The 7 most mystical and mysterious places in Florida

The 7 Most Mystical and Mysterious Places in Florida

Photo courtesy of Kings Landing via Facebook

By Tyler Francischine

January 31, 2024

Every corner of the United States contains its little pockets of mystery—Nevada has Area 51, New York is home to Eternal Flame Falls, the Pacific Northwest is full of intrigue—but nowhere in America can match Florida’s unique blend of mysteriously occurring natural features paired with the out-of-this-world mysticism of its residents.

Curious visitors don’t have to travel far within the Sunshine State to happen upon a site that makes them scratch their heads in wonder. By no means a complete list, here are a few of the most mystical and mysterious places in Florida.

Devil’s Den Spring

The 7 Most Mystical and Mysterious Places in Florida

Photo courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife

You might feel as though you’ve traveled back in time to the Pleistocene Age of saber-toothed tigers and wooly mammoths when you visit Devil’s Den Spring, a prehistoric spring located in an underground cave in Williston, just a few miles outside of Gainesville. Stalactites drip from above and fossil beds rest below your feet as you snorkel or scuba dive in the spring’s crystal-clear, 72-degree waters. Advance reservations are required to visit this privately owned site of mystery, and lodging is available onsite for parties looking to extend their awe-inspiring adventures another day.

Spook Hill

The 7 Most Mystical and Mysterious Places in Florida

Photo courtesy of Visit Central Florida

There’s only one road in Florida where you can shift your car into neutral and let yourself be propelled uphill as if gravity doesn’t exist. The mystifying Spook Hill, located on North Wales Drive near Burns Avenue in Lake Wales, is scientifically explained as a gravity hill—a type of optical illusion created by the curvaceous topography of the land surrounding the road. Don’t let the laws of physics ruin the fun of this mysterious site—as local legend has it, a pirate named Captain Gimme Sasparilla is buried under Spook Hill, and it’s his otherworldly strength that pushes the cars. Another legend maintains that the spirit of a larger-than-life bull alligator roams the area seeking revenge for his death at the hands of a Seminole chief by dragging cars up Spook Hill.

Falling Waters State Park

The 7 Most Mystical and Mysterious Places in Florida

Photo by Russell Mick courtesy of Visit Florida

In a state where the geography features little-to-no elevation above sea level, it’s an otherworldly sight to behold a 73-foot waterfall. Falling Waters State Park, located 3 miles south of Chipley in the Florida Panhandle, contains the state’s tallest waterfall, a steady stream of water that feeds into the cylindrical, limestone-rimmed Falling Water Sink. As you traverse the land surrounding the waterfall, note that you’re standing above more than 400 feet of underground caves estimated to have existed at least 20 million years. Learn more about the unique history and topography of this area during a fireside chat with a park ranger, offered most Saturdays.

Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp

The 7 Most Mystical and Mysterious Places in Florida

Photo by Mary Lou Norwood courtesy of Florida Memory

Unraveling the mysteries of the ages is the name of the game at Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, a community of spiritual mediums, healers, and teachers located about 35 miles northeast of Orlando. Make sure to reserve an appointment to receive your mystical reading, then process all that you’ve learned on a half-mile trek north to the Lake Helen-Cassadaga Cemetery. Hungry for more mystery and adventure? Try taking a seat in the Devil’s Chair. This large, brick bench situated near a grave was probably built as a mourning chair for folks to sit with their lost loved ones, but legends purport it’s a portal between this world and another.

River Rise Preserve State Park

The 7 Most Mystical and Mysterious Places in Florida

Photo by Florida DEP courtesy of Visit Florida

In this state park located in High Springs, about 25 miles northwest of Gainesville, lovers of Florida’s mysterious geography will marvel at the spot where the Santa Fe River emerges from its underground hiding place to flow into the Suwannee River. Just a few miles away from this location, within nearby O’Leno State Park, the Santa Fe River literally disappears into the ground. Traverse the same natural land bridge that Floridians have used since at least the 1500s, and follow the river’s underground currents until you see it emerge, triumphant, at River Rise Preserve State Park. The area also contains 35 miles of trails perfect for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain or fat-tire biking, as well as abundant wildlife for the birding enthusiast, including Eastern wild turkeys and barred owls.

Coral Castle

The 7 Most Mystical and Mysterious Places in Florida

Photo courtesy of Coral Castle

On an unassuming stretch of Old Dixie Highway in Homestead, about 30 miles south of Miami, lies a man-made marvel that may leave visitors with more questions than answers. The Coral Castle is a sculpture garden containing creations made from oolite limestone and coral rock. It’s believed that all of these structures were erected by one man: Edward Leedskalnin, a Latvian immigrant who relocated to South Florida in 1919 after getting dumped by his fiancée a day before their wedding. There are no historical accounts of how this 5-foot-tall, 100-pound man managed to maneuver and shape these heavy rocks into their current formations, including a 58-ton castle with walls that are 8 feet tall and 3 feet thick. According to legend, Leedskalnin himself would only reveal that he had a vast knowledge of the laws of leverage. Other mystical theories surrounding the Coral Castle’s construction abound, including the site’s positioning within the earth’s harmonic grid, which created the possibility of levitation and increased magnetism. Decide for yourself on a visit—castle staff provides tours every hour.

The Emerald Cut at King’s Landing

While kayaking along the Emerald Cut at King’s Landing in Apopka, you may feel you’ve been transported to another realm. This three-quarter-mile stretch of the Rock Springs Run waterway located not far from the noise of central Florida’s tourist attractions and bustling industries is the ultimate embodiment of Florida’s mystical, natural beauty. Unlike the reddish-brown color of most of Florida’s rivers and small waterways, the Emerald Cut contains crystal-clear waters surrounded by lush, jungle-like vegetation, and sandy shores. Don’t be surprised if you spot an alligator, river otter, or turtle swimming alongside your paddles, and keep your wits about you if you spot a black bear or bald eagle enjoying the tranquility of their surroundings.

Author

  • Tyler Francischine

    Tyler Francischine is a journalist who writes about travel, arts, culture and community. She's passionate about social justice, the Atlantic Ocean and live music.

CATEGORIES: COMMUNITY | THINGS TO DO

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