Larger than life: Disney's Pop Century Resort oozes retro appeal with memorabilia and pop culture craze.

By Jennifer Olvera

There’s no such thing as a ho-hum Florida vacation when you know where to look. The truth is, the Sunshine State is filled with atypical spots and stays. Plan your out-of the-ordinary getaway at these Florida vacation spots, with stops at hidden gems and unique destinations with all ages appeal.

Not to be missed is Disney’s Pop Century Resort, in Lake Buena Vista. A sprawling time trap loaded with 20th-century kitsch, it’s flush with gadgets, toys – including a larger-than-life Rubik’s Cube – and plenty of catch phrase-laden fun. There’s also “hippy dippy,” flower-shaped and bowling pin-shaped pools as well as a swimming pool shaped like a vintage computer monitor.

Meanwhile, at Dinosaur World in Plant City, you’ll encounter over 150 teeth-chattering, life-size species of the prehistoric variety. The kiddos can go on a fossil dig, play paleontologist and partake in a subterranean picnic. Afterward, everyone can head to nearby Mammoth Cave National Park.

Alternately, you could always make fast tracks for Coral Castle, a prehistoric-looking roofless “castle” south of Miami, which resides in reasonable distance from the tony Conrad Miami. Built by an offbeat Latvian-American, its curiosities include a sculpture garden with nine-ton gate, rock-hewn rocking chairs and Polaris telescope made from stone.

Not to be outdone, though, is the bowl-shaped sinkhole at Devil’s Millhopper State Park near Gainesville, site of a stream-punctuated rain forest lush with vegetation. Pack a picnic and check out the interpretive displays, which reveal intel about the geological formation as well as the fossilized marine shells, shark teeth and remains of extinct animals found on site.

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Jennifer Olvera is a Chicago-based author, editor and food enthusiast, who travels often – usually in search of her next great meal.

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