Florida October 28, 2016
13 Places In Florida That Are Off The Beaten Path But Worth The Trip
If you look beyond the usual suspects (theme parks, beaches, etc.), Florida has a million fascinating places to explore. Journey off the beaten path, and you’ll find some of our favorite parks, gardens, and attractions in Florida.
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. Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna
The Florida Caverns are Florida's only air-filled caves that offer tours for the public. The whole family will enjoy this underground adventure.
2. Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach
This museum of Japanese culture and traditions hosts incredible exhibits and fun festivals year-round. The Japanese gardens are the perfect place to experience zen-like tranquility.
3. Dry Tortugas National Park, Key West
If you're going to the Keys soon (lucky you), don't miss a visit to this park. This unfinished Fort Jefferson sits about 70 miles west of Key West. Its remote location also makes it a great place for stargazing campers.
4. McKee Gardens, Vero Beach
These historic gardens in Vero Beach were founded as McKee Jungle Gardens in the early 1930s, but they were forced to close in 1976. They finally reopened under their present name in 2001. Here you will find thousands of tropical and native plants, and some of the gardens' historic structures.
5. Stetson Mansion, DeLand
This 10,000-square-foot, three-story mansion belonged to the famous hatter John B. Stetson, who is credited with inventing the cowboy hat. This Gilded Age beauty blends several architectural styles and bills itself as the first luxury home in Florida.
6. Solomon's Tower, Ona
Can you believe this life-size castle was built from reclaimed materials by a single artist? It houses his unique (and often amusing) artwork, and the artist himself gives tours. There is also a giant ship-shaped restaurant beloved by hungry travelers.
7. Falling Waters State Park, Chipley
Waterfalls are hard to come by in our state, but this state park is home to Florida's tallest natural waterfall, which rushes 73 feet down the wall of a massive sinkhole. Plan your visit to coincide with recent heavy rain, so there will be lots of water.
8. Safari Wilderness Ranch in Lakeland
At this park in Lakeland, visitors can choose their own adventure through the surrounding wilderness. Guests can take a ride in a canopied safari vehicle, a horseback or camelback ride, or even a kayak tour of the park.
9. Ravine Gardens State Park, Palatka
This little-known park in North Florida doesn't get the attention it deserves. This park with manicured gardens, footbridges, and trails created in the 1930s is magical during the springtime when thousands of azaleas are in bloom.
10. Coral Castle, Homestead
Coral Castle features multi-ton rocks carved to look like tables, chairs, and even a bathtub. These stones were sourced, carved and arranged by just one man, who was around five feet tall and weighed around 100 pounds.
11. Bob's Train, Sarasota
Bob’s Train may be a little hard to find, but it's the only place you can dine on a real circus train, filled with circus memorabilia. Bob not only cooks the food, he also loves impressing guests with his extensive knowledge of circus history.
12. Dinosaur World, Plant City
Kids and adults enjoy this fun and educational park, which features over 200 lifelike dinosaur statues. It's also less crowded and less expensive than Florida's larger theme parks.
13. The Panhandle Pioneer Settlement, Blountstown
This 40-acre park and living museum features 18 lovingly restored historic buildings dating from the 1820s through the 1940s. Classes teach honey and maple syrup making, blacksmithing, and pioneer crafts.
Have you visited any of these places? What’s your favorite little-known Florida attraction?