A visitor may not equate monster trucks with Orlando Florida. We didn’t either until we found that there is a monster truck tour operator about a 40 minute drive (33 miles) from downtown Orlando and it’s an easy drive. Travel west on I-4 to #192 – take #192 west a couple miles to highway #27 and then north on #27 about 5 miles on the right.
Not just any monster truck tour. But an eco tour over an hour long, possibly in the world’s largest 4 x 4 truck, and covering much of the 2500 acres of the Showcase of Citrus massive citrus groves, cattle ranch, some of the Everglades head water, and native Florida forest. More information on the monster trucks tour farther along.
I say “possibly” is the world’s largest 4 x 4 monster truck tour only because they have one monster truck that is slightly smaller, too. Depending on the numbers of folks taking any given eco-swamp safari tour, you may end up in the smaller one which, by the way, is pretty darn monstrous as well.
Check out the tires on the world’s largest 4 x 4 monster truck below. They are new, and according to John Arnold Jr., managing director of the organization, each of these puppies cost him around $8800 each! Plus installation.
But the Monster Trucks eco swamp safari is not all that’s here
In the same facility, at the Showcase of Citrus, is an old-time fruit stand where you can purchase fresh fruit, picked ripe from their own orchards. Not sure which oranges or grapefruits or tangerines to buy. Taste ’em all, free! Want some really, really fresh orange juice from their own oranges? Not sure? Taste it – free.
When I tell folks about drinking fresh picked and fresh squeezed Florida oranges I tell them that it’s like drinking candy… candy that’s good for you!
U-Pick from 50+ varieties of citrus fruit
John Arnold explained that when the groves at Showcase of Citrus were planted, they were planted with the intention to make the operation a U-pick site first. That’s why they have so many varieties of citrus fruits, as that enables the broadest range of fruit all year around. It is 40+ acres of U-pick, organic, citrus fruits.
They encourage you to taste the fruit from the orchard while you are picking, as well. According to our Eco Tour guide Chris, no pesticides or herbicides are used on their fruit.
This commitment to environmentalism is backed up by John, who spoke of his real concern about keeping the waters of the Showcase of Citrus as clean as possible, both from the standpoint of watering their own citrus groves, but also because their groundwater eventually reaches the Gulf of Mexico. It moves underground via to the world’s largest freshwater river, the Everglades. It takes about 4 years after the rain falls on their farm. Organic fruit and environmentally concerned grove owner… a marvelous combination. If this is of interest, ask John their sources for organic and composted fertilizer. Very interesting.
As you see in the orange grove photo above we saw ripe oranges, green oranges, small oranges, large oranges, lots of orange blossoms, and every orange tree we saw had dozens of honey bees going about their work, pollinating the flowers for the new crop.
Warm sun, air redolent with orange blossom bouquet, soft breeze, the hum of the worker bees, and you can pick the oranges, and even taste one right from the tree. What a marvelous way to spend a couple of hours with the kids.
They even have fruit wagons (that hold kids too) to pull out to the orchard so you don’t have to carry the fruit back.
Different fruits are coming!
The new blackberry and blueberry fields are growing, and when the fruit is ready, you will be able to pick fresh and buy already-picked berries too.
What else at Showcase of Citrus?
They have the old-time farm stand, of course. In it you can purchase (as well as taste) local honey, their own oranges and orange juice, enjoy an Orange Juice Slushy, get a snack in the restaurant, slurp a hand-dipped ice cream or sherbet, buy home-style jams and jellies and citrus breads… and more.
If you have access to a fishing rod, bring it along and fish off their dock (catch & release please).
Campers can try and secure one of their lakeside RV or tent spots, and overnight campers are welcome.
While waiting for a monster trucks tour, or just to blow of some steam, kids are welcome to use the playground area. Kids will also enjoy the available birthday parties.
There are a number of 5 km obstacle course monster races held annually, with a zip line section and with new obstacles being added regularly.
More on the Monster Trucks
I promised you a bit more information on the Monster Truck eco swamp tour. Our guide, a very knowledgeable and engaging young man – Chris – was able to provide enough information and anecdotes that the hour-plus long ride really did fly by, for us adults.
In 2013 central Florida is into a multi-year drought, and much of the gator-filled swamp that the big trucks would waddle through just isn’t swamp any more. In fact, parts of the ride were downright dusty.
Since, aside from quite a variety of birds, local wildlife is absent (since there is little water) John and group are bringing in some exotic beasts to give the monster truck tour goers a glimpse of some “wild” animals. An admirable effort, and seeing the water buffaloes fairly close, and massive as they are, was OK.
What really needs to happen is a long spell of rain, to replenish the reservoirs and the swamps, so the local beasts (gators etc.) are in greater supply. I hope that happens, as the eco tour is quite good even without seeing gators. It might just be a bit tedious for young children with their expectations of excitement every minute.
The kids, big and small, all enjoyed what happened when the big rig stopped in a pasture, and was immediately surrounded by beef cattle and one, long-horned African cow. You’ll have to take the tour to see what happened then, though.
More information needed? Copy this address into your browser window: http://www.showcaseofcitrus.com