Usually when you think of Florida, you visualise family theme parks, Disney characters, sandy white beaches and lashings of winter sunshine. But the Sunshine State also has plenty to see and do off the beaten track. Here are our top ten offbeat Florida attractions for your next timeshare break – the ones that might not be in your guidebook!
1) African Queen, Key Largo
Film buffs will enjoy this marina at the Holiday Inn Key Largo, which is home to the original boat used in the classic 1951 movie, The African Queen. Directed by legendary director John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn and Robert Morley, this destination was once home to Hollywood royalty.
2) Big Cat Rescue, Tampa
Animal lovers and children will love wandering around the world’s largest big cat rescue and sanctuary – forget cuddly kittens though, this place is home to lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, bobcats, ocelots, servals, lynx, caracals and other exotic cats.
3) Coral Castle, Homestead
It’s incredible…but true! Obsessive, artistic and unique genius Ed Leedskalnin managed to carve and sculpt more than 1,100 tons of coral rock into a fantasy world at Coral Castle. Billed as “America’s Stonehenge,” this bizarre masterpiece was built over a 28-year period and has to be seen to be believed.
4) Dinosaur World, Plant City
Dinosaur fans aged 7 or 70 will love this unique outdoor museum. Dinosaur World is billed as the “world’s largest dinosaur attraction” and includes life-sized dinosaur replicas, caves, hands-on activities, fossil dig areas, exhibits, gift shops and much more.
5) Gatorland, Orlando
One of Orlando’s not quite so famous parks, Gatorland makes for a fascinating family day out. Take your pick from lively, alligator action-packed shows such as the world-famous Gator Jumparoo, Jungle Crocs of the World, Gator Wrestlin’ Show and Up Close Animal Encounters, then stroll through the Gator Gully Splash Park, petting zoo, aviary, train ride and more.
6) Potter’s Wax Museum
From the wacky to the weird, you could say Potter’s wax museum is the Florida equivalent of Madame Tussaud’s. It’s nestled in historic St. Augustine and features more than 160 wax figures of celebrities and historical figures. Take your photo alongside models of Albert Einstein, Julius Caesar, Tiger Woods, Princess Diana, Michael Jordan, Johnny Depp and even a bald Britney Spears!
7) Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Orlando
This one probably will be in the guidebook! A celebration of the truly weird and wonderful, teenagers and children will love this unique attraction. View oddities such as a Rolls Royce made from a million matchsticks, a two-headed calf, shrunken head, four-eyed man, cannibal dinosaur, Mona Lisa made out of toast, Egyptian mummy, and a Van Gogh portrait made from 3,000 postcards.
8) Salvador Dali Museum, St Petersburg
Nestled in downtown St. Petersburg, the Salvador Dali Museum boasts a huge collection of works by the famous surrealist painter. Art lovers will enjoy browsing paintings such as “The Hallucinogenic Toreador” and “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.”
9) Seven Mile Bridge, Marathon Key
A real masterpiece of engineering, the Seven Mile Bridge was finished in 1982 on the Overseas Highway to connect the Middle Keys (Marathon Key) to the Lower Keys (Little Duck Key). However, the Seven Mile Bridge is a little misleading – it’s actually only 6.79 miles long.
10) World’s Smallest Police Station, Carrabelle
No bigger than a phone booth, the World’s Smallest Police Station was built in the ’60s as the only police “HQ” in Carrabelle. It’s worth the photo opportunity if you ever find yourself driving through Florida’s panhandle.