By Paco Lopez
My wife and I usually get out of the house on weekends and go “exploring” all over the state.
This past weekend we took a drive to the east coast via I-4 and then up I-95 to Washington Oaks Historic District in Palm Bay.
The gardens were established by Louise and Owen Young who purchased the land in 1936 and built a winter retirement home. The Youngs named the property Washington Oaks since Mr Young was a distant relative of former President George Washington.
Owen D. Young was a businessman, lawyer and diplomat. He founded RCA Victor records in 1919 and became the company’s first chairman until 1929.
A majority of their estate was later donated in 1965 to the state by Mrs. Louise Young once her husband passed away, with the caveat that a her gardens on the estate remain untouched.
If you love exotic flowers and plants and can appreciate beautiful landscaping, this would be a place you would enjoy.
There is a gorgeous rose garden with roses of all types which would easily lend itself to breathtaking wedding photos since there is a long path between the rows of roses.
You will see all types of horticulture from azaleas and camellias to the exquisite bird of paradise, sheltered within a picturesque oak hammock.
It’s not a location where you can spend hours upon hours and dedicate the day to the park. However, it is a destination where you can stroll the grounds for anywhere from 60-90 minutes depending on how much you have scheduled during the day.
Once you walk through the grounds, you can even end up at their beachfront benches where there are grills, benches and fishing right from the seawall along the Matanzas River.
There are also several trails where you can bike or hike and stops along the way with placards to learn about the area, plants, and flowers.
My only suggestion is to remember mosquito repellant. They are there, and get pretty hungry.
Here are directions to the park.