One-of-a-kind experiences make each visit back to Florida a memorable one
This summer, expect the unexpected and prepare to be captivated by more than sun, sand and beach in Florida. Journey across the Sunshine State and prepare for cool,
hidden and under-the-radar experiences – from extraordinary venues, animal encounters, mermaid experiences and more that will leave you saying, “Only in Florida!”
From north to south, here are a few of the only-in-Florida experiences that will surprise and delight visitors this summer.
AMELIA ISLAND: On Amelia Island, find the Palace Saloon. A fixture on Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach since 1903, it is the oldest saloon in Florida still operating in its original location. Assisting in the design of the elegant bar was none other than Adolphus Busch, founder of Anheuser-Busch and long-time friend of original owner, Louis G. Hirth. During prohibition, it is rumored that the Palace Saloon was the last tavern in the country to close. During those “dry” years, the saloon sweetened its image and kept the doors open by selling ice cream. A favorite of socialites such as the Vanderbilts, Carnegies and Rockefellers, the Palace Saloon was also the first hard liquor bar in Florida to sell Coca-Cola – who knew?
ST. AUGUSTINE: In St. Augustine, tour a Sea Turtle Hospital, because, yes, everything can become an experience in Florida! Get a behind-the-scenes tour of The Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Laboratory to learn how the veterinarians and hospital staff care for and nurture these ancient sea creatures back to health. Visitors can see the day-to-day activities and may also meet some current patients.
ORLANDO: More than just theme parks, enjoy the true natural beauty of Orlando on a Lake Ivanhoe paddle board tour with bunnies and puppies aboard with Epic Paddle Adventures. If that’s not enough social media content, savor a meal at one of Orlando’s MICHELIN-recognized restaurants.
CRYSTAL RIVER: Just in time for the new The Little Mermaid live action film, families and water enthusiasts should head to Crystal River Watersports’ for their “Try Mermaid” course, which gives participants an opportunity to earn a Scuba School International (SSI) certification while learning the basics of how to swim with a monofin. Participants should schedule about four hours for this course. The course is open to everyone aged six and older who can swim 12 meters. Tails are available for use during the course, as well as available for purchase inside the dive shop.
PASCO COUNTY: In Pasco County’s Dade City, located just 45 minutes north of the Tampa cityscape, sits Giraffe Ranch. The exotic 47-acre ranch offers five unique safari tours led by experienced guides – even including a guided tour via camelback! Giraffe Ranch offers educational excursions and close encounters with breathtaking animals, including giraffes, rhinos, zebras, camels, a Brazilian tapir and pygmy hippopotamus. Visitors can also enjoy unforgettable moments like giraffe and lemur feedings, where explorers can get up-close-and-personal with the magnificent animals.
ST. PETE/CLEARWATER: Just say "abracadabra" and open your eyes to the perfect family vacation in Florida! Skip the long lines and over-saturated tourist attractions with a new act.. Chris and Ryan Zubrick, award-winning illusionists who have wowed crowds in more than 7,000 performances across the globe, have made a permanent stage for their act in downtown St. Petersburg. The pair opened the doors of a new state-of-the-art Zubrick Magic Theatre last summer and the performances are so popular, they sell out quickly.
FORT LAUDERDALE: The B Ocean Resort Wreck Bar, famous since its inception in the 1950s, is one of the few places in the world where people can enjoy the beauty of living mermaids from a porthole view while enjoying a tropical cocktail and dining on fresh seafood. The Wreck Bar is one of the only destinations in the country to offer live underwater mermaid performances for young and mature adults.
MIAMI: The largest touring collection of mummified remains and related artifacts ever assembled is at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in downtown Miami. “Mummies of the World: The Exhibition” will reveal the true lives of ancient people from all over the world, including Europe, South America and ancient Egypt. The exhibition will be on view until Monday, September 4, 2023, with the mummified remains of 40 real humans and animals, and 80 rare artifacts from across the globe.
For more information on unique things to do in the state that will leave bemused travelers saying, “only in Florida!” please visit VISITFLORIDA.com.
About VISIT FLORIDA
VISIT FLORIDA is the Sunshine State’s official tourism marketing corporation and travel planning resource for visitors across the globe. As Florida’s No. 1 industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming over 137.6 million visitors in 2022, the highest number of visitors in the state’s history. VISIT FLORIDA promotes tourism through sales, advertising, promotions, public relations and visitor services programs, and serves more than 13,000 travel industry partners throughout the state. To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA, follow @FloridaTourism on Facebook and Twitter, or go to visitflorida.org. For inspiration in the Sunshine State follow @VISITFLORIDA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit www.visitflorida.com. For media resources, visit www.visitfloridamedia.com.