The “Tampa Bay Times” newspaper has a section dedicated to “Weird Florida” for a reason — there is plenty weird about the Sunshine State. Not “weird” bad, thankfully. Just “weird” quirky. Seasoned RVers know you’ll see things there you just don’t see in other parts of the country. These intriguing museums are proof of that.
Salvador Dalí Museum: St. Petersburg
The first thing you’ll notice about the Dalí Museum as you step out of the RV is its intriguing architecture. Like a glass blob eating a cement building, the design is something truly unique. (You might also be surprised to know it was engineered to withstand hurricane-force winds.) Step inside to view Dalí’s works, and “quirky” only begins to describe it. From melting clock faces to a Venus de Milo with a face for a body, Dalí’s works have a psychedelic, dreamlike quality to them. They must be seen to be fully appreciated.
The Ringling Museum: Sarasota
For all of its current high-end society, Sarasota hit the map as the winter home of the Ringling Circus. The Ringling Circus Museum captures the intrigue of the circus and its lifestyle. The history of animals shows and training as well as the popular sideshows, like the Bearded Lady, are brought to life in this interesting museum. View the glittering costumes and the train cars the performers traveled in. Whether you are a fan of the Big Top or you have yet to attend a performance, visiting the Circus Museum will give you an appreciation of a time in our history when this sort of entertainment was the biggest thing your town saw all year.
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum: Key West
While the home of this prized American writer isn’t “quirky” in the truest sense, the six-toed cats that inhabit the home and grounds certainly are. Most cats have five toes each on their front paws and four on their back, for a total of 18. The “Hemingway” cat has six on each. Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat, which he named Snow White, by a boat captain in the 1920s. The six-toed cats living on the grounds today are believed to be descendants of that fertile feline.
Coral Castle Museum
How do you pay homage to a loved one when you have very little money? Building a mansion is out of the question. Or is it? Latvian emigrant Ed Leedskalin carved more than 1,100 tons of coral as a tribute to his love. The weird thing about his undertaking is that he was not a hulk of a man. Standing at barely 5 feet tall and weighing about 100 pounds, no one can figure out how he created this massive structure alone by hand. No one ever saw him building it. Ed claims to have known the secrets of the pyramid builders. It’s a shame he didn’t know the secrets of a happy marriage as well.
It’s time to explore “Weird Florida,” and this list of unique stops will help you appreciate the eccentricities of the Sunshine State. Grab your sunblock and come see what exists beyond Disney.