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4 Weird Roadside Attractions in Florida

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florida welcome sign

Photo: Al Muya

Florida is full of, well, let’s just say “interesting” people. To match the quirkiness of its residents, you can find an odd collection of roadside attractions as you travel through the Sunshine State. Here are four of the most intriguing things to see as you drive through Florida.


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The Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

You’ll have to get out of the car to see this attraction, but it’ll be well worth it once you see what’s in store. The Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Spring Hill is sure to dazzle anyone who wishes that mermaids were, in fact, real. The mermaid shows first started in 1947, showcasing the fish-tailed women eating fruit during picnics while posing gracefully. Currently, the mermaid roster does a few underwater performances throughout the day, including choreographed routines followed by photo-ops.

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Skunk Ape Research Headquarters

The mysterious skunk ape — also known by its many hilarious monikers such as swampsquatch, stink ape, and swamp cabbage man — is a humanoid creature said to inhabit the states of Florida, North Carolina, and Arkansas. However, most sightings (and smells) have come from Florida. Head to Ochopee to visit the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters, where you can meet Dave Shealy, a man who has spent nearly his whole life searching for the creature. Be sure to stop at the gift shop on your way out, which features a variety of skunk ape items like magnets, t-shirts, hats, and, of course, a drink koozie.

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spongeorama sponge factory tarpon springs

Photo: Walter

Spongeorama Sponge Factory

If you didn’t get enough underwater adventure visiting the Mermaids of Weeki Wachee, you should stop in Tarpon Springs at the Spongeorama Sponge Factory. The building houses the world’s largest collection of natural sea sponges, and the town claims to be the Sponge Capital of the World. (No word from Bikini Bottom representative Spongebob Squarepants on whether this is factual.) In the museum, you can learn all about sea sponges, where they come from, and the industry that evolved around them. As with any roadside attraction, the gift shop offers a variety of sponge-related trinkets to take back to your loved ones.

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potters wax museum st. augustine florida

Photo: Cliff

Potter’s Wax Museum

Forget Madame Tussauds! Instead, head to St. Augustine to see some lifelike wax creations of your favorite celebrities and historical figures. Potter’s Wax Museum opened in 1948 and has been entertaining guests ever since. Open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., museum tickets are about $10 per adult and $7 per child (free for children under 5). Some of the wax figures you can expect to see include popular film characters like Harry Potter and Austin Powers, as well as historical figures like Albert Einstein, Henry the VII, and many of the United States presidents.

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