When I moved to Central Florida three years ago, I couldn’t have told you that I’d meet a psychic in a town overrun with psychics, drive by a theme park run by a group of conservative evangelical Christians every time I went to the mall, or have brunch at a restaurant inside an actual town (with real people living there) that was completely designed and built by Disney to look and feel exactly like its very own Main Street.
As I’m thinking about the day trips I’d like to take this summer, I thought I’d start by rounding up my favorites from the past few years. Here, then, in not-so-common Kristin style, is a listicle of my favorite unusual day trips from Orlando. All will take less than two hours in the car, which makes them a fabulous alternative to just another day at the beach (but trust me, no judgment; I, too, love the beach).
1. Get a psychic reading at Cassadega Spiritualist Camp
We first passed a sign for Cassadega on one of our first weekend day trips to New Smyrna Beach (which is one of Orlando’s closest beaches at just under an hour away). The sign itself was unremarkable. However, after we asked around once we got back, we leaned that Cassadega is, I kid you not, the Psychic Capital of the World. Founded by a man named George Colby, who received a tip from a spirit guide who apparently told him he absolutely had to travel to Florida, Cassadega is a weird and fascinating place with psychics and mediums sitting around waiting to give you a reading.
2. Live like you’re in Disneyworld (literally) in Celebration, Florida
There’s a little town (population 7,427, according to Wikipedia) just outside the plethora of theme parks affectionately and officially known as Celebration. The name, though, isn’t even what makes the place so weird; the fact that Disney once decided it wanted to create an idyllic town for people to actually live in–and then did it–is what makes Celebration so eerily weird.
Stepping into Celebration is a bit like stepping into a movie set–and yet, people are living, eating, and sleeping inside every single one of the homes.
3. See a camel at The Holy Land Experience Theme Park
I will say, first, that I have never actually been to this theme park. For one thing, I have never really wanted to see reenactments of the Last Supper as played by actors or watch camels sit around and wait for lunch. Plus, I’ve driven by the place so many times I’ve lost count. Talk about unusual, though!
4. Swim in electric blue water at Blue Spring State Park
Electric blue water? Sounds good to me. Oh, yes, and the manatees. Lots and lots of manatees. They come here to hang out in the winters, and they’re just adorable. There’s also a really cute walking trail along the waters, too, and you might even see an alligator sunning himself on a rock.
Blue Spring State Park; © Wikimedia Commons
5. Dive into a prehistoric hole called the Devil’s Den
If you like the idea of diving into a prehistoric hole that locals call the Devil’s Den, here’s your chance. People come here to swim, snorkel, and dive in the Den’s crystal clear water (another plus? It’s 72 degrees all year round!) The den is filled with ancient rock formations, stalactites, and fossils, dating back over 33 million years, so there’s lot of fun for every aspiring archeologist in the family.
Enjoy these weird and wonderful places!
All visits to the places listed above have been covered by the writer herself.
Post and photographs by Kristin Winet.