Florida has always been the place known for trying to make you stop and have a look-see. Here are ten lesser-known Florida roadside attractions that won’t charge a fortune for admission (if any).
1. Kelly Slater Statue – Cocoa Beach
This statue of Kelly Slater was unveiled in his hometown of Cocoa Beach—the small wave surfing capital of the world—shortly after the renowned surfer won his tenth Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour Championship. Slater is the youngest surfer, at age 20, and oldest, at 39, to win the title. Anyone who’s ever been inspired to ride the waves should pay their respects. The statue was also sculpted by a Cocoa Beach native, Tasha Drazich.
505 North Orlando Avenue, Cocoa Beach, Fla.
2. The Silver Surfer – Cape Canaveral
Alongside Highway A1A in Cape Canaveral, in front of a quiet row of stores, there’s a statue of the Silver Surfer, beckoning for all to stop and visit. Like so many around this way, the celestial visitor from the pages of Marvel comics has opted to stay. Sometimes perched close to the road, facing oncoming traffic, and other times tucked in beneath the awning, the 8-foot-long, 6-foot-high sculpture is hard to miss. Dennis Griffin, owner of Core Surf Shop, says “(the shop) gets a lot of visitors to shop just to see the statue,” but is proud to say, “We’re the last real surf shop around here (the Space Coast).
7008 N. Atlantic Ave, Cape Canaveral, Fla.
3. The Sugar Mill Gardens – Port Orange
Sugar Mill Gardens has three unique attractions. There’s the butterfly gardens, a towering canopy of ancient oaks and flowering plants. Also within the 12-acre compound are the remains of Bongoland — a 1940’s amusement park filled with cement dinosaurs, 5 of which, still stand — as well as the historical ruins of a plantation. The grounds also house the coquina and brick remains of the Dunlawton Sugar Mill, a sugar processing complex that was destroyed in 1835 during the Second Seminole War.
950 Old Sugar Mill Rd, Port Orange, Fla.
4. Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
If you’ve gone to Bongoland, you may as well drive the extra five minutes to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse — you’re pretty much already there. It’s the tallest lighthouse in Florida — and second tallest in the U.S. — measuring 175 feet tall. After a quick 203 steps to the top, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the Ponce Inlet jetties and the Indian and Halifax Rivers. Besides the lighthouse, there are historical exhibits.
4300 S. Atlantic Ave., Ponce Inlet, Fla.
5. Jacksonville’s Treaty Oak – Jacksonville
Some say there’s never a good reason to lie, but the fact that Treaty Oak is still standing, may beg to differ. The tree is presently estimated to be 250 years old. Slated for removal by developers in the 1930’s, Florida Times-Union journalist Pat Moran invented the story that native Floridians and early settlers had signed a peace treaty beneath it, giving the live oak historical significance and it’s current name.
Treaty Oak Park, 1123 Prudential Drive, Jacksonville, Fla.
6. Swampy, the World’s Largest Alligator – Christmas
Central Florida Boasts three concrete alligators in the vicinity to wrestle you (sorry) away from your money, but only one can be the biggest. Jungle Adventures’ ‘Swampy’ is just over 200 feet long and is perched alongside Highway 50, a.k.a Colonial Drive. According to Jungle Adventure’s page, it’s “Real Florida…as Real as it Gets!” With natural habitat, live guided wildlife encounters with rare Florida panthers, black bears, gray wolves, white-tailed Deer, tropical birds and reptiles. And, of course, there are more than 200 alligators on hand.
26205 E Colonial Dr, Christmas, Fla. 32709
7. Search for shark’s teeth on Micklers Beach – Sawgrass
Some folks speculate there are lots of sharks teeth at Mickler’s Beach because hammerheads spawn offshore. Not like right there, but close enough for the teeth to congregate here-ish. Finding one on the beach is a better story than buying them in a gift shop. You’ll have better luck at low tide. FYI, the “i” in Mickler, is pronounced like the “i” in Mike.
County Rd 203, Sawgrass, Fla. 32082
8. Pyramids of St. Augustine/The Dade Monument – Saint Augustine
Three distinctive pyramids constructed of native coquina stone stand noticeably out of character with the rest of the National Cemetery. On Dec. 23, 1835, Maj. Francis L. Dade and his company were wiped out as they were on the move through Seminole Indian-controlled territory. This is the memorial built to honor them and 1,400 soldiers in total, killed during the Second Seminole War.
104 Marine St, St. Augustine, Fla.
9. Maxwell House Giant Cup of Coffee – Jacksonville
The smell of roasting coffee is enough to make you want to forgo the expensive barista stuff for a classic American standby. At night, this giant cup of Joe is lit up in neon, and as the advertising claims, is good to the last drop. Tours are available for the hardcore caffeine junkies out there. You know who you are…
735 E. Bay St., Jacksonville, Fla.
10. Boneyard Beach/ (aka)Driftwood Forrest – Big Talbot Island
Located just North of Jacksonville, Big Talbot Island is one of Northeast Florida’s unique sea islands. Big Talbot Island State Park is a natural preserve providing a premier location for nature study, bird-watching and photography. The preserve is sometimes called the Driftwood Forest, but that’s actually a misnomer. Century-old live oaks and cedars growing on the dunes fall onto the beach below as Big Talbot’s dunes naturally erode into the sea. Weathered by the sun and sea, their skeletal remains lie on Boneyard Beach. Like driftwood, they are a protected resource that offers not only unrivaled beauty, but are a source of shelter and food for coastal wildlife. Be sure to bring your camera; this beach is a photographer’s dream. Arrive at low tide for best viewing.
Hwy A1A, Jacksonville, Fla.