#floridafriday – Homestead: Exploring the gateway to the Everglades

In my last #floridafriday, I talked about visiting the Everglades. When Younes and I went for our minimoon in March 2014, we blew through Homestead, the nearest town. But when we returned with my parents a month later, we decided to make a weekend of it and explore the town.

That turned out to be a fantastic decision. I was on Month 4 of my initial chemo treatment and any exploring needed to be broken apart with frequent breaks. Hotel Redlands was the perfect place to lay my head on a comfortable bed and eat some solid comfort food. The hotel still has their charming, quaint and comfortable rooms, but the restaurant has revamped their menu. Back in 2014, it was homemade, homey food, like their fabulous chicken and dumplings – perfect food for someone on chemo.

Hotel Redlands was a great Old Florida getaway, with a lobby that made you feel like you were in someone's living room and chatty, friendly owners who were long-term members of the community. So was The Royal Palm Grill and Deli, a classic greasy spoon located in the local drugstore. The food was nothing amazing, but it was classic comfort food – milkshakes, flattop burgers, grilled cheese, omelets – which was exactly what my poor stomach needed.

Homestead in general has a rough-around-the-edges frontier Florida feel. Wandering down Main Street, we popped into Town Hall Museum, a classic grassroots little museum that gave a great historic account of the area from the beginning through now, and had a charming sweet docent who was full of knowledge. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Another diversion that is Fruit And Spice Park. This 37 acre parks runs golf cart tours daily where you can see and sample every all sorts of fruits right from the tree and spices right out of the ground. From their website:

"More than 500 varieties of exotic fruits, herbs, spices and nuts from around the world; 180 varieties of mangos; 70 varieties of bamboo; 40 varieties of bananas; 15 varieties of jackfruit trees and numerous other exotic edibles are grown and maintained here."

The jackfruit sampling was my favorite part. I had never had it before and it was juicy and so yummy. The guides are well-trained and know their fruits and spices. There's a small cafe that is the perfect place to go after the tour and cool off with fruit smoothie or milkshake made with product from the grounds.

So if you find yourselves in the Everglades and you have an extra day, take a chance to look at what there is outside the big park!

#floridafriday – Homestead: Exploring the gateway to the Everglades

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