Destination: the eclectic ‘Smithsonian of the South’

Go on, admire the stuffed alligator hanging above your head.

Welcome to the Lightner Museum, the self-described ‘Smithsonian of the South’. While researching my next book, What The Florida, I came across this oddball in St. Augustine, and it ended up being one of my favorite places in the city.

By the way, What The Florida? It’s live now! Get over 90 of Florida’s bizarre, unique, and quirky destinations in a single guidebook.

The first big surprise: despite being in the historic Hotel Alcazar building, a former upper-class hotel built in the 19th century, it’s been wonderfully renovated. The second big surprise: it’s the variety (and personally, the randomness) of the exhibits that help it live up to its namesake. While there’s plenty of history on display, it’s about as random as it gets. Go from, say, a Blickensderfer typewriter from 1897 to these 20th century earrings from Senegal:

Other nearby exhibits include a

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