Beaches, sports and bars make up Miami’s most well known attractions, but many visitors aren’t aware of what lies in our backyard – the Redland. Miami’s countryside is a historic and plentiful agricultural hub, filled with off-the-beaten-path activities and rare sights. While you may not be cover all of Miami’s natural wonders in one day, the following highlights will jumpstart your journey through the Redland.
A Monkey Sanctuary
Monkey Jungle is nature’s ultimate role reversal, as humans traverse through a wire tunnel, enveloped by exotic monkeys of all shapes, sizes and species. Originally created in 1933 as a free-ranging monkey colony for research, the 30-acre biopark still holds true to its mantra: “Where humans are caged, and monkeys run wild!”
With over 25 species of primates, hailing from South America, Asia and Africa, Monkey Jungle is an enlightening and entertaining venue where you can interact with these intelligent creatures like never before. Visitors are afforded the opportunity to feed the primates raisins in small dishes, suspended from the tunnel ceiling, and marvel as monkeys retrieve the treats with amazing dexterity and coordination. Educational presentations, directed by expert guides, will make you laugh and cry as you’re blown a kiss from an orangutan and reminded how endangered these apes are around the world.
In 1994, archaeologists unearthed 10,000-year-old human teeth, bones and sabre tooth tiger fossils in a sinkhole on the premises, making it one of the largest archeological discoveries in South Florida. There’s plenty of primate paraphernalia to go around in the gift shop, so save room in your suitcase for monkey lamps, ape apparel and cuddly monkey friends. Monkey Jungle is an ideal activity for kids and scientifically stimulating for more sophisticated patrons, making it a killer kick-off to your excursion on the Redland Tropical Trail.
An Agricultural Oasis
Next up is Knaus Berry Farm: Homestead’s haven for the freshest baked goods, and locally grown fruits and veggies. A legacy started over 50 years ago, Knaus is still known for their gooey cinnamon rolls, creamy milkshakes, pepper preserves, crisp produce and more succulent snacks. If your timing is right, you may be able to pick your own strawberries and tomatoes straight from the farm. But if you’re planning to make a purchase, be sure to bring some green to this cash-only shack.
Burr’s Berry Farm is another must-stop for insanely fresh strawberry milkshakes. This farm has been family owned and operated since 1965. Other items for purchase (which may or may not make it home before getting devoured) include chocolate-dipped strawberries, homemade jams, ice cream, freshly steamed hot dogs and fresh produce. Robert Burr, one of the Burr descendants and a local historian, has created a helpful online guide to the Redland’s many wonderful attractions. The Redland Riot Road Rallye is an easy to follow, self-guided automobile tour of all of the Redland’s attractions.
Robert is Here is a must stop on the Redland Tropical Trail. At this family owned fruit stand, you’ll discover the juiciest bounty of seasonal fruits and vegetables, mouth-watering marinades and dry rubs, sauces, salsas, spreads, honeys, hot sauces, nuts, chutneys, jellies and jams, mustards and milk shakes. Anyone who loves cooking will flip when they see the culinary innovations Robert brings to life with his irresistible products. The quirky name “Robert is Here” was a marketing tactic created by Robert’s father, who instructed him to sell the family crop of cucumbers when he was six-years-old on the same corner where the shop stands today. What started as a chore for a young boy in 1959 has blossomed into a booming business as seen on NBC’s Today Show, World News Tonight and on media outlets across the globe. It’s easy to get lost in Robert’s tropical wonderland of fruits and fixings and nearly impossible to leave empty-handed. There’s even a petting zoo for the kids while you complete the grocery-shopping trip of a lifetime. No Redland ourney is complete without a detour to Robert is Here!
Exotic Plants, Fruits and Flowers
You may never find jackfruit, sapote or cas in your local produce isle; that’s why the Fruit and Spice Park lends to a truly unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience. This 37-acre park bears fruit from Asia, Africa, Australia, Central and South America and allows visitors to taste their way through the exotic groves. However, picking is forbidden so you may only indulge in fallen fruits -- if you can identify the fruit as an edible variety. The park does have guided tours throughout the day, but a less-involved visit to the gift shop may prove just as fruitful. The store provides samples of several remarkably rare fruits, ranging from super sour to sweet and slimy. The Fruit and Spice Park is also home to enriching festivals throughout the year like the Redland Heritage Festival, the Annual Asian Cultural Festival and the Blues, Brews and Barbeque Festival. Plan your trip accordingly and you’ve got a ripe recipe for a broadening of your cultural horizons and an awakening of your tropical taste buds.
Orchid fanatics, amateur gardeners and nature lovers alike will all find something to rave about at RF Orchids. Prestigious is an understatement when describing this 40-year-old purveyor of exotic orchids and winner of more than 900 orchid awards. It’s free to enter the serene garden, where visitors can browse the extensive nursery of vibrant Vandas and thriving hybrids. The knowledgeable staff is available for guided garden tours and to answer any questions from novice orchid cultivators. RF Orchids is not only an environment for orchid lovers to plug into a celebrated orchid community, but also a place to purchase plants from their vast catalogue of orchid varieties.
A Tropical Fruit Winery
The owners of Schnebly Redland’s Winery set out to create an adult oasis and their mission has clearly been accomplished. Prepare to be stunned when you first set foot inside Schnebly’s Polynesian paradise and even more so once you taste their wines, made only from tropical fruits. Peter and Denisse Schnebly first ventured into agriculture with their produce and packing company Fresh King. After experimenting with fruit fermentation in their garage, word of their tasty tropical wine spread throughout the neighborhood and a winery was born. Each lychee, guava, carambola, coconut and avocado is grown to perfection and hand picked for the fermentation process. Try all the flavors in their tasting room, then head outside to explore their edenic escape. Schnebly’s has recently added beer to their menu, also brewed with South Florida’s best tropical fruits. If looking to party, visit Schnebly’s on a Friday or Saturday night for a packed house, live music and, of course, plenty of wine. A Schnebly’s wine tasting is a must for a big kid’s day out in the Redlands.
An Eco-Chic Bed and Breakfast
Bohemian adventurers need look no further than Gabriele Marewski’s Paradise Farms. A sprawling a five-acre organic sanctuary awaits day-trippers or those looking for a place to lay their head in an eco-chic bed and breakfast. For around $80 to $100 per night, guests come to commune in nature’s purest state. Marewski’s farm and spiritual retreat is highly revered and her produce in high demand, as South Florida’s hottest chefs cook with her fruits and veggies. Those same chefs annually gather at Marewski’s farm to prepare a monthly series of five-course meals, aptly called “Dinner in Paradise.” The philanthropic series kicks off each December and invites patrons to dine under the stars with eats served up by Miami’s most talented hands, like chef Michael Schwartz (owner of Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink). Marewski started Dinner in Paradise in 2005 to aid farmers stricken by Hurricane Katrina. It now continues each year from December to April with all proceeds directly benefiting local non-profits.
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