I absolutely love the multiple “Florida Citrus Center” gas station/tourist traps along I-75 North of Orlando.
On our road trip last week we stopped at two of them; one on the way down, one on the way up.
Yes, they do have LIVE BABY GATORS, as the billboards advertise.
And lots and lots of citrus, mostly grapefruit…
And tons of oranges and their kin.
They even have citrus trees for sale.
It’s difficult to keep citrus growing in the Sunshine State right now due to greening, but you’d never know that from stopping in at one of these classic tourist traps.
Something clever I saw for the first time was tiny packaged orange trees (and other citrus) in boxes that could travel.
I bought a calamondin for myself. The lady at the counter told me she’d bought one as well, and I asked her if she’d ever tried a calamondin before.
“No, I just thought it was a type of orange…”
When I explained that it was a super-sour fruit that was generally used for liqueurs, seasoning and marmalades, she was rather downcast.
I imagine quite a few people that manage to grow a little “calamondin ORANGE” from one of these impulse citrus trees will be quite surprised.
I paid $6.99 for mine, but I knew what it was.
Here’s another picture of grapefruit, which is what it is.
Inside The Florida Citrus Center you’ll find a lot of windchimes and other tropical and Florida bric-a-brac (Made in China), as well as clean bathrooms and free orange juice samples. And invariably, piles of shells, a gigantic stuffed gator, and open-mouthed preserved gator heads.
I always get a little homesick driving through Florida. These little gas station stops were part of the fabric of growing up Floridian, and I enjoy sharing them with my own children.
My little calamondin tree survived our trip and is already growing new leaves in its new pot.
The marmalade we’ll one day make will be a bittersweet taste of home.
Love those stands as well though the labeling of trees is questionable. That’s how I got my first kumquat tree/bush. Sadly I was convinced to rehome it to the local zoo where it when from prolific and flourishing to dead of neglect within a year. Currently waiting to see if the last “orange” tree will really produce oranges.
Aw man… losing a kumquat is painful.
Good luck on the orange. I once planted a “Ruby Red Grapefruit” that ended up a tangerine.
I was born in Florida,moved to Texas for 7 years of my childhood, and have been living back in central Florida for 22 years now. I have seen these signs a million times and have never stopped and taken my children there. Next time, we are stopping. Thanks! Now I know not to buy a calamondin orange tree lol.
It’s truly fun.
I love calamondins! Pretty near always had one (now at 60 that’s saying something) last one was a dwarf in a pot for a dozen years or so but now happily growing in the ground for 20+ years at my home. Just something about the taste, and anything a lemon works for, a calamondin works better!
Yes, I love them too.
My grandma had one in her yard when I was young – we ate them like tangerines. Super-sour, but we still did.
I drove by that Citrus Center on I-75 about the same time you were there as I was looking at land in Interlachen Fl. I have land under contract and might pay it a visit if I am not too stressed by traffic. Guess I will take the US Highways because that interstate is too crowded with crazy drivers doing the lane weave.
When hunting for Bahfeemus can I use Alligators as bait?