Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is known for its iconic mermaid show and water park. The gorgeous spring-fed river is also a great place for kayak and SUP rentals, although the route from the park has been shortened.
Destinations that capture that “only in Florida” flavor.
Cap’s Place is Broward’s oldest restaurant, where rum-runners and gamblers reigned, and presidents and celebrities visited. It’s a rustic old wooden shack now surrounded by mansions and yachts. History and atmosphere make it worth a visit.
Cinnamon rolls and the fall season are both back; Knaus Berry Farms reopens Oct. 31. This 50-year-old institution south of Miami has generations of devoted fans. It’s a good stop for an Everglades trip or a day exploring the Redland.
Key West has a lot of off-beat charms, but one of my favorites has always been the chickens that you hear crowing and see strutting everywhere. But don’t feed them! It’s now against the law. Learn about the fascinating feral fowl that are part of Key West’s funky charm.
Robbie’s Marina is a don’t-miss stop as you drive through the Florida Keys. Dozens of tarpon, some more than 6 feet long, gather at the dock and lunge for fish from visitors. The restaurant there, the Hungry Tarpon, is highly recommended , too.
Coral Castle is a 100-year-old site made of 30-ton blocks of limestone somehow arranged by a lovesick eccentric into a Stonehenge-like work of art.
Like a lot of original Florida tourist attractions, it can be corny, playing up a mystical angle. But it is also listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and is strange and wonderful in its own way.
The annual July 4 Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim is a happening not a race. Participants cross the 1.5-mile wide Peace River every which way — some kayak, some swim, some float. For Floridians, where July 4th is always hot and steamy, it seems like a perfect holiday tradition.
Robert Is Here, just outside Everglades National Park, is a must-stop for my family on the basis of its fresh-fruit milkshakes alone. But we also love the menangerie out back, the exotic tropical fruits there for the tasting and the overall ambiance.
The historic agricultural area surrounding the Homestead entrance to Everglades National Park offers so many cool experiences — a park where you can see and sample exotic fruits, a historic village of shops and restaurants, a local tropical-fruit winery and famous fruit milkshakes and cinnamon rolls.
Lakes Wales is blessed with the historic and grand Bok Tower Gardens, but there are other things to do, from funky ‘Spook Hill’ to a pretty pathway around the lake for biking or walking.
They don’t make movies like “African Queen” any more — and they don’t make boats like the African Queen either. If your dream was to sit where Humphrey Bogart or Katherine Hepburn sat in the classic 1951 movie, then head to Key Largo. Here are the details you need to plan a visit.
Stopping at Alabama Jack’s, a fish shack and dive bar on a remote road between Homestead and Key Largo, has been the classic way to start a Keys trip for decades. We revisited the open-air waterfront spot recently, and we’re happy to say: It’s as shabby and atmospheric as ever.
No Name Pub has been around since the 1930s, and it looks like it. It offers tasty food in a historic building, but what makes this the king of Funky Florida is the decor: $90,000 (some say) stapled to the walls and ceiling.
Florida’s wackiness goes back to its first settlers, and Koreshan State Historic Site celebrates one of our earliest eccentrics. Thanks to this cult leader, though, a lovely wooded site on the Estero River was preserved through the years for us to enjoy.
The beach town of Marco Island is all manicured and modern, but here are four adventures into the wild and authentic Florida that are within a quick drive. You can wade across a lagoon to a wild beach or have lunch in a funky fishing town or stroll on a boardwalk into a beautiful old growth cypress swamp.
A Virginia Key kayak outing offers an amazing combo – views of the Miami skyline rising out of Biscayne Bay in one direction, mangrove lagoons with shore birds in the other. An extra treat: It’s the best way to see the old Miami Marine Stadium.
Boyett’s Citrus is a throwback to the Florida before Disney. It’s a mom-and-pop business, with mini-golf, an animal park. animated dinosaurs — and more. There’s no theme except “this might be fun.”
A scenic road through Everglades National Park also brings you past a cute little roadside stop: the smallest post office in the US. In an era where post offices are being closed to save money, this little outpost dating to 1953 is a survivor.
This authentic Florida fishing village near Bradenton is the perfect place to find classic seafood shacks — open air, casual with the freshest fish.
Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda is a true Florida crab shack; they don’t come more authentic than this. From its 1927 Cracker cabin to the buckets of fresh blue crabs, it’s a little piece of old Florida.
DeLeon Springs, about an hour north of Orlando, is a state parks with swimming, kayaking and fantastic history. But it’s best known for — of all things — its pancakes.
Now in ruins, the historic (and notorious) Yeehaw Junction landmark has occupied the busy crossroads of State Road 60 and U.S. 441 since the late 1800s, when Florida Crackers hauled crops to market and cowboys herded cattle through the intersection. (And yes, it was once a brothel.)
JB’s is your original crab shack, a funky Florida kind of place where blue crabs are served steaming from the kitchen and dumped onto sheets of brown kraft paper that serve as your tablecloth. There’s an outdoor dining deck with a tiki bar overlooking Mosquito Lagoon.
FORT LAUDERDALE — The Southport Raw Bar is a favorite of locals, and you’ll love it, too. The water view down a canal filled with sailboats is awesome, and the seafood is fresh and tasty. This well-known, yet hidden, eatery is filled exudes ‘Old Florida’ ambience. A great place to wile away an afternoon, or take a friend to dinner.
Fort Lauderdale’s Rustic Inn is a classic. Their “world famous garlic crabs” draw hundreds of people every night to this old Florida restaurant, tucked away on Ravenswood Road, just west of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. You’ll find it from the sound of wooden mallets pounding on the table every few minutes.
Howley’s Diner has been there for 60 years. It’s not just retro, this West Palm Beach diner is the real deal — from its terrazzo floors to its tin ceiling.