Ah, Florida — swaying palm trees against a crystal clear backdrop of pristine waters and a delectable selection of fresh seafood that is bound to delight your taste buds! Why not embark on a different kind of tropical adventure this year, with just a slight touch of eccentricity added to your itinerary?
Here are 10 vacation destinations you mustn’t miss on your next trip to Florida!
1. Dry Tortugas National Park in Key West, Florida
Many tourists have fallen in love with the pristine waters of Key West. If you can’t get over this crush and need to visit again, head over to the Dry Tortugas National Park for some snorkelling fun! We may not be deep-sea experts, but we’re pretty sure that dipping your toes into the shallow waters are the perfect cure for a lethargic mid-summer afternoon! Keep your eyes peeled for the flurry of colours that swim past you — you may just catch a sight of rare corals and tropical fish!
Dry Tortuga's National Park
Address: 40001 SR-9336 Homestead, FL 33034
Price: from 10 USD
Opening Hours: 12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Access: Public transportation departs to the park from Key West. Check website for more details.
Website: Dry Tortuga’s National Park
2. Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, Florida
Born out of a passionate curiosity about butterflies, Butterfly World was set up by Ronald Boender after he quit his job as a successful electrical engineer. Looking towards the conservation and education about butterflies, Boender and Butterfly World helped organise plenty of campaigns throughout the years, allowing thousands of butterflies to find their new home here. You may even catch a glimpse of the elusive Schaus swallowtail, an endangered species of butterfly that is starting to breed again in southern Florida. Hopefully one day, it will no longer be on the Endangered Species List, and we will get to see it in our everyday lives.
Address: 3600 W. Sample Road, Coconut Creek, FL 33073
Price: from 21.95 USD
Opening Hours: 9 am-5 pm Monday-Saturday, 11 am-5 pm Sunday. Last admission is at 4 pm.
Website: Butterfly World
3. Solomon’s Castle in Ona, Florida
You definitely can’t miss Solomon’s Castle! Gleaming in the Florida sunshine, this quirky castle has been built entirely out of aluminum! Construction began in 1974 when Howard Solomon collected scrap pieces of aluminum printing plates that were dumped by the local newspaper, transforming them into a sustainable and secure piece of architecture. Let the inner kid in you roam free as you explore the shiny interior of this handmade castle!
Address: 4533 Solomon Road Ona, Florida, 33865 United States
Price: from 5 USD
Opening Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
Website: Solomon’s Castle
4. The Church by the Sea in Madeira Beach, Florida
Look closely at the details of the Church by the Sea in the accompanying photo. The uncanny resemblance the round, top windows and tiled roof has to a chicken has earned this church the nickname of “Chicken Church”. Attracting a flock of curious locals and tourists alike, the best time to visit is in the evening, where the cross on top of the church lights up, which is a heartwarming sight to see.
Church By The Sea
Address: 495 137th Ave. Cir. Madeira Beach, Florida 33708
Opening Hours: Depends on seasons. Check website for church’s timetable
Website: Church By The Sea
5. Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida
Just to get to Jules’ Undersea Lodge, you need to scuba dive 21 feet under the sea. But don’t fret, though — if you can’t swim, you can opt for their discover scuba diving program, so you can get a lift down. Swim past the frilly aquatic plants and the colourful corals, before coming across what looks like a motel perched atop the sloping sands. Feel free to grab a slice of pizza, or even stay the night with schools of fishes as your companion!
Jules' Undersea Lodge
Address: 51 Shoreland Dr, Key Largo, FL 33037
Price: from 70 USD
Opening Hours: Tuesday - Friday 8:30 AM - 2:30 PM, Saturday & Sunday 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Website: Jules’ Undersea Lodge
6. Abandoned Annie Lytle Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida
Dating back to 1915, the Annie Lytle Elementary School functioned as a school for a good 40 years before the highway system in Jacksonville was built. Interrupted by railway noises and becoming increasingly isolated and difficult to access, the school was closed in 1960 and used as a storage space. Now, all that remains is graffiti from urban trespassers and eerie rumours about a patrolling janitor who hunts down illegal visitors.
Abandoned Annie Lytle Elementary School
Address: 699 Chelsea St Jacksonville, Florida United States
Opening Hours: No closing hours
7. Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petesburg, Florida
Conceptualised and designed by the great artist himself, the Salvador Dali Museum was the last great work of Dali, housing some of his best artwork. Meander through his passionate surreal realities, an ode to the harmonious blend of art and science, as well as nuclear mysticism that helped him craft his art towards the end of his life.
Salvador Dali Museum
Address: St. Petesburg, Florida
Price: from 20 USD
Opening Hours: Open from 10:30 am to 6 pm
Website: Salvador Dali Museum
8. Bok Tower Gardens in northern Lake Wales, Florida
Decorated with flourishing views of blooming flowers, the melodies of the Singing Tower adds a lovely touch to your afternoon stroll. The neo-Gothic and art deco tower is equipped with 60-bell carillons, making the daily concerts at 1 and 3 pm events that should not to be missed. Be sure to bring your favourite book with you, as nothing makes for better shade than the sturdy oak trees!
Bok Tower Gardens
Address: 1151 Tower Boulevard Lake Wales, Florida 33853-3470
Price: from 5 USD
Opening Hours: Summer: Open daily from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Spring: Open daily from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Website: Bok Tower Gardens
9. Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, Florida
Embark on a tour of Safari World, where you get to climb aboard a boat ride to see the spider monkeys on the islands of Lake Shanalee. If you’re not one for animals, why not bring your swimsuit for a splashing good time down the Fun Slide? Featuring a series of 23 interactive activities, you can soar through the skies with the flying elephant ride, or even try your hand at solving a puzzle with the maze! There’s something here for everyone, so what are you waiting for?
Lion Country Safari
Address: Lion Country Safari, 2003 Lion Country Safari Road Loxahatchee, Florida 33470
Price: from 60 USD
Opening Hours: 9:30 am - 4:30 pm
Website: Lion Country Safari
10. Spot animals at Everglades National Park
With a plethora of natural activities to partake in, see the Everglades National Park in a different light by heading down the road less travelled. The marshes are filled with snapping alligators, turtles, and anhingas, but if you aren’t one for the marshes, the cypress reserve is perfect for those seeking for a touch of tranquility on your vacation.
Everglades National Park
Address: 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034
Price: from 40 USD
Opening Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m
Website: Everglades National Park
The perfect natural retreat
If you’re looking for a zen vacation this holiday, why not embark on your own itinerary with these cool places to see across Florida? When you’re bored of the viridian views, you can indulge in the beauty of art. With so much to see and do, there’s definitely something for everyone in Florida!
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