The Best of Quirky Florida
Collected by Terry Ward, AFAR Local Expert
It wouldn’t be Florida if it wasn’t weird. From bars where underwater mermaids blink at you to retro theme parks and a restaurant in chichi Fort Lauderdale that's famous for Polynesian fire dances, here is where to enjoy the quirkier side of the Sunshine State.
1825 4th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33704, USA
Visitors have enjoyed strolling the idyllic Sunken Gardens for nearly 100 years. At 1.6 hectares (four acres), this botanical garden in St. Petersburg is relatively modest in size yet it manages to find room for some 50,000 tropical plants, along...
14501 S Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32837, USA
6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606, USA
The delightfully kitsch daily mermaid shows, which have been running for over 60 years, are why most people come to this famed Florida state park roughly an hour north of Tampa. The mermaids perform a rendition of The Little Mermaid within the...
801 Seabreeze Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316, USA
The Jungle Queen dinner cruise experience has been a Fort Lauderdale institution since 1945. Take the kids and board the historic riverboat on a three-hour cruise through downtown Fort Lauderdale to a tropical island. You'll see superb views of...
3599 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308, USA
Look for the thatched palm, A-frame roof along Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale and you’ll know you’ve found this little piece of the Pacific. Mai-Kai is a kitsch temple to all things Polynesian, and the restaurant opened in Fort...
1140 Seabreeze Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316, USA
The hotels housing this popular Fort Lauderdale mermaid attraction have come and gone, but The Wreck Bar has remained. We guess that means sirens have staying power. Built to resemble a sunken Spanish galleon, this kitsch bar inside the B Ocean...
2701 De Soto Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33134, USA
This public pool is filled and drained daily with some 820,000 gallons from Florida's large aquifer. Open since the 1920s, the spring-fed pool is one of Florida’s original tourist attractions. Spend the day swimming and exploring its...
77522 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036, USA
If you make just one stop along the Overseas Highway on your way through the Florida Keys from Miami to Key West, make it Robbie’s. The attraction dates back nearly two decades, when the owners of the small marina and restaurant here started...
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