Soft Landings
Traveler's USA Notebook

Your guide to travel news,  discoveries and  pleasuresYour guide to travel news,  discoveries and  pleasures

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Soft Landings…

 

Jaded in Miami? World weary? Poor baby!
 
      
Try jade in Redlands as a charm. Jade as in greenery. As in soft greenery; leafy greenery; pervasive, persuasive, persistent, insistent greenery. The sweet, soft, surprising Redlands area lies an hour south away from Miami. It's probably half an hour away from Miami Airport. And it's an hour north of Key Largo. So, it's a great day or half-day trip from Miami or Miami Beach, and it's a wonderful recess during a trip to or from Key West. Driving around the area (Redlands, Homestead and Florida City) soon will restore you to sanity and happiness.
You'll not see greener greens, more fragrant fruits, more bouncy, juicy, rubbery, healthy-looking plants and foods anywhere on earth.
The area is a green machine, generating some of the most remarkable plant life in the world. And a lot of it, you can eat.
The effect is salubrious, calming, and invigorating: as you spin past rows of palms and pineapple trees, you might even start bubbling over with... joy.
For here is where the baby palm trees are born, and the limes and the bananas and every good thing from the garden...This is where you can just drive down a country road, pull over, and grab a cold coconut, big as your head, or a warm tomato, fresh from the field. The Redlands area is a portal to wonder. And you can still make it back to South Beach for a siesta before going clubbing again at midnight.
Getting to the Redlands
Among the farms 

One More (Refreshing) Thing

Here is some of what you can discover in the Redlands area.

 

Fruit and Spice Park
Don’t miss this little Shangri-La: there’s nothing remotely like it anywhere. It’s a 30-acre living plant zoo, and centre for learning about our favourite fragrant gifts from the earth. Enter through the gift shop and before you can say hello, they’ll give you samples of spooky fruits you’ve never seen or heard of, like Black Sapote(“chocolate pudding fruit”), Cecropia(“snake fingers“), Wax Jambu, which is rather like a gnarly pear, and the monster-like Jackfruit, a heavenly condominium of custard. Heaven knows what you’ll run into when you actually start walking around the gorgeous, lush and juicy park…there are well over 500 varieties of herbs, nuts, spices and weird tropical fruits out there. You can get guided tours, borrow a wheelchair, or have a picnic in there, too. But some of the fruits look rather too much like Godzillas: you may not want to turn your back on them.
Fruit and Spice Park
24801 SW 187th Ave
Homestead, FL 33170
Tel. 305.247.5727 or click here
Open daily

Robert is Here Fruit Stand
Pick your own strawberries, visit the turtles and iguanas out back, do your fruit and vegetable shopping, and select your milkshake from a variety of flavours including guanabana, key lime pie, coconut, mamey, strawberry and mango. The fruits and vegetables are stupendous -- lush, meaty tomatoes; the afore described jackfruits; carambola, lychee; papaya and a stunning, stellar, stirring sampling of citrus stalwarts. There's more to Robert Is Here than fresh produce. The stand offers a great variety in the each of the following categories: salad dressings (just how many things can you do with Vidalia onions, anyway?); marinades and grilling sauces three flavours of chiplote pepper sauce); mustards; chutneys; salsas; preserves, jams, jellies, marmalades and fruit butters; hot sauces; syrup and a megarainbow of honeys.

Fruteria Los Girasoles
A small stand with excellent produce and simple but exotic delights: for $2, the gracious proprietor will chop a hole in an enormous, icy chilled coconut for you; stick in your straw and caramba: coco frio! Haven't had one that good since last in Tahiti, and these are bigger.
25500 Krome Ave.
not far from the Fruit and Spice Park.

Redland Market Village
A cornucopia of stunning stands selling exotic tropical fruit, vegetables, shops, taco, flowers and plants and trees, and mucho more...there's a food court, too.
24420 S. Dixie Highway (U.S.1)
Princeton, FL 33032
(cross street is Coconut Palm Drive)
305.257.4335

Florida City State Farmers Market
During the growing season, which is November through May, stop in for samples of fresh produce; open all year round, this is a wonderful place to find out all about Florida's agriculture, hit the restaurant and get your groceries.
300 N. Krome Ave.
Florida City, FL 33034
tel 305.246.6334

bullet One More (Refreshing) Thing
At the end of your visit, just before you return to your regular programming, stop for a cup of freshly brewed coffee at the Main Street Cafe. It's a coffee shop, restaurant, performance space, internet cafe. Abrim with gentle, amiable Bohemian vibes, it's got Brownies, all kinds of tofu sandwiches, freshly squooshed-for-you juices, a conga line of at least six different soups of the day (including at least two vegan soups) and the usual, more conventional foodstuffs. Live music at night showcases nationally known artists (Richard Shindell, par example) and local favourites.
128 N. Krome Avenue
Homestead, FL 33030
305.245.7575 or click here

 


Among the farms that invite your presence are

bullet

Baldan Orchids
20075 SW 180th Ave.
Miami, FL 33187
305.232.8694
By appointment only

bullet

Burr's Berry Farm
Open December through May only, this is strawberry heaven. And there's fresh strawberry ice cream.
12741 SW 216th St.
Miami, FL 33177
305.235.0513

bullet

Impact Orchids and Exotics
'Ere you go, Guv. Lots of seedlings and blooming orchids for your viewing pleasure Tues.-Sat.
14400 SW 248th St.
Princeton FL 33032
305.257.5771

bullet

Miami Water Lilies and Orchids
Like the name says, aquatic floral wonders as well as bursting with beauty orchids
22150 SW 147th Ave
Homestead, FL 33170
Tel. 305.247.5727

And let's not forget

bullet

Going Bananas
Traveler especially looked forward to seeing this endless ocean of banana trees. We turned left. We turned right. We pulled over for tailgating pickup trucks and weaved in and out; at last---we saw the sign; up we rumbled the lo-o-o-o-ong, narrow, rocky, one-way driveway leading to the gate. CLOSED. And that's when we understood why they call it Going Bananas.
(Had it been open, we know we would have had a wonderful time. Don't you slip on a banana peel. Call before you go here or anywhere else.)
22150 SW 197th Ave
Homestead, FL 33031
305.247.0397 or click here.

Getting to the Redlands:
Hidden away on the tip
of Florida’s toenail, just a few
blocks parallel to and west of
Highway U.S. 1 (also known
as the Dixie Highway) is Krome
Avenue (also known as SW 177th Avenue). Krome is the main road
in the Redlands; if you keep
 following it South it will take you
past the antique shops of
Homestead and the unforgettable Farmers Market in Florida City,
and that’s where mainland Florida
ends and the road to the Keys begins. Find Krome and you’re set.

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