Classic Florida Attractions Worth a Look

by Lexa Pennington /
Lexa Pennington's picture
Nov 20, 2008 / 0 comments

Sunshine State Classics Can’t Be Touched
 Age-Old Florida Attractions Still Fun for All Generations

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.  – Visitors who wish to travel back-in-time can experience an exciting and satisfying trip to the Sunshine State. From attractions and historic parks to soda fountains and museums, Florida offered as many enticing things for the last generation to see, as it does now. Grandparents and parents alike can bring their families to Florida to encounter the same exciting adventures they experienced as children.

Today, Disney World and Universal Orlando draw millions of visitors each year. However, during the ‘50s, Cypress Gardens and Gatorland reigned supreme. A number of other attractions that opened in the first part of the 20th century are still operating and welcoming visitors today. Visit for more information on classic Florida attractions.

Marineland, in St. Augustine, opened in 1938 and has since touched dolphin-lovers of all ages. Originally Marine Studios, the park was used for underwater filming, where classic films like “Tarzan” and “Revenge of the Creature” were shot. Today, guests swim, play and interact with dolphins through a variety of different programs.

Now in its third generation, Monkey Jungle in Miami continues to provide families with a fun place to “hang out” and an opportunity to view endangered species of monkeys. The 30-acre reserve, “where humans are caged and monkeys run wild,” showcases Orangutans, Java monkeys and exotic birds, as they have for more than 70 years. 

At the Key West Aquarium, discover the underwater world that has fascinated guests for generations, since 1938. Today, daring guests can pet sharks, view colorful and mysterious creatures from the depths of the ocean or shake hands with sea life in the Touch Tank, while visiting Key West’s first attraction.

Want to head out on your own? Be sure to explore Boat Outfitters to find the boat and once-in-a-lifetime experience you're looking for. 

Founded in 1893, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park is one of Florida’s oldest zoological attractions, exhibiting some of the most interesting and rare crocodilians. Families have gathered for years to view albino alligators, exotic birds and mammals and “Maximo,” the 15-foot saltwater crocodile – the largest animal in the park.

Take a river cruise in a world-famous Glass-Bottom Boat at Silver Springs, an age-old attraction, providing guests with a glimpse into the beauty of natural Florida. Among the wildlife exhibits, thrilling rides and adventures, Silver Springs helps create priceless memories, as it has for more than 80 years.

Cypress Gardens opened in 1936 and featured Southern Belles, water ski exhibitions and beautiful gardens. This bit of Florida history remains open today. Since 1936 there have been major renovations done to the park and today visitors can experience roller coasters and carnival-like rides. Cypress Gardens also features outdoor concerts several times a month. Visit for more information.

Opened in 1949, Gatorland offers a look at the intimidating, yet alluring animals that call Florida home, such as alligators and crocodiles. For little ones, a petting zoo and aviary are available. This exciting park is also a wildlife preserve. The same shows that amazed children and adults alike are still available today in the “Alligator Capital of the World.” Visit for more information.

Since the first live mermaid show in 1947, Weeki Wachee Springs has been a favorite attraction for all ages. For more than 60 years, the lovely ladies of Weeki Wachee have enchanted visitors by dancing, singing, eating and drinking underwater in daily performances. Activities have expanded to now include riverboat cruises, animal shows and Florida’s only spring-fed water park. For more information, visit

Since 1977, families have been splishing and splashing in Orlando at Wet ‘n Wild, the world’s first water park. Offering a variety of multi-passenger tube rides, exciting slides and the popular Lazy River, Wet ‘n Wild drenches guests with cool Florida fun. To learn more, visit

For more than 25 years, Ron Jon’s Surf Shop has been outfitting families, as well as seasoned Florida surfers, with the most bodacious beach equipment, accessories, and beachwear. With the first location opening its doors in Cocoa Beach, Ron Jon’s Surf Shop quickly became an iconic Florida establishment and expanded to include shops in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and a resort in Cape Canaveral. Visit for more information.

Make your childhood adventures a part of your own children’s history. Several state parks are open and allow visitors to experience nature and history lessons. Fort Zachary Historic State Park in Key West features a fort built in the 1800’s and the opportunity to experience some ocean fun. Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, near Lake City, was built as a monument to the largest battle fought in the state during the Civil War. Families can enjoy a re-enactment or walk along the trail with signs depicting the events of the battle. Visit for more information.

Florida continues to offer visitors the chance to be a part of a classic American pastime – baseball. The Grapefruit League has been a staple of Florida culture since 1918. Some of the most famous teams in baseball play their preseason games in the paradise of the Sunshine State. Visit the Atlanta Braves in Orlando, the New York Yankees in Tampa or the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers.

For a tasty step back in time, visit several old-time ice cream parlors and soda shops. The Old Time Soda Fountain in Apalachicola features ice cream and floats that were popular back in the ‘50s. Further south in Dade City, visit Tropical Breeze that is still serving the same delectable dining options as it did 50 years ago.

Order your favorite childhood treat and share new experiences with the children of this generation. Visit for more information about ice cream parlors in the Sunshine State.

An educational experience for all ages, visit one of Florida’s oldest museums. The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in St. Augustine has grown since its opening in December 1950 to more than 800 exhibits of the weird and outlandish. The museum is housed in an 1887 mansion that previously served as a hotel. For more information visit


Visit Florida anytime for a taste of a bygone era. Plan your trip now to classic Florida that offers a plethora of activities for adults and children alike. Visit for more information and help in planning your next vacation.