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Planning a trip to Florida? You’re in luck. Florida has a plethora of beautiful beaches, coastal towns and tourist traps, but if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Here are a few places in Florida you’ve likely never heard of before.
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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live under the sea? Not quite like the mermaids in Weeki Wachee, we mean more like living in a submarine. Sunken deep in the lagoon at Key Largo Undersea Park, is a little lounge for you to rest after an entertaining day of scuba fun. Once you’ve completed your scuba training, or are already Scuba certified, you can dive down into the bottom of the lagoon and visit the lounge. You can call this little hideaway home for the night or for a three-hour visit. You can even get lunch delivered to your door.
This sinkhole in Gainesville, Florida is your chance to hike down 120 feet into the Florida earth. The sunken terrain is home to small waterfalls and its own “miniature rain forest.” It is a national natural landmark and has been a major draw for adventurous hikers since the 1880’s. Interpretive displays help you understand the science and history behind this magnificent natural attraction.
Weeki Wachee Springs, one of the most nostalgic and beloved parks in Florida since the 1940s isn’t exactly a well-kept secret to Floridians. What sets Weeki Wachee above your average trip to the springs, is more than just its rich history with the Seminole Indians, and more than just the mystery that is the untouched bottom of the deep spring. Weeki Wachee happens to be the only city in the world whose residents include live mermaids! In fact, these mermaids are willing to put on quite a show for the patrons. There is a 500 seat theater embedded into the side of the spring, sitting 16 feet below the surface, and is where you will see the mermaids perform a show like none other in the world.
More than a roadside attraction, Solomon’s Castle is a residence, an art gallery, a bed and breakfast, and a little known treasure in the small town of Arcadia, Florida. Located way off the normal grid, hidden deep in Central Florida, the aluminum castle was designed and constructed by Howard Solomon, an artist of international significance. It showcases his proudest work. It’s also, quite the photo opportunity. (It’s cash only so come prepared!)
In Biscayne Bay, these stilt houses once functioned as a hot clubbing destination for Miami locals and tourists in the 1930s and beyond. They make for a pretty spectacular sight. They’re nearly considered abandoned now, only 7 remain today and can only be seen from the shore.
Nothing says Florida like alligators, and you would be cheating yourself if you didn’t experience a one on one encounter with the state’s unofficial mascot and oldest inhabitant. Gatorland has a trainer for a day program, a rookie wrestling show, a night shine experience and so much more! If it involves Gators, Gatorland is where you want to be, and it’s a popular roadside attraction in Florida. Oh, and don’t forget to take a zip line ride over the residents!
The Florida Caverns are the only open-air caves in all of Florida that are open to the public. Loaded with gorgeous installations of stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies. There is also a small golf course adjacent to the park, and stables for horse enthusiasts. After you take the 45-minute tour of the cavern, you can rest from the strenuous trek by enjoying a picnic by the Chipola and Blue Hole river, or keep your energy up by canoeing or boating. It’s also a campground!
On the Seminole Gulf Railway, in Ft. Myers Florida, you can enjoy a retro, live murder mystery experience on-board a train. The spooky experience is authentic and entertaining, and the train even travels the tracks as you enjoy the show! As you enjoy the show and do your best to solve the murder, the chef prepares a delectable 5-course dinner.
Down in Palatka, Florida is the 59-acre Ravine Gardens State Park. At this park, you can enjoy viewing the lush foliage, plants, shrubs, and wildlife. If it works with your plans try to plan your visit when the Azaleas are in bloom, you won’t be sorry! Every year the park hosts the annual Florida Azalea Festival the first weekend in March when nearly 100,000 plants go into bloom. There are two ravines in the park, that go as deep as 120 feet into the earth.
Wynwood walls is an ever-evolving art installation in Miami, created to evolve the warehouse district in Wynwood and bring more respect to graffiti art by spotlighting it in this display. The draw the walls have created have helped to transform the Wynwood neighborhood into what it is today, revered as one the “hippest” towns in America.
Here’s another for the scuba divers out there. There is nothing else like this breathtaking 16 acre underwater cemetery and artificial reef. Construction was inspired by the Lost City of Atlantis. The memorial reef functions so families of the deceased who have chosen to be cremated may deploy their ashes into the reef, and they will be dispensed into the coral to “make a new life.”
Truly one-of-a-kind, this adults-only attraction near Downtown Miami features a private collection of over 4,000 pieces of erotic art from around the world. It is the only museum in the United States devoted to fine erotic art.
The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is the perfect place to swim alongside manatees! Established in the 1980s it is still the only refuge devoted to the protection of the endangered Florida Manatee. The refuge preserves the aquifer-fed spring in Kings Bay that is crucial to the Manatee habitat.
This Loxahatchee town zoo is the the largest drive-through safari in Florida, with a walk-thru amusement park to match. More than 1,000 animals call the park home, and there’s a water playground for guests to cool off. Lion Country Safari has kid-friendly rides, including a killer water slide.
This swimming spot is on the National Register of Historic places, built in the 1920s in a coral rock quarry, and is the country’s largest freshwater pool. Designed with Venice, Italy in mind The Venetian Pool has given a number of tourists and locals alike their most-liked Instagram photo if nothing else.