10 Cool and Quirky Things to Do in Florida
Watch Live Mermaids Perform Underwater
Entertaining audiences since 1947, the mermaid shows at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park are an ode to Old Florida. With a few flips of their glittering tales, these underwater mavens perform synchronized ballet moves 20 feet below the surface inside a 74-degree freshwater spring. It’s the site of one of the deepest, naturally formed underwater caverns in the country. Mermaids go through extensive training to perform in these shows, and it’s not an easy feat—the surge of the current is so strong that it can knock a scuba diver’s mask off. One of the oldest roadside attractions in Florida, the park is located about an hour north of Tampa.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606
Witness a Real Rocket Launch
Florida’s Space Coast is one of the few places you can personally witness a rocket launch and meet astronauts face-to-face. The Kennedy Space Center opened in 1967 during the height of the Cold War-era space race. Today you can take a simulated visit to Mars, tour the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, and walk among giant moon rockets from NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. The best time to visit is during an actual rocket launch when you can see (and feel) the liftoff. SpaceX Falcon rocket launches happen year-round, and you can witness them live from the visitor complex. Just make sure you arrive early because the stands get packed.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, SR 405 Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899
Explore the Shark Tooth Capital of the World
You’ve heard of Megalodon, right? It’s the giant prehistoric shark that could grow up to 60 feet long. Florida used to be completely submerged underwater, and when the sea receded giving way to land, the prehistoric sharks died. Today, the Venice coastal area sits atop a fossil layer that runs up to 35 feet deep in some areas, making it a prime location for prehistoric shark teeth. And yes, people have found Megalodon teeth! Start your hunt at Caspersen Beach Park where it’s rocky, and you’re more likely to find hidden fossils.
Caspersen Beach Park, 4100 Harbor Drive, Venice, FL 34285
Visit America’s Smallest Post Office
Not only is the Ochopee Post Office officially the smallest post office in the United States, the 61-square-foot structure is a bona fide Florida tourist destination in the heart of the Everglades. The Ochopee mail route serves just under 1,000 residents and covers deliveries across three counties (Monroe, Miami-Dade, and Collier) as well as the Miccosukee Indian Reservation. Formerly a storage shed for a nearby tomato farm, the building became a post office in 1953, after the original location was destroyed by a fire. The tiny, closet-sized shed has survived numerous natural disasters, including Hurricane Irma, when it opened just five days after the storm.
Ochopee Post Office, 38000 Tamiami Trail E., Ochopee, FL 34141
These Destinations Are Perfect for Beachcombers and City Folk Alike
Sail Out to Stiltsville
Go off the beaten path in Miami and explore what’s left of Stiltsville, a vintage village on stilts. Hovering between sky and sea, Prohibition-era speakeasies on stilts comprise what was once known as a renegade village on Biscayne Bay. Eddie “Crawfish” Walker built the first stilt structure in the early 1930s, and it became a party destination for rumrunners. During its heyday in the 1960s, there were 27 houses on stilts, but after being battered by hurricanes throughout the decades, only seven remain standing. Only visible by boat, hop on a catamaran with HistoryMiami to get the full story about these colorful wooden houses. Located inside Biscayne National Park, even most locals haven’t visited this hidden gem.
HistoryMiami tours must be booked in advance and leave from Bayside Marketplace, 401 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132
Check Out the Largest Miniature Circus in the World
In 1927, John Ringling made Sarasota the winter headquarters of the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus. While the greatest show on earth retired in 2017, you can still learn about the history of the circus at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. At the museum, check out the 42,000-piece miniature circus created by Howard Tibbals. It has 925 mini animals and 7,000 mini folding chairs!
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL 34243
Go Horseback Riding on the Beach
Ready for the ride of a lifetime? Like a scene from a movie, there’s something magical about the image of horses galloping on the beach. If you’re hoping to cross this item off your bucket list, there are only a handful of places around the country where you explore an unspoiled stretch of sand on a guided equestrian tour. In Amelia Island, you have three options for this rare experience: Kelly Seahorse Ranch, Amelia Island Horseback Riding, and Happy Trails Walking Horses. Saddle up for a sunrise or sunset ride and enjoy Amelia Island’s gorgeous beaches from a four-legged point of view.
Kelly Seahorse Ranch (inside Amelia Island State Park), State Road A1A, Amelia Island, FL 32034; Amelia Island Horseback Riding and Happy Trails Walking Horses both operate at Peter's Point, 1974 Peters Point Road, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Watch the Coolest Seaside Air Show
Home of the Blue Angels, the Pensacola Bay area is the perfect place to find a spot on the sand and watch experienced U.S. Navy pilots soar across the shoreline as they execute jaw-dropping maneuvers. You can witness Blue Angels flight practice on Wednesday mornings from March to November at the National Naval Aviation Museum located aboard the Naval Air Station. Or check out Red, White & Blues Week every year during the Fourth of July, when you can watch in awe as Blue Angels perform aerial acrobats along Pensacola Beach.
National Naval Aviation Museum, 1750 Radford Blvd., NAS Pensacola, FL 32508
Visit the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village
Apparently there’s no need for tall tales after a fishing excursion in this Florida town. With beautiful emerald green water, Destin is known as the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village. Perfect for deep sea fisherman, Destin boasts the closest deep water access in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Hop aboard the Makaira (which means Marlin) with the deep sea fishing professionals at Destin Fishing Charter and try your luck on Florida’s Emerald Coast.
Destin Fishing Charter, Harborwalk Marina, 10 Harbor Blvd. Destin, FL 32541
See Captiva Island’s Quirkiest Attraction
The Bubble Room is Captiva Island’s ode to pastel colors, Christmas, vintage toys, and oversized desserts. The restaurant started in 1979 with just a few tables in the front room of the Farqhuarson family’s home. Over the years, it has exploded into a smorgasbord of eclectic décor. Inside you’ll find an elf-themed room, antique train sets, a juke box playing hits from the 1930s and ‘40s, old photographs framed with Christmas lights, a tunnel of love, and slightly creepy clowns scattered throughout the restaurant. It’s truly a quirky attraction!
The Bubble Room, 15001 Captiva Drive, Captiva, FL 33924