May 2013 News And Events
Florida Heritage Travel is the companion monthly e-zine of FLORIDA BACKROADS TRAVEL.
USEPPA ISLAND & CABBAGE KEY: OLD FLORIDA ON DISPLAY
Pine Island Sound is a shallow body of water lying west of the metropolitan area of Fort Myers and Cape Coral. Several romantic islands front on the sound, including Gasparilla, Sanibel, Captiva, Useppa and Cabbage Key. Useppa Island has been the location of luxury resorts for more than 100 years, and is currently the location of the private Useppa Island Club. Cabbage Key is just across the sound, and is famous for the Old Florida restaurant that inspired Jimmy Buffett's "Cheeseburger In Paradise". Both islands are only accessible by boat (or seaplane).
The origin of Useppa's name is shrouded in the mystery of this part of Florida that attaches to the pirate captain, Jose Gaspar, whose nickname was Gasparilla. The legend is that Gaspar kidnapped a Spanish princess named Josefa. He fell in love with her, but she would have nothing to do with such a nasty old pirate. So he imprisoned her on the island for the rest of her life. Or he killed her. History is
vague on the subject, including whether or not Gaspar even existed. In any event, Useppa is supposedly a variation of the princess's name.
Long before the legend of the pirates, Useppa was a stronghold of the powerful native American Calusa tribe. Visitors today can still see evidence of the early settlements in the form of shell mounds and collections of various archeological digs. It is this archeological significance that placed Useppa on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Useppa was purchased in 1894 by a Chicago streetcar millionaire named John Roach, who built a large winter home on the island. One of his guests was a wealthy New York advertising tycoon named Barron Collier. Collier bought the entire island from Roach and proceeded to develop much of southwest Florida, including completion of the famous Tamiami Trail from Naples to Miami. He not only made Useppa Island his home, he turned it into a first class resort for the use of
his friends and clients. Among his famous guests were many Vanderbilts, Herbert Hoover, many Rockefellers and Rothchilds. He also hosted celebrities like Gloria Swanson, Shirley Temple and Zane Grey.
The inn had several names over the years, including Tarpon Inn, Useppa Inn and Collier Inn. Time and hurricanes took their toll on the old resort, but the current owner has been steadily improving the club since buying it in 1976. It is now one again truly one of the most exclusive and elegant getaways in the United States. All homes are owned by club members, but seven guest rooms are available in the renovated hotel. Call 239-283-1061 for more information.
RESTAURANT OF THE MONTH
Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant, Cabbage Key
FLORIDA BACKROADS TRAVEL UPDATES
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May is the beginning of muggy in Florida. The home air conditioners are on at least half-time duty; things are beginning to bloom, grass is growing faster and the lawn mower needs a tuneup. The snow birds have flocked back home, and the lines at our restaurants are short one again.
Here are some
interesting events around Florida for May 2013.
FLORIDA WINERIES. Check the Florida winery nearest you. Many of them have wonderful weekend events that include music and wine tastings. Our site has information on 18 wineries scattered across the state.
FLORIDA FESTIVALS. There are several outside events this time of year. Among these are outdoor art festivals and folk and bluegrass music festivals.
FLORIDA BEACHES. Almost anything you decide to do in Florida can be enhanced by spending some quality time at a great beach, and best beaches in Florida will guide you in the right direction.
FLORIDA MUSEUMS. Many
Florida art and historical museums have scheduled events. Click on the links to find out what is going on.
FLORIDA THEATER. This is an active time for plays and musical events in our many Florida theaters.. Check the links to find out what might be interesting to you.
FLORIDA AUTHORS. May is a good time to sit on the porch and read a book by a Florida author. Our most visited author page is still that of Tim Dorsey, the creator of zany serial killer Serge Storms, followed closely by Randy Wayne White and his hero Doc Ford.
Rather than listing one event
in each of Florida's 8 regions on a monthly basis, I have decided instead to provide a very useful link that will tell you what is going on this month virtually everywhere in Florida.
FLORIDA FESTIVALS AND OTHER EVENTS FOR MAY 2013
Information on the towns and places hosting these events, or near them, including lodging, can be found at Florida Towns.
A few events are cancelled on very short notice. I do my best to ensure that our information is correct and current, but I recommend you call before leaving for the event to make sure it's still on.
Thanks for subscribing to Florida Heritage Travel. We will see you next month with more updates and event information.
Regards, Mike Miller
Chief Backroads Traveler