Florida, otherwise known as the Sunshine State, is full of fun places to visit and magical locations to discover. It offers fantastic beaches, unique attractions, and fun theme parks such as Disney World, Legoland and Universal Studios, but also some off-the-beaten track places that may not be on your radar. Read on to find out more…
1. Take a trip to Butterfly World
This enchanting attraction in Coconut Creek is like something out of a dream. It is the largest butterfly park in the world and features over 80 different species. Founders Ronald Boender and Clive Farrell turned their butterfly collecting hobby into a beautiful park, which opened in 1988, and continues to amaze people from all over the world who come to see the collection of beautiful butterflies and flowers.
2. Relax in the Bok Tower Gardens
This gorgeous garden was founded by Dutch immigrant Edward W. Bok in 1929 and, since then, over 23 million people have visited it. See the majestic Singing Tower with its 60-bell carillon, and kick back by the beautiful Reflection Pool. This is a great family-friendly place to come and enjoy spending time in nature, or just to have some quiet time by yourself on a warm Florida day, relaxing in the tranquil surroundings.
3. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
If you’re a bookworm, chances are you’ve heard of Ernest Hemingway, and would love to see where he lived. The house was built in 1851 and became Hemingway’s in 1931 during his Key West days. The prolific author, who wrote many novels and poetry, including the World War I biopic A Farewell To Arms, lived in this beautiful home that is now open to the public. According to the home and museum site, “The cats about the home and grounds are descendants of the cats [Hemingway] kept while he lived in the house, including many extra-toed.”
4. Spend time in Cassadaga
Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp is a small spiritual community that has been around for 122 years. The community was built to be a place for like-minded individuals to live together and share their spiritual practices, and visitors can come here for spiritual healing, church services, and to talk to a medium. It’s definitely something to see on your tour of Florida wonders!
5. Marvel at Vortex Spring
Florida is great for adventure travelers and, if you love exploring the ocean’s depths, don’t miss Vortex Spring, where you’ll find an underwater cavern, fed by the cool water of an underground river, that stretches for over 1,600 feet. It’s a favorite for divers, and according to Atlas Obscura, “The cavern begins just 58 feet below the water’s surface but extends far beyond that. Experienced cave divers are allowed to travel to a depth of 115 feet.”
6. See what Stiltsville is all about
If you find yourself near Miami, take a boat ride out to Stiltsville. This group of wooden homes built on stilts in the 1930s, was the fashionable place to be when visiting the Miami Beach resorts. Accessible only by sea, Stiltsville is something that you have to experience in the flesh, and it’s especially ideal on a warm day when the waters are calm. These homes seem to float and look almost dreamlike, and as mentioned, the only way to get there is by water. If you get seasick, you may want to pass, but if you can stomach it, make sure this spot is at the top of your list. It’s truly magical!
7. Stop by the International Independent Showmen’s Museum
If circus acts appeal, you’ll want to visit this creepy-but-cool museum where you can see all kinds of different items including old circus rides, game pieces and funhouses. The museum showcases American circus and traveling show history and is an incredibly interesting place to visit. There are several exhibits you can see here that have left people in awe for years.
8. Eat at The Bubble Room
This cooky little restaurant on Captiva Island is known for its kitsch, colourful decor, illuminated with fairy lights and all kinds of unusual wall art, plus its famous “bubble bread and sticky buns served with every entree.” The menu offers dishes such as salads, crab soup, pasta, pork chops, roasted chicken, and fried shrimp. Spend the day on Captiva Island’s quiet beach soaking up some sun, then head to the Bubble Room for dinner. It’s great for groups of family and friends, and let’s face it, pictures from this spot will win you Instagram gold!
9. Bag a bargain at the Carmine Oddities Boutique
This odd store located in Orlando is the place you’ll want to visit if you’re in the market for glass eyeballs and taxidermy animals. OK, so it is super weird, but it’s definitely worthy of an in-person stop and a pushpin on your map. So just how does James Bissett, the store’s owner, find all this unusual stuff that he sells? His motto is “anything that catches my eye,” and the retired U.S. army veteran has stocked his store with items that make it look like a combination of a museum and a science class. Want to revisit a biology high-school lesson? Step right in.
10. Celebrate the Love Trees of St. Augustine
If you’re looking for a cute place to take your partner, this is the place to go, especially if you both love nature. The “Love Trees” of St. Augustine are natural wonders that people have marveled over for years. Simply St. Augustine defines a Love Tree as “when two trees are so tightly entwined that they must embrace forever or both die.” St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, is already a beautiful spot to visit with your honey, but the Love Trees just make it that much more special. It is also said that “If you kiss your loved one under the love tree, you’ll seal your love for eternity.”
11. Experience a Polynesian dinner show
If you’ve always wanted to hit a Polynesian island but haven’t been able to just yet, Florida can be your next best bet. At Mai-Kai, you’ll get your hands on delicious exotic dishes such as Thai Red Curry Chicken, Cantonese Shrimp, Pad Thai, and Surf and Turf. You can sip on tropical drinks such as Maui Sunrise and Peach Daiquiris, and catch a fun and lively show that includes dancing, music, and tricks!