This Florida Park's Tropical Climate Isn't Found Anywhere Else in the U.S. And You Can Sample its Exotic Fruits.

L. Cane

Many parks are well-known tourist destinations in south Florida, such as Biscayne National Park, the Everglades National Park, and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, to name just a few.

You may not have heard of Preston B. Bird/Mary Heinlein Fruit & Spice Park, but that doesn't mean that it isn't worth a visit. If you enjoy the outdoors, nature, tasting fresh, exotic fruits, and learning and experiencing new things, consider having a look at this attraction. It's the only one of its kind in the United States.

What Makes the Fruit & Spice Park So Unique?: The climate of the 37-acre park is both tropical and unique in the continental United States. This rare climate allows the park to grow no less than 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and nuts from around the world. Although some of the foods you'll find there may be familiar, many probably won't be.

The sheer variety of the offerings is also staggering. For example, one can find 70 different kinds of bamboo, 150 varieties of mango, 20 jackfruit varieties, 25 types of annonas, and 75 different types of bananas.

The picturesque grounds are arranged into five regions from around the world - the tropical Americas, Australia, the Pacific Islands, and Africa. This variety allows guests to sample foods from around the world. Some of the foods are native to the area, but many are from other parts of the world and yet still manage to thrive.

Tram Tours and Fruit Samples: A visit to the park does require some walking, but there are also guided tram tours that reviewers say are informative and fun. What you see in the park and on the tour is going to vary depending on the time of year you visit, but there is always something to see. In addition to fruit and spices, you can see iguanas in the park.

The park has a tasting counter inside the park store and you're also allowed to sample fallen fruit that you find along the park trails. You can't pick the fruit off the trees and you can't take the fruit home, however. If you learn about a fruit or spice you've encountered at the park and would like to try to grow it at home, you can ask staff about cuttings or seeds.

Admission is arguably reasonably priced at $10 for adults and $3 for children 6-11. Children under 6 are free.

Reviews: TripAdvisor had less than 450 reviews of this attraction, possibly because it's not as well known as some bigger attractions. However, most reviews were positive. Many noted an abundance of shade to keep one cool on even hot days, and some said you really need to take the tour to understand and appreciate the types of fruit on the grounds. Most felt that the admission price was reasonable and parking was ample.

Google had over 1,400 reviews, and the majority were also positive. Many called a visit to the park a fun, educational experience that was worth the money and time. You can find this park at 24801 SW 187th Avenue in Homestead.

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