The Weird, The Wacky, and The Wonderful
By Darien Davies
Who’s ready to get freaky deaky on the road? Well, not like that. While the majority of road trips are all about the destination, we’re here to show you that Florida has some off-the-beaten-path spots that are all about putting the WTF(un) in the journey. Regardless if you visit one or visit them all, you are sure to see and enjoy some jaw-dropping sights that will make you appreciate the weird, wacky and downright wonderful parts of Florida that you didn’t know you were missing.
We had to be extremely decisive when creating this list and unfortunately couldn’t include buildings shaped like ice cream cones — because there were too many to choose from. It’s also important to note that “roadside” is relative, so some attractions only require a pull off on the shoulder, while others may have an admittance fee or need a scheduled tour. What’d we say about worrying about the destination?
Museum of Graffiti
It’s the world’s first museum dedicated to graffiti, and you’ll find it vibing in Wynwood. Not only does it showcase the top global and local graffiti artists while presenting the art movement’s rich history, visitors can also channel their inner Banksy at graffiti classes and kid’s graffiti drawing class.
276 NW 26th Street, Miami
If stepping back in time to the Mesozoic Era sounds like a historically fun way to spend the day, then Dinosaur World is roaring your name. Located between Orlando and Tampa in Plant City, you’re invited to walk among hundreds of life-sized dinosaurs in a natural setting. There’s also a gigantic gift shop, boardwalks and a Dino-themed playground, perfect for your kids or the kid in you. Bonus: coolers are encouraged, and dogs are welcome!
5145 Harvey Tew Rd, Plant City
If you’re looking to shake things up a bit, head to the Miami Marlins stadium and peek at more than 600 baseball-themed bobbleheads. It’s updated every year and includes players, managers, broadcasters and mascots, as well as celebrity bobbleheads like Pitbull and DJ Khaled. You’ll need to book a Marlins stadium tour in advance to see this gem.
501 Marlins Way, Miami
Maxwell Groves Country Store
It’s a Florida country store to rival all country stores you’ve seen before. Maxwell Groves might have started out as a small open-air fruit stand almost nine decades ago, but it has grown into a packing house and country store where customers are invited to kick back and stay awhile. Not only can you pick your own produce, you can also enjoy fresh-squeezed OJ, their famous dairy-free soft serve ice cream, gifts, jams and jellies, and can even channel your inner Moira Rose and indulge in their $5 glass of citrus wine.
607 E. Circle St, Avon Park
Located on Homosassa River on the West Coast of Florida, Monkey Island features spider monkeys galore. It almost looks like their own little putt-putt golf island with a lighthouse and platforms, allowing for plenty of monkey business that you can watch from the nearby Monkey Bar. The island has been undergoing renovations all year, but as we close out 2023, we’re hopeful that the monkeying around will carry on soon.
5297 S. Cherokee Way, Homosassa, Florida
Truman Show Town
Stop rubbing your eyes, the perfect beachside town does exist, and it’s called Seaside. While you might not have heard of it, you know it as the town where Jim Carrey’s average life gets flipped on its picture-perfect, Lilly Pulitzer-wearing head. Almost too manicured and friendly to actually exist off the movie cameras, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and confused at the same time. Below is the address for Truman’s house in the movie.
31 Natchez St, Santa Rosa Beach
Smallest Post Office in the United States
It might look like an outhouse, but it’s been a proud post office since 1953. Only 61.3 square feet, the building used to be a storage facility for irrigation pipes of an adjacent tomato farm but was converted into a post office when a fire destroyed the previous post office. Mail yourself a postcard from there!
38000 Tamiami Trail E, Ochopee
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Mermaids? Yep. Opened in 1947, Weeki Wachee is a state park offering guests daily mermaid shows, paddleboard and kayak rentals, river boat cruises and swimming in Buccaneer Bay. Tip: show up early and have your entire party present. While the park is open 365 days a year, once max capacity is reached, admission is closed and you’ll have to wait another day.
6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill
Break out the camo and grab the Busch cans because you’re goin’ country. GatorLand is a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve where you can not only see more alligators and crocodiles than you’d ever like to, but can also enjoy a free-flight aviary, petting zoo, one-of-a-kind animal shows, thrilling Screamin’ Gator Zip Line and new Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure. Yeehaw!
14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando
Established in 1927, Flamingo Gardens is one of the oldest botanical gardens and attractions in South Florida. The 60-acre botanical gardens and Everglades wildlife sanctuary features more than 3,000 species of rare and exotic, tropical, subtropical, and native plants and trees, and is home to the largest collection of Florida native wildlife.
3750 S. Flamingo Rd, Davie