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By: Shayne Benowitz

Homestead, in South Dade, is the agricultural heartland of Greater Miami & Miami Beach. Once you visit and see the miles of farms with rows of produce and lush, tropical parks, you’ll understand why. Named for Miami’s early homesteaders, who settled the land at the turn of the 20th century, the area is a unique place to explore, especially when it comes to farms, nurseries, gardens, historic downtowns and one-of-a-kind family-friendly attractions.

Castle
Discover the love story behind Coral Castle

Coral Castle Museum

What could inspire one man to build a castle all by himself? As the story goes with Coral Castle Museum, it was unrequited love. From 1923 to 1951, Edward Leedskalnin, originally from Latvia, secretly carved over 1,100 tons of coral rock into a castle. To this day, nobody knows exactly how he managed the feat. According to Leedskalnin, he knew “the secret of the pyramids,” which is part of the fun and mystery of the experience. More than just a sculpture garden, Coral Castle features a nine-ton gate that moves with the touch of a finger, plus rocking chairs and a Polaris telescope, all made of coral rock.

Fruit & Spice
Spend a relaxing day at the Fruit & Spice Park

Fruit & Spice Park

Fruit & Spice Park has been a South Dade landmark since 1944, when it was officially established by pioneering homesteader Mary Heinlen and county commissioner Preston B. Bird. Situated in South Dade’s Redland area, the 39-acre tropical fruit park grows more than 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, nuts and herbs. Today, it hosts guided tours, weekly farmers markets and many festivals and events throughout the year. There’s also the onsite Mango Café, where park-grown produce is the star of the menu.

Seminole Theater
Tour the streets of Historic Downtown Homestead

Historic Downtown Homestead

Downtown Homestead was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, which spurred a period of revitalization and preservation. The area along Krome Avenue near Losner Park is home to the restored Seminole Theatre, Old Town Hall Museum and City Hall. It’s a prime destination for antiques shopping. Downtown Homestead is also the hub for the National Parks Trolley, which provides free guided trolley tours to Everglades and Biscayne national parks.

Fast Lane Friday
Test your skills at Fast Lane Friday held once a month at Homestead Miami Speedway

Homestead Miami Speedway

While Homestead Miami Speedway is known for hosting the NASCAR Dixie 400 Weekend annually, this racetrack in South Dade is an action-packed venue year-round. Fast Lane Friday is held once a month. At this event, drag racing is legal and open to anyone 18 years and older with a valid driver’s license plus proof of registration and insurance. You’ll have the chance to race down the 1,760-foot straightaway as many times as you’d like. Consult the track’s calendar, where you’ll find a variety of other events and races, including high-performance driver education and coaching, concerts and other fun events.

Knaus Berry Farm

In 1956, brothers Ray and Russell Knaus began growing strawberries. They went on to create a booming berry business with the popular Knaus Berry Farm, which also sells baked goods, such as their legendary cinnamon rolls. You can enjoy ice cream sundaes and strawberry milkshakes here, too, and pick up farm fresh vegetables during your visit. The farm’s “U-pick” option allows you to pick your own strawberries fresh from the vine during season. Knaus Berry Farm is open from November through mid-April.

RF Orchids

An orchid garden and nursery run by the pioneering Fuchs family for more than 50 years, RF Orchids is both a lush oasis and a journey back in time. Just north of downtown Homestead, this hidden gem is home to a wide variety of orchids. With private garden tours available, you’ll learn more about these delicate, showy blossoms and the history of the nursery and the Fuchs family. Best of all, you can purchase an orchid to take home and care for yourself.

Schnebly
Try the lychee wine or avocado wine at Schnebly's

Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Miami Brewing Company

Peter Schnebly’s journey as a quixotic winemaker began with his fruit-packing business. That’s where he got the idea to transform Florida’s subtropical fruits, such as lychee, carambola and avocado, into wine. It was only natural that this passion dovetailed into craft beer, and so Miami Brewing Company was born. Schnebly Redland’s Winery’s lush farmland and vineyards are a unique place to sip tropical fruit wines and sample creative brews, like Shark Bait Mango Wheat Ale and Big Rod Coconut Ale. Enjoy wine and beer tastings in the main house and then meander outside toward the picnic pavilions, which host live music on the weekends. The venue is also home to a farm-to-table restaurant.

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