A Day Trip to Florida’s Kitschy Adventure Coast
My husband and I recently took a little road trip. Our mission was to search for Florida Kitsch. Our final destination was the town of historic Brooksville. We live in Winter Park (just North of Orlando), so we got on State Road 50 and headed West.
We knew we wanted to stop by Richloam’s General Store, have a bite at the Coney Island Drive Inn and visit Boyett’s Citrus Attraction, but our first stop was at a place we have been trying to stop at for years that’s only open three days a week.
Stop One: Jot Em Down Store
Every time we travel on State Road 50, we see this quirky place called Jot Em Down Store and wonder what it is. It’s a funky roadside store in Mascotte (which is in Lake County). The place is always closed when we pass by, but his particular Saturday they were open, so we pulled in and pulled out our cameras!
It turns out they are only open on Friday’s, Saturday’s and Monday’s, which explains why the stars had not aligned with trying to visit this place in the past.
The Jot Em Down Store is a trip back to yesteryear. The outdoor tin sculptures and signs triggered a lot of fond memories. I even spotted a rusty old Orange Blossom Trail sign.
No matter what your decorating style is, they most likely will have you are looking for. From farmhouse and shabby chic to primitive and country with a dash of antiques, it’s all awaiting you … plus, they update their inventory on a regular basis, so you never know what you will find.
In addition to all the eye-catching items outside, they also have a gift shop where they sell products such as candles, t-shirts, signs and much more.
If you need a gift, this is a great place to find something unique. We had a lot of fun reading the inspirational signs, magnets, cards and shirts. The store manager was available to answer any questions and had no issue with us roaming around.
We were really fascinated with the “Jeepny Pop” vehicle parked outside the store. We knew it looked familiar. We did a little research and discovered it used to be at Universal Studios in Orlando. This particular jeepney was converted into a popsicle wagon.
Do you know the story behind jeepney’s? When the US began reducing their military presence in the Philippines at the end of World War 2, they surplused a lot of Willys Jeeps. Enterprising Filipinos began extending the length of these and turning them into local people haulers.
True to the Filipino spirit, they didn’t stop there, but kept embellishing and decorating them in an infinite variety of ways. The supply of surplus Jeeps ran out long ago, but the Filipinos kept making their jeepneys. They are really kitschy, cool and eye-catching!!! In fact, a jeepney would make an awesome Authentic Florida vehicle!
Stop Two: Richloam’s General Store
Our next stop was Richloam’s General Store. If you blink, you could miss the road to the Richloam General Store, but there is a sign pointing you in the right direction. You do travel down a road where there’s not a lot room if you drive a big vehicle and a car is coming in the opposite direction, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Motorcyclists will love the trek to Richloam’s.
Richloam General Store was built and founded by Sidney Brinson in 1922. The building served as the Express office, the Post Office and the general store for the community of Richloam until January 31, 1936. In 2016 the building underwent a major renovation and reopen in 2017.
When in Rome … or Brookville … we decided to order the footlong hot dog. Someone in line where we ordered was raving about the Gator Dog, but we decided to go for a more traditional hot dog. I like my hotdogs overcooked and asked if they could do that. They told me they boiled their hot dogs, but would be happy to fry it for me. I passed on that. Even though I prefer grilled hot dogs, I did like the boiled version. Their fries were really good, too.
It definitely has a 1950’s-esque diner vibe, fun art/signage and plays an awesome selection of music. There’s a private party room as well as an outdoor concert area in the back. The food is reasonable and the staff is great. You can eat inside or outside. There’s no bad spot to sit at and enjoy your food. We plan to return again soon … especially the First Wednesday of the month when there is a FREE Elvis Show at 6pm.
Stop Four: Boyett’s Citrus Attraction
After lunch, we went to a popular, family-owned and operated roadside attraction in Hernando County that has been around since 1966 (the same year I was born). It’s called Boyett’s Citrus Attraction.
My husband and I are still processing the whole experience. It’s a real, “old Florida” amusement and citrus attraction that includes an animated Pterodactyl, a growling Brontosaurus, talking Parrots, cowboys and stagecoaches, a wildlife zoo (with live zebras, emus, lemurs, pigs, goats, a camel, an alligator, monkeys and more), a makeshift mine for panning precious gold, delicious homemade ice cream sundaes or old-fashioned sodas and root beer floats, kitschy Florida gifts, a vintage arcade, and a miniature golf course – all alongside fresh oranges.
Boyett’s Citrus Attraction is perched on a hill surrounded by scenic pastureland and orange groves. Located about 50 miles northeast of Tampa, on Spring Lake Highway south of State Road 50 that runs between Brooksville and Interstate 75, Boyett’s has been a popular tourist stop in Hernando County for decades.
The Boyett Grove has 30 acres of citrus trees and the family picks, washes, waxes, packs and ships their fruit nationwide or you can select your own from the fruit bins at the grove stand.
How did Boyett’s go from a grove stand to funky attraction? Since citrus was primarily a “winter” industry, ripening October through May, the owners decided they needed something else that would attract families during the remainder of the year, especially summertime. They also needed to create other sources of income to offset damaging frosts that could affect their livelihood. Boyett’s Citrus Attraction became their answer.
No one would ever mistake Boyett’s for a corporate amusement park. As you walk through the front door you are greeted with an array of kitschy Florida souvenirs, and then you are immediately met with a set of choices. You may have stopped in just to buy citrus, but the options available will make your head spin.
Will you head to the zoo to feed the animals? Enjoy a freshly dipped ice cream cone in the parlor? Walk fearlessly into the dinosaur cave? Hang out with the birds in the aviary? Be dazzled by 3-D family art in the gallery? Get a glimpse of an old-time (still functional) citrus packing area? Try your hand at miniature golf complete with creative set designs, player pianos and wild-west costumed characters? Meet the pirates? Look at fish in the aquarium? Pan for gold? Buy local jams, jellies or honey? Seriously! It’s all there and all under one roof.
On your way out through the gift shop, you may want to pick up some things to take home. If you are looking for Florida memorabilia, trinkets, shell mobiles, tropical kitsch, t-shirts, you are definitely in the right place. Some of our favorite nostalgic purchases include orange blossom perfume, Dad’s red cream soda and Florida tangerine, orange and elderberry jam.
Boyett’s convincingly combines a time-honored trip to the grove-stand with a snippet of Florida’s roadside attraction past. One thing is for sure, after a visit to Boyett’s, you will have a tale to tell about your authentic, modern-day Florida roadside attraction adventure.
Once again, this road trip adventure reminded us how fortunate we are to live where people dream about vacationing. If you get a chance, just jump in your car and go! We plan to go back soon!
Florida’s Adventure Coast: http://floridasadventurecoast.com/
Jot Em Down Store: https://www.jotemdownfl.com/
Richloam’s General Store: http://www.richloamstore.com/
Coney Island Drive-Inn: https://www.famousfootlongs.com/
Boyett’s Citrus Attraction: https://www.boyettsgrove.com/
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