Monday, February 1, 2016

Showcase of Citrus Monster Truck Safari

A few months ago we got a Travelzoo deal to take a monster truck safari at the Showcase of Citrus in Clermont.  We finally found a good day to go in January when the weather was cool, but the sun was shining. It was perfect weather! 

Showcase of Citrus is a giant citrus grove where you can pick your own citrus. It's also a tourist "trap" type place with lots of somewhat-tacky, but also really fun things like stuffed alligators. 

And fake sharks to take photos with. Daisy wouldn't get near the big shark, but Amy's too little to be afraid of it. 

There were also animals to see like chickens, pigs, and I think there was an ostrich. Lots of cattle too. 

But the big attraction was the monster truck safari. 

It's best to make reservations for the truck ride beforehand, because there was a big group on ours, but they don't over-pack it, so we were still able to spread out pretty well. 

The "safari" is basically driving around a typical Florida property, great for out-of-towners that think Florida is all palm trees and beaches. We drove past the orange groves, and the driver told us about oranges. Then we drove into a wooded area, and the driver told us about spanish moss. Then we drove into a cattle field, through a swamp, and into another cattle field where we got to feed oranges to "exotic animals" (exotic cattle from around the world). 

Amy fell asleep during the safari, because we ended up going right in the middle of her afternoon nap, and the diesel engine was very soothing. 

It was a fun day, but I doubt we'll ever return. I wouldn't have done it without the bogo deal. It was $24 for Zane and me, and the kids were free (3&under). I also don't know if it would have been as fun on a hot, summer day. All things considered - January for half-price was great! 

TECO Manatee Viewing Center

A couple months ago we visited the Tampa Electric Company Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, which is pretty close to us. It's completely free and only open during the winter months. 

It was kind of cool to see the electric plant. I had never been so close to one before. It's massive and mesmerizing. 

The canal next to the plant is winter home to manatees. We saw a bunch, estimating over forty, including moms and babies. 

It was a cold day, which was perfect, because the manatees swam into the canal to escape the cold ocean. The canal is brackish and pretty murky, so we could only see the manatees when they surfaced to breathe, which made it hard to count them.

It was fun to walk around the boardwalk.

The boardwalk stretches out toward the bay through a beautiful mangrove forest. 

The mangrove tunnel was my favorite part of the whole experience.

Look how magical! 

It was a fun, little morning activity. There's not a whole bunch of things to do there, but we learned some interesting things about manatees, like their ancestor the Stellar Sea Cow was hunted to extinction in 1768, only 27 years after being discovered. There were lots of educational exhibits. 

I recommend this as a free, fun, family activity!