History Walks in Bonita Springs, Florida
Explore and learn about the history, archaeology and natural history of this southwest Florida community.

At Explorations, we believe in the philosophy of "think globally, act locally." One way we can do that is to learn about where we live and what came before us. Learning about our cultural and natural resources can lead to appreciation of them and foster conservation and preservation.


Private Walks may be arranged for your group. Costs per person are normally $20, with a minimum of $200. Contact us to schedule walks, presentations and talks.

The tours and presentations are lead by Charlie Strader, President of Explorations.
Through presentations and guided tours, he has introduced several thousand people to the local history and environment of Bonita Springs, Florida. At times, other local experts may assist in guiding. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Bonita Springs Historical Society, or the Southwest Florida Archaeology Society.

Mr. Strader has a 45 year residency in Bonita Springs, FL, including over a decade living on a Native American archaeological site located on the Imperial River. He received a B.A. Degree in Applied Anthropology from the University of South Florida. He is current Treasurer of the Southwest Florida Archaeology Society and former 3 term president. He was involved in the recording of over a hundred local archaeology sites in the Florida Master Site File, active in numerous excavations and events, and visited or worked with various archaeologists on many South Florida sites. He is also twice former President of the Bonita Springs Historical Society and past Chairperson of the City of Bonita Springs’ Historic Preservation Board. He is also a member of various local plant and environmental organizations.


See below for Tour options.
Itineraries can be customized based on interests.


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The Imperial River and its tributaries were the main means of travel and commerce in Bonita Springs until the first railroads and the Tamiami Trail (now Old US 41) in the 1920s. The river was a vital to fishing and recreation, attracting winter visitors and new residents. Learn of the impact of Hurricane Ian and Donna. Walk through Riverside Park to Depot Park and over the river to Island Park. Learn about the community’s main dock and Rosemary Creek. See and learn about the construction of historic homes built in the 1930's Riverside subdivision. Learn about the river's ecosystem, its importance to the past and present, including our current water issues (water quality, flooding, stormwater, etc.) Highlights include: Learning about Native American settlements, sport fishing and pioneer life along the Imperial River and Rosemary Creek, along with the Liles Hotel Historic Plaza, the dock, and the beginnings of of Bonita Ssrings.
Start/End at Liles Hotel History Center in Riverside Park. Total walk distance is about 1 mile and tour duration of 1.5 to 2 hours.  shapeimage_10


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Walk through historic downtown with your local guides and listen to the stories of early Bonita Springs. See and learn about the people and places that once were at the center of Bonita Springs commerce and social life along the Tamiami Trail and the Imperial River. Features the Liles Hotel History Center, Artist Cottages, Imperial River, Riverside Park, the Banyan Tree, Savannah's, Engels Bike Shop, Bensons Groceries, the Reality Building, Shear Unity Spa, First Baptist Church, the new downtown clock and the Art & Public Places murals, the Historical Society's 1915 McSwain Home, and more. Learn about the Tin Canners, the Home of the Tiger Snook, and lost buildings like Doc Baird's Camp, Eagle Hotel, Bonita Court, the Pavilion and Community Center, the Wayside Inn, Post Office, Lawhon's Grocery, etc.
Start/End at Liles Hotel History Center in Riverside Park. Total walk distance is about 1 mile and tour duration of 1.5 to 2 hours. 


Hear about lost historic tourist attractions of wonderment like the original Shell Factory (now in North Fort Myers), Seminole Indian Village, the Dome, Bairds Camp, and the Mystery House. Then you have a tour of the 80-year-old Everglades Wonder Gardens, which is still going strong, to experience the history and beauty of this tropical oasis and learn about the colorful Piper brothers who created it. After the tour, an optional lunch (cost of lunch is separate) at the nearby Survey Cafe is suggested. 
Start/End at Liles Hotel History Center in Riverside Park. Total walk distance is about 1 mile and tour duration of 1.5 to 2 hours. 


Why we are not called Survey anymore. Tour the verdant Shangri-La Springs Resort, one of our first developments (1920's) and site of the springs that gave Bonita Springs its name. Learn about the owners and intriguing uses of this resort over time. We’ll also take a walk and make stops at our 1921 Elementary School listed on the National Registry of History Places, our oldest church, neighborhood with historic houses, and a Arts in Public Places storytelling mural. Stay afterward for an optional garden-to-table lunch at the Shangri-La (reserve in advance with Shangri-La Springs Resort), or to relax and enjoy the beauty of this historic oasis.
Start/End at the Shangri La Resort. Total walk distance is about 2 miles and tour duration of 1.5 to 2 hours. 



As part of Archaeology Month in Florida (and for private groups), we offer a special opportunity to learn about the archaeology of the first peoples to live in Bonita Springs beginning over 8,0000 years ago. Hear the stories of the mighty Calusa Chiefdom, which controlled all of Southwest Florida and whose capital was Mound Key in Estero Bay, including their contact with the Spanish starting in 1513. See demonstrations of the tools the Calusa used to prosper: the atlatl (an ancient device to throw a spear for fishing) shell tool making, weaving, and more. Walk to Depot and Island Parks and learn about our native plants used by Native Americans.
Start/End at Liles Hotel History Center in Riverside Park. Total walk distance is about 1 mile and tour duration of 1.5 to 2 hours.

Historic Downtown Bonita Springs is home to over 2 dozen murals, sculptures, and memorials. Featured are the Arts in Public Places pieces, the 911 Memorial, and the Artist Village at the Liles Hotel Historic Plaza in Riverside Park.

We can bring history to your group, friends, business and community associates with custom presentations and walks.
To reserve your private group event, call 239-992-9660, or email us. 


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