by Teba Orueta
There’s a lot more to southern Florida than South Beach and the Seaquarium. If you’re looking for a day spent in the sun and close to nature, you can’t beat taking the kids to Homestead, just an hour from central Miami.
There you’ll find farms and rows and rows of freshly grown strawberries and tomatoes, among other delicious fruits.
My first port of call is always Knaus Berry Farm. It is run by German Baptists who still wear traditional clothes and greet you with a big smile… and an equally big basket for your pickings! I took my 5 year-old nephew recently — he loved discovering where and how fruit and veggies grow and he beamed as he returned with a basket filled with strawberries he had picked himself. Before we left with our treasures, we enjoyed what has to be the best sticky cinnamon roll I have ever tasted! (In fact, some people drive to Knaus only to buy the rolls, and to stock up on tubs of their home-made farm fruit ice cream!) (http://www.redlandriot.com/Knaus)
Before lunch, we stopped for a taste & smell bonanza at the Fruit & Spice Park, only a few minutes down the road. This 39-acre park has over 500 fruits and spice trees and bushes from around the globe; and since they flower and bear fruit at different times of the year, there’s always something outstanding to taste.
Following Iva, the park guide, we smelled allspice leaves (it’s not a mixture of spices after all), were taught how to spot poisonous plants, and we picked and devoured fresh star-fruit and tamarind right off the trees! We even saw the Horseradish Tree: 100% edible and a real beacon of hope in the fight against world hunger. Before leaving, my nephew and I bought some basil seeds to plant. (http://www.fruitandspicepark.com)
For lunch, we ventured into The Capri, an Italian American restaurant that makes some hearty soups and deliciously thin pizzas. We even tried their local specialty: fried gator. It could have been rubbery chicken, but we were told it was helping to cut down on the ever-proliferating gator population! (http://www.the-capri.com)
A quick stop at Schnebly Redland’s Winery had us amused and learning how this farm came up with the idea of making sweet wines with their surplus fruit. My nephew particularly loved hearing the story of the “poo-poo” wine — named such as it was born of a production mistake — now their best-selling product! (http://www.schneblywinery.com)
Making our way back to Miami after a fun-packed day, our last call was at the Coral Castle! A man spent 28 years carving over 1,000 tons of coral with homemade tools to build his beloved sweetheart this outdoor castle, complete with bed, chairs, and tables. My nephew loved the fact he could touch the coral “furniture”; he sat on the chairs, rested on the bed, and ran around playing hide and seek! (http://www.coralcastle.com)
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