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The Must-See Quirky, Nostalgic Roadside Attractions in Central Florida

Did someone say "Road Trip!!" Once you've experienced the theme parks, big cities and beaches, try one or all of these off-the-beaten-path, historical, cultural, outdoorsy, and just plain weird roadside attractions.

The Must-See Quirky Roadside Attractions in Central Florida

Central Florida is home to many quirky, strange, and nostalgic roadside attractions that are a must-see, you can experience everything from from shrunken heads, to the world's largest alligator and everything in between.

It's a safe bet that Florida's the only place where you can look down the throat of a 13-foot alligator, stare up at a life-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex and watch live mermaids in an underwater show. It's this kind of quirkiness and wonders, natural and manmade, that gives Florida roadside attractions an unrivaled character.

Jump in the car and head out on the open road on a road-trip to adventure!

Monument of States  300 E. Monument Ave. Kissimmee

Monument of States
300 E. Monument Ave. Kissimmee

Dedicated in 1943, downtown Kissimmee’s Monument of States is a 40-foot-tall pyramid constructed of various stones, fossils and other rocky materials gathered from all 50 states and more than 20 countries.

During the early days of WWII, Dr. Charles Bressler-Pettis wrote letters to every governor and to president Franklin D. Roosevelt to request contributions of local rocks. The donations arrived in a variety of formats, including native granite, quartz, boulders, fossils, blocks from old buildings and even a human skull.

Reptile World Serpentarium
5705 East Irlo Bronson Hwy, St Cloud

Reptile World is more than snake displays. It is a working farm providing venom for use worldwide in medicine and herpetological research. There is hundreds of venomous snakes just waiting to be "milked" for their valuable venom. Reptile World Serpentarium ships this precious commodity worldwide for use in medical and herpetological research. The regular "milking" of these dangerous snakes is done in public and makes Reptile World Serpentarium more than just another snake house.

Gatorland  14501 S Orange Blossom Trl, Orlando

14501 S Orange Blossom Trl, Orlando

Get ready for down-home family fun at “The Alligator Capital of the World” –  Gatorland!  There isn’t a better place to see alligators and crocodiles of all sizes, from babies, also known as grunts, to the 14-foot monsters that call our Breeding Marsh home. We even have the largest collection of extremely rare white leucistic alligators.  But, Gatorland is more than just a gator park!  Our free-flight aviary, petting zoo, one-of-a-kind animal shows, thrilling Screamin’ Gator Zip Line and new Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure ensure your day will be chock-full of fun, smiles, and good ole fashioned fun!

Cow Camp
14248 Camp Mack Road, Lake Wales

Travel back in time to 1876 as you meander down the trail at at Lake Kissimmee State Park to the Cow Camp. You'll find a Florida cow hunter in a frontier camp nestled under a picturesque oak hammock within the route of the cattle drive. The cow hunter will be cooking, making coffee, tending to the cattle, or just resting up until he has caught the cows in the area and moves to the next camp.

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing
13700 SW 16th Ave., Ocala

The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing and International Drag Racing Hall of Fame opened in 1976, it chronicles the history of the sport of drag racing. Some 90 racing cars can be seen in the Drag Race building and an additional 50 vehicles are in the Antique Car building.

Many of the Garlits "Swamp Rat" cars are here, but their is an accumulation of cars and memorabilia from other top names in the sport. The iconic cars of Dean Moon, the Mooneyes gas dragster and the Moonbeam sports car are on display.

Jungle Adventures, A Real Florida Animal Park  13700 SW 16th Ave., Ocala

Jungle Adventures, A Real Florida Animal Park
13700 SW 16th Ave., Ocala

Jungle Adventures, a Real Florida Animal Park, is the natural habitat jungle home of the famous 200-foot-long roadside wonder, Swampy, the world’s largest alligator, and a popular photo opportunity for everyone.

Jungle Adventures is located between Orlando and the Space Coast, here you will experience wildlife encounters with rare Florida panther, primates, gray wolves, various deer, tropical birds, reptiles and mammals. A Jungle Swamp Cruise is on a beautiful private river that is inhabited by more than 200 alligators! While cruising, you'll be surrounded by natural Florida flora and fauna that provide many unique photo opportunities.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park  6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee

Step back in time at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and enjoy the classic mermaid show, but remember this quintessential Old Florida site is also home to the deepest freshwater cave system in the country and abundant protected wildlife.

Perhaps the best-known symbol of the yesteryear of Florida tourism, Weeki Wachee’s iconic mermaids perform in pure aquamarine water that flows from a first-magnitude spring.

Kids and adults alike can splash and play against a background of stunning blues and greens, and a kayak trip down the spring run offers an escape into the quiet of nature.

In 2007, underwater explorers discovered new passages in the spring’s cave system and confirmed Weeki Wachee as the deepest known freshwater cave system in the United States, marking another unique feature of this classic Florida destination.

Spook Hill is a gravity hill, an optical illusion in Lake Wales.

Spook Hill
Lake Wales

Spook Hill is a gravity hill, an optical illusion in Lake Wales. The mystery of Spook Hill has fascinated generations. Cars parked at the bottom of the hill will defy gravity and seemingly roll uphill. This is a public road, so visit anytime.

The Hill in Lake Wales, is a magnetic hill or “gravity hill.” Gravity hills can be found all over the world, and continue to spur folklore and curiosity as cars appear to roll up hill when placed in neutral. Not only is it one of the country’s oldest known gravity hills, it is also the only known magnetic hill in the state of Florida. In April of 2019, Spook Hill was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Dinosaur World  5145 Harvey Tew Road, Plant City

Dinosaur World
5145 Harvey Tew Road, Plant City

Go back in time - see over 200 life size dinosaurs at Dinosaur World! Dig for fossils and keep three at the Fossil Dig. Pan for real minerals and gems at the Dino Gem Excavation and crack your own geode with the Geode Cracker. Learn what it's like to be a Paleontologist at the Exploration Cave Show and later test your knowledge at the Triviasaurus Rex Game Show.

Put your paleontology fieldwork knowledge to the test at the Boneyard and uncover a life size stegosaurus skeleton from under the sand. At the Touch-and-Tell guess the dinosaur inside a hole without sight. Visit Mammoths: Giants of the Ice Age and see woolly mammoths as they appeared during their time.

Be sure to make a stop at the Florida Fossil Museum and learn about fossils native to the area, and stop at the Prehistoric Museum. Here you will find real artifacts and an animatronic dinosaur display at the end of the museum. Play on the dinosaur themed playground - and don't forget your picnic lunch to Dine with the Dinos.

Sunken Gardens  1825 4th St N, St. Petersburg

Sunken Gardens
1825 4th St N, St. Petersburg

Just outside the heart of downtown St. Petersburg lies Sunken Gardens, a subtropical oasis perfect for your family’s next outing. One of Florida’s original roadside attractions, this more than 100-year-old garden is home to some of the oldest and most beautiful tropical plants in the state. Officially opened to the public in 1936, Sunken Gardens offers a lush and secluded haven in the midst of city life.

Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp  1112 Stevens St, Cassadaga

1112 Stevens St, Cassadaga

45 minutes from Orlando is the tiny town of Cassadaga, home to the largest Spiritualist community in the Southern United States: the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp.

Established as a Spiritualist community in 1894, the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association consists of approximately 58 acres with 80 residences. Spiritualism is defined as science, philosophy and religion based on the continuity of life. Those who reside here have chosen to share in a community of like-minded people where they can live, worship and work in harmony with their beliefs. Many of the Camp’s residents are mediums who offer counseling from their homes and offices.

Designated a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992, Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp is the oldest active religious community in the Southeastern United States.

Citrus Tower  141 S. Highway 27, Clermont

Citrus Tower
141 S. Highway 27, Clermont

The Citrus Tower is a prominent landmark located in Clermont, Florida. Standing at 226 feet, it offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including miles of picturesque Lakes, including the beautiful Lake Minneola.

The tower itself is an iconic structure with a distinctive, mid-20th-century design, characterized by its tall spire and observation deck.

Spongeorama Sponge Factory
510 Dodecanese Blvd., Tarpon Springs

A 2 hr 30 min drive from Orlando is Spongeorama’s Sponge Factory in beautiful Tarpon Springs. Discover gifts, arts, shopping, jewelry, sponges, loofah, bath & body, faux painting and more… Founded in 1968, Spongeorama’s sponge factory boast the world's largest selection of natural sea sponges.

Whimzeyland  1206 3rd St N, Safety Harbor

1206 3rd St N, Safety Harbor

A 2 hour road trip from Orlando is one of the most excentric, colorful places you will ever visit! WhimzeyLand is and has been a work in progress for over 20 years. It is a landmark for those who like to seek out unusual places. Their is a ton of different materials decorating the house: plexiglas sculptures, paintings, bottle trees, recycled material sculptures, and, of course, bowling balls, with the house known a the bowling ball house!

Solomon's Castle  4533 Solomon Rd, Ona

Solomon's Castle
4533 Solomon Rd, Ona

A 2 hr, 30 min drive from Orlando will find you at Solomon's Castle. Hidden in the lush Florida woodlands is one man's dream of paradise. A visit to Solomon's Castle may be the most unique experience of your life. The home, galleries and workshop of internationally renowned artist Howard Solomon are open to the public. Decorated with more than 80 interpretive stained-glass windows and countless metal sculptures, the castle is a daylong delight.

Visit the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, where you can delve into history, explore scenic grounds – and maybe capture eternal youth.

Fountain of Youth
11 Magnolia Ave., St. Augustine

Visit the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, where you can delve into history, explore scenic grounds – and maybe capture eternal youth.

The Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine is legendary, known as the place where Ponce De Leon discovered the healing waters that magically maintain your youthful appearance. Drink from the magical spring’s waters, plus explore many exhibits and historical attractions at the 15-acre Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. The park is home to a Discovery Globe, Planetarium, Timucua Indian Exhibit, Spanish cannons, and Native Christian Burial Ground Exhibit.

Potter’s Wax Museum
31 Orange St., St. Augustine

The characters range from musicians and artists to presidents and kings, from Cleopatra to Princess Diana, and much more. At Potter's Wax Museum, visitors can meet Queen Victoria, Austin Powers, William Shakespeare, and Harry Potter all in the same spot. 

This unique attraction was founded more than 70 years ago when George L. Potter began the business in 1949. He employed some of the finest talents in the world to make his wax figures, after meticulously researching every aspect of the person being depicted, right down to each freckle on the skin and hair on the head. The costumes of the original figures were created by B.J. Simmons and Nathan's, Ltd., the finest costumers of their day, and certified for historical accuracy by the British Historical Society.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
999 Anastasia Blvd, St. Augustine

The Alligator Farm Zoological Park features a variety of animal species including hundreds of native alligators. Exhibits include lemurs, Komodo dragons, toucans, and a sloth exhibit. The park is the only place in the world to see all 24 species of crocodilians in one place.

The Alligator Farm offers several wildlife shows and demonstrations every day for lots of family fun. The property offers two intriguing zip lines and aerial adventure courses. And, for those who dare, Crocodile Crossing's Python Challenge offers a 40-foot controlled free fall adventure.

Butterfly World
3600 W. Sample Road, Coconut Creek

If you take a 3 hour drive from Orlando you can experience Butterfly World, where Discovery and Wonder take Flight at the World’s Largest Butterfly and Bird Park! It features “open-air” aviaries with a breath-taking display of 20,000 exotic butterflies and tropical birds from all around the world.

Explore and interact with rare and delicate butterflies in a South Florida Tropical Rain Forest. Discover metamorphosis in our Research Facility, where you will see all stages of the butterfly life cycle in a display that changes daily. Other highlights include Vine Maze, Butterfly Museum and Insectarium, Live Bug Zoo, Lorikeet Encounter where you can hand-feed small parrots, Swinging Suspension Bridge, Botanical Gardens, Gift and Plant Shop, Outdoor Cafés and more! This is the perfect adventure for the whole family!

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