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By Valerie Moloney

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Florida is proud of its offbeat status — and cheap vacation deals. Where else would gators, Goths and bats share the same real estate? Expand your Floridian context beyond a Disney vacation this year to experience the sandy underbelly, and go back to your home state with a few quirky tories and a better tan.

1. Live mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs
Ariel mesmerized us with her auburn locks and golden voice,but she has nothing on these legends whose underwater escapades have been dazzling locals since 1947. Watch as Mermaid Stayce, Mermaid Tara and her sisters shimmy their fuchsia, royal blue and American flag fins through the deep, and learn from the pros on how to work a conch shell bikini.

Cheap Crystal River hotel near Weeki Wachee Springs: Quality Inn Crystal River

2. Interstate Mullet Toss (April 27-29)
If you’re looking for Billy Ray Cyrus lookalikes circa 1993, certainly you might find them in Pensacola, but the throwback look  isn’t the focus of this main event at Flora-Bama Lounge at Perdido Beach. Although, the photo opps for thousands of bad throwback haircuts on one piece of real estate is indeed an intriguing one. No, we’re talking mullets — as in dead fish — being flung through the air from the Alabama border over the Florida state line. The cost to participate? A mere $15.

Cheap Pensacola hotel near the event: Windemere Condominiums by ResortQuest

3. Coral Castle
That one would drop a few clothing sizes — or overeat — after a breakup is to be expected. But Floridian Ed Leedskalnin took his suffering to the extremes, sculpting more than 1,100 tons of coral rock into a castle, a loving tribute to the girl who called off his wedding just a day before the scheduled event. As you walk through the attraction, which in some places is 4,000 feet thick, imagine how a 5-foot, 100-lb. man could physically move the stone. And you thought your ex was psycho.

Cheap Miami hotel near Coral Castle: Floridian Hotel in Homestead


Tagged: Beach, Family, Florida

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