When Citrus Was King

By  Mike Miller  Updated September 27, .2023

The Florida Citrus Tower is on US Highway 27 just north of the intersection of State Road 50 and US-27 in Clermont, Florida. It is a central Florida landmark.

Florida Citrus Tower Clermont FloridaVintage Postcard Florida Citrus Tower

When the tower opened for business in 1956, US-27 was a major divided highway down the sandy central spine of Florida's ridge section.

The highway entered the state north of Tallahassee and meandered through the hills of central Florida all the way down to Miami.

There were no interstate highways in those days and no Florida Turnpike.

Tourists traveling down US-27 would stop at Silver Springs, Citrus Tower and Cypress Gardens on their way south.

Early View from Citrus Tower Looking Toward OrlandoEarly View from Citrus Tower Looking Toward Orlando

There was no Walt Disney World or Universal Studios or any other theme parks in those quieter simpler times when Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States and LeRoy Collins was Governor of Florida.

If you visited the Orlando area in those days and wanted to go to Florida tourist attractions, you pretty much had to drive out to Clermont to see the tower.

View from Citrus Tower in 1956View from Citrus Tower in 1956

The tower was built to showcase the hundreds of thousands of acres of citrus groves that covered Central Florida in those days.

It was built on one of the highest hills in the central ridge section of Florida and is a 226-foot tall structure. The tower was a monument to Central Florida's famed citrus industry.

The top of the Citrus Tower has an antenna with its tip 500 feet above sea level.

Citrus Tower and US-27 in 1958Citrus Tower and US-27 in 1958

There is a small gift shop with postcards and tower souvenirs in the building on the ground floor, along with a large meeting room that is used by local groups.

There is also a coffee shop with snacks and many comfortable places to sit and relax.

You will see quite a few historic photographs of the way the area used to be. There is an elevator in the gift shop that takes you up 22 stories to the non-air-conditioned glass enclosed observation deck.

Florida Citrus Tower 2012Florida Citrus Tower

The observation deck gives viewers panoramic views of the surrounding area that includes hundreds of lakes and rolling hills in the Clermont area.

You can see about 35 miles in any direction from the tower, depending on weather conditions.  You are also standing on the highest point of any building in Florida.

Citrus Tower from WebsiteDrone's Eye View Citrus Tower
Citrus Tower

You won't see many orange groves these days. Most of them were destroyed by killing freezes in the early 1980's.

Since then most of the land surrounding the tower has been developed into residential subdivisions and shopping malls.

View from Citrus Tower 2012View from Citrus Tower

It is still fun, however, to see downtown Orlando and Walt Disney World looming on the distant hazy horizon.

A trip to the top of the tower is a voyage back in time to the heyday of citrus in Florida.

During the peak of the citrus industry, Lake County Florida produced more citrus than the entire state of California.

Another attraction adjacent to the tower is the Presidents Hall of Fame. The Citrus Tower and surrounding buildings were recently purchased by Simchat Torah Beit Midrash, a non-profit group.


    Hours of Operation:

    Monday-Thursday:  7am-10pm
    Friday & Saturday: 7am-11pm
    Sunday:  11am-10pm

    Admission: (Day Pass)
    Adults $ 11.00, Children $ 7.00

The Florida Citrus Tower is located at 141 North US Highway 27, Clermont, Florida 34711. Telephone: 352-394-4061.  Email: info@citrustower.com.

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