Thirty minutes north of Orlando, the town of Cassadaga looks like the setting for a seance. Old Victorian homes are fronted by moss-draped oaks, and an occasional one-eyed cat glares from a front lawn. The air carries the faint smell of incense. Founded in the late 1800s by a spiritual leader from upstate New York, Cassadaga has been a destination for those seeking to look beyond the veil for more than 100 years. The vibe here is more welcoming and friendly than spooky, but take note: This isn’t another tongue-in-cheek Florida roadside attraction. The psychics and mediums of Cassadaga take themselves seriously. If you visit, you will, too.
WHERE TO GET A READING
The best way to experience Cassadaga is to let the spirits guide you. The town’s information center (1112 Stevens Street, Cassadaga, 386.228.2880, cassadaga.org) has a wealth of options when it comes to the psychics and mediums who work within the spiritualist camp. Check the whiteboard at the back of the building to see who’s available that day. There you’ll find names, phone numbers and details such as whether an individual accepts credit cards. The best way to choose someone for a reading is to call around and let the fates point you in the right direction. But if you’re the kind of traveler who likes to go in with a plan, then set up an appointment with one of the town’s specialists ahead of time. Need a recommendation? Try Joy Sagar (386.479.5225; joyofcassadaga.com). He’s been in Cassadaga for almost 20 years and has a reputation, both for his gifts and for the generosity of his readings.
WHERE TO STAY
For the full experience, it’s essential to stay in the Cassadaga Hotel (355 Cassadaga Road, Lake Helen, 386.228.2323, hotelcassadaga.com). Built in 1927, the inn boasts the same Victorian charm that gives the rest of the town its spiritualist vibe. Most importantly, the hotel is situated in the heart of Cassadaga and serves as a nexus point for the many visitors who pass through. It’s a great place to strike up a conversation. While you’re there, stop by the ground-floor gift shop for crystals, scented oils, sage and silver jewelry. Be warned: The hotel comes with a handful of spirits who walk its halls, but the inn’s staff maintains that the ghosts are friendly.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Sinatra’s L’Aldila Ristorante (355 Cassadaga Road, Lake Helen, 386.218.3806, sinatras.us), located inside the Cassadaga Hotel, offers a surprisingly sophisticated menu for its off-the-beaten-path location. With everything from shrimp po’ boys to osso bucco and prime rib, the restaurant accommodates a variety of tastes. For the best experience, grab a seat at the bar and chat with other diners. The stories people share about why they’re in Cassadaga are often touching, a good reminder of our shared humanity.