Sunday, March 6, 2011

Attracted to the Florida Roadside

Quirky roadside attractions are what the Florida tourism industry was built on. Even though that industry has become dominated by a mouse, there are still plenty of Old Florida attractions to see throughout the state. On a recent ride through Crescent City, I came across one of my favorite Florida drive-thrus. The "honor system citrus stand."

Not only is the produce fresh and locally grown, the fruit stand is self-serve. I can't be sure, but I'm thinking that you wouldn't find a self-serve, honor-system drive thru in New York City. But, thankfully, you can still find a few of these locally-owned roadside businesses throughout the Sunshine State. One of my other favorites is the Biggers Apiaries honey stand near San Mateo on SR 100, which has been operating on the honor system for over 60 years in that location.

There under the shade of a giant old oak, you can pull off the road and purchase orange blossom honey, wildflower honey or tupelo honey. Drop your money in the box and continue on your way.

Another curious off-the-beaten-path sight worth seeing is the Indian River Fruit Stand at the stoplight intersection of SR17 and SR40 in Barberville. You may know it for its 8ft tall roosters.

This Barberville market has been attracting customers locally, nationally and internationally looking for the unusual for more than 20 years. There are 451 different items, totaling 1,000 pieces to choose from on the 4-acre property shaded by towering moss-covered oaks. Looking for a sculpted metal flying pig? How about a 24 ft giraffe statue? Oversized hand-carved teak furniture from Indonesia on your list? The startling sculptures large and small include farm animals, dinosaurs, jungle creatures and the fantastic. Oh, and you can also pick up locally produced honey and citrus.

The current owners Carlos Pendola and Sandra Tedder say their most expensive item is a 12 ft figure of Atlas priced at $5,500. The “giant roosters” go for $2,300. But there’s something at every price point. The art and fruit business accepts cash, credit or check and can even arrange shipment and delivery.

Ok, it's not operating on the honor system, but can you honestly say you can purchase a giant chicken in your hometown?

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