A History of Florida Attractions with Photos and Memorabilia. 

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active
 

Below is a list of smaller “mom and pop” Florida attractions that opened prior to 1972.

Allan Davis Sea Shells: Gulf Breeze (c1949-2002). Located on US 98 founded by Allan W, Davis, who was an alligator wrestler at Miami’s Musa Isle.

Alligator Alley: Kissimmee (c1970-85). Owned by David Kuhn, small alligator and animal attraction located on 17-92, nine miles south of Kissimmee.

Alma and Her Snakes: Marathon (c1947-59). Alma Cagle’s snake-themed gift shop was a popular Florida Keys attraction.

Animal Land: Near Marineland (1962-64). This short-lived attraction opened in the mid- 1960s on A1A three miles south of Marineland. Affiliated with Animal Land of Grayling Michigan. The 105-acre property utilized a tram to take visitors through the botanical gardens and zoological park.

Anirama: Miami (1952-58). Created by Van Olkon, opened on the corner of Biscayne Boulevard and 123rd Street (Broad Causeway). Toys, animated mechanical devices previously used in parades, movies, television and fairs.

Bazaar Trylon Tower (aka Sea Tower): Riviera Beach (1960-98). An observation tower built in conjunction with a shopping center on US 1.

Bianca’s Birds and Animal Fair: Hypoluxo (1950-64). Exotic birds and animals were featured at this small roadside attraction.

Bill’s Seminole Indian Village: Gomez/Hobe Sound (c1937-41). On US 1 ten miles south of Stuart at Bill’s Garage and Lunch. Included small Zoo.

Bird Jungle: Miami (c1954-57). Opened in the late 1950s at 36th Avenue and 79th Street. It was partially owned and promoted by Red Adams Sightseeing Tours. Bird Jungle was a small imitation of Parrot Jungle, and its zoo was previously located at a local amusement park.

Bull Frog Farm: Dania (c1934-37). Located on US 1 in Dania. For ten cents visitors could get a tour and sample some cooked frog legs.

Caswell’s Orchid Gardens: St. Petersburg (c1947-65). Operated from a home just off 22nd Avenue North and 4th Street.

Chimp Farm, Noell’s Ark: Tarpon Springs (c1970-98). Originally established in 1954 as the winter home of Noell’s Gorilla Show,” became a roadside attraction and retirement home for animals by the entertainment industry. Later reopened as the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary.

Cook’s Buffalo Ranch: Waldo (c1962-70). Located on US 301, featuring “Florida’s only buffalo herd, long horn saloon, hanging gallows, mystery house and tram ride through the ranch.”

Creatureland: Pompano Beach (c1953-55). Small animal exhibit featuring turtles established on US 1 by G.F. Sirman.

Davis Aloe Vera Tropical Gardens: Homestead (c1930-37). Located in the Redlands district south of Miami, this nursery featured rare and unusual tropical plants. Sold “Medicine Aloe” plants, distributed flyers touting their medicinal properties.

Daytona Beach Alligator Farm: Daytona Beach (c1934-42). On US 1 at the south end of Daytona Beach, this alligator farm featured the collection of “Alligator Joe Campbell,” which had previously been located in Jacksonville. Alligator collection was later purchased by the St Augustine Alligator Farm.

Everglades Gatorland: South Bay (c1958-94). Gas station and alligator attraction on US 27. 1 mile south of South Bay. Owned by J.C. and Mary Lou Bowen

Everglades Topical Gardens: Clewiston (c1958-82). On US 27 east of Clewiston. Also known as Florida Jungle Gardens.

Fairlyland: Tampa (c1957-80s). City owned “storybook park” for children adjacent to what eventually became Lowry Park Zoo.

Fairlyland Park: Miami (c1953-62). Also known as Zoo Town, this animal attraction and 12-ride amusement park operated at 36th Street and 36th Avenue. Portions of this attraction came from the old Osceola Indian Village Attraction,

Famous Trees: Miami (c1933-42). Officially called “The Sausage Tree and Giant Bamboo Botanic Garden.” A garden of exotic trees and plants. Gift shop featured imported products, bamboo products and Florida souvenirs. Located at the Tamiami Trail and 35th Avenue

Fantasy Isles: Fort Myers (c1968-72). Child-orient attraction adjacent to the Shell Factory. Bird show, petting zoo, magic show, miniature train.

Fish Bowl: Marathon (c1954-58). Marine and animal attraction.

Florida Adventureland: Ocala (c1966-74). Evolved from John Hamlet’s Birds of Prey attraction. Included an Indian Village, Old West Town, Swiss Village, music arena and amusement park, plus “Sam” the world’s largest bull.

Florida Keys Aquarium: Islamorada (c1966-71). Small storefront saltwater aquarium attraction on US 1 charged admission to walk through its display of marine aquariums.

Florida Reptile Land: Salem (c1952 -66). Small attraction located on US 19 about 16 miles south of Perry, adjacent to a gas station. Described by one visitor: “Zoo was free but animals looked hungry and miserable. There was a ‘Please Help to Feed the Animals’ donation box by the turnstile exit.”

Florida Wild Life, Kirkwood’s: Lake Como (c1955-62). Alligator show and wild animal displays.

Fort Greggs Wild Animal Compound: St. Augustine (c1956 62). About five miles north of St. Augustine on US 1, this roadside attraction was an alligator farm that advertised “all of Florida’s Wild Life living in their natural surroundings.”

Fort Myers Tropical Gardens: Fort Myers (c1958-67). Established on land planted by Florida pioneer Frederick Hall Alexander. Eight miles south of Fort Myers, just west of US 41.
.
Frog City: Tamiami Trail (c1960-92). Roadside souvenir shop and attraction also known as Shell City.

Garden of Light: Fort Myers (c1967-69). Just off Pondella Road in North Fort Myers. Featured a 1635-foot boardwalk through swamps and gardens. Often open at night.

Gator-Land: Delray Beach (c1962-66). Small roadside attraction and gift shop on US1 that specialized in shipping live baby alligators.

Gerard’s Driftwood Museum: Winter Haven (c1952-56). Small attraction near entrance to Cypress Gardens.

Guinea Pig Colony: St Petersburg (c1940-42). Small attraction on Sixth Street south that featured the world’s largest colony of Guinea pigs.

Gulf World: Panama City Beach (1969-present). Opened by Wes Burnham, remains a popular Panhandle marine attraction.

House of Mystery: Dunedin (c1948-56, relocated to St. Augustine). Owned by Michael Weber. “Where the law of gravitation gets a bad licking.” Moved in early 1950s to St. Augustine across from the alligator farm and renamed Mystery House.

House of Phantoms: Ocala (c1969-72). Haunted house roadside attraction. Also known as “Black’s House.”

House of Presidents: Clermont (1960 to present, now called the Presidents Hall of Fame). Adjacent to the Citrus Tower on US 27. Life-size wax figures of all United States Presidents.

Houser’s Zoo and Grove: Melbourne (c1967-75). Roadside animal attraction and gardens on US 192, five miles west of US 1.

Jungle Land: Panama City Beach (c1965-78). Evolved from a small roadside animal display on Panama City Beach owned by Ross Allen. It was purchased by Vincent Valentine in 1965, and renamed Jungle Land. He proceeded to construct a giant concrete volcano (complete with smoke billowing from the top) to house his attraction, and it became one of the most memorable features of the Miracle Strip Amusement Park. volcano survived as part of the Alvin’s Island department store.

Kinzie Gardens: Fort Myers (c1951-59). Rose garden attraction located on 2nd Street near downtown Fort Myers.

Marco Polo Park: Near Bunnell (1970-76). Amusement park with “Travel the Orient” theme. Closed numerous times, changing name to Passport Fun World before closing permanently.

Marine Life: Dania (c1960-62). Short-lived marine attraction on A1A.

Marine Wonders: Dania (c1955-66). US 1. Owned and operated by the Shell Factory in Fort Myers.

Marine Zoo: St. Petersburg (c1939-42). Near the Bay Pines bridge. Utilized outdoor lagoons for marine exhibits. Operated by Andrew Kereszturyn.

May Museum of the Tropics: Weeki Wachee (c1958-65). Located within the Weeki Wachee attraction. Best remembered for the giant Beetle that welcomed visitors at the front entrance. Relocated to Oklahoma in the early 70s.

Museum of the Sea and Indian: Destin (cl959-94). Located nine miles east of Destin on US 98. Sea life exhibits, Indian artifacts.

North Miami Zoological Gardens: North Miami (c1934-61). Originally known as the Opa Locka Zoo in the early 1930s, then Proske’s Zoo. Relocated to North Miami in the mid 1930s.

Old South BBQ Ranch: Clewiston (1956-99). Opened by Jim McCorvey, this roadside BBQ restaurant became an attraction within itself. Utilizing billboards and an eclectic roadside display of memorabilia, travelers along US 27 could not resist stopping at this eatery. It thrived under the ownership of Carroll Benson, but a fire forced him to completely rebuild. Several owners later, it was forced to close in 1999.

Ostrich & Alligator Farm: Lantana (c1923-49). Originated near Fort Pierce by Fred W. Anderson and moved to Lantana in 1923. Purchased in 1936 by E.W. Goolsby. Big showroom of Alligator and Ostrich products.

Parrot Village: Near Marineland (c1955-62). Roadside parrot attraction on A1A five miles south of the Marineland attraction.

Parakeet Village: Treasure Island (c1960-66). Victor Clemson operated this small attraction featuring parakeets.

Pearl Lagoon: Miami Beach (c1964-67). “Authentic replica of a Polynesian shelter, lush tropical foliage, exotic birds and cascading waterfalls. Created to bring you a better understanding of pearls and the part they have played in history.”

Petticoat Junction: Panama City Beach (c1963-84). Western-theme amusement park founded by J.E. Churchwell.

Pool Indian Village, John: Near Fort Myers (c1966-74). Small Seminole Indian Village on US 41.

Prince of Peace Memorial: Silver Springs (1955-74). Part of the Silver Springs attraction complex, but requiring a separate admission. Series of hand-carved scenes from the life of Christ.

Rattlesnake Harena, Mack Gilliam: Ormond Beach (1966-70). Snake exhibit on US 1.

Ravine Gardens: Palatka (1934-present). This WPA project, now a Florida State Park, initially covered 85 acres. Know for its Azaleas.

Reef Wonders: Miami International Airport (c1962-72). Uniquely located at the Miami International Airport, it featured 33 aquariums and displays of shells and coral from around the world. .

Riviera Tropical Gardens: South Miami (c1946-51). Garden attraction on US 1 that originated from a nursery business.

Safari, Florida’s Wild Animal: Callahan (c1949-65). Roadside zoo seven miles north of Callahan. Operated by John Barrow, well-known animal trainer and trapper. Many animals were on loan from the Ringling Brothers Circus for Barrow to train for shows.

Sausage Tree, Charlie Black’s: South Miami (c1927-39). Maud and Charlie Black’s filing station and “house by the side of the road.” Gift shop with tropical preserves. “Coconut candy make fresh daily is so popular that several tons of it are sold in small packages each year.”

Sea-Orama: Clearwater Beach (1954-68). Founded by Barnett and Lucille Harris at the Clearwater Marina. “Waterless” aquarium that displayed hundreds of hand-painted cast replicas of fish and other sea life. Also known as the Hall of Fishes.

Slocum Water Gardens: Winter Haven (1938-present). Five-acre water gardens created by Perry D. Slocum, promoted as a tourist attraction in the 1950s and 60s. Continues to operate as a water plant nursery.

Snake-A-Torium: Panama City Beach (c1946-91). US 98 attraction opened in 1946 by Jack Tillman. In 1954 he sold the Snake-A-Torium to Dennie Sebolt, who wanted to create an attraction similar to Ross Allen’s at Silver Springs. Sebolt milked rattlesnakes and added alligators, bears and tropical birds to his attraction. In 1991 he sold the property and it reopened as Zoo World.

Spyke’s Groves & Tropical Gardens: Davie (1950-present). Roadside fruit stand established in 1946 that evolved into an attraction during the 1950s and 60s, complete with tropical gardens, alligator wrestling, bird shows and Seminole Indians.

Stephen Foster Memorial: White Springs (1950-present). Attraction built to honor the writer of the song “Old Folks at Home” which memorialized the Suwannee River.” The 200-foot Stephen Foster Carillon Tower completed in 1963. Museum, boat rides and picnic pavilion are on the 243-acre park, now officially known as the Stephen Foster State Folk Culture Center.

Suger Cane Museum: Fort Myers (c1953-58). Mill, museum and gift shop in warehouse on US 41.

Summerland Orchid Gardens: Summerland Key (c1962-70). “The Orchid Paradise of the Florida Keys.”

Tampa Alligator Farm: Tampa (c1919-31). One of first alligator attractions on Florida’s west coast. Founded by J.A. Stokes at Sulphur Springs Park, it was also a major distributor of live and stuffed alligators, hides, sea shells and other Florida souvenirs.

Tarpon Zoo & Animal Compound: Tarpon Springs (c1952-75). Small roadside Zoo and dealer of exotic animals

Tarzan Park: Vero Beach (c1939-42). For 25 cents tourist could see prehistoric human and animal remains, including the “Vero Man.” Subsequent research by state archaeologists determined most of the displays were a hoax.

Thompson Wild Animal Farm and Zoo: Clewiston (c1952-82). Small roadside exhibit on US 27, two miles west of Clewiston. Primarily a wholesaler of animals. Owner Lester Thompson was murdered at his zoo in 1982, beaten to death with a cane knife.

Three-in-One Florida Jungle: Plantation Key (c1952-55). Parrots, monkeys and alligator wrestling, birds, marine exhibit and gardens.

Tigers Miccosukee Indian Village: Tamiami Trail (c1953-80). Jimmie Tiger’s Miccosukee Indian Village opened in the late 1940s about 35 miles west of Miami. It originated from an old village belonging to Frank Willie. His nephew Jimmie Tiger took over the village and began promoting alligator wrestling and selling Miccosukee Indian crafts. Although the attraction eventually closed, the Miccosukee have developed successful casinos.

Tropical Adventureland: Near Cypress Gardens (c1953-57). Small roadside animal attraction owned by Dewey Touchton.

Turner’s River Jungle Gardens: Ochopee (c1955-67). Small attraction on the Tamiami Trail, 2 miles east of Ochopee. It included a Seminole Indian village, river cruise, orchid garden walk, zoo and swamp buggy rides.

Uranium Valley & Caves: Ocala (c1955-62). Bizarre attraction (perhaps better categorized as a “tourist trap”) open only a few years on US 27 seven miles south of Ocala. It advertised: “Natural caves of beautiful lime rock formation with an underground lake … Relax in beautiful, healthful Uranium Valley.” Visitors would receive a guided lecture upon entering, including a tour of the Cold War inspired Iron Curtain Cave “ where behind the curtain, evil and danger lurk.”

USA of Yesterday: Dundee (c1974-84). Established on US 27 in Dundee during the mid 1960s. It was an eclectic display of Americana including antique vehicles, musical instruments, farm implements, tools, toys and other memorabilia.

Waite Bird Farm: Boynton Beach (c1934-60). Originally called the Lewis Bird Farm, it was later purchased by the Waite Family and grew to include alligators, monkeys and other small animals. The attraction bred and sold birds, selling to the public and also supplying zoos across the country.

Waltzing Waters: Cape Coral (c1971-81). Remnants of the defunct Cape Coral Gardens attraction relocated to Pine Island Road, seven miles west of US 41. Water and light show established by Gunter Przystawik. The Aquarama ski show trained by Cypress Gardens star Jon Broderick.

Warm Mineral Springs: Venice (1953-present). Health spa attraction featuring its spring.

Weapons of the World: Winter Haven (c1952-58). On Hwy. 542-S near Cypress Gardens. “You may now see, handle, and USE weapons on ranges designed to simulate actual historic native conditions.”

Weddings Botanical Gardens: St. Petersburg (c1954-57). Opened in the mid-1950s at Wedding’s Nursery. St Petersburg. Small botanical garden at Haines Road and 58th Street.

White Gardens: St. Petersburg (1961-70). Gardens on Tyrone Blvd with walkway featuring a mosaic tribute to all 50 states. Moved to science museum in 1971.

Wonder House, Schuck’s: Bartow (c1936-63). Unique home built by Conrad Schuck. Started in the 1920s, the ongoing project became a tourist attraction in 1936. Now a private residence no longer open to the public

Wonder Park: West Palm Beach (c1968-72). Located near the Florida Turnpike exit at Okeechobee Blvd. Hobby-theme amusement park featuring radio-controlled scale model cars, boats and airplanes, tropical gardens, miniature golf, railroad car display and a hobby shop.

Wyldewood Bird Farm: Dania (c1938-59). US 1 north in Dania, near the Chimp Farm. Originally known as Brook’s Tropical Wyldewood Nursery.

Buy The Book

Index of Pre-1972 Small Florida Roadside Attractions

A list of smaller “mom and pop” Florida attractions that opened prior to 1972.

Click Here