Cassadega, Florida. Tucked amid the arching palm trees and the lush swamplands of central Florida, this strange little town blooms like a psychedelic mushroom after a rainstorm.
If you never heard of the sleepy hideaway about 45 minutes from Orlando known as “The Psychic Capital of the World,” no one would be surprised.
Drive through on a lazy Saturday afternoon, and it looks like Anyplace, America.
But dig one inch underneath the surface, and things get a little . . . different.
Here’s why it’s time to add this one to your paranormal travel bucket list.(Music: Bensound)
Cassadega, Florida: A Brief History
Established in 1875 by George P. Colby, Cassadega has served as a haven for spiritualists for nearly 150 years.
Since then, the Cassadega Spiritualist Camp’s population grew to roughly 100 people.
They consist largely of psychic mediums living in fairytale-like cottages clustered together along the woodland side streets.
My first stop:
Inside, a perky, youthful clerk named Rachael greets me. I begin asking questions about the camp’s history and the “certification” process that all mediums undergo to be part of the camp’s “official” body of psychics.
According to the pamphlet she hands me, the process takes 4-6 years.
Rachael eyes my notebook and camera suspiciously. “May I ask what you’re doing?”
“Sure! I’m a blogger.”
“Well, you’ll need to get permission from [the board of trustees] to do any official interviews or take pictures in the shop.”
“Oh . . . why is that, exactly?”
“Well, we don’t want anything here misrepresented. Do you know what I mean?”
“No, actually. I don’t.”
“Well, some people have tried to portray this as a town of witchcraft. And it’s not.”
Huh. Okay. Folks, just so you know:
This is not a “town of witchcraft.”
C. Green’s Haunted History House & Museum
Across the street (and technically off the camp’s premises), Varney of C. Green’s Haunted History House & Museum, was a little more forthcoming.
Varney is a local historian and a 3rd generation descendent of Cassadaga.
“We’re not associated with the SCSCMA.”
(The Southern Cassadega Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association is the governing body that certifies members for “official” status as psychic mediums in Cassadaga).
Despite his unaffiliated status, Varney proves extremely knowledgeable about the history of the town.
I pay the $10 admission to the museum and walk through its curious exhibits, which range from newspaper clippings to creepy dolls and horror-thrill exhibits.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay while in Cassadaga, The Hotel Cassadaga is the only hotel in town.
Naturally, this property comes with its own spooky legends and lore, so spend some time at the front desk and ask the staff about its haunted history.
Or, just go for the food.
Sinatra’s Ristorante features exactly the kind of heavy, dark, antique decor one expects to find at any haunted hotel restaurant.
(In case you’re curious, I tried the chicken salad.)
The Fairy Trail
After lunch, take a walk on Cassadega’s Fairy Trail.
It’s the largest and most elaborate fairy garden . . . like, ever. Tiny houses and fairy-sized miniatures line the path.
Of course, no trip to Cassadega feels complete without at least one psychic reading.
I decided to go rogue and schedule a reading with an “uncertified” psychic.
He shuffles a Japanime-style tarot deck and lays a few cartoon-like cards on the table.
“Queen of Swords . . . it’s time to cut negative people out of your life.”
“You’re going to spend some time traveling and that will be good for you.”
“You’re insightful and need to open your Throat Chakra more.” In other words, I need to talk more.
I tell him my husband would probably disagree about that last one.
If you want a curious little out-of-the-way destination to explore this summer, Cassadega, Florida checks those boxes.
I can honestly say, I’ve never been anywhere like it.
Go with an open mind and leave with an experience to share over cocktails back home.