Why Is Florida So Weird?

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Want to know why is Florida so weird? Don’t we all?

When you think of Florida, you probably think Disney, beach, Florida Man. You won’t be hearing about the beach or Disney in here though.

Today is all about why Florida is so weird, weird things to do in Florida, weird hotels in Florida, anything weird Florida, really.

And this isn’t one of those posts like “Why is Florida so weird? Because they’re obsessed with Publix Subs!” No. That’s just.. a thing people in Florida love.

This is theories on why Florida is weird, weird attractions found in Florida, and more. If you love the strange and quirky, this is it.

Photo by Lyndi & Jason Flickr

Why does Florida seem weirder than other states?

I’m not actually sure if Florida is really weirder than other states but thanks to the Florida Sunshine and Public Record Laws, it sure seems like it.

It’s very easy to find all of these strange news stories of Florida Man and Florida Woman thanks to easy access to public records.

I definitely believe Florida seems so weird compared to other places because of this. The stories you see from here are truly bizarre because all the details are available to the public unlike most other places.

What is Florida Man?

Florida Man is what usually precedes a bizarre news headline like “Florida Man Found With Kangaroo in Port-a-Potty.” (That’s not real as far as I’m aware but not far off).

Not all Florida Man headlines are bizarre but the bizarre ones are what contribute to Florida’s notoriously weird reputation.

Here are a few examples of classic Florida Man headlines:

Photo by Jennifer Gergen Flickr

Is Florida as weird as it seems?

Personally, I don’t really think so? It has some weird attractions and people, but doesn’t everywhere?

I think it just seems weirder thanks to ease of access and detail in police reports and press releases. Everywhere else just as weird in their own ways, it’s just not as public as it is in Florida.

I made a very official poll on Instagram to see what other people think and whether they live there or not and here are some results and answers.

Almost everyone voted that yes Florida is weird and all but a few aren’t from/don’t live in Florida. A few people that are from/live there said it’s weird.

And only a few people, very much the minority, said it’s not weird. I want to say one didn’t live there and said no, it’s not weird, and maybe three said no but are from/do live there.

The general consensus on why Florida is so weird, politics aside (which I agree with but it makes Florida more awful than weird), is because of old people and Florida Man.

There were a couple answers along the lines of “where to start…” and “we’re gonna need a bigger box” as well.

So my final conclusion is that the majority of people who think it’s weird don’t live there but there are still plenty of people who live there that also think it’s weird.

I think people are much less likely to find it weird if they live there than if they don’t and that would probably depend on where you live, too.

Photo by Steven Miller Flickr

My theory on why Florida is so weird

Now, this is primarily my theory on why Florida drivers are so bad but I think it could apply to why Florida is so weird, too.

And I fully realize that I say this as someone who is not from Florida but currently lives there.

My theory is that so many bad drivers move to Florida from other states and now Florida is just full of bad drivers from everywhere else making it even worse.

And I know there are bad drivers everywhere and everyone tends to think wherever they are has the worst drivers, but it truly is bad in Florida.

The things I’ve seen people do while driving here is.. concerning. And this is a theory I just translate to why Florida is so weird.

It’s now home to all of the weird people that have moved there from other places! And again, there are probably some truly weird born and raised Floridians just like there are weird people everywhere else.

Weird things to do in Florida

Now onto the weird things to do in Florida! I’ve done a whopping two things on this list but this is my priority list of things to do in Florida because I love weird things.

This includes some weird places to visit in Florida, strange attractions in Florida, and some odd shops around Florida.

Cassadaga Florida
Photo by Lyndi & Jason Flickr

Visit Cassadaga, the psychic capitol of the world

That’s right. The psychic capital of the world can be found less than an hour from Orlando, next to a place strangely called Yourlando according to Google Maps.

The Spiritualist Community of Cassadaga was founded in 1894 by George P. Colby to communicate with the dead.

Spiritualists believe life continues after death and spirits can be communicated with by mediums. They do not, however, believe in the devil or witchcraft.

There can be some confusion about their beliefs and religion thanks to tarot readers, palm readers, unofficial mediums, fortune tellers, and other psychics set up shop across from the Spiritualist Camp.

Mediums and healers at the camp are all certified in a process that takes four to six year, and an addition two to four to become a minister.

Across from the supposedly haunted Cassadaga hotel you’ll find the bookstore and information center where you can schedule readings from certified mediums.

The style of reading depends on the medium doing it an can range from “spirit drawings” to trances.

Fees for readings and services vary from medium to medium (or healer or teacher). Church services are held on Sundays and meditation is common in the Myers Prayer Garden.

You can do a walking history tour to get to know the strange little town even better. This makes a great easy day trip from Orlando.

Photo by Anna Hanks Flickr

See real mermaids at Weeki Wachee

Weeki Wachee Springs is home to one of Florida’s best roadside attractions: Real Mermaids.

Since 1947 the mermaids of Weeki Wachee have performed four shows a day, 365 days a year and the 18-seat theater eventually grew to the 400-seat theater you see today.

While there are wildlife shows and springs to swim in, the mermaid show is the highlight of visiting Weeki Wachee and an Old Florida tradition not to be missed.

skunk ape research headquarters big cypress florida
Photo by Richard Elzey Flickr

Search for a Skunk Ape

Are you wondering what the heck a skunk ape is? I don’t blame you. The skunk ape is Florida’s version of big foot!

This cryptid, however, calls the swamps of the Everglades home instead of the woods of the northern US.

It’s a 5-7 foot tall reddish-brown haired ape-like creature found (apparently) across the southern US, but primarily in Florida. It is sometimes called “Florida Bigfoot” or the “Myakka Ape.”

Skunk apes have been recorded in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama folklore over the years with the first recorded sighting in 1818 in what is now Apalachicola, Florida.

A newspaper reported a man-sized monkey raiding food stores and stalking fishermen. There was also a sighting at the Perky Bat Tower in the Florida Keys in 1929.

Seminole and Miccosukee cultures also include stories of the Esti Capcaki, a strong, stinky, and secretive creature whose name translates to “furry tall man” or “hairy giant.”

I won’t lie, I thought the skunk ape was just an Everglades/Big Cypress thing, but sightings have been reported in every county of Florida!

If you’re visiting Big Cypress and Everglades City, you can even visit the Skunk Ape HQ in Ochopee.

Photo by Mary from Calculated Traveller

Meet Robert the Doll

Robert Eugene Otto, a painter and author, owned this doll which can now be found at the East Martello Museum in Key West.

Why is a doll on this list? Well, Robert the Doll is apparently haunted! The origins of the doll vary.

Some say it was a gift for young Otto from his grandfather in 1904 and remained at the family home (534 Eaton St.) until 1994.

Others say this life-size doll was gifted to him by a Bahamian girl in retaliation for wrongdoing.

Whatever the case, the house was sold in 1974 and the doll was donated to the East Martello Museum where it remains a popular tourist attraction.

Robert the Doll is reported to have abilities that allow it to move and change it’s facial expressions, while some say it makes giggling noises.

Local legend has it that Robert the Doll has caused car accidents, broken bones, divorce, and more.

Photo by Phillip Pessar Flickr

Visit the World Erotic Art Museum

This rather unique museum in Florida is home to over 4000 pieces of erotic fine art starting from 300 BC! It can be found in Miami Beach and is, not surprisingly, only open to those 18+.

The museum features art from cultures around the world and is used to educate the public about the role of erotic art in society.

It can be found in the art deco district of Miami. The Naomi Wilzig collection forms the basis for the art and artifacts found in the museum.

Get weird at Prometheus Esoterica

This shop of oddities is located in Winter Park, just north of Orlando and is part oddities shop, part gothic boutique.

At Prometheus Esoterica you’ll find ethically sourced animal bones and skulls, strange old medical devices, related books, and more.

Photo by Steven Miller Flickr

Absorb the sponge culture in Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs has a rich history of sponge diving and you can still experience it today. It helped Greek culture thrive and is now home to some of the best Greek restaurants and markets in the country. Along with the sponges, of course.

It all started when people realized money could be made from the natural sponges in the warm waters nearby. Over the years the number of people diving for sponges grew.

Even as the popularity of synthetic sponges grew, the natural sponges from Tarpon Springs are still highly regarded and sought after.

If you want to experience the historic sponge culture for yourself, be sure to go to the sponge docks.

And don’t forget to stop at Spongeorama Sponge Factory and Tarpon Sponge Company for a spongy souvenir!

Photo by Pom’ Flickr

Go to the Underwater Music Festival in Big Pine Key

Every year in mid-July you can head to Big Pine Key and enjoy an underwater music festival where they celebrate reef protection and responsible diving!

How do you have an underwater music festival, you ask? Well, me too!

About six miles south of Big Pine Key, divers and snorkelers gather and listened to sea-themed music piped through speakers attached to the bottom of boats above the reef.

The Keys radio station 104.1 hosts the festival on Looe Key Reef. Costumes aren’t required but there is a costume contest if that tickles your fancy.

You can take your own boat out (if you have one) or reserve a spot on a boat run by Lower Keys dive operators.

Photo by Chuck Coker Fliickr

See the world’s smallest police station

Florida is home to not one, but two of the world’s smallest things! And first up is the world’s smallest police station in Carabelle.

This is a sleepy little town on the Gulf of the Panhandle and while the world’s smallest police station isn’t in working order, it can still be seen.

This phone booth turned police station is at the Chamber of Commerce in downtown Carabelle and can be seen Monday to Friday from 10-2.

Back in the 60s Carabelle had a problem of tourists making long distance calls on the police phone, unauthorized, of course.

At first they tried moving the call box to another location but the calls continued. The police were also getting quite wet when they answered calls in the rain.

When it was time to update the phone booth in front of Burda’s Pharmacy, it was decided that the police phone would go in the new phone booth.

Calls were cut down quite a bit but a few people would still sneak in for those long distance calls.

The solution? Remove the dial so no outgoing calls could be made.

See the world’s smallest post office

On the opposite side of the state you’ll find the world’s smallest post office! I’m not actually 100% sure it’s the world’s smallest, but it is definitely the smallest post office in the US.

You’ll find this in Big Cypress, right on the Tamiami Trail near Everglades City. It’s technically in Ochopee but there isn’t much of a town

This is a functioning post office and a whopping 61.3 square feet. However, it wasn’t always a post office.

It started out as storage for irrigation pipes but was turned into the post office when the original was destroyed in a fire in 1953.

Not Frank Miranda’s

Stop at Frank Miranda’s Oddities & Antiques

Here we have another oddity and antique shop, but this one is in Clearwater. An abandoned Victorian home was turned into an antique, taxidermy, and oddity shop by Frank Miranda.

He was inspired by his father’s woodworking when he was young which set him on his life path of being an artist.

After 40 years on the art show circuit, he saw the show Oddities and knew his time on the road would be over soon.

In 2012 he bought the abandoned home that went on to be come his studio, oddity, and antique shop that you see today. but

It’s usually open Thursday-Sunday from 11 to 5 but check here to make sure it’s open before you go, just in case.

Not the Haunted Antique Shop

Get spooky at The Haunted Antique Shop and Paranormal Museum

We’ve got another eerie shop here at The Haunted Antique Shop and Paranormal Museum in DeLand.

This 1920s bungalow is home to antiques, a museum, and spirits both from the house and the antiques.

There is a haunted walking tour with 13 gently haunted locations. There are also tarot and psychic readings available here.

Photo by Lanie from Make More Adventures

Visit another world at Whimzeyland

Next up is Whimzeyland, a unique place to visit in Florida perfect for art lovers.

Over two decades this private residence has transformed into the colorful, creative place you see now.

On the property you’ll find bottle, mosaics, and bowling balls (500 of them!) painted in bright colors in various formations throughout the yard.

It used to simply be known as the “bowling ball house” before Whimzeyland. It’s located in Safety Harbor near Clearwater.

They have guided tours on Saturdays or you can call for a private tour to see all they have to offer.

Matlacha Florida

Get your art on in Matlacha

Our last weird thing to do in Florida isn’t entirely weird but unique and it’s the cute little town of Matlacha.

This is an artsy little fishing town not far from Fort Myers. This is a colorful little town unlike anywhere nearby.

You’ll only find a few lodging options and restaurants, none of them chains, but you will find plenty of color and whimzy.

Take a walk around town, it won’t take too long, and stop into the various shops and galleries before doing some kayaking or fishing.

Weird hotels in Florida

Up next we have weird hotels in Florida. I couldn’t find a whole lot of weird or unique hotels in Florida, unfortunately.

But as I come across any I’ll add them here. Anything on “unique” or “cool” basically just looks fancy. I want weird. If you know of any particularly weird hotels in Florida, I’d love to hear about them!

Photo by Jennifer Gergen Flickr

Jules Undersea Lodge

First we have probably the most unique hotel in Florida, Jules Undersea Lodge. An underwater hotel in Key Largo!

For certified divers, the luxury package will run you $1125 or $1687.50 for a couple. You’ll also be able to dive in the lagoon. Not dive certified? No worries!

If you’re not certified you can do a Discover Scuba course ($161) with your Mission Director/Instructor leading you to the lodge.

When you check in they take your pizza order and bring it down to you between 430-5 PM. Don’t expect a fancy hotel but this sounds like a pretty cool experience for divers!

st augustine ghost tour

Casa de Suenos

This is my favorite on the list even though I haven’t stayed here yet. Casa de Suenos is a funeral home turned bed and breakfast. And a stop on many St. Augustine ghost tours.

Rates seem to be $250-310 in the summer and $360-430 in the winter (busy season).

This is in a great location in the heart of St. Augustine, a short walk to Castillo de San Marcos and a short drive to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Anastasia State Park.

This B&B may or may not be haunted but either way, it will definitely be a unique experience.

Amelia Schoolhouse Inn

I want to stay here so bad! The Amelia Schoolhouse Inn started as the first school on Amelia Island, a small four-room school in 1886.

By the 1930s it was no longer big enough for all the students and the current building was constructed.

In 2017 you could really see it’s age and the 14-month renovation process began to make it the boutique hotels you see now.

There are 17 rooms ranging from $185-255 in the summer and $165-225 in the winter. And the best part? The on-site bar called The Principle’s Office.

Island Hotel Bed & Breakfast: Cedar Key

This building was originally built in 1860 and in 1884 was used as a general store and place for guests to stay. Then in 1896 it was severely damaged by a hurricane.

Since 1949 the hotel has passed hands and taken more beatings by hurricanes only to be repaired and soldier on housing more travelers.

Rates will run you $110-175 per night depending on the room you’re in and if you’re there on a weekend when rates are slightly higher.

Now, you may be wondering why this is on this list and while it may not be a “weird” hotel, it is supposedly haunted by no less than 13 spirits.

There have been reports of apparitions and one paranormal investigator thinks Bessie’s room is a portal to another dimension.

Weird Florida books

Finally, we have some weird Florida books. The books themselves aren’t weird but they highlight the weirdness (and spookiness) of Florida.

Best. State. Ever.

Dave Berry is out to defend his homeland and face the strange reputation it’s developed by visiting some of Florida’s strangest attractions.

Weird Florida

This is a fun book to read all about Florida’s weird legends, roadside attractions, and best kept secrets.

Freaky Florida

While most people flock to Florida for Disney and beaches, there are tons of strange and unique hidden gems off the beaten path and this is where you’ll find tons of them!

The Florida Road Guide to Haunted Locations

If you’re interested in the dark and spooky side of Florida, this is the book for you.

Find the most haunted hotels, jails, lighthouses, and more in this book.

Oh, Florida!: How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country

This book explores the contradictions of what makes Florida, Florida. Find out how the history and strangeness of Florida influences the rest of the country

Florida Man: A Collection of Hilariously True, Unbelievable Headlines That Could Only Happen In Florida

If you like Florida Man stories, this is the book for you. It’s a collection of 100 of the most bizarre Florida Man stories all in one palce.

Florida Man the Epic Adult Coloring Book: Outrageous Tales of Misadventure and Mayhem

Here’s a little more unique book for you Florida Man fans: a Florida Man coloring book with 36 perfectly strange pictures to bring to life.

Final thoughts on why Florida is so weird

Well, there you have it. Whatever “it” is. Whatever conclusion you’ve come to on if Florida is weird or not.

Aside from the atrocious politics, I don’t think Florida is particularly weird, though it does have it’s moments (and people) just like everywhere else.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Florida is weird? Why or why not? Do you live there/are from there/have been there? I’m so curious on opinions!

2 thoughts on “Why Is Florida So Weird?

  1. I’ve read the Dave Barry book. It’s great.

    Yes, I think Florida is weird btw. Dave Barry says so, and so does Carl Hiassen. They should know.

    1. It’s a fun book!

      Haha that’s fair! I haven’t read any Carl Hiassen yet though I think I have one or two of his.

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