Soloman's Castle, Wildlife Refuge & Pioneer Trail
- Duration: 10 Hours (approx.)
- Location: ORMOND BEACH, Florida
- Product code: PZR21K
Day Trip with Stefan Includes:
- Depart Ormond, New Smyrna, Cocoa, Viera & Vero Beach
- Breakfast Snack
- BINGO En route
- Admission and Guided Tour of Soloman's Castle
- Lunch at Boat in the Moat with Beverage & Dessert
- Free Time to explore after Lunch
- Visit to Hardee County Wildlife Refuge
- Visit to Cracker Trail Museum
SOLOMAN'S CASTLE-This attraction gets the award in the Weirdest and Wackiest (and, boy, are there many) of Florida category. In 1974, Howard Solomon began building what has become a 60-foot-tall, 12,000-square-foot castle in a Manatee County swamp. Solomon, a metal and wood sculptor by trade, built the huge structure (where he now lives) out of 22*34-inch offset aluminum printing plates discarded by a local newspaper. He and the other tour guides (try to get the tour led by Solomon, or at least talk with him about his work) lead guests on a pun-filled tour of the castle, which is decked out with some of his smaller artistic creations, mostly made of other people's "trash," including a chair made out of 86 beer cans, an elephant pieced together with seven oil drums, a unicorn fashioned out of coat hangers, and about 80 stained-glass windows. Howard is continually building new things -- you never know what you'll find. If you're hungry, check out the Boat in the Moat restaurant, which is literally just that. You have to experience this to believe it.
BOAT IN THE MOAT-If you build it, they will dine. They were already coming by the busload and there was no place to feed them. It’s not as though they were collapsing on the lawn from fatigue. But they were asking for a sandwich or two from the Castle kitchen. So, Howard, in his Kingly wisdom, said “I will make a boat and float it in the moat to keep marauding pirates and invading armies from laying siege to my minions” --or something like that.
Anyway, next thing we knew, there was the boat restaurant came next and then the food and drinks and the people too! It is safe to say, and with a great deal of pride, that we now have the finest restaurant in Ona, Florida. Just ask the people who come by to visit every day and the Castle guests that lazily lounge in the boat’s dining room belly or on our oak-draped deck adjacent to the boat. Now, take a look at some of our offerings.
Welcome to the Cracker Trail Museum
Since its beginning in 1967, Cracker Trail Museum has collected over 4,000 items related to pioneer-era Florida history. Each item is maintained either within glass enclosed cases or strategically placed around the floor of the museum. Many of the larger items are provided in a setting that would be reminiscent of pioneer living. The items are identified with a tag that not only gives its description but includes the name of the person who donated it. Proper records are maintained, so at any time, a guest may inquire about a certain item donated by a family member and its location can be retrieved through its computer data base. This procedure is used many times within the course of a month to assist family members for viewing a loved one’s acquisition.
WILDLIFE REFUGE -Nestled among the oak trees and the cabbage palms is home to non-releasable native wildlife, and a few exotic species that are showcased in natural habitats. As a guest, you are welcome to take a leisurely stroll along the elevated boardwalk, stopping for a brief lesson about the animals at the many interpretive stations. During your journey you can not only view the beautiful animals that make their home here but can also enjoy many species of wild birds that fly in from time to time, and a variety of native vegetation indigenous to Central Florida.