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Do you find yourself looking back at the good old days and reminiscing about a time when life was much more simple? While our memories may have faded, there are plenty of retro gems and roadside attractions in Florida to bring you back. Whether you’re looking to mix up your date nights, want a new place to take the kids, or just have a desire to explore some of Florida’s history, here are a few places that have held tightly onto the beauty of the past without sacrificing on the fun.
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Coined as the best place to see mermaids in Florida, Weeki Wachee has been showing underwater performances since 1947. In the ’50s this park was one of the most popular tourist stops in the nation, so big that Elvis even caught a show. Catch one of these iconic shows and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped in a time machine back to the good old days.
Opening back in 1949 as a roadside attraction, this alligator-themed wildlife preserve holds the world’s largest collection of giant white alligators and is still going strong. In the now expanded 110-acre habitat, you can walk through a natural breeding marsh, fly through a zip line, or catch a live alligator show.
Built in 1953, the Vagabond was once a hot spot in Miami for the first car-driven tourists to show off their fancy wheels. While it was recently refurbished as a chic boutique hotel, The Vagabond still managed to maintain its retro feel. Those pining for the past will love the original details, such as its dolphin and nymph fountain and flashy neon sign.
If you’re looking for a new movie watching experience or just miss the simplicity of catching a flick in your own confined space, then the Drive-In Theatre in Ruskin is perfect for you. Showing movies since 1952 when they featured “Singing in the Rain”, this iconic drive-in theater in Florida will give you a dose of nostalgia from the comfort of the driver’s seat.
Slush puppies, corn dogs, and churros are items that have been on the menu for decades at Semoran Skateway. It’s a walk down memory lane as you lace up your roller skates and glide on the classic maple finish floor glittered with multicolored lights and disco balls as classic retro music is played by the DJ.
As American as apple pie, diner’s are a staple of retro aficionados. What started as a soda shop in 1945, Starlite Diner has evolved into perfect throwback to yesteryear. You can sit back in the brightly colored leather booths and indulge in classic comfort food paired with bottomless mugs of coffee in this uber retro spot in Daytona Beach.
Decorated with retro license plates and candy from your childhood, choose your favorite out of a long list of flavors at Jaxson’s Ice Cream. Handmade daily since 1956, Jaxon’s is a favorite vintage ice cream parlor loved by both tourists and locals alike.
If you spent time playing video games as a child, then Arcade Odyssey will take you back to your happy place. Filled with childhood dreams come true, this arcade is regularly voted as one of the top arcades in the US. You will find yourself enjoying classic pinball machines and throwback video games such as Donkey Kong and Mario Kart.
Bowling was the ultimate of fun back in the day, and Splitsville is sure to bring you back to a time when you may have appreciated those silly shoes. While the refreshments and prices have changed, the kitschy retro feel of the decor has remained the same and is a perfect place to knock a few pins down.
With a menu that has virtually been unchanged since it opened 60 years ago, Frankie’s Pizza and their flashy neon sign has withstood the test of time in six decades of Miami history. Despite the higher cost, the owners insist on making all the ingredients from scratch daily. Head to Miami’s oldest pizzeria to grab one of those perfect vintage square slices while they’re hot.
In what serves as a true memorabilia of Old Florida, the Big Orange in Melbourne is a piece of retro history. Built in 1967, the 15-foot wide Big Orange made of concrete and steel was originally used as an orange juice stand in the ’60s is now a beloved roadside landmark.
Originally built in 1942 after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the creator’s vision was to portray a physical symbol of U.S. pride by collecting and displaying mementos from each state on one monument. Now a beloved roadside attraction, the Monument of States holds a powerful message of peace and unification.