The warm Florida sunshine paired with the sweet sea breeze is a few reasons many people flock to the panhandle. While sandy beaches and fun theme parks are often on our itinerary, a favorite past-time is to visit a U-Pick orange grove to pick our delicious oranges while visiting Florida.
Here is why you need to add picking your own Florida oranges to your Florida bucket list and what to expect when visiting an orange grove.
Why Pick Your Own Oranges In Flordia
Fresh Florida oranges can be found throughout the state, and at local fruit stands, however, there are benefits to picking them yourself. Travel can offer a variety of unique experiences, including the opportunities to learn where our food comes from. Not only is it essential for our children to learn and understand, but ourselves included.
A visit to the grove is not only fun but educational. Did you know an orange can get sunburned? Or perhaps that a wall of trees are planted around the perimeter of the grove to help shelter it during a hurricane. The farmers are happy to share their knowledge and teach others about the orange growing process.
Picking our own oranges has become a staple during any visit to Florida. So long as they are open for picking.
Picking our oranges allows us to stock our hotel or condo with delicious citrus to enjoy during our entire visit.
Dooley Orange Groves
One of our favorite orange groves to visit has been Dooley Orange Grove outside of Tampa. The family has been in the citrus business since the 1960s. They are known for their delicious homegrown honeybells, which are divine.
Keeping in mind, U-Picking only happens during select times of the year. Be sure to check their website before venturing out for a u-pick adventure. U-Pick is offered from 10 am through 4 pm from mid- November through April.
What to do near Dooley Orange Grove
Orange picking can work up an appetite. Locals recommend stopping into nearby Sunset Grill for a breath-taking view of the Tampa bay or Hooks Waterside Bar. We swung into Hooks for a round of Grouper sandwiches, which were top-notch.
There is also a Manatee Viewing Area that is a little further up the road near the power plant. Manatees will congregate near the warm waters of the power plants during the winter months.
Discover more fun things to do in nearby St. Petersburg!
What Type Of Oranges Do You Pick In Florida
Honeybells are ripe and ready in January through early-Spring. In late-February-March, they will start u-picking Tango Tangerines and Ortaniques.
Even if U-Pick Orange is not available the farmer’s market is open and has plenty of fresh options for you to take home
What To Expect When Picking Your Own Oranges
Keep in mind the grove you are visiting is a working farm. Ensure that children are kept nearby and watched as the daily farm activities don’t come to a halt during U- Pick. Bad weather can cause the grove to cancel or postpone their U-Picking schedule for the day. If you are unsure if picking is happening that day, call the grove before making the trip.
The first order of business is to sign a waiver and wait for your grove guide. Visitors are not allowed to venture into the grove without a grove guide to help navigate your party. Your grove guide will go over all safety information and describe what you will encounter in the grove.
Clippers and wagons are available for use. Your grove guide will teach you the proper way to use the clippers. Keep in mind that you can’t pick oranges from a tree. Instead, clippers are used to cut the fruit off with a short stem to prevent it from puncturing other fruit. Clippers are for adults and children over ten years of age.
We put our little gal in charge of carrying the basket and placing the freshly clipped oranges inside it.
In the end, you pay only for what your family picks out in the grove. Don’t pick more than you need.
What To Wear For Orange Picking
It is recommended to wear long pants and closed-toe shoes. The grass can be tall, ground uneven or muddy. Fire ants like make their home at the base of the citrus trees, which could make for an unpleasant experience if you are in sandals. I would also recommend sunscreen or a hat as it can get hot in the grove.
A Few Tips
- Backpacks and large purses/bags are not allowed out in the grove.
- Only stay in the rows that your grove guide deems it okay to pick.
- U-Pick fruit cannot be mailed outside of the state.
- Don’t eat the fruit directly off the tree. 1.) You need to pay for it 2) It needs to be washed.
- Don’t pick the orange blossoms that is next year’s crop!
- No pets allowed due to health and safety regulations.
- Dooley Grove has a few rows as a handicapped U-Pick Area, reserved for wheelchairs and walkers who can safely maneuver to the grove and ride on sandy soil.
- Visit the gift shop in the market either before or after you go picking.
- Sample the citrus in the market.
Where You Can Pick Your Own Oranges In Florida
Dooley Groves | 1651 Stephens Rd, Ruskin, FL 33570
Hancock Groves | 31107 Blanton Rd, Dade City, FL 33523
Joshua Citrus, Inc. |135 SE County Road, 760 Arcadia, FL 34266
Ridge Island Groves | 6000 Polk City Road, Haines City, FL 33844
Showcase of Citrus | 5010 US Highway 27, Clermont, FL 34714
Showcase of Citrus is located roughly ten minutes from Walt Disney World.
Vo-LaSalle Farms| 601 Johnson Lake Rd, De Leon Springs, FL 32130
Remember to always check with the grove to see if U-Picking is available before venturing out. Even if the season has passed, we still swing by market to grab a bag or two of fresh citrus!
Pick Your Own Oranges In Florida