Showcase of Citrus

When I moved to Florida I made an effort to see and do a lot of the things that you can do in the Orlando area.  I stumbled across a Living Social deal for a monster truck off-road Eco-Tour in Clermont at the end of the summer last year.  It was such a good deal and the eco tour sounded fun so I got a few tickets and promptly forgot about them.  It ended up being a good thing that I forgot about them because the best time to go on the eco tour is when oranges are in season.

Monster truck

I picked a Saturday in December to take the Eco-Tour.  We got there just in time to check in and climb (yes, climb) into the monster truck before we headed off into the orange groves.  Having grown up in the northeast I had visited many apple orchards, but this was my first time on an orange grove.  It was really neat to see the trees dotted with the orange fruit, but it was even more amazing since I was riding above them!

Orange trees

 

One of the first things we learned from our guide was that the grove was one of the suppliers for Florida’s Natural orange juice and that the grove was all organic.  The tour brought us past the fields and orange groves and through a forest where our guide told us about the local plants.  Before long we were at a new large field with cows running towards the monster truck.  I was afraid we were going to hit them but these cows knew what they were doing.

Cows rushing to the monster truck

 

Cows eating oranges

 

Our driver parked the truck near a lake and we were told to pull out baskets from under the benches.  The baskets were full of oranges that we were able to toss off the truck to the cows.  They loved them.  According to our driver, they’ve tried to feed the cows other types of citrus fruits, including grapefruit, but the cows only like the oranges.  Once all of the oranges were tossed, we continued on our tour, including driving through a deep river.  Since it was December, it was too cold for us to be spotting any gators.

This old truck was just screaming "Florida oranges" to me!

After our tour we were able to go off and explore the pick your own.  With the exceptions of the pomellos, you are able to sample all of the oranges, tangerines, tangelos, and other fruit.  My favorite one that I sampled was the Orlando tangelo.  It was amazingly sweet and delicious.  Down one of the rows, I saw an old pickup truck that was just screaming classic Florida.  Of course I had to stop and get pictures.

The perfect orange

 

Sometimes you need to reach for the good ones!

Hot sauces available at the market

 

The Eco-Tour is $20 per adult and $10 per child, with group discounts available.  Entrance to the groves is free and you only pay for the fruit you take home.  Current prices according to their website are $20 per bushel and $10 per half bushel.  There is a country store where you can also pick up some homemade goods and other country goodies.

I highly recommend visiting the Showcase of Citrus if you want a relaxing day away from the parks.  The best times to visit are in the fall and winter when the fruit is in season, though they are open in the summer too.  Check out their website for more details on how to schedule a tour.

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