Like the title says – you know citrus season is here when the oranges arrive at Maxwell Groves.
In the sleepy little hamlet of Avon Park sits a small packing house known as Maxwell Groves. It is one of the hidden gems of Central Florida and one of the last vestiges of the old-time citrus industry.
The building sits back off Circle Street in now what is the “outskirts” of the City of Charm. Walking inside is a throwback to the real “Old Florida” of the 20th Century.
People come from miles around to get the fresh sweet oranges and grapefruit. The selection is never quite the same. That’s because different varieties of citrus come in at different times of the season. It also means there are different blends of orange and grapefruit juice available as the season progresses.
Don’t worry – you can get a sample before you buy.
One of the nicest parts is that you can pick the oranges and grapefruit you want from a large wooden bin located in the back of the store. The day we were there it was Navels and Red Grapefruit. But we are awaiting Honeybell season.
Yes, we did mention there’s a store at Maxwell Groves? It’s jam packed full of tasty treats. There’s a full selection of sauces and dressings, canned fruit and salsas of all different varieties. Maxwell’s also is an authorized outlet for the famous Dundee Citrus Candy. Their factory is just up the road a piece.
One of the newer additions at Maxwell’s is their wine corner. They have a full selection from the Florida Orange Grove Winery. You can find such things as Key Lime, White Gold, Honey Wine and Mango Mamma. They even carry the Black Gold semi-sweet and the powerful Hurricane Class 5 labels.
When we were there, the folks told us that they were creating a wine tasting room, and could even add a selection of Florida-based craft beers in the future.
But aside from the oranges, the two biggest draws really are the ice cream and the ambience. Go in, ring the bell and get a cone full of orange, vanilla or creamsicle .
The next step is to adjourn to the front porch and pick a rocking chair. You then can sit and discuss the day with many of the other customers who have done the exact same thing.
Before You Leave
Once you finish your ice cream, you can go back in and get whatever you need. Get the jam, jelly, sauce or salsa of your choice. There’s plenty of souvenirs and candy galore.
And if you can’t take it with you, Maxwell’s is a bonded fruit shipper. You can purchase some of the best fruit Florida has to offer, then ship it right back to your house. It’s a great way to remember a great visit – or to surprise someone special – with a very special treat. Makes a great gift for Christmas, or any occasion.
Maxwell Groves was established in 1935 as a caretaking operation. They managed groves for people who had come from the north – and other places – and invested in the citrus industry. Over the years, Maxwell’s got into growing and packing citrus. Finally, they were one of the last small packing operations in the state.
They opened the gift shop in 1980 and now are listed as the Number One attraction in Avon Park by reviewers on TripAdvisor. We also note, this is a must-stop while you are in central Florida. Sit for a spell and have some good ol’ Florida orange ice cream.