Road Trip

The U.S.A.'s Weirdest Roadside Attractions

by Colleen Clark

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Florida

En route from: Tallahassee to Tampa

Roadside attraction: Before there was Disney, there was Weeki Wachee. This state park is home to the City of Live Mermaids, an underwater extravaganza set in the deepest naturally formed springs in the U.S. and viewed from an aquariumlike theater. Since 1947, bathing beauties in glittering mermaid costumes have been entrancing visitors with performances of fairy tales as well as the history of the springs. The "mermaids'" oxygen tubes may make the whole thing seem a little low-budget compared with the high-tech antics over in Orlando, but there's a retro charm to their wholesome underwater ballet. Afterward, you can kayak through cypress groves or spot wild snakes and gators on a nature tour. Ariel ain't got nothing on that.

Should you stop? This is one of the few places where the kitschy, family-friendly charm that made Florida famous is still alive and well. It's fun for those who want a simpler, more affordable alternative to the glitz of Disney.

Motor lodge: An hour and 25 minutes south at the Gidget-chic St. Pete Beach sits the Postcard Inn, a renovated motel that splits the difference between '60s surfer casual and boutique cool.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
6131 Commercial Way
Spring Hill, Florida
Tel: 352 592 5656

Postcard Inn
6300 Gulf Boulevard
St. Pete Beach, Florida
Tel: 800 237 8918 (toll-free)

Next: The home of the world's largest gnome >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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