Attractions - Hendry and Glades County
Festivals and Places To Visit - Hendry, Glades and Lee County
LaBelle's Swamp Cabbage Festival is an annual event begun in 1965 by the local Jaycees. The festival honors the delicacy gourmets call "Heart of Palm." Held the last full weekend of each February the festival includes a large parade, dancing, and entertainment in Barron Park, downtown next to the Caloosahatchee River. Free. Swamp Cabbage Festival Schedule of Events
LaBelle's Fourth of July Celebration includes fireworks, games and music in Barron Park on the Caloosahatchee River and the traditional homemade raft race across the river. Free.
The Hendry County Courthouse, at the crossroads of SR 80 and HWY 29 was completed in 1926 and is an excellent example of an Italian Renaissance Revival building build of brick and with limestone column entry arcades and a four-story clock tower that is easily seen miles away and especially when entering town from the east on SR 80. The original Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, now houses the Hendry School Board offices and is worth a visit. Free
The Caloosahatchee River offers boating, skiing, and fishing fun. There is a public boat ramp west of the bridge on Hwy. 78. A public dock with water and electric is also next to the Library on the south side of the bridge and is available to transient boaters free of charge for 72 hours. Free
Highlights include land and marine fossils found in the Caloosahatchee Valley as well as other fossils indigenous to Florida. A display relating to the E. C. Warren family and their life on the commuter steam yacht Navette which was originally built for famed Wall Street financier J. P. Morgan's son Jack. Warren's rotary steam engine installed in the Navette after his 1938 purchase of the 1917 Herreshoff vessel is one of the artifacts owned by the museum.
The LaBelle Heritage Museum (formerly LaBelle Historical Museum) is housed in an historic pioneer store and home. The museum is staffed by volunteers and open variable hours during the year.
(photo: Pioneer Homes at the Museum)
For many years, located one block southeast of the historic Hendry County Courthouse at 150 S. Lee Street (down the street from the Wendy's), and now relocated on Bridge Street, after the purchase of the 1911 William H Poole store and residence at 360 North Bridge Street. Plans are underway to move the Lee Street buildings to the new site on Bridge Street. Donation $3.
The Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest is one of the largest state forests in South Florida. Located south of LaBelle on County Road 832, the pristine forest covers 32,039 acres and is one of the few places in South Florida in which the pre-Columbian landscape can be observed. The area was logged in the early 1900s for making railroad ties and then used as a cattle ranch before being bought by the state. At one time there was even an oil well on the property. The unique natural system now is the roaming area for Florida panther, black bear, sandhill crane, wood stork and gopher tortoise.$2 Entrance Fee
Moore Haven - The Caloosahatchee River winds it way eastward through Glades county, passing by the town of Moore Haven on the west side of Lake Okeechobee. The 3000 or so boaters that will visit the small town each year can not only dock at the Moore Haven City Marina, but at the 300-plus foot City Dock on Riverside Drive, or the 400-plus foot dock at the River House, or at any one of the seawall to Lake Hickpoochee's 4 finger docks that line Lake Hickpochee, just west of Moore Haven.
Ortona Locks and Turkey Creek boaters and visitors can visit the River Forest Yacht Club at Ortona in Glades county, along the north side of the Caloosahatchee River, halfway between LaBelle and Moore Haven.
Another display centers on LaBelle's lady doctor Elizabeth Brungard, who served LaBelle's medical needs for many years after her retirement to her parents' winter home on Hampton Avenue. Other displays focus on early household implements from egg beaters to heavy sad irons common on the cast iron stoves of an earlier era.
Hours are Monday and Tuesday 9-12 and Friday, Saturday 1-4 but call to verify hours. Appointments for other hours or for special group tours my be arranged by calling the museum at (863) 675-0034.
The Big Cypress Indian Reservation is in southeastern Hendry county and features a "wild" look at Florida through the eyes, food, and wild scenery of the Big Cypress Indian Reservation. You may camp, hunt and eat there or just take a day tour. For a detailed look at a trip to the reservation go to Big Cypress Indian Reservation
Cannon Hammock County Park off County Road 832 in south Hendry county. 29 species of butterflies have been reported in this scenic out-of-the-way park. The park is now closed to the public. Owned by Alico Land Co. See News article about Cannon Park
Fisheating Creek - Remnants of the historic old Cypress Knee Museum is 14 miles northeast of LaBelle at the northwest corner of SR 29 and US 27 where in earlier days a large collection of unusally shaped cypress knees could be seen. The land was purchased by the state several years ago as part of the Fisheating Creek State Park, the new entrance is located about a mile north on U.S. 27.
Gatorama, one mile south of the old Cypress Museum location on US27, is an actual alligator farm and visitors can see how real live gators live and are raised.
The Alva Historical Museum is located in Alva, 15 miles west of LaBelle in the first library building in Southwest Florida and demonstrates what life was like for early settlers in 1887. Open Saturday's only from 2-4 PM. Free
Eden Vineyards Winery located 3 miles west of Alva on SR80, 10 miles east of Ft. Myers. The Kiser family began plantings of wine grapes 20 years ago. The vineyards have been planed with fine wine grapes developed by the University of Florida. The Winery is Florida's oldest operating winery. Open for sales and conducted tastings from 11 am until 4 pm. Reservations for groups over 12 persons. Free
Lee County Civic Center, Old Bayshore Road, east off Exit 143, I-75, 25 miles west of LaBelle offers a Bluegrass Concert and Pick-In the first Sunday of each month except holidays, sponsored by the Acoustic Music Society of Southwest Florida. 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. Free to members, $6 donation for non-members. Association dues $25 yearly for families.
Educational Concerns For Hunger Organization (ECHO), a non-profit Christian organization teaches innovative gardening techniques and you can walk through a simulated rain forest and desert environment. Free informative tours of the grounds and growing areas on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday at 10am. Gift shop and grounds open 9-12. Located at 174230 Durrance Rd in North Ft. Myers, one mile east of I-75, exit 26 (Bayshore Rd.) Call for directions. (239) 543-3246. Visit the ECHO Web Site Free
The Clewiston Historical Museum a 2,700 square feet facility is at 112 Commercio Street in Clewiston. ph. (941) 983-2870, and features the sugar cane industry, shell collections, the Seminole Indians and the history of old Riddle Field where 1,325 British cadets were taught to fly in the war years between 1941 and 1945. Open Tuesday through Saturday 1 PM til 5 PM. Free
Manatee Park is located on Palm Beach Blvd (SR80) a mile east of I-75, exit 25. Sponsored by the county and Florida Power and Light, this new park features manatees swimming in canals next to the FPL power plant. The manatees seek warm water during the winter months and find it here. Picnic facilities available. Parking Fee.
The Thomas A. Edison Home and Museum is located near downtown Ft. Myers off State Route 80, also called Palm Beach Boulevard. The attraction is owned by the city of Ft. Myers and tours guided by volunteers are available and you can also spend time in the museum which displays hundreds of Edison's inventions.
Matlacha Mariners Annual Music Festival - Non-profit community organization hold charity fund raiser events yearly. Held usually in November at Pine Island, in Lee county, featuring folk and blues musicians.
Lake Okeechobee, the second largest freshwater lake in the country, at over 30 miles wide, is the perfect spot for hiking, relaxing, fishing and water activities. Numerous parks, fishing and boating facilities around the lake are available to visitors and residents. More Lake Okeechobee information.
Geocaching is a popular sport/game in the area. Hidden treasures are sought by participants using handheld GPS receivers. See the website at www.geocaching.com for locations of local treasures and more information on the sport. There are dozens of hidden caches located in the Hendry and Glades county parks and greenbelts. One example of a local geocache is at: Ortona Indian Mound Park
Treaure Hunting is a popular recreational activity throughout the area. Amateur treasure seekers can buy or rent a metal detector and search parks, woods, and old sites for buried coins and other metal objects of interest. The lucky ones might even find buried gold or at least lost jewelry! Local Treasure Hunting Info.
Festivals and Fairs in the area:
January - Martin Luther King Parade, Belle Glade
January - Sour Orange Festival, Lakeport (2nd Saturday)
January - Honey Festival, Muse Fire Department
January - Catfish Festival, Buckhead Ridge (last weekend)
February - Ortona Cane Grinding Festival, Ortona Indian Mound Park (1st Saturday)
February - Hendry County Fair (early February 6-13 2010), Clewiston - variable dates year to year
February - Speckled Perch Festival (2nd weekend), Okeechobee
February - Brighton Rodeo, Brighton Seminole Reservation
February - Swamp Cabbage Festival (last full weekend), LaBelle
February - Big Cypress Shootout (last weekend, Big Cypress Reservation
March - Chalo Nitka Festival (1st full weekend), Moore Haven
March - Spring Festival (4th weekend), Indiantown
April - Black Gold Jubilee (3rd Saturday), Belle Glade
April - Big "O" Birding Festival (1st weekend), Moore Haven
May - Brown Sugar Festival (1st Saturday), Clewiston (Harlem)
May - Writers Fishing Tournament, Glades County
September - Cattleman's Assoc. Rodeo (Labor Day Weekend), Okeechobee
November - Southwest Florida Music Festival - Blues and Folk at Pine Island
November - Grassy Waters Festival, Pahokee
December - Christmas Boat Parade (1st Saturday night), LaBelle Barron Park
December - Christmas Parade and Festival (2nd Saturday), Okeechobee
Other web links for Southwest Florida: