Strange and oddball attractions in Florida? You better believe it. All you have to do is google “Florida man did ____,” and you’ll see a whole different side to the Sunshine State! Castle ruins. Thousands of alligators. Bigfoot. Mermaids. You name it, Florida’s got it.
Check out this list of must-visit weird and wonderful attractions in Florida.
A blast from Florida’s past, this 110-acre wildlife sanctuary in Orlando has been a quirky and retro attraction since 1949. Easily identified by the massive stone alligator jaws with faded paint at its entrance, this popular spot is home to alligators of all shapes and sizes, from holdable babies to monster gators up to 14 feet long! Explore the swamps with a singing tour guide on the Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure. Zipline over an alligator breeding marsh on the Gator Gauntlet. Or, explore the wetlands at night with only a flashlight on the Gator Night Shine experience – watch where you step!
Spook Hill (Lake Wales)
Optical illusions abound, and the laws of gravity bend in Lake Wales at Spook Hill. Here, an unassuming hill offers an otherworldly experience where your car appears to roll up rather than downhill. According to local Indigenous American legends, the local tribe was harassed by a massive alligator in the area, and the chief and gator were killed in a final battle at this spot, resulting in bizarre happenings. Do you dare tempt fate by rolling up this hill?
Dinosaur World (Plant City)
You’ll know you’re close to Dinosaur World when you see the giant T-Rex on the side of the highway near Plant City. Here, you’ll stroll among hundreds of life-size dinosaurs in their natural habitat – from the Cretaceous to the Jurassic Periods. Stroll on the boardwalk shaded by 100-year-old oak trees. Check out the dinosaur-themed playground (perfect for kids and furry friends – the park is pet-friendly). Or, visit the 7,000-square-foot gift shop that’s home to prehistoric artifacts, toys, games and stunning geodes!
Coral Castle (Homestead)
Located in Homestead, the Coral Castle is precisely that – a castle made from 1,100 tons of coral rock. Built over 28 years from 1923 to 1951 by local Ed Leedskalnin, this impressive structure is open to the public for free tours. Check out the nine-ton castle gate that moves with a simple finger push. Wander through the sculpture garden, which features chairs, tables, and more – all carved from stone. Take the self-guided audio tour if you want more insight into the castle and good ‘ole Ed.
Skunk Ape Headquarters (Ochopee)
Sasquatch. Bigfoot. Yeti. In Florida, it’s the Skunk Ape, and at The Skunk Ape Headquarters, you’ll learn all about this elusive cryptid. The textbook definition of a roadside attraction, this museum and research center is focused on proving the massive walking ape is real. On-site, the owners have photos and other documents they believe make an irrefutable case. Grab some excellent bigfoot merchandise, check out exhibits featuring local wildlife, or take a swamp tour. By the time you leave, you may believe.
Devil’s Den (Williston)
You can file this attraction in the wonderful category. Located in Williston, this prehistoric underground spring is home to countless fossils of extinct animals from the Pleistocene Age, which began 2.6 million years ago! Today, you can snorkel in the cave’s crystal clear, always 72-degree water. Book a scuba diving experience to see the 33 million-year-old fossil beds for the ultimate adventure. Access to the spring is limited, so be sure to reserve a spot in advance!
Braden Castle Ruins (Bradenton)
While only the foundation and a few walls remain, the Braden Castle ruins are a slice of history worth checking out. Built in the 1850s by Dr. Joseph Braden, the castle’s construction was believed to be impenetrable by Florida’s Indigenous Americans. However, this proved to be futile when the castle was attacked and burned to the ground by Seminole Chief Arpiola. Today, you can see the remnants of the stone and shell structure as well as placards detailing insights about its construction and ultimate demise.
World’s Largest Bat Houses (Gainesville)
At the University of Florida, there are bat houses that contain 500,000 bats – yes, you read that correctly. That shocking number has awarded them the title of the World’s Largest Bat Houses. The best time to see the bats is 15-20 minutes after sunset. Watch as hundreds of thousands of bats flutter through the sky when the sun goes down. Don’t worry; the bats won’t attack you, but you better watch out for falling guano (bat poop)!
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park (Spring Hill)
If you like weird and retro destinations, you’re in luck. The Weeki Wachee Springs State Park has been around since 1947. It features a lovely spring where you can kayak, paddleboard, swim, and take riverboat cruises. But the main attraction is the daily live mermaid shows. Here, you’ll watch “mermaids” sing and swim in the spring (still using the cassette tape from the early ‘90s). The park also has a small waterpark area called Buccaneer Bay with four epic slides.