Florida is so full of beauty, sometimes you have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming. Here are a few of our state’s most surreal and enchanting natural and mamade wonders:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Edward Medard Park, Plant City
This lovely park started as the site of a phosphate mine in the 1960s and was later converted into this sprawling park. Here you'll see lots of old live oaks standing tall or toppling over, their roots exposed due to the eroding landscape.
2. Whimzeyland, Safety Harbor
This colorful artists' home, also locally known as The Bowling Ball House, is decorated with bright colors, all kinds of crazy yard art and, yes, tons of bowling balls. They've been painted and lovingly arranged to create this whimsical effect. It's kind of hard to explain, but if you love art, it's definitely worth seeing for yourself
3. Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna
The Florida Caverns are special because air-filled caves are not as common here as in other parts of the country. This park in the Panhandle offers the only public cave tours in Florida.
4. Coral Castle, Homestead
This fascinating attraction in Homestead was built and sourced completely by one lovelorn Latvian man, without modern machinery. He claimed to know secrets of the universe that helped him move the monoliths.
5. Torreya State Park
Torreya State Park is a hidden gem in northwest Florida. At first glance, this scene doesn't even look like Florida, and that's because it's taken from a 150-foot high bluff. This park is also home to the very rare tree for which it is named.
6. Monkey Island, Homosassa
Monkey Island came into being when a man developing the land that would later become Homosassa Wildlife State Park needed a place to put his misbehaving monkeys. He wanted guests to be able to watch them from a safe distance. Thus, Monkey Island was born. This tiny place is still attracting curious visitors today.
7. Spook Hill, Lake Wales
Spook Hill is a mind-bending attraction Lake Wales. Visitors who follow the posted directions can watch as their cars seemingly roll uphill, defying gravity.
8. Devil's Den, Williston
Devil's Den is one of North Central Florida's most beautiful hidden gems. It's a karst window (basically a collapsed cave over an underground river) located not far from Gainesville. Not only is it a stunning sight to behold, remains of prehistoric humans and animals were found in one of its passages.
9. Airstream Ranch, Dover
Floridians love to decorate their yards, but this really takes the cake. The Airstream Ranch was created by Frank Bates to celebrate Airstream's 75th birthday. It looks like eight Airstream trailers growing out of the ground. It's now on private property, but it's still visible from the highway.
10. Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnellon
Rainbow Springs has been an attraction since the 1930s, but it wasn't bought by the state until the '90s. The man-made waterfalls and phosphate pits are remnants of its early days. The water is absolutely beautiful here, and snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and tubing are popular activities.
By most accounts, Stiltsville began in the 1930s when several offshore clubs cropped up about a mile south of Cape Florida. These clubs were popular hangouts for all kinds of wealthy and influential people seeking to indulge in vices such as gambling. This ended abruptly when a hurricane in 1965 damaged the community beyond repair. The remaining seven houses are maintained and protected by the National Park Service, but the interiors are still off-limits.
12. Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach
How did a monastery that's older than this country possibly end up in South Florida? This 12th-century marvel was purchased by publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s, but his plans were put on hold by shipping complications. It was finally purchased once again in the 1960s and reassembled here in Florida.
13. Falling Waters State Park, Chipley
Falling Waters is home to the Florida's tallest natural waterfall. It can be quite impressive after a heavy rain, as the water rushes over 70 feet down a huge sinkhole.
14. The Venetian Pool, Coral Gables
This historic landmark is the largest freshwater pool in the United States, pumping in 820,000 gallons of clear spring water from the aquifer, where it returns when drained. It was completed in 1924, with coral structures modeled on the Italian city of Venice. The beautiful surroundings, complete with waterfalls, make this a unique swimming experience.
Have you visited any of these unbelievable locations in Florida? What’s your favorite place in Florida?