24801 SW 187 Avenue
Homestead, Florida 33031
Fruit and Spice Park is an unusual Florida tourist attraction. It is a county park in Homestead, Florida, devoted to fruits and spices.
When you think of Florida tourist attractions, this kind of place does not immediately pop into your head.
Fruit and Spice Park will make you change your mind.
The Redland is a very large agricultural area about 20 miles southwest of Miami and northwest of Homestead Florida.
It is unique in urban Florida, and is very unusual in the world.
Some locals also call it The Redlands. Believe it or not, The Redlands has become a popular Florida tourist attraction.
The area is largely occupied by farms and fields of tropical vegetables, plants and palm trees.
Many old farmhouses made of dense Dade County pine are still standing, some dating back to the early twentieth century. The area gets its name from the clayey red soil that dominates the area.
This soil lies on a layer of oolitic limestone, and is nourished with fresh water from the Biscayne Aquifer.
This land is a horticultural oddity; things grow in The Redlands that won't grow elsewhere in Florida or America.
The Redlands grows things that are native to tropical areas of Asia or South America. The area has become a Miami attraction for agricultural scientists all over the world.
Placidly sitting in the heart of this tropical agricultural empire is Fruit and Spice Park. You will never see anything like it anywhere else, especially among Florida tourist attractions.
The park was established in 1944, and is a tropical paradise.
More than 500 varieties of exotic fruits, herbs, spices and nuts from all over the world are found in this beautiful 40 acre park.
It is operated by the Miami-Dade County Park and Recreation Department. The long-time park manager, Chris Rollins, is acknowledged as an expert in the area of exotic plants.
He has made collecting trips throughout Asia and South America.
His efforts have transformed the park into a significant Miami attraction that brings people to Homestead from all over the world, making this park stand out among the lesser known Florida tourist attractions.
The park collection now includes plants and trees from Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize, Panama, Phillippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma, Singapore and Hong Kong.
It is fun to walk through the herb and vegetable garden, or rest in a shady banana grove.
You can learn a handy Florida skill: how to identify poisonous plants you shouldn't eat or touch.
The park has a nice little store in the office building. Merchandise includes dried and canned fruit, juices, jams, jellies, teas, seeds, cold fruit juices.
The store also has lots of interesting garden reference and cook books on their shelves. Advertising pamphlets are also on display for other Miami and Florida tourist attractions.
The friendly staff will let you sample some of the garden delights from a serving platter they keep on hand.
I tried several of the fruits, all delicious, all exotic. One I remember was Everglades tomato, a very small plant. I also had some black sapote that looked like chocolate.
Mr. Rollins and his staff are knowledgeable about their subject. The park offers courses and lectures on organic gardening and other horticultural subjects such as sustainable farming.
The park is also used by groups during the years for interesting events. Examples include the annual Redland International Orchid Show, and the Annual Asian Culture Festival.
Every year since 1976, the Redland Festival has been held at Fruit and Spice Park.
This annual festival includes and art and crafts show, along with a huge display of tropical plants and a lot of good food.
Each of these events is a major Miami attraction.
The park is even used for Tai Chi and Yoga lessons on Saturdays. What better location for these courses than a tranquil tropical garden?
Guided tours of Fruit and Spice Park are conducted daily at 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:00 pm.
Open daily 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, except Christmas Day.
This link will take you to a page of Redland Rambles for a nice article about Fruit and Spice Park with loads of beautiful photographs.
From the Turnpike, take exit 9B, go west on SW 248th Street to SW 187th Avenue. The park is on your left.
Another interesting place to visit when you are in this area is Schnebly Redlands Winery. They make delicious wine out of many exotic fruits.