These 10 offbeat attractions prove that there’s a lot more to Florida than just theme parks


Florida is more than just beaches and theme parks. The Sunshine State offers a variety of unique and offbeat attractions that will delight adventurous travellers. Whether you want to explore prehistoric caves, swim in a historic pool or ride a horse through a forest, you’ll find something to suit your taste in this list of 10 under-the-radar Florida experiences.

Watch the Weeki Wachee Mermaids

Weeki Wachee Springs is a natural spring that produces 117 million gallons of water daily. It’s also the home of the famous Weeki Wachee mermaids, who perform underwater shows for visitors. You can watch them swim with fish, turtles and manatees while wearing colorful tails and costumes. You can also enjoy kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling and swimming in the crystal-clear water.

Tour the Florida Caverns State Park

Did you know that Florida has caves? The Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna is the only state park where you can take a guided tour of a dry cave system. You’ll see stunning formations of stalactites, stalagmites, columns and flowstone as you descend 35 steps and walk through a dozen cave rooms. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and provides a cool escape from the heat. Make sure to book your tickets in advance, as they sell out quickly.

Swim in the Venetian Pool

The Venetian Pool in Coral Gables is not your typical swimming pool. It’s a historic landmark that was created in 1924 from a limestone quarry pit. The pool holds 820,000 gallons of water fed by the Biscayne aquifer and features stone bridges, cave-like grottos, and waterfalls. It’s surrounded by palm trees and flowers, creating a tropical oasis. The pool is open from February to November.

Visit the Florida Horse Park

If you love horses, you’ll love the Florida Horse Park in Ocala. This 500-acre park hosts equestrian events such as stadium jumping, dressage and cross-country competitions. You can also enjoy horseback riding, camping, hiking and biking on the property. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, foxes and birds. You can also learn about the history of the area at the Marion County Museum of History and Archaeology.

Explore the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion

The Ca’ d’Zan Mansion in Sarasota is a stunning example of Gilded Age architecture. It was built in 1926 by circus magnate John Ringling and his wife Mable as their winter residence. The mansion is inspired by Venetian palaces and features elaborate details such as marble floors, stained glass windows and painted ceilings. You can tour the mansion and admire its art collection, which includes works by Rubens, Velazquez, and Van Dyck.

Relax in Seaside

Seaside is a charming beach town on the Emerald Coast that will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a postcard. The town features pastel-coloured houses with white picket fences, vintage record stores, historic bookstores and local markets. You can soak up the sun on the white-sand beach or bike along the scenic trails. Seaside is also known for its annual events such as the Seaside Half Marathon, the Seeing Red Wine Festival,and the Seaside School Virtual Half Marathon & 5K.

See the Coral Castle

The Coral Castle in Homestead is a mysterious monument that was built by one man, Edward Leedskalnin, between 1923 and 1951. He carved and moved over 1,100 tons of coral rock by himself, using only simple tools and his own ingenuity. He claimed that he knew the secrets of the ancient Egyptians and that he built the castle as a tribute to his lost love. You can marvel at his creations, such as a 9-ton gate that moves with a touch, a 40-foot-tall obelisk and a rocking chair that weighs 3 tons.

Visit the Solomon’s Castle

The Solomon’s Castle in Ona is another example of one man’s vision and creativity. Howard Solomon, an artist and sculptor, built his castle from discarded materials such as aluminum printing plates, car parts and beer cans. He filled his castle with his whimsical artworks, such as a full-size replica of a 1912 Rolls Royce made from beer kegs, a motorcycle made from typewriter parts and a dragon made from oil drums. You can take a guided tour of the castle and enjoy a meal at the Boat in the Moat restaurant.

Discover Dunedin

Dunedin is a waterfront community on the Gulf Coast that offers a mix of culture and nature. You can stroll along the downtown area and browse the antique shops and art galleries, or visit the Dunedin Fine Art Center and the Dunedin Historical Museum. You can also hop on a ferry to Caladesi Island State Park, where you can enjoy one of the best beaches in America. Dunedin is also known for its Scottish heritage and hosts the annual Dunedin Highland Games and Festival.

Experience the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters

If you’re looking for something truly unusual, head to the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters in Ochopee. This attraction is dedicated to finding and studying the elusive Skunk Ape, Florida’s version of Bigfoot. You can learn about the sightings and evidence of this creature, see photos and videos and even join a swamp buggy tour or an overnight camping trip to search for it yourself. While it’s not likely that you’ll be successful, you can also count on seeing other animals such as alligators, snakes and turtles and plenty of bird species.

ENS Editors

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