The perfect road trip stop between Tampa and Ocala, Florida is Dade Battlefield Historic State Park. If you’ve driven along I-75, chances are you have been closer to this park than you realize! This park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974. See below 8 fun things to do at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park.
The Basics – Dade Battlefield Historic State Park
- Address: 7200 Battlefield Parkway Bushnell, Florida
- Driving distance from select Florida cities
- Ocala: 45 minutes
- Tampa: 1 hour
- Orlando:1 hour
- Gainesville:1 hour 15 minutes
- Jacksonville: 2.5 hours
- Fee: $3 per vehicle
- Park Hours: 8 AM to sunset
- Visitor Center Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM
- Activities: Hiking, picnicking, historic site, museum and playground
- Pet friendly: Yes, outdoor areas of the park only
Visiting tip: I recommend bringing exact cash when visiting this park for the entrance fee. There is a honor fee station at the park entrance.
8 Things to do at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park
I was surprised with all there was to do at this park when I visited. See below 8 things to do at this Florida State Park!
- Visit the museum in the visitor center
- Hike the 0.5-mile Pine Flatwoods Trail
- Watch This Land, These Men video
- Take a picture by the ancient live oak tree
- Walk along the memorial trail
- Enjoy a picnic
- Play on the playground
- Attend the Battle of Dade Reenactment
1. Visit the museum in the visitor center
If you enjoy history or want to learn more about the Florida Seminole War, the museum is where you want to spend some time! There are displays where you can take your time walking around and reading to get a better understanding of the significance of the park. I recommend starting your visit at the visitor center before exploring the park grounds. The museum hours are from 9 AM to 5 PM daily.
2. Watch the This Land, These Men video
Also located in the visitor center is a recurring 12-minute video “This Land, These Men” about the Battle of Dade. The visitor center is open from 9 AM to 5 PM daily. Once you have checked out the museum and watched the video you will be able to have a greater appreciation of the park as you start exploring outside.
3. Hike the 0.5-mile Pine Flatwoods Trail
If you’ve read any of my blog posts, you know that hiking is one of my favorite activities in Florida State Parks. Enjoy this short 0.5-mile loop. In addition to this trail, on All Trails there is a 1.7-mile loop listed as Dade Battlefield Historic State Park trail. I did not complete this trail during my visit, but it appears to go along the parameters of the park. Consider completing this loop if you are looking to stretch your legs and get a little more distance in.
4. Take a picture by the ancient live oak tree
One of the highlights of my visit was the ancient live oak tree! It is incredible to stand next to and realize just how small we are in this big world. There is a short trail that leads you to the live oak tree. The Florida State Park website even mentions this is a popular spot for weddings and I can see why!
5. Walk along the memorial trail
Right outside of the visitor center there is a log redoubt which was reconstructed to represent the one built by the last soldiers in Dade’s command. If you can continue walking down the trail there are memorial plaques, and monuments where important soldiers fell including Major Dade.
6. Enjoy a picnic
There are picnic tables and shelters throughout the park. If you are stopping on a road trip pack your lunch and enjoy it at one of the free-standing picnic tables. These are first come, first serve at no cost. The picnic shelters must be reserved and do have a cost associated with their use. The picnic shelters would be great for a larger group picnic.
7. Play on the play ground
The perfect activity to keep the kids busy and ensure they also enjoy the park! There is a playground located within the park boundaries that can be fun for all ages.
8. Attend the Battle of Dade Reenactment
A popular time to visit this park is in January. Each year there is a live reenactment of Dade’s Battle of 1835 in the park. The park opens at 8 AM and the cost is $5 per person (children under 6 are free) as well as a parking fee of $3 per vehicle. The battle reenactment is set for 2 PM, but I recommend getting to the park early to ensure you have time to explore as well as find a good spot to watch the battle. There are additional activities planned throughout the day including children’s games, cannon firing, and vendors. The dates for 2024 are January 6th and 7th. More information can be found here.
Final Thoughts on Dade Battlefield Historic State Park
I was pleasantly surprised after my first visit at all there is to do and see at this Florida State Park. This park is a must see for any history lover. The ancient live oak tree and visitor center museum and video were my favorite parts of the park. I highly recommend you stop next time you find yourself between Tampa and Ocala on I-75.
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The information above was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. Information will be verified and updated periodically. If you are planning to visit Dade Historic Battlefield State Park, I recommend verifying the most current information with the Florida State Park website.