EDITORS NOTE: It’s the time of year when you drive through Central Florida and find yourself with the intoxicating fragrance of orange blossoms around you. We are so lucky to be surrounded by so many groves. Not only do the groves smell absolutely amazing, but they have so much to offer us. Gather some friends, pack a picnic and take an afternoon trip to one. Don’t forget the prosecco to mix with the fresh squeezed juice for the best Mimosa ever. The U-Pick season is a delicious and super healthy way to spend time with kids or family. Support our local groves, they are the heart and soul of Florida! Share the experience with our children so our honored citrus history lives on.
BOYETT'S CITRUS ATTRACTION
Boyett’s Grove and Citrus Attraction at 4355 Spring Lake Highway in Brooksville is described as a “hodge-podge” of everything that a Florida tourist really wants to experience. During the citrus season, guests can watch fruit being washed, waxed, polished, sorted and packed the same way it was done a half-century ago. In the Wildlife Park out back, visitors can spend time with Bonita the Blue Macaw, Andrew the Alpaca, Elvis the alligator, William and Wilma the wallabies, Lovebirds Ricky and Lucy, Colonel Crumb the cockatoo and more. A huge fish tank houses all kinds of Florida species and you can even see a stuffed 3,000 pound Great White Shark. Kids can trade gold for prizes at the Dinomight Gold Mine. At “The Chomper” kids can enjoy replicas of extinct dinosaurs. Call 352-796-2289 or visit boyettsgrove.com for even more details.
The Citrus Tower at 141 US 27 North in Clermont is a 22-story high tower situated atop one of the highest hills in Florida. For $8/adults and $4/children, you can ride to the top and get a 360 degree view of eight counties and the surrounding rolling hilltops of central Florida. Each November, the tower lights up with four miles of LED lighting and will “dance” to music played over the radio. Built in 1956, the view is spectacular. Around 226 feet below, Lily’s gift shop is complete with items that have that “Florida feel” and is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. citrustower.com
Hancock Groves at 31107 Blanton Rd. in Dade City is open every day except Christmas from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The fruit they grow is in season from around October through April each year. On site is a family farm that grows citrus fruit, strawberries and peaches. Visitors can walk through the farm and pick the fruits that are in season. Staff can pick, pack and ship in the same day. Just give them a call at 352-588-3801 to make an order.
Lang Sun Country is at 5900 US 17/92 between Lake Alfred and Haines City. Dating back to the 1930s, several generations of the Lang family have managed the popular business. They can also pack and ship citrus boxes or gift baskets. Nowadays it’s also a great place to grab a bite to eat. Taste of Florida Cafe is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. One of their specialties is the soup. Ms. Eve cooks up soups like Kickin’ Krab, Hoppin’ John, Clam Chowder, Cowboy Chili and Zuppa Toscana among others. Inside the gift shop are fresh squeezed Lang’s orange juice, Florida wines, jams, jellies and other food items not found in chain stores. langsuncountry.com
Lingle’s Hollieanna Groves is a small, family owned and operated harvester, packer and shipper of Florida Citrus since 1954. Located at 540 S. Orlando Avenue in Maitland, Florida, just 10 minutes north of Orlando. You can sample fresh oranges and grapefruit as well as freshly squeezed orange juice –it’s unpasteurized, free of additives and full of flavor. They are open November through April, Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In their gift shop jams, marmalade, dressings, honey, candy and gift baskets are also sold. hollieanna.com
Maxwell Groves at 607 E Circle St. in Avon Park opened in 1935 as an open air fruit stand and has since grown into a packing house and a gift shop. Three generations of the Maxwell family and 80 years of history have helped make this a popular destination. Fresh juice, 23 different types of Florida berry and citrus wines, local honey, dairy free soft serve ice cream, gifts and jams/jellies are some of the items up for sale. They also pack and ship gift fruit. Check out shopmaxwellgroves.com for more information.
RIDGE ISLAND GROVES
Ridge Island Groves has two locations, one at 6000 Polk City Road in Haines City and the other at 320 US27 South in Clermont. In their groves, strawberries, blueberries, oranges and peaches are grown. Tours of the groves cost $8 per person. Visitors can U-Pick oranges at $1 per pound. They have a hydroponic garden where peppers, tomatoes, blueberries and lettuce are grown. They pack and ship hand-picked citrus from their own groves. Three types of juice are squeezed and available for purchase. Check out ridgeislandgroves.com for more information.
Showcase of Citrus at 5010 US27 South in Clermont has an attraction feel to it. Besides the U-Pick fruit & citrus, you can take an hour long 4x4 monster truck adventure in the sand dunes, let the kids have fun in the playground, try some catch and release fishing, enjoy a waterfront picnic area, see a Florida Seminole Tipi exhibit and visit a really good country store. Available for purchase are handmade soaps, fruit, juices, jams, syrups, salsa, sauces, fresh produce, beef jerky, souvenirs, alligator meat and citrus & berry wines. The “Pickin Shack” stage is available to rent for special events, birthday parties and field trips. Check out showcaseofcitrus.com for more information.