If you think you’d have a blast in the past, we have good news for you. Florida is filled with plenty of historic hot spots and modern throwbacks where you can take a trip back in time, at least for a little while.
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. Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant, Dania Beach
A visit to Jaxon's might be the most fun you ever have getting ice cream. Serving hoards of locals and tourists since 1956, Jaxon's has had plenty of time to collect tons of memorabilia and to create some really wild dishes.
2. Mai-Kai Restaurant, Fort Lauderdale
This local landmark is one of the few tiki-themed restaurants of 1950s fame still in operation today. It's kitschy to the core, with tropical drinks, entertainment, and lots of fun.
3. Weeki Wachee Springs
The mermaids have been performing at Weeki Wachee since 1947, and it became incredibly popular in the '50s and '60s. They're still mesmerizing us with their underwater shows today.
4. Sarasota Jungle Gardens
A real old-school Florida roadside attraction, Sarasota Jungle Gardens has been delighting guests with tropical plants and animal shows for decades.
5. Monument of States, Kissimmee
This unique pre-Disney attraction speaks to the old traditions of roadside attractions. This towering structure was built after the bombing of Pearl Harbor using a rock from each state, to show national pride and unity. Fans of retro attractions will appreciate its funky charm.
6. Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre, Lakeland
Many of Florida's drive-ins have unfortunately gone the way of the buffalo in recent decades. The historic Silver Moon Drive-In, however, opened in 1948 and hopefully isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
7. Gatorland, Orlando
Mom and pop theme parks like Gatorland could once be found all over Florida, but the larger theme parks rerouted a lot of the traffic they relied on. Luckily for us, alligator-themed attractions like Gatorland, Gatorama in Palmdale, and the St. Augustine Alligator Farm are still going strong.
8. Goofy Golf
Families love the vintage appeal of the long-standing miniature golf courses like these in Fort Walton Beach and Panama City.
9. Angel's Diner, Palatka
Angel's is Florida's oldest diner, in operation since 1932. Guests can enjoy diner classics and breakfast all day from the converted dining car interior or the comfort of their car. It's an essential stop for a retro road trip in Northeast Florida.
10. Splitsville, Multiple Locations
What would a retro list be without a bowling alley? Splitsville Luxury Lanes have locations in Tampa, Orlando, and Miami. They are somewhat pricey, with nontraditional bowling alley refreshments like sushi, but the decor will delight fans of popular mid-century design.
11. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Orlando
If you've ever looked at postcards from the '50s and '60s and wished you could stay at one of Florida's iconic resorts of the era, Cabana Bay was made for you. Though it's actually pretty new, this resort sticks to its theme inside and out, from the rooms and lounges, impressive pools, and even its own bowling alley.
12. Old Town, Kissimmee
If none of the previous attractions were quite enough for you, we also have an entire amusement park and outdoor shopping mall devoted to yesteryear. Old Town has food, rides, live entertainment and classic car shows. It's full of good old-fashioned family fun.
Do you have any other favorite retro spots we missed? Please share them with us in the comments below!