a whole day, although if one wants to have an incredible bit of history near while they enjoy their picnic lunch, this is a fine choice. There are picnic tables under small pavilions, restroom facilities, and a playground for children right on site. Also, the Cross Seminole Trail runs directly at the front of the park, so there is easy access if you should choose to exercise your way on over. Please refrain from bringing your pets, as they are not allowed. Can you imagine Spot lifting his leg on one of the oldest trees in America??

To find more information on Big Tree Park, please click the name or go to this address: http://www.seminolecountyfl.gov/parksrec/PassiveParksandBoatRamps/BigTreePark.aspx

Click HERE for a map.

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