4 Central Florida Attractions that Locals Love

One of the greatest advantages of living in Florida is that our state is a treasure trove of quirky oddities and unique attractions in out-of-the-way places. As residents, we can explore the back roads and take our time discovering the more uncommon places that tourists rarely frequent.

Sarasota plays home to Circus Museum at the Ringling, the World’s Largest Miniature Circus. It’s the life work of circus aficionado Howard Tibbel, who has labored with painstaking accuracy to create an amazingly true-to-life, scale replica of an early 1900s Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Nearby, there’s Sarasota Jungle Gardens, one of our state’s oldest wildlife attractions. It’s a family-owned park featuring a wide variety of Florida’s noted tropical species, including pink flamingos, parrots, crocodiles, lemurs, snakes, and more. Where else can you walk up and feed roaming pink flamingos? Plus, there are wildlife experts on site to show off the animals and answer questions. It’s the kind of place you can keep going back to for fun, and annual family memberships pay for themselves after only two visits.

In Winter Haven, it’s possible to catch a free professional waterski show on downtown Lake Silver. It all started when Legoland acquired Cypress Gardens, one of Florida’s first commercial theme parks, known for its lush botanic gardens and water ski shows. Though the gardens were preserved, the pro skiers wanted to keep their skills up and to continue to entertain the public. Shows are scheduled on the third Saturday of every month.

Or support a good cause by visiting Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue, a suburban sanctuary for rescued exotic felines. The park operates as a non-profit dedicated to protecting big cats and ending the trade in their fur. The wildlife experts on site conduct tours of the preserve’s four-legged residents, which include tigers, lions, leopards, cougars, bobcats, lynx, ocelots, and more. Watch for seasonal activities, as well, including pumpkin fun at Halloween and a raft of feline gifts at Christmas.

Know of other fun activities or unusual attractions? Tell us your favorites in the comments section!

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