FLORAL CITY, FLORIDA

By  Mike Miller Updated September 7, 2023

Floral City, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Floral City, about 70 miles north of Tampa, has been the home of Ferris Groves since 1931.

It is a quiet place located on US Highway 41 and has a population of about 5,400.  It is south of Inverness on Lake Tsala Apopka.

Floral City Welcome Sign
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Floral_City,_Florida,_est_1883

HISTORY OF FLORAL CITY, FLORIDA

Like most places in Florida, the Native Americans were here first.

The Seminoles built a village in the early 1800s near Floral City and named it Cho-illy-hadjo.  The name apparently translates to "Crazy Deer's Foot."

There must be another story there.

According to Allen Morris in "Florida Place Names", a man from Vermont came down to the area in the 1870s searching for orchids and other rare flowers.

He must have had some luck because at that time the area was known as "Cove Bend" and soon got changed to "Floral Cove" and finally Floral City.

One of the earliest settlers was James Baker, whose father-in-law was a former Conderate soldier, John Paul Formy-Duval.

The town was platted in 1883 from their land.  The town grew because of nearby phosphate deposits that spawned a productive mining industry.

Some time around World War One the mines were played out and the town stopped growing for awhile.

DOC FERRIS COMES TO FLORAL CITY, FLORIDA

L. G. "Doc" Ferris started out as a boom time land developer in the 1920s.

Like almost everybody else in Florida back then, he went bust after the major hurricanes of the late 1920s and the Great Depression.

Ferris Groves Citrus Packing LabelFerris Groves Citrus Packing Label

He owned a lot of land in Floral City, including Duval Island on Lake Tsala Apopka.

Instead of developing the golf course he had planned, he planted citrus trees on the rich soil of the island.

At the peak of his operation he had 350 acres planted with 31,000 trees. Almost everyone in Floral City worked for Doc Ferris.

Ferris Groves, Floral City, Florida

Doc was reportedly the grand nephew of George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., the inventor of the Ferris Wheel.

Ever the promoter, Doc added a picture of the Ferris Wheel on some of his early citrus box posters.

He also built fruit stands along many major Florida highways and even had fruit stands in some of the tourist hotels in Miami Beach.

FLORAL CITY, FLORIDA TODAY

Among those early Ferris stores was the current one on U.S.-41 in Floral City that still does a great business. I bought some great tangerines there recently.

Most of Central Florida's citrus industry was wiped out in the freezes of 1983 and 1985 and changed this part of Florida forever.

An exception was the fertile hammock soil of Duval Island which still produces Valencia oranges, Ruby Red Grapefruit and Fall Glow tangerines in its 24 acre grove.

In recent years they have added strawberries and blueberries.

Their delicious strawberry is named the Ferris Berry.

Orange Avenue, Floral City, Florida

Fruit bearing trees are not the only hallmark of Floral City.

This small community has done a good job in preserving the old oaks and native palms that give the town so much of its current day charm.

It's a good place to park your car and just walk or ride your bicycle.

There is a pioneer museum downtown and a couple of neat art galleries and antique shops along with a produce stand.

The neighborhoods surrounding downtown are a treasure trove of authentic old Florida houses and other buildings.

Methodist Church, Floral City, Florida

The Withlacoochee State Trail is a 46 mile long paved corridor that runs through Floral City.

It's a "Rails To Trail" project that was formerly a historic train route that was sold to the state in 1989.

Its northern end is in Dunnellon, and its southern terminus is the Trilby trailhead southeast of Brooksville.

It is for hikers and non-motorized vehicles only, and runs through small towns like Istachatta, Floral City and Inverness.

Along the way it crosses several ranches, natural woodlands and wetlands and is close to Fort Cooper State Park and The Withlacoochee State Forest.

Old Home, Floral City, Florida

Floral City is set up to cater to hungry and thirsty cyclists with several restaurants and stores near the trail's crossing in downtown.

There is also a bike shop that provides not only bicycles but repairs and advice.

The community is built along the shorelines of Lake Tsala Apopka and Bradley Lake.

There are many fish camps and authentic old Florida lodging places in the area along with some great fishing and canoeing.

Some of the back country roads around these lakes and their many islands offer some of the best driving experiences in Florida.

Here is a Shannon Burns video discussing the Floral City area with a knowledgeable local historian.



Recommended Floral City Restaurant

ROBIN'S COUNTRY KITCHEN

6689 S. Florida Avenue
Floral City, Florida 34436
Tel:  352-341-2535

Robin's Country Kitchen is in a plain building on U.S.-41 on the north side of Floral City.

The Withlacoochee Trail parallels the highway and the restaurant is tucked in between the highway and the trail, convenient for cyclists, hikers and motorists.

There is plenty of parking for cars and motorcycles and the bicycles don't have a problem either.

READ MORE ABOUT ROBIN'S COUNTRY KITCHEN


THINGS TO DO IN FLORAL CITY, FLORIDA

Floral City Heritage Hall and Museum
8394 E Orange Ave, Floral City, FL 34436 | (352) 419-4257

This museum is a treasure trove of local history, showcasing artifacts, photographs, and stories from Floral City's past. A favorite part is the exhibit on the town's role in the phosphate mining industry.

The museum also organizes heritage events and walking tours, offering a deeper understanding of the area's rich cultural background.

Withlacoochee State Trail, Floral City Trailhead
8355 E Levy Ln, Floral City, FL 34436

With a generally flat terrain and many access points, the trail is an ideal venue for all skill and fitness levels of cycling, running, walking and skating. An unpaved equestrian trail parallels portions of the paved trail.

Although we’ve listed the trailhead address here, it is accessible throughout Floral City. This 46-mile-long paved trail is perfect for exploring the natural beauty of Central Florida. We enjoy the shaded paths that wind through forests, pastures, and small towns.

The trail is also a great spot for birdwatching and spotting local wildlife. It’s an ideal way to spend a day outdoors, whether you’re on foot or wheels.

Ferris Groves
7607 S Florida Ave, Floral City, FL 34436 | (352) 860-0366

This historic citrus grove is famous for its delicious, fresh Florida oranges, grapefruits, and specialty citrus products. We love taking a guided tour of the grove and sampling the freshly squeezed orange juice.

Don’t forget to pick up some citrus treats from their farm store to bring a taste of Florida home with you. The retail store is open from November to mid-April, 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday through Saturday and 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Sundays.

Floral Park
9530 S Parkside Ave, Floral City, FL 34436

This 40 acre park offers a variety of recreational facilities, including tennis courts, a disc golf course, and picnic areas. Our favorite is the scenic walking trails that offer a peaceful retreat into nature. The park frequently hosts community events and festivals, making it a vibrant hub of activity in Floral City. Dogs are allowed on the walking trails only.

Floral City Historic Avenue of Oaks
Orange Avenue, Floral City, FL 34436

This picturesque avenue, lined with majestic oak trees draped in Spanish moss, offers a stunning natural canopy. We enjoy the peaceful ambiance and the beautiful backdrop for photos.

Orange Avenue leads to several historic homes and buildings, highlighting the architectural heritage of the area.

Moonrise Resort
8801 E Moonrise Ln # 1, Floral City, FL 34436 | (352) 726-2553

Nestled on the banks of Tsala Apopka Lake, this resort offers a tranquil getaway with waterfront views, fishing, and boating opportunities.

Our favorite activity is renting a kayak to explore the serene waters of the lake. The resort also features cozy cabins, making it a perfect spot for a weekend retreat in nature.





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