5 Unusual places to stay in Florida
Some folks like to think that where you lay your head at night is just a convenient place to sleep. But my experiences in trips to places like Florida have taught me something different. The Americans have created some very interesting places to stay that are different from what you might normally expect to find, all with the quality that you know you are likely to experience.
Below I have listed 5 types of accommodation that I have come across in my travels or have been recommended:
Jules’ Undersea Lodge
The thought of staying in accommodation that was below the sea, would present a challenge to some people – but in Florida such a hotel exists. Architects in the USA have made the dream a reality with the conversion of several underwater complexes into viable luxury accommodation.
The Jules’ Undersea Lodge – named after Jules Verne (author of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea) is situated in Key Largo in Florida, and is normally part of an all inclusive Florida holidays package.
It was originally built to provide a means of studying the Continental shelf for America’s top scientists. The entrance is 21 feet below the surface of the ocean via a special ‘wet room’. This lodge is the perfect place to learn how to dive if you are not already qualified, and an amazing place to observe the variety of aquatic life that swim all around. Most rooms are equipped with large circular windows, 4 ft in diameter that allow you to experience the full panorama of the ocean floor.
The thought of making a lighthouse my destination holiday accommodation makes me automatically think of the Fastnet and Edison lighthouses in the UK surrounded by angry skies and stormy seas.
As beautiful an architectural and historical feature they may be, it is not ideal holiday destination. But switch this to Florida and Fernadina Beach and an all-together different picture is created. Katie’s Lighthouse is actually a replica – built in 1980 as a copy of the Thomas Point Lighthouse in Chesapeake Bay, and offers adults the perfect romantic break.
It has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and combines a kitchen, dining and entertainment room. The bedrooms are on a separate level and are accessible via a delightful spiral staircase. Outside there is a sundeck that wraps completely around the building and provides an amazing panoramic view.
Yurt Tree House
Ever thought about taking the kids and staying in a tree? If this sounds like an interesting prospect then you should cast your eyes over the Gainesville Yurt Tree House. Situated approximately 35 miles north east of Gainesville in Gilchrist County, the accommodation is built on two storeys with a translucent dome allowing full view of the moon and stars.
Guest have access to cooking facilities, composting toilet and a full range of bedroom mod-cons including carpet and pillows. Accessible via land or via the Santa Fe River, guests can also use the two hydrobikes providing the stay is for two or more nights.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
When Disney opened their Animal Kingdom Lodge in 2001, they brought with them the romance and spirit of Africa. At sunrise over the savannah, you can enjoy your coffee and breakfast watching giraffes stretching high for a meal or plenty of other exotic animals that otherwise would not have been accessible unless on a safari in Africa.
When you enter the lodge, you get a sense of the magic of the jungle with the rich lush foliage surrounding the thatched entrance to the lobby, which is decorated with African artifacts generating a sense of the real deal.
The hotel itself has 1,293 rooms of varying standards of luxury and a ‘real’ 33 acre savannah that allows the free movement of the animals. They have even managed to create the effect of fireflies at night with the use of incandescent lighting that flickers realistically. For atmospheric authenticity the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge is a hard place to beat!
The Island Hotel
The Island Hotel is a classic old American hotel built in the middle of the nineteenth century and is constructed from seashell tabby with high oak supports. Built originally as a department store and post office, it was designed to withstand the force of nearly 150 years of tropical hurricanes.
The beauty of this place is the slow pace of life that you should try to adjust find. Pull up a rocking chair and spend some time on the balcony overlooking the Gulf sunset.
Buy yourself a drink in the cozy bar with its painted murals of Cedar Key and King Neptune, safe in the knowledge that the atmosphere will not be interrupted by the flicker of a television (the Neptune apparently is the only bar in Levy County without a television).
Peter D. Johns the author of the “5 unusual places to stay in Florida” is a blogger and travel enthusiast who likes to write about destinations that he has visited around the world including his most recent visit to Florida on an all inclusive Orlando holidays trip.