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10 Best Roadside Attractions Near Orlando

The city is globally recognized as the ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’ because of attractions such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and many others, which attract nearly 62 million visitors every year. Still, if you step a little further from the standardized tourist traps, you will come across quite a number of other attractions, which are low profile but certainly offbeat, cheesy, and sometimes weird.

Playing into Orlando’s stereotype of being weird and wonderful, road trip options around Orlando feature big orange dinosaurs, spooky castles, sinkholes, curious museums, and many more fascinating locations that your children will love. Below are 10 of the most fun and exciting roadside attractions near Orlando that you should consider for your next weekend adventure or road trip.

1. Dinosaur World, Plant City

Situated approximately an hour’s drive from Orlando, the Dinosaur World is a quaint roadside park, housing other 150 realistic sculptures of the ancient reptiles and visitors can take photographs with the giants. Stroll through three different terrains that form outdoor parks where real-life dinosaurs such as Triceratops, Stegosaurus, and the formidable Tyrannosaurus rex are camouflaged, blending with the flora in a tropical forest. Some of the attractions include a jaw that measures 12 feet in height so that guests can physically stand inside it since it belongs to the Meigalodon, a gigantic shark. There are also digs, where people can dig their hands into real fossils, a theater with advanced technology for showing educational movies, and the “Dinosaur Discovery Center.”

2. Forever Florida, St. Cloud

There is the Everglades wildlife conservation area, located forty-five minutes away from Orlando, and is an ideal place famous for the horseback safari. However, it also boasts such original attractions as a 60-feet Giraffe Observation Tower that lets visitors look at the high vantage point with giraffes at eye level and feed them from the height of a platform. Following animal interactions, visitors can take a stroll through nine natural Florida ecosystems on the hiking/biking paths, or travel through the ranch on the back of the coaches used for safari rides.

3. The Holy Land Experience is a religious theme park in Orlando.

The Holy Land Experience presents the biblical events 10 10-minute drive from the main tourist strip of Orlando. This place is a religious theme park that takes individuals back to the old Jerusalem with specialties such as Christ’s Tomb, Qumran Dead Sea Caves, Garden of Eden, and Great Temple. Families can participate in shows and musicals of Noah’s Ark and the Exodus, or explore exhibits in combination with live performances. Some of the features that are encompassed in the ticket include the 45-foot bronze sculpture known as Scripture Scrolls.

4. WonderWorks Orlando

An upside-down amusement attraction? In fact, I am here to tell you that it does exist in the tourist area near International Drive in Orlando. The building that hosts the WonderWorks is uniquely designed to appear as if it is upside down; one cannot miss the building as they drive on the highway. Getting into the Anticipation Zone, those same themes of space, physics, lava, light, storms, virtual reality games, and more than 100 more topsy turvy interactive exhibits go into full swing. Fun for the whole family, this whacky museum attraction makes learning and giggles go hand in hand.

5. Founded by Don Garlits, this museum is located in Ocala, Florida.

Approximately an hour and a half northwest of Orlando and close to Ocala is a renowned museum for car racing enthusiasts – the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. Visit ‘Swamp Rat’ vintage dragsters, the historical progression timeline, and the cars of various legends including ‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits. It is also possible for children to get in the NHRA simulator which is touch screen and it offers the drag racing experience thrills. Another highlight? The Garage pass called “Behind the Scenes” where you get to peek at where mechanics really refurbish the race cars is open on select Saturdays.

6. This plane is in display at the Fantasy of Flight Aviation Museum located in Polk City.

If one is an aviation fanatic or simply an airplane lover, then, it is compulsory to pay a visit to this flight-simulating museum, one hour away from Orlando, southwest. Some of the popular aircraft are those used during the first and Second World Wars and airplanes manufactured between the years 1928 to 1939 are also displayed and these have been termed as the “Age of the Aces”. Relative position is provided in flight simulators as you train for landing aircraft. It will be advisable to take a flight in the airplanes for a ride over the Florida air for the antique airplanes available for tours at the grass airstrip close by, contingent on the weather conditions.

7. Coral Castle Museum, Homestead

Three hours of southeast carrying on brings you to one of the most peculiar attractions to visit in Florida – Coral Castle Museum. This beautiful Limestone monument park can be described as a lone man’s creation and was done by Edward Leedskalnin in 28 years in complete secrecy. The colorful site offers a Stone Gate which is 9 tons but looks as if it is hovering in mid-air the Polaris telescope that operates using moonlight, the Tons of Steel Structure, a few tons of an obelisk balanced on a truck axle, and many other fantastic structures. Some of the things that you will see here include the manner in which Leedskalnin achieved all these feats single-handedly and why they are mysteries.

8. Skunk Ape Headquarters, Ochopee

Drive approximately three hours west of Orlando into the Florida Everglades where visitors can get to the world’s Skunk Ape Research Headquarters located at the Tamiami Trail. The Skunk Ape is a big bipedal hairy creature that is believed to dwell in the swamps of the southeastern part of the United States The funky museum presents the testimonies of people who claim they have seen the creature, as well as the souvenirs related to the creature The gift shop is also dedicated to the Skunk Ape and sells merchandise associated with the cryptid. Make sure to be on the lookout for hiking trails nearby to try your luck at catching a gander of the infamous Skunk Ape!

9. Spook Hill, Lake Wales

This is where residents of the town say that there is a magnetic phenomenon known as ‘Spook Hill’ where cars that are not in gear give the impression that they are reversing up the slope against gravity. This is another legendary location that can be found approximately one hour from Orlando toward the southwest, which has a sign that marks the area as the site for testing one’s own vehicle. Since your care is haunted put your car in neutral and it will move backward after the “Haunted” painted mark. Although it’s as harmless as it can get, it is undoubtedly an eerie form of an optical illusion that you can try with the whole family.

10. Cassadaga: Site of the Spiritualist Camp, Volusia County

Last up is the odd psychic village of Cassadaga, FL, which is located just a half an hour from Orlando. This spiritualist community is placed in the 1890s; its residents engage in providing short medium readings and seances invoking the spirits of ancestors. The beautiful, old town accommodates local gatherings such as the weekly Colby Temple services, native American-style smudging ceremonies, aura photography, and historical tours along with explanations of spiritualism. Whether believers in psychics or skeptics, for a small-town experience that is actually a bit of a historic site, Cassadaga is definitely a recommended day trip from Orlando.

Conclusion

Why do people even need theme parks when they have such iconic roadside attractions all around Orlando? Any visit to or around central Florida requires a little more than the mouse; explore dinosaur parks, religious landmarks, drag racing, aviation museums, Skunk Ape hunting, and more of the cheesy attractions. These roadside pit stops, merged into one, give an idea of what Florida has from swamps to beaches, from airboats to spiritualists, and all those weird legends that make this state so infallibly…Florida. Hopefully, our guide encourages you to take the path less trodden in your next Orlando vacation to get even more of the authentic and off-the-beaten path experiences. The next generation of bizarre attractions is out there right beyond the highway!