Florida’s top 5 roadside attractions

Planning a trip beyond theme parks, beaches

When you plan your next vacation Florida’s Fourth Estate is helping you go beyond the theme parks and beaches.

Hosts Matt Austin and Ginger Gadsden are breaking down their top five roadside attractions in the sunshine state.

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5: Robert the Doll

The doll that inspired the series of “Chucky” films happens to be a Florida resident.

People interested in visiting Robert the Doll can go to Key West.

“This all started in 1900. There was a pretty wealthy family — had some servants — and they say, this is the legend, the servant got this doll for the kid and maybe put a voodoo curse on it because the family treated the servant badly. According to legend and this roadside attraction, the family would hear the child speaking to someone in the room while he was by himself with this doll, and they would hear a voice that was not their child’s. They would go into the room, and it would be the kid and the doll, they say things would get flipped over and crash in the middle of the night and they would go in there and the kid would say the doll did it,” Austin said.

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4: Dinosaur World

Ginger sids when she lived in Tampa, she would go to Dinosaur World in Plant City all the time. She said there are more than 100 dinosaurs for children and parents to enjoy, but that’s not all.

“They have areas where kids can skim for dinosaur eggs,” she said.

She went on to say there are no rollercoasters, but “it’s really entertaining”.

“If you have ever driven past it, you are on I-4 and you are going from Orlando to Tampa or vice versa, you can’t miss it, because they have these giant dinosaurs outside of the wall,” Gadsden said.

3: The Fountain of Youth

One of the most popular attractions in St. Augustine is the Fountain of Youth.

“This is supposedly where Ponce de Leon landed in Florida, found this spring that he could sip from, that would keep him young forever,” Austin said. “ (But) Ponce de Leon is dead.”

2: Weeki Wachee

Austin is excited about the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Spring Hill.

He pointed out the guy who designed the park and the breathing devices that helped the performers stay underwater without scuba gear was a genius.

“The mermaids are actually swimming in a spring and you’re in this 500-person amphitheater watching the mermaid show through glass into a natural spring,” Austin said.

1: Coral Castle

Gadsden cannot get enough of Coral Castle. She said she has been there twice and completely understands why this roadside attraction draws such a crowd.

She said the guy who created the castle and its surrounding structures from limestone was inspired by unrequited love and would erect new parts of it under the cover of darkness. Austin added the walls are huge and that the designer claimed he had figured out the secret of how people designed the pyramids.

You can learn more about each of these attractions on Florida’s Fourth Estate. You can download the podcast from wherever you listen to podcasts or watch anytime on News 6+.

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About the Author:

Tiffany produces the News 6+ Takeover at 3:30 p.m., Florida's Fourth Estate and Talk to Tom.