Fruit is sold by weight. Sense of accomplishment comes free of charge. — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Smell that? If not, you're clearly rife with allergies because in the Orlando metro, we're heading full speed ahead into citrus season. Once the soft entry of October slips past, the orange and her sister fruits begin to ripen: from ambersweet to yellow navel, white seedless grapefruit to succulent ruby red, farms are perfumed with the heady scent of blossoms, bees and butterflies hover and flit, and everywhere the hum of activity as the harvest begins.
Orange picking is an ideal outdoor activity as temps begin to drop. — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Florida produces roughly 40 percent of the world's OJ and 75 percent of the U.S. orange market, but some of its farms operate free of industrial rattle. These are the places to visit when you're ready for a break from the parks and a return to nature. Just minutes from Disney but miles from the crowded hustle, Showcase of Citrus, now in its fourth generation of family ownership, offers up the opportunity to pick citrus from roughly 30 varieties of juicy, honey-sweet fruits.
Authentic roadside farmstand charm. — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Mosey up to this open, airy country store and peruse the wares: local honeys, bins upon bins of fruit (and the occasional friendly farm cat), then step up to the sushi-like tasting bar to sample what's ripe before grabbing a bag and heading out into the expansive orchard to hand-select from the likes of fall glow tangerines, honeybell tangelos and the dark, sweet red navels you rarely, if ever, will see amid your grocer's selection.
The orange juice slushy: nature's Slurpee. — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Showcase of Citrus is super family-friendly, so feel free to bring a blanket and stay for a picnic, partake of their monster truck eco-tour (you may even get to feed citrus to the local cows!) or bring a fishing pole and cast in from off their lake dock. Good chance you'll spy wild gators in their orchard canals, too. Just remember not to get too close!