Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park Starke, FL
In general, we excluded war memorials from this list but the Camp Blanding Memorial Park is far to wonderful to ignore. Back in the day, hundreds of thousands of soldiers trained here for WWII. Blanding was a beehive of activity and the grounds were so vast that it wasn’t merely a base – it was called a military reservation.
Today, those years are remembered with acres and acres of beautiful, well-manicured grounds on which are displayed a WWII M4 Sherman tank, an M3 Half Track, towed and self-propelled artillery pieces, jets (an A-7 Corsair and an A-6 Intruder among them), a Kiowa helicopter and a Huey Medevac chopper, a C-47 with the invasion strips of D-Day, and other tracked and wheeled vehicles, including 1940s trucks and ambulances as well as vehicles captured in Iraq.
The museum is inside one of the camps restored buildings and has several well-crafted tableaus and displays many of which show what life was like in a typical Army camp in the 1940s. The centerpiece is a refurbished WWII-era barracks complete with dioramas depicting the sort of training a soldier went through before deployment – and so much more. There is an extensive collection of guns including enemy guns, scale models of tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers, and period photography, to name just some of the things you’ll see.
Local, yes, but the stories here are timeless and they apply to any soldier who trained anywhere in the U.S. Well worth a side trip. There is a small gift shop in the main building.
Hours: Daily: 12pm – 4pmVisit museum website