Fifty miles (1.5 hours’ drive) east of Sarasota , in the swampy midsection of the state, is an entirely different kind of homage to one man’s vision of what housing grandeur should look like. Solomon’s Castle (4533 Solomon Rd., Ona, 863/494-6077, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sun., closed July–Sept., $10 adults, $4 children under 12) began taking shape in 1972, when sculptor Howard Solomon began building his dream home.
That home has taken the shape of a medieval-style castle, except instead of stone and iron, Solomon’s Castle is crafted from recycled aluminum printing-press plates and stained glass. Each room in the castle is stacked with Solomon’s whimsical sculptures, most of which, like the castle itself, are created from recycled materials.
The sculptor is usually on hand to give tours himself, and it’s an experience not to be missed; Solomon’s pun-heavy narration is nearly as amusing as it is groan-inducing, but the truly unique perspective he puts on what is a truly unique piece of construction is enlightening.
Though he lives in the castle, the building is less a domicile than it is a continuing art project. Make sure to have lunch at the Boat on the Moat restaurant, another of Solomon’s creative endeavors.