One set of weird places deserves another.
Florida has no shortage of ‘stop-bys’ — those places worth a few minutes of your time as you’re heading somewhere else. Presenting nine more interesting places across the state of Florida worth stopping by as you’re traveling the state.
Above is the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Although the club has been closed since the horrific shooting, the site has been turned into a moving, colorful tribute that’s obviously been well-visited. Stop by and pay your respects or leave a message behind. (Park along the side street just past the club for free, and avoid the restaurant parking lot or other business’ spots.) 1912 South Orange Ave., Orlando, FL, 32806
It’s a little far out. but Tony’s Artistic Taxidermy in Hawthorne is worth a few minutes of your time for this wonderful tiger alone. The focus is on the deers (already mounted), but there are plenty of other animals on display — and for sale. 11621 US-301, Hawthorne, FL 32640
Go on, take a ride — you know you want to. This rideable train only operates the first full weekend of the month in the Largo Central Park, but the tracks are there 24/7. (It’s also an excellent place to play Pokemon Go, if that’s your thing.) 101 Central Park Dr, Largo, FL 33771
I don’t care where you are or what you’re doing, or whether you’re wondering what Florida’s like during the Christmas season. The fact that there’s a Christmas shop open year-round in the state of Florida of all places is something odd… Robert’s Christmas Wonderland, 2951 Gulf to Bay Blvd, Clearwater, FL 33759.
A little part of Florida’s more recent history is on display at Tarpon Springs at a place called Spongeorama. It claims to have the largest selection of natural sea sponges, and there’s definitely a lot on their storefront side. The museum we came to see, however, was closed indefinitely due to flood damage. Don’t hold your breath for that, but do check out the area. Parking is limited — aim to park on the outskirts before you enter the crowded area. 510 Dodecanese Blvd, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
Here at the Airstream Ranch, this Stonehenge-like setup offers a tribute to the silver bullets of the open road. Or something like that. This is essentially a roadside attraction you’ll zoom by (most likely), but follow your preferred app’s directions to the address and take a calmer (if slightly more distant) look at the installation. 4654 Castlewood Road, Seffner, FL 33584
Next time you’re in Tampa, make your way to the Dysfunctional Grace Art Company for plenty of taxidermy and some interesting items once used by medical professionals. 1905 E 7th Ave, Tampa, Florida, 33605
His name is Hong Kong Willie — and he’s responsible for this wonderfully colorful work using recycled materials you’ll see from hundreds of meters out. Buoys, as you might guess, are all around this unique Florida attraction. Pick something up from one of the few folk artists you can shake hands with and appreciate first-hand. Hong Kong Willie’s Junk Art Gallery in Tampa — 12212 Morris Bridge Rd, Tampa, FL 33637
This may just look like a pile of bowling balls to you… yeah, I’m kidding, I actually don’t know what’s going on in their heads. Here at Whimzeyland in Safety Harbor, this explosion of color and stacks of dozens of bowling balls is just the start. It’s a private house, but most of the fun stuff is outside and not too invasive to see. While here, keep your eyes for information on events held at the house. 1206 3rd St., Safety Harbor, Florida, 34695
There are three excellent destinations to travel the US sober — and one of them is here in Florida. See where the other two are.
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Also published on Medium.