The Alternative Guide to Days Out in Florida

By  //  July 28, 2021

Florida is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, and that’s due in large part to its wide array of conventional attractions. Whether it’s the mesmerizing, family-friendly spots in Orlando, such as Disney’s Animal Kingdom or the interesting science parks like the Kennedy Space Center closer to the coast, there’s a day or week out for everyone here.

But what about Florida’s more unconventional attractions? Not everyone who lives in or comes to the Sunshine State is heading down to Disneyworld or sunning themselves on Miami Beach – and the good news for those who are looking for something a little different is that there’s much more than just the headline attractions here.

This article will explore alternative days out in Florida in more depth – and point you in the right direction if you’re looking for something a little kooky or off the wall to do. 

Orlando’s club scene

When people make their pilgrimage to Orlando every year, the usual reason is to head to one of the city’s top-quality theme parks, animal centers or similar. But the truth is that there’s a lot more to this city than just Magic Kingdom and Epcot. It’s also known for its club scene, and there’s plenty of nightlife for those who know where to look. 

On the whole, there’s a real sense of permissiveness and relaxation in the city’s recreation scene – which makes sense, given the warm weather and relaxed vibe.

The city’s LGBTQ clubbing scene, in particular, is largely unrivalled throughout the state. One such example is Barcodes Orlando, which is noted for its relaxed feel and its famous koi pond out in the back yard. Hamburger Mary’s, meanwhile, is ideal for those who want to enjoy food with a difference: here, your dinner will be served alongside performances from some of the Sunshine State’s most famous and entertaining drag queens. 

The tribal casinos

Casino gambling is also something that many visitors to Florida who want something different are likely to find themselves exploring. Casinos in the state tend to be run by tribal groups because of a complicated and long-standing arrangement between the state and the communities – and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. Despite legal hurdles, there are some online casinos where you can play live table games. Those who want to enjoy an in-person game, however, are restricted to tribal community destinations. 

The good news is that most of your favorite casino games tend to be represented here – and there’s plenty of choice when it comes to the geographical location in which you play. Seminole Tribe casinos are operated in various locations across the state, including Coconut Creek and Immokalee.

The fun can also be enhanced thanks to the various on-site restaurants and accommodation options these locations offer – so your alternative night out at a Florida casino can easily turn into a full-on vacation if you prefer. 

Natural beauty

Finally, anyone who wants an alternative Florida experience needs to consider the state’s many natural beauty spots. In the public eye, Florida is a place of human-constructed dreams: Disneyworld is the embodiment of this, while major metropolises such as Jacksonville and Tampa add to the sense that the state is a center for the built environment. But the idea that this dominates the whole of the state’s aesthetic is far from true.

It’s this contrast that, in part, makes the natural beauty of Florida even more appealing. A visit to somewhere such as Shingle Creek, for example, will reveal just how different the more rural parts of the state can be.

Its Paddling Centre is perfect for those who want to hit the water and see something different – on some days, for example, you may even be able to spot some turtles. Those who love wildlife can also get themselves down to Boggy Creek, where the Airboat Ride service even allows you to spot alligators on some occasions. That’s a real-life version of Animal Kingdom, and it’s just a few hours’ drive from Orlando itself. 

In short, there’s no point in judging Florida by its topline attractions. On the contrary, the state is packed full of other things to do – so there really is something for all visitors and locals. From the great nights out that are available to be enjoyed on Orlando’s clubbing scene to the excitement and thrill of the tribal casinos, Florida’s underbelly really is just as exciting as its more conventional and famous side.