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Eden Gardens State Park: The name says it all

Courtesy Eden Gardens State Park

In the Emerald Coast area of Florida’s panhandle, Eden Gardens State Park is both a beautiful natural area and an immaculately restored historic home.

Originally built in 1897 on a 10-acre lot, the Wesley House in Point Washington was eventually purchased by wealthy newspaper columnist Lois Maxon, who called it her “own little piece of Eden.”

Maxon restored the house, filled it with international antiques and planted extensive gardens on the estate. In 1968, she sold it to the state of Florida with the understanding that it would become a public park and display home.

Today, there are some 14 acres of gardens at the park, which has expanded to encompass 163 acres of woods and wetlands.

“The camellias that Ms. Maxon planted in the 1960s are now full-blown trees,” said Elizabeth Eich, park specialist at Eden Gardens. “There’s a heritage rose garden, butterfly gardens and shade gardens. We also have a nursery where we propagate pieces of a lot of things in the park, so people can take home a piece of Eden if they want.”

Groups can also take tours of the historic house, which has been preserved much as it was when Maxon lived there. Notable items on display include a number of family heirlooms and antique furniture Maxon bought on shopping sprees in Europe, including some Louis XVI furniture she acquired from a chateau in France.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.