Florida is a tourist destination spot that usually means either wearing swimsuits or packing up the kids for a visit to a theme park honoring a mouse, a whale or Homer Simpson. If you are in the mood to find something a little more left of center, however, Florida has what you are looking for. In fact, Florida is almost filled with weird and the wacky and the just plain offbeat.
Perky’s Bat Tower
Take Perky’s Bat Tower down in the Keys, for one. A man named Richter Perky wanted to entice visitors to Sugarloaf Key, but knew that the local mosquito population was not exactly something that was enticement. To battle the bugs, Perky built a 35-foot-high wooden tower populated with mail-order bats. The bats, you see, would take care of the mosquitoes and Perky would take care of the visitors. Alas, Perky’s idea went belly-up, but his monument to strategizing against Florida’s ferocious mosquitoes remains.
The Real Black Lagoon
One of the weirdest tourist attractions is the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring. Florida’s highest point lies at the top of a Disney World rollercoaster so you wouldn’t normally expect the state to be home to the world’s largest or deepest anything. Wakulla Springs is located in the Panhandle and offers glass-bottom boat tours through a primeval wilderness that you just may recognized from “The Creature From the Black Lagoon” or some old Tarzan movies.
The Fountain of Youth
The Fountain of Youth can be found in Florida. You won’t be able to guarantee everlasting youth when you drink the sulphurous waters inside Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park near St. Augustine. Even if the Fountain of Youth holds no interest, you can still enjoy the fascinating archaeological excavations in the park. It is believed that this is the site where the New World settlers first met up with members of the natives for whom Florida was the Old World.
The little town of Lake Wales, Florida has a place best described as weird or possibly as gravity defying. (Spoiler alert: It’s really just an optical illusion.) The spoiler be damned, this is a spooky place with a spooky history. Allegedly there are ghosts here who will push your car uphill in defiance of the laws of physics. Since we all live in a world where physics cannot be defied except by guys wearing their underwear as outerwear, you know that it’s not really any ghostly help. But try convincing yourself by attacking Spook Hill around 2:00 in the morning all by your lonesome.
So many different cruise ships make their way out into the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean that you could spend all year taking them and never step on the same boat twice. But that would be boring. Instead, head to Panama City Beach and head out to see in a pirate ship with a crew of, well, pirates. You may be made to walk the plank or and you will almost definitely get to enjoy dolphins cavorting in the water. There is beer for the adults and soft drinks for the kids and this pirate cruise is less weird that it is an exciting way to leave Florida as you head back to your western destination via Interstate 10.