Florida, long before it was a theme park family vacation destination, was a place for Northerners to escape the cold and day to day life and relax. In the early part of the 20th century, full time residents created many delightful, wacky and weird Florida attractions to entice visitors to stay and spend money. Many of these Florida attractions still remain. While some have disappeared or gone into disrepair, others have popped up in their place (even after the theme parks became the major draw.)
If you’re like me, you love a good story. These wacky Florida attractions have just that. A story to tell. Some of these stories may be dated, but they are certainly interesting. These attractions showcase the hidden gems, the details and the history behind Florida. When you visit Florida, try to include a bit of her past… as cheesy as it may be. We all love a little bit weird sometimes anyway, right?
Weeki Wachee Springs
Perhaps one of the best known old Florida attractions is Weeki Wachee Springs, where the mermaids really exist! Since 1947, mermaids have played and performed at Weeki Wachee. Located at the end of Highway 50, along the Gulf Coast, the springs are another one of Florida’s natural wonders. The mermaids still perform 70 years later. The park has grown too. You can canoe, kayak, paddleboard and swim. Buccaneer Bay offers waterslides for the kids. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Weeki Wachee, but after doing a little research for this article, I can’t wait to go back again!
President’s Hall of Fame
Not far from Walt Disney World, a wax museum recreates White Houses and Oval Offices since the Truman administration. Located in Clermont on Hwy 27, the President’s Hall Fame also features collections of First Lady ball gowns, china, propaganda and replicas of President’s desk. You can sit at the desk and sign your executive orders, give a speech at the podium, and view inside the replica White House. The replica itself takes up an entire room.
Outside, pose with Lady Liberty, Lincoln Memorial or Mount Rushmore. The Hall of Fame opened in 1960. While it is typical wax museum fare, I found it quite interesting to visit. See more of my President’s Hall of Fame photos.
The name itself is enough to draw visitors to this off beat, off the beaten path home. A private residence in the Tampa/St. Pete area of Safety Harbor, Whimzeyland is the personal collection of Todd Ramquist and Kiralinda. Also known as the Bowling Ball House because it started with a collection of free bowling balls. The house has become a haven for mosaics, recycled sculptures, paintings and more. The owners welcome visitors and are often on site or at the nearby Safety Harbor Art and Music Center. See my complete photo gallery of Whimzeyland.
Kapok Tree Inn
I stumbled upon the Kapok Tree Inn thanks to a listing in Roadside America. As it was nearby the Whimzeyland house, we decided to make a stop. This over the top Greek garden has several large statues and fountains, making it a great stop for photos and fun. Click here to see more of my Kapok Tree Garden photos.
The Coral Castle is the one thing on this list that I haven’t been to but dying to visit. Opened in the 1940’s, the Coral Castle is one man’s labor of love carving 1100 tons of coral rock, This is especially notable because Ed Leedskalnin, the creator and builder, was a slight man of 5 feet and 100 pounds. He built and dedicated the castle to his love, Agnes, who canceled their wedding a day before the ceremony. I’m fascinated by the love story, the dedication and the astonishing feat of constructing this castle.
These are just some of my personal favorites in Florida. If you’re in an area, Roadside America has complete lists of tourist attractions and oddities. Check out Florida or your own home town and go exploring!
Have you been to any of these attractions? Do you have a wacky or weird Florida Attraction? Share with me in the comments!