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About Us

Best of the best winner – 2024

Ranked #13 “Cultural & Historical Tour” in the United States on TripAdvisor!

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Who is Discover Florida Tours?

Guide/Owner David Anderson grew up at the Jungle Prada Site.  He represents the 3rd generation of the Anderson family to steward the mound, and the 4th generation in St. Petersburg.  David’s great-grandfather, Theodore Anderson, built houses and was friends with St. Pete pioneers like John A. Bethel (1834-1915) who lived near Big Bayou and wrote the first history of Pinellas County.

Theodore’s son was Harold C. “Happy” Anderson.  Happy, as he was called, grew up around the construction business.  As a boy he used to ride the trolley to Jungle Prada and was even present to witness the day that archaeologists found a 16th century Spanish sword hilt at the site (later stolen).  Happy was friendly with Walter P. Fuller, who owned the whole Jungle neighborhood at the time and who wrote the fabulous history book “St. Petersburg and its People.”  In 1948, Happy started Anderson Lumber Company, which is still a family business operated by David’s cousin Fred.

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In 1940, Happy Anderson purchased a 3-acre lot next to Jungle Prada to protect the last remaining large Tocobaga mound along Boca Ciega Bay.  Other similar mounds in the area had already been razed and used as road fill by developers.  Happy wanted to make sure that this historically significant landmark did not suffer the same fate.  He believed that our history belongs to all of us and that his role was to serve as a caretaker.  Happy, along with his wife Frances Marshall Anderson, dedicated the rest of their lives to conserving the mound and making it available for public visitation.  Frances was also an accomplished horticulturalist and planted a Florida-friendly seaside garden on the lower part of the property.  They built a home at the site in 1953, and together raised four children there.

In 1990, Erik Anderson, one of Happy and Frances’s four children, moved back with his own young family to the Jungle Prada home in which he grew up.  Erik took over caretaker duties from his father, and in 2002 Erik and his wife Doris started Sacred Lands Preservation, a 501c3 non-profit, to formalize their mission of stewarding the mound and involving the public. Erik’s son David Anderson also grew up at the Jungle Prada Site during the 1990s.  He graduated from the University of Florida, eventually moving to Ft. Myers and working as a Site Historian and Garden Specialist at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates.  He was later a Pinellas County park ranger at Pinewood Cultural Center.  In 2017 David started Discover Florida Tours to offer a guided history tour at the property where he was raised.

Morning Hunt by Theodore Morris

The Tocobaga People

The Tocobaga were a political nation that dominated the greater Tampa Bay area from 500 – 1000 years ago.  Their coastal villages were characterized by large mounds of earth and shell that kept their homes and temples safe from heavy rains and floods.  The Jungle Prada Site Complex features one of the best-preserved Indian mounds in Florida, as well as part of the ancient village plaza.  The private “Anderson Mound” measures apporximately 900′ feet long, 300′ feet wide, and rises nearly 25′ above sea level; and there are several other mounds in the area.  On the Jungle Prada Tour you’ll learn lots more about the lives of the Tocobaga people.  We’ll discuss their diet, explain some of their technology, talk about why they built mounds, and lots more!  Check out the informational video we made about the Tocobaga, then come for a visit!  The Anderson Mound is only available by guided tour.

The Narvaez Expedition

In the year 1526, veteran conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez was made the miltary governor for life of Florida.  His 1528 expedition to conquer and colonize the land ended in tragedy and death when he got lost from his ships.  Narváez was forced to build rafts in a desperate attempt to transport his sick and wounded men to Spanish colonies in Mexico.  Only four survived to tell the tale.  The Jungle Prada Site is thought to be the landing site of the ill-fated expedition, as well as the location of the first Catholic Mass in Florida (37 years before St. Augustine)!  On the tour you’ll learn the story of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and the other three survivors including Estevanico, the first African explorer of North America.  You can even purchase the 1542 book that Cabeza de Vaca wrote detailing his experience.

Guided Tours

We offer historian-led guided tours of the Jungle Prada Site five days a week.  The tour lasts 75-90 minutes, and is packed with tons of Florida history, ecology, and peacocks!  On the tour you’ll learn about the Tocobaga Indians, Spanish explorers, early American settlers, local hurricane history, modern development of the gulf beaches, locations of other Tocobaga mounds, useful native plants, and much more!  We encourage curiosity so be sure to bring lots of questions!  The private property where the tour takes place features a seaside Florida-friendly garden with dozens of free-roaming peacocks.  We also have a small museum in a converted greenhouse on-site.  Advance registration is required.

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What People Are Saying

My husband and I had a fantastic time on the Jungle Prada Tour. We were fortunate to see one of the peacocks fan his tail to show off for the peahens. Then we learned about the early Native American inhabitants of the area which was followed by the Spaniards. The grounds of the area was very native to the area. David was an amazing guide who was very knowledgeable. Highly recommend!

Janet Lipscomb

Took my friends from England on this exceptional, fascinating, engaging, historical, informative tour guided by David, not only does he give you a wonderful presentation about history, humankind, geology, arrival of Panfilo de Narvaez etc, he is a master of botany and plant expert. We were leaving grateful to have been part of a fantastic experience . Peocock displays were added bonus and mindblowingly beautiful.

Sabine Williams

Well worth the time and small fee to tour a beautiful property and learn about the history of the area. David was an excellent storyteller and we found ourselves repeating interested tidbits we learned to others over the next few days. It’s clear that the site is very meaningful to David and his family – the personal touch is definitely what made this tour stand out.

Laura Atkins