Orange Trees in Central FloridaIf you are a Southern Traveling Mom like me, you might find yourself driving to Disney instead of taking a plane.  When I left Orlando to head back north to Pensacola, I ended up on US 27 North by accident.  I was staying at the Lighthouse Key Resort and when I pulled out of the drive, the GPS directed me to US 27 North which must have been closer than I-4 (my normal route of choice). 

Once I got over my annoyance of taking the slower route out of town, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the places I found along the way.  Unfortunately, I left too early in the morning and not much was open but I have added these places to my list for the next time I head to Orlando and will be near US 27.

The first thing I noticed was the number of orange groves.  There were rows and rows of orange trees.  They are beautiful look at and the smell in the air was so fresh.  I would love to go to one of the orange groves to pick my own oranges or purchase some fresh orange juice.  The Showcase of Citrus seems to be a good place to start.  They offer U-pick options, eco tours, and a country store.  It is also hard to miss the Citrus Tower which stands as a monument in honor of the Florida citrus industry.  There is a glass enclosed observation deck that allows you to see the citrus groves and lakes.  There is a small fee to enter (adults-$4.00 and children – $2.00).

The National President’s Hall of Fame has wax presidential figures as well as other memorabilia.  I know my daughter would love the collection of gowns that once belonged to different first ladies.

The entrance to Lake Louisa State Park will be on your left as you travel north.  This Florida State Park is known for its six beautiful lakes.  There are camping areas, picnic areas, and hiking trails.  I want to visit this park so I can cross off another Florida State Park from my passport!

In a little while, you will drive past Lakeridge Winery on your left.  I smiled when I saw it and thought of my pal, Go Big Go Home, who visits different world’s largest attractions.  Though Lakeridge Winery isn’t the world’s largest, it does say on its sign that it is Florida’s largest winery.  There are complimentary tours and wine tastings scheduled daily.

I drove past little stands with signs stating that they sold boiled peanuts and gator jerky.  We passed residential areas, strips with grocery stores and local stores alike, and many restaurants.  It was a nice way to start the morning and I can’t wait to do some more exploring when we return to the Orlando area.

Things to Know:

  • When you leave the Disney World area, you will be on US 27 for about 25 miles.  The road will take you to a Florida Turnpike that will then take you to I-75.  You will need money for the Florida Turnpike.
  • You don’t have to save a visit up US 27 North for the road trip home.  When you have had your fill of theme parks, take the short drive up the road and visit some of these attractions. 
  • This area is largely residential.  There are many neighborhoods, shops and schools.  There are also lots of traffic lights.  At one point, I think I hit ten red lights in a row.  If you are just trying to get home, I would avoid this route.
  • US 27 North helps you avoid much of the I-4 traffic that you will hit during peak driving times.

Photo Courtesy of Robert S. Donovan