Visiting Koreshan State Park in Estero, Florida

Koreshan State Park is the preserved site of a 19th century religious community. The 200-acre park includes 11 original buildings, Victorian gardens, a nature trail along the Estero River, canoeing, and camping. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com. Photo by Nita Ettinger

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Located just south of Fort Myers and north of Naples on US-41 in Estero, Koreshan State Park is the preserved site of a 19thcentury religious community. The 200-acre park includes 11 original buildings, Victorian gardens, a nature trail along the Estero River, canoeing, and camping.

Tips for visiting Koreshan State Park near Fort Myers and Naples Florida. Photo credit Jennifer Brinkman. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com

Photo credit Jennifer Brinkman

Tours of the Historic Koreshan Settlement

The best way to visit the Koreshan State Park is by pre-booking a place on the docent-led tours. As well as allowing you to enter some of the historic homes, the tour explains the extraordinary beliefs of Dr. Cyrus Teed and the day-to-day operations of his “New Jerusalem” community in Estero. Tours start at the Art Hall which is still used for public concerts as in the days of the Koreshan Unity Settlement. Guided historic settlement tours are offered Wednesday through Sunday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Visitors can purchase tickets at the Ranger Station.

The beautiful Art Hall is filled with displays of artworks by former Koreshan members as well as by the well-known landscape and portrait artist Douglas Arthur Teed, the founder’s son. Don’t miss the unique model of the globe. It shows the world as we know it, but on the inner shell of the earth’s outer atmosphere, as Dr. Teed believed it to be.

Tips for visiting Koreshan State Park near Fort Myers and Naples Florida. Photo credit Jennifer Brinkman. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com

Photo credit Jennifer Brinkman

Koreshan State Park is the preserved site of a 19th century religious community. The 200-acre park includes 11 original buildings, Victorian gardens, a nature trail along the Estero River, canoeing, and camping. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com. Photo by Nita Ettinger

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Koreshan State Park is the preserved site of a 19th century religious community. The 200-acre park includes 11 original buildings, Victorian gardens, a nature trail along the Estero River, canoeing, and camping. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com. Photo by Nita Ettinger

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Koreshan State Park is the preserved site of a 19th century religious community. The 200-acre park includes 11 original buildings, Victorian gardens, a nature trail along the Estero River, canoeing, and camping. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com. Photo by Nita Ettinger

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Koreshan State Park is the preserved site of a 19th century religious community. The 200-acre park includes 11 original buildings, Victorian gardens, a nature trail along the Estero River, canoeing, and camping. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com. Photo by Nita Ettinger

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Tips for visiting Koreshan State Park near Fort Myers and Naples Florida. Photo credit Jennifer Brinkman. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com

Photo credit Jennifer Brinkman

After exploring some of the other buildings and gardens, the tour ends at the cozy Founder’s House where there is a documentary film and old photographs on display.

Koreshanity Community and Beliefs

The Koreshan sect began in 1893 when believers relocated to Southwest Florida from Chicago. Dr Cyrus Teed’s new order followed a mix of Old Testament, Far Eastern ideas, reincarnation and his own scientific beliefs. His followers grew to about 3000 members, although they did not all live onsite.

The Koreshan community was self-sufficient and surviving buildings include homes, a workshop and a bakery. The settlement even had its own orchestra and drama group. All the buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, but interestingly there was never a church.

The highlight of the park is the three-story Planetary Court building. This beautifully restored clapboard house with its elegant cupola was home to the seven “sisters” who funded the Koreshan community. They each had a simply furnished room and everyone ate together at the outdoor communal dining room.

After the death of Dr Teed in 1908, the followers became disillusioned and the Koreshan community, land, and archives were eventually donated to the State of Florida.

Mature Gardens at Koreshan State Park

If you want to explore the Koreshan State Park at your own pace, there are self-guided leaflets available near the parking lot. The Victorian gardens are well worth visiting as they have many specimen trees and plants that Cyrus Teed brought back from his international travels. These include a huge Australian Monkey Puzzle Tree, an exotic Bombax (red silk cotton tree), Ear Tree, and an African Sausage Tree. Fruit trees, pecans, magnolias, and lovely red pineapples with their exotic pink fruits can be seen in the park as well as more common azaleas and palms.

Crushed shell paths wind between the scented orchid trees and sabal palms. Just outside the Planetary Court building there is a cherry orchard which looks stunning in spring when the fruit trees are blossoming.

Camping at Koreshan State Park and Exploring the Estero River

One of the highlights of the park is the scenic Estero River which borders Koreshan State Park. The park is dog friendly, there is a shady nature walk, fishing, a boat launch, and you can rent canoes and kayaks at very affordable rates. The park features a full-facility campground with overnight camping at 60 wooded camp sites near the Estero River. All sites have water, electric, grill, and picnic tables. Other campground amenities also include, washer, dryer, showers, volleyball court, and a small playground. For more information or to reserve a campsite call (239) 992-0311 or visit the Florida state park’s website.

Golden Retriever at pet friendly Koreshan near Fort Myers and Naples in Estero, Florida. Photo by Jennifer Brinkman. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com

Photo credit Jennifer Brinkman

Nature trail at Koreshan State Park near Fort Myers and Naples Florida. Photo credit Jennifer Brinkman. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com

Photo credit Jennifer Brinkman

Kayaking Estero River Koreshan State Park near Fort Myers and Naples Florida. Photo by Jennifer Brinkman. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com

Photo credit Jennifer Brinkman

Koreshan State Park is a wonderful attraction for those who appreciate Florida history, historic homes, gardens, and natural landscape. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. It’s definitely worth a visit!

Tips for visiting Koreshan State Park near Fort Myers and Naples Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides | MustDo.com

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Written by:

Nita Ettinger is Co-publisher for Siesta Publications Inc. and the Editor in Chief for Must Do Visitor Guides. Must Do Visitor Guides provides Southwest Florida visitor information through printed magazines and the website MustDo.com. Must Do magazines are published bi-annually and are available at no cost in Sarasota, Lee, and Collier County Chamber of Commerce, visitor information centers, select Southwest Florida hotels, and wherever free publications can be found.

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