In the great state of Florida there are an infinite number of ways to entertain a family. Many are hidden experiences that can be easily overlooked. Here are just a few of our state’s greatest off the radar and off the charts adventures, perfect for a weekend get-away. Get out there and discover them for yourself!
Florida boasts one of only a handful of protected areas for primates in the United States. It’s also the only one that allows public access to this unique sanctuary. And we’re not just talking a drive-by. Monkey Jungle allows interaction with the primate residents. Opened in Miami in 1935, this sanctuary is a truly unique attraction doing very serious work to protect primates. It’s home to over 300 monkeys that roam freely across more than 30 acres. The park has designed interactive activities so that we can gain a better understanding and appreciation for these amazing, wild creatures. So, if you find yourself down south and feel like going bananas, head on over to the Monkey Jungle.
Weeki Wachee Springs
Want to be convinced that mermaids really do exist? Then head on over to one of our state’s oldest, most mythical attractions, Weeki Wachee Springs. Located north of Tampa, Weeki Wachee Springs is home to a live, underwater theater that transports viewers into the magical world of mermaids. The show now includes adaptations of The Little Mermaid as well as a glimpse of “everyday” mermaid activities. Weeki Wachee Springs is simply one of those quintessentially “old Florida kitschy” experiences you won’t want to miss.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge
Jules’ Undersea Lodge is aptly named. It’s the world’s only underwater hotel. If you’re in the mood for adventure, this is truly an incredible experience! Located in Key Largo, the hotel offers both overnight stays and daytime activities. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to explore the lagoon through the diving activities hosted by Jules. The on-site Dive Masters tout a “no stress” experience and offer free equipment rentals for dive parties of four.
Bok Tower Gardens
This national historic landmark, located in Central Florida, is home to some of the greatest works of world-renown landscape artist, Fredrick Law Olmstead Jr. Olmstead is best known for his commitment to wildlife conservation and work on national parks from Yosemite to the Everglades. Bok Tower Gardens is a pristine oasis. The gardens are frequented by guests in search of quiet contemplation and peace of mind, just as Olmstead intended. An abundance of wildlife, including endangered gopher tortoises, eastern indigo snakes, and 126 species of birds, call these special gardens home. However, the main spectacle is the magical Singing Tower. This 205-foot structure contains a 60-bell carillon that plays daily from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. As you listen to the soothing songs of the tower, your kids can get a kick out of feeding the amazing koi that reside in a pond below the tower.
Historic Woodlawn Blvd. in Deland
If you’d like to enter a time machine to go back to the days when small towns had thriving main streets bursting with foot traffic visiting locally owned shops, restaurants and even museums, then Deland should be on your local bucket list. Historic Woodland Boulevard offers visitors a culinary trip around the world from local proprietors. You can sample the delights of Greece, Italy, and Spain, sip a glass of wine al fresco, and take in truly world-class works of art courtesy of two locations of the Museum of Art Deland. Park the car once and you can walk to each and every one of these irresistible spots. You can also wander through the amazing architecture and leafy green quad of scenic Stetson University. And, of course, there are plenty of shops to tempt you. From antiques to jewelry made by local artisans and up-cycled creations and works of art, it’s a visual delight. A mere 45-mile drive West of Daytona Beach, Deland is a worthy day trip.
In a state as great as Florida there are an endless amount of perfect places. So, whether your adventure takes you underwater or to a “jungle” filled with monkeys, you’re sure to have a grand time. Share your favorite hidden spot in Florida with us by posting “comments” below.