Central Florida’s Lakes Country
‘Gardens and Groves’
January 7-11th, 2008

Hosted by
Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau

 

Monday, January 7, 2008

We all were scheduled to arrive this afternoon. At least that was the plan. I was to come in the earliest at 1:40 pm, but as it was, I arrived at around 4. Georgia and Katy were there to meet me and drive me to Winter Haven where I met the rest of the group for dinner. We stayed at the Best Western Admiral’s Inn & Conference Center which was is such a good position for the trips we had to take. Each room had another door that led to a very long balcony so we could sit out there and relax and also see Cypress Gardens. The big Ferris wheel was very close to us. www.bestwesternadmiralsinn.com  it was a great place to stay, rooms nice and big, clean and a good breakfast.

The others had the opportunity of going to tour Polk Outpost 27. This is Polk County’s new and engaging visitor information center. Equipped with a theatre featuring a high-definition video, Polk Outpost 27 gives visitors a snap shot of the county. In addition to the movie, a putting green will let golfers practice their putting. Interior exhibits also display the natural beauty of the area including information on area parks and wildlife viewing areas, water and recreational sports, features on attractions, the arts community as well as dining establishments and the cattle and citrus history of the area. Polk Outpost 27 is aimed to educate visitors on the tourism and cultural offerings in Polk County as well as to make lodging reservations, locate local dining options, and learn about the area. www.visitcentralflorida.org

We had dinner at Harborside Restaurant. Located on Lake Shipp in Winter Haven, this local favorite offers casual lakeside family dining. Here we could have traditional Florida fare such as oysters, shrimp, fresh fish, crab legs, frog legs, catfish, lobster (and even mouth-watering steaks). And if you'd like to taste alligator, this is the place for you!863-293-7070

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

This morning we had breakfast at the Terrace Grille, which is part of the Terrace Hotel. What a beautiful hotel to stay at if you are in this area…it has a wonderful history and re-opened in 1999 after a 13 million dollar renovation to become Lakelands only full service, luxury hotel. The Terrace Grille was given national recognition itself and is rated as one of Central Florida’s finest eating establishments. If breakfast was any indication – I had frittata with herbed cream cheese - I can only imagine what a dinner must be like there. From breakfast we walked across the street to Hollis Gardens and along Lake Mirror, they were installing the beautiful sculptures of J. Seward Johnson. His world renowned works of life sized bronze people in every day walks of life were so realistic that a couple of times we were even fooled. www.terracehotel.com

If you notice a picture of a jockey sitting in a swan on Lake Mirror, it is because they were just there that morning promoting the Lakeland Derby, which will be taking place on Lake Mirror April 25th. See www.lakelandderby.com for the complete details of this wonderful project by Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine.

Hollis Garden is neoclassical in design and features more than 10,000 flowers and ornamental shrubs; Hollis Garden chronicles Florida history and is a delightful garden to stroll in…filled with many unusual specimens and highly historical trees. Its location is also perfect for weddings. From here we drove to the Barn, the Stable and the Backporch Tearoom for lunch. There was much to see as buildings were full of antiques, gifts and collectibles, plus the little garden center was chock a block full of goodies. 863-834-8208

Then we made a stop at the Citrus Research and Education Center for a tour of what they do to help the Florida Citrus industry improve production through research, extension and teaching programs. This center is unique among research centers in that it focuses entirely on one commodity – citrus. We also got to see the various types of post harvest handling equipment that are being trialed as well as learn how citrus is processed. www.crec.ifas.ufl.edu

After this we visited Florida's Natural Grower's Grove House which opened in 2001 where we learned more about the citrus industry through a video and exhibits featuring nutrition. It takes 3 oranges to produce 1 – 8 oz glass of orange juice and they use 7 different types of oranges in making orange juice. Tropicana is owned by Pepsi, Minute Maid is owned by Coke and Florida’s Natural Growers is owned by the growers. There are over 1,000 farmers as members who harvest from more than 50,000 acres of groves. It was founded in 1933 by a group of citrus growers in order to process grapefruit. www.floridasnatural.com

In the evening we enjoyed a delicious dinner at the hotel in Antonio's Ristorante. We even had the owner sing for us…
 

 


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