The Edsall family has been growing citrus in the "Sunshine State" for some 75 years. In 1990, the family decided to give the public better access to their juicy treasure trove by opening a packinghouse and retail store in south Fort Myers.
You'll know when the packinghouse is in operation: the tropical smells will beckon you from the parking lot to hurry inside for a look and a taste at what's inside Sun Harvest Citrus.
It's common to find so-called "wind scars" on citrus, but the marks are only cosmetic and don't affect taste — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
A large glass window offers a full view of the conveyor belts that sort fruit. If you time your visit right, you’ll be able to see everything from fruit washing to juice bottling.
The citrus comes from Indian River, and while not all varieties are available year-round, there's always some kind of fresh fruit here. You’ll find it cut into wedges for sampling, next to bins filled with whole varieties for grab and go.
If you want larger quantities without the hassle of getting it through airport security or weighing down your checked bag, Sun Harvest Citrus has a proficient shipping department to get various citrus combos to anywhere in the US.
You’ll almost always find a crowd gathered around the sampling bar, where you're free to taste the popular juices that are made here. Besides the standard grapefruit and orange, try things like strawberry/orange, cranberry/orange and lemonade.
Warning: Once you’ve had the fresh squeezed variety, it will be hard to go back to the processed stuff.
Sampling juices and blends is a popular activity at Sun Harvest Citrus — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
The primary reason people come here is indeed for the fruit and the juice; however, it's also one of the best places to buy Florida souvenirs.
You'll notice a nice selection of jellies and jams, seasonings and even tropical fruit wines. Florida is also famous for its Key lime products, and this gift shop is full of treasured treats like Key lime coolers (tart, sweet, airy cookies) and Key lime pie.
Other eatables include local honey, packaged coconut cookies and rum cakes, as well as a case full of freshly baked goods. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but behind the case is the beloved soft-serve ice cream machine that cranks out the best orange and vanilla swirled cone you’ll ever have.
If you're looking for Florida keepsakes that don't include calories, the gift shop at Sun Harvest Citrus is loaded. There are bins of stuffed animals that feature the state's infamous alligators, flamingos, sea turtles, manatees and more.
From tropical Christmas ornaments to beautifully etched glass, the range of gifts here is extensive — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
A small selection of beach items highlight one section, while another area is dedicated to Christmas – with shell, mermaid and fish ornaments.
But if something a little more artsy is what you have in mind, you’ll be happy to also discover sea glass, home décor made from shells and all kinds of tropical-themed art.
Sun Harvest is full of unique gifts and tasty treats; it's a fun stop on your way to the beach or the airport.