Just a short drive away from Walt Disney World property is a town called Clermont. One of the main highways through Clermont is 27 and is where countless new housing developments have been popping up. I know this as my family lives near here and we spend a lot of time driving up and down Highway 27. However one place that we have driven past a hundred times is called Showcase of Citrus.
From a distance this place just looks like a large fruit stand along the highway selling Florida fresh Oranges and other citrus. But after a friend had visited and raved about a Monster Truck tour through the Citrus grove it was something we had to check out.
We made the drive down from Clermont along 27 until we arrive at the location and were greeted with a Great White Shark hanging from its tail in the parking lot. Just to set the record straight I’m sure you can guess that this is not real, but does catch you eye as you drive by which I guess is the point.
Inside the main building we were greeted by an alligator with a bag of oranges. This place we definitely interesting, but filled with lots of fun things including local honey, hot sauces and of course fresh citrus. Plus I even saw a sign for gator meat if that is something you are looking for.
However first we were here for the main even which was the 4×4 Monster truck tour.
This thing was huge and they actually have three of them so I’m guessing business has been good. Thankfully we didn’t need to climb up that ladder leaning against the side of the truck. Instead there are some ramps at the back that make getting up into the truck much easier.
Our tour guide was fantastic and had a lot of knowledge about the citrus grove. They actually grow over 40 varieties of citrus in these fiends. Only a small portion are sold in the roadside store, and the majority is sent to a processing plant near Miami for companies like Tropicana. The ride on the truck can get a little bumpy but wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated.
There are some swampy areas that the tour goes through and if you are lucky there can be some local wildlife around. On our trip we saw the above gator, and a few turtles but not much else.
One interesting part of the tour was that we headed into a cow pasture that was just filled with lots and lots of cows. They immediately recognized the truck we were in and came running over. The reason is that the cows are obsessed with oranges. The tour guide had a large basked of oranges and he handed them out so that we could toss them over the side of the truck for the cows to eat. Who would have thought cows liked citrus?
The tour was about 45 minutes or so and was a lot of fun. Our daughters had a great time on the truck but really liked feeding the cows. When the tour was over we headed back to the main building. In the back was a large play area for the kids and a petting zoo with a few animals like a Donkey, and Pig.
We also tried some of their fresh citrus slush that was nice and tart but very refreshing on this sunny Florida afternoon.
Before we left for the day we had to check out the store in a little more detail. There were lots of old product signs in the rafters, and lots of classic Florida gifts like “grown your own orange tree” or a lucky alligator foot for your key chain.
There was also a wall filled with all sorts of hot sauces, and fresh local honey. They did offer some samples to try before buying, but be careful some of those sauces were extremely hot.
They also had a wine tasting bar that had a lot of Florida wines for sale. You could get a free sample of any of the wines and some where very interesting. We tried a Key Lime wine and a Guava wine which were actually pretty good.
The above Swamp Juice wine was not my favorite but would make for a fun bottle to bring out with dinner for your out-of-state friends. With a few bottles of wine ready to take home just as we were checking out I noticed something around a nearby corner.
Pappy’s pressed coin machine. These machines are not very common a least in my travels so far, but I have come across a few and they are definitely unique. Pappy will talk a bit to try and entice you over to use the machine, and he also talks while he pressed your coins. If you look closely you can see his hand is on a handle that turns as the penny is pressed.
Each design was $1 and the machine supplied the penny so there was no guarantee of the type of penny that you would get.
The designs on each penny were all about the Showcase of Citrus which is nice. Sometimes in these type of roadside attractions the penny machines have generic designs like “My lucky penny”. But these were nice unique designs with the Monster Truck, and the Showcase of Citrus logo. One rolled a bit short, but the others came out pretty nicely. You can see in the above image the difference in pennies since I couldn’t supply my own.
With our wine, bag of oranges and some new pressed pennies we were ready to head home. This was definitely a lot of fun and I’m glad we tried it out. As I mentioned at the beginning we had driving past it a lot and never stopped in which should teach us a lesson as you never know what you may find.