USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Hall of Fame

 The USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame features historic memorabilia and equipment that runs the gamut from its earliest days to today. How early? How about a pair of the earliest water skis known – made from a barrel.

101 Adventure Court
Davenport, 33837

[email protected]


Visiting the USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Foundation Hall of Fame in Davenport

Featuring all 9 disciplines of the sport, the Museum features memorabilia from the 100-year-long history of the sport, including:

  • A pair of sport inventor Ralph Wilford Samuelson’s original water skis
  • A hydrofoil from long-time fan favorite Banana George

While historic items and plaques serve as the core of the Museum, other items will rotate in the future. The Museum is inside of our Visitor Information Center at 101 Adventure Court, Davenport. If you want more inform information about USA Water Ski and Wake Sports Foundation, then go to

Polk County is the Water Sports Center of the United States

Did you know that water skiing was invented by Ralph Samuelson in 1922 on Lake Pepin in Minnesota? While this is true, Dick Pope, Sr. transformed it into a global sport and entertainment phenomenon when he opened Cypress Gardens in 1936. No other destination on the planet has the history, inventions, world firsts, world records and visibility than Florida’s first theme park, Cypress Gardens, and Polk County.

Cypress Gardens – the Epicenter of Water Skiing

Water skiing gained notoriety during the 1920s in Polk County, and in the early 1930 Winter Haven had become known as the “water sports center of the United States.” Pope’s vision and work resulted in thousands of newsreels, commercials, photo shoots, television shows and movies featuring Cypress Gardens, including the movie “Easy to Love,” a 1953 Esther Williams ode to the sport. Through Pope’s efforts – and Hollywood’s embrace of them – visitors from all over the world flocked to the Sunshine State.

As the sport grew, so did the legend of Cypress Gardens which, in turn, drew more elite athletes as well as state, national and world championships events. Records were broken on Polk County waters thanks to the steady stream of ambitious skiers drawn to the sport’s biggest stage. Willa McGuire Cook co-created the swivel ski and rocketed to fame as the prima ballerina of the sport. Cypress Gardens skiers continued to set world records and world firsts in multiple disciplines, including the first 3-, 4- and 5-tier human pyramids. Hundreds of firsts and records were documented in all USA Water Ski and Wake Sports disciplines.

More recently, in 2015 and again in 2017, the Chain of Records events set numerous records that were documented by USA Water Ski and Wake Sports officials as well as the Guinness Book of World Records.

Things To Do On The Water in Central Florida

If you’re looking for water activities in Central Florida, consider visiting Winter Haven and its surrounding cities. This “Chain of Lakes” city, has lakes spread across 4,000+ acres and many are connected through a canal system by what locals call “The Chain.” These lakes bring great outdoor fun for families and friends year-round and they are one of the reasons why Winter Haven is considered the “Waterski Capital of the World.”

Things To Do On The Water in Central Florida

With over 550 lakes located in Polk County, there is endless potential for water fun! Here is our guide to a few awesome water activities on Winter Haven’s Chain of Lakes and beyond.

Learn to Water Ski & Wakeboard at Elite Cable Park

There’s no need to rent a boat, buy fuel and gear if you want to wakeboard while you are in town. You can get right on the water at Elite Cable Park in Auburndale since riders are pulled by an electric cable track rather than a boat. Guests can learn to water ski or wakeboard with a Get Up Guarantee Package that’s perfect for those who have never tried wakeboarding, waterskiing, wakeskating or kneeboarding. The Get Up Guarantee is the best way to learn how to ride.

The Living Water Boat Cruise

Book at scenic tour of Winter Haven’s Chain of Lakes with The Living Water Boat Cruises. Watch LEGOLAND Florida Resort’s water ski show from a boat, or take a sunset cruise and enjoy a lakeside dinner at Harborside.

Paddleboard Tours

Paddleboard Winter Haven offers private paddleboard parties, corporate “board” meetings, paddleboard adventure trips, and Paddlefit workouts. Enjoy unique options like paddleboard yoga or a paddleboard sunset tour which is the perfect evening activity before eating at one of Winter Haven’s many waterfront dining options.

Winter Haven Watersports

Learn to water ski, tube with friends, ride jet skis, rent a pontoon boat, or go paddle boarding at Winter Haven WaterSports. All of these activities can be done on Winter Haven’s southern Chain of Lakes.

Airboat Tour

Fly over the Florida waterways while strapped to a giant V8 powered propeller. Florida is known for exhilarating airboat tours, and Central Florida has a wide selection of great tours, with some boats reaching up to 600 horsepower.  Some of our favorite tours are with Guy Harvey’s Camp MackAlligators Unlimited Airboat Tours, and Westgate River Ranch.

Kayak Rental

Rent kayaks from Off the Chain Kayak Company and explore Winter Haven’s Chain of Lakes. OTC offers drop off and pick kayak service, so you can kayak on the lake closest to your hotel or vacation rental home.

For other fun things to do on the water, check out our post on Waterfront Dining or follow us on Instagram.

Top 10 Adrenaline-Rush Activities in Central Florida

The 3 hour beginner group lesson starts in our classroom located in the centre. We chose to have a maximum ratio of 6 students to 1 instructor, this this means we’re able to offer you plenty of personalised tips. Our theory session…