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A day exploring the Redland: Agriculture and rustic charm thrive near Miami

This is not your hipster South Beach part of Miami.

This is where people grow luscious fruits, bake delicious pies and rolls, nurture spectacular orchids and end the day with a tasty locally made craft beer or guava wine.

This is the Redland, a rural enclave on Miami’s southern outskirts named for its red soil. (Technically it is not the Redlands plural.) It is full of history and is home to long-time residents who are working to preserve its rustic charm.

For visitors to the Redland, the history and subtropical climate combine to create memorable experiences you won’t find anywhere else.  The Redland is the region surrounding the main entrance to Everglades National Park, so it’s easy to combine a stop in the Redland with a visit to the park, or to the Florida Keys, which are just a half hour south on US 1.

Redlands Florida: The Redland, which is the more accurate name for the region, offers a variety of spots to explore. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Redlands Florida: The Redland, which is the more accurate name for the region, offers a variety of spots to explore. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Here are a six ways to experience the Redland. Most visitors will pick one or two stops while enjoying the scenes along the country lanes. Driving through the Redland, you’ll see fruits and vegetables in the fields, ornamental plant and palm tree farms and family-owned businesses like koi farmers, banana growers and herb farmers.

The Latin Corner is a colorful little yellow hut under the trees at Cauley Square in the Redlands Florida.
The Latin Corner is a colorful little yellow hut under the trees at Cauley Square in the Redland. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

A historic village in the Redlands under a canopy of tropical trees

Cauley Square grew up around the railroad depot in 1903. The historic buildings and homes are now filled with shops, galleries and restaurants, all clustered under a canopy of tropical trees. It’s a popular wedding venue. The shopping is not extensive; but Cauley Square is worth a short visit. Among the shops:

Desserts at the Tea Room at Cauley Square in the Redlands, Florida.
Desserts at the Tea Room at Cauley Square in the Redland. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
  • The Tea Room restaurant consists of a series of rooms each decorated to achieve maximum preciousness; it’s known for its spiced tea enjoyed hot or cold and lunch sandwiches and salads.
  • The Latin Corner is a colorful little yellow hut under the trees that serves Cuban coffee, sandwiches, and juices enjoyed at open-air tables.
  • The Village Chalet restaurant, known for its romantic charm.

Cauley Square Historic Village
22400 Old Dixie Highway, Goulds

Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

Samples of exotic fruits you can taste in visitor center at Fruit and Spice Park in the Redland.
Samples of exotic fruits you can taste in visitor center at Fruit and Spice Park in the Redland. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Fruit and Spice Park is devoted to exotic fruits

The baobab tree at Fruit and Spice Park is hollow inside so visitors are urged to see what they can hear. The park is a highlight of visiting the Redlands Florida. (Photo: David Blasco)
The baobab tree at Fruit and Spice Park is hollow inside so visitors are urged to see what they can hear. The park is a highlight of visiting the Redland in Florida. (Photo: David Blasco)

The Redland is all about growing things and so is this county park. At Fruit and Spice Park, you can see edible foods that don’t grow anywhere else in the United States – from 75 kinds of bananas and 160 types of mango to things you’ve probably never heard of, like black sapote, eggfruit and marula.

The Jabuticaba tree at Fruit and Spice Park in the Redland Florida was full of sweet fruit to sample.
The jabuticaba tree at Fruit and Spice Park in the Redland was full of sweet fruit to sample. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Visitors are surprised that you don’t just look at the fruit: There are always samples to try, starting in the visitor center and continuing on the guided tram tours. On the tours, stops are frequent, allowing you to walk among the trees and you can pick up and eat any fruit you find on the ground. If you like learning about plants, you’ll find this tour quite interesting. And every time you visit, you’ll find different exotic fruit ripening and blossoming.

Guided tours are conducted every day at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Park admission:  $10 per adult, $3 per child 6 to 11, and children under 6 are free. Picnic facilities are available. The restaurant in the complex is not open as of summer 2023.

The park is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here’s an story from Florida Rambler: Fruit and Spice Park: 10 wonders of this unique garden south of Miami

Fruit and Spice Park
24801 South West 187th Ave.
Homestead

Stunning orchids everywhere at RF Orchids

On the grounds of Robert Fuchs' home is a fern-rimmed pond with an alligator, South American pacu fish and exotic catfish. The free tour is a must for orchid lovers visiting the Redland. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
On the grounds of Robert Fuchs’ home is a fern-rimmed pond with an alligator, South American pacu fish and exotic catfish. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Orchids love the climate in south Miami-Dade and the Redland is home several orchid growers. RF Orchids is a magnet for visitors because of its captivating gardens and its award-winning blooms. (It has won more than 1,000 American Orchid Society awards in 30 years.)  Here, orchids grow in the trees, in the ground, around fountains and peeking out of every crevice.

The garden tour at RF Orchids in the Redland engages all the senses: Screams of colorful parrots, the fragrance of blooming orchids, the taste of edible orchids.. (Photo: David Blasco)
The garden tour at RF Orchids in the Redland engages all the senses: Screams of colorful parrots, the fragrance of blooming orchids, the taste of edible orchids.. (Photo: David Blasco)

Robert Fuchs, the president of RF Orchids, is himself “Redland Raised.” His great-grandfather bought this land in Florida in 1912. Fuchs was a middle-school art teacher who raised orchids on weekends until he started winning international awards for his orchids in the 1980s.

Special event: Redland International Orchid Festival, Redland, May 2024
This event takes place at fascinating Fruit and Spice Park, 24801 SW 187th Ave., Redland, and features some of the top orchid growers in the world. It is one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious orchid events in the country. It includes live music and food. Best deal is to buy tickets in advance; tickets include admission to the park.

Today, his is the oldest South Florida orchid firm and he has decorated his orchid gardens like a tropical fantasy. A Florida Rambler story on RF Orchids.

RF Orchids
28100 SW 182nd Avenue, Miami.
800-245-4570
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. NOTE: You now must call ahead to arrange a private tour for which there is a fee.

Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery: Florida-style wines

Schnebly Redland's Winery & Brewery has an inviting outdoor area for trying the wines and beers in the Redlands Florida.
Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery has an inviting outdoor area for trying the wines and beers. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

One of the biggest draws for visitors to the Redland is Miami-Dade’s first commercial winery, a place with sumptuous tropical landscaping, waterfalls and live music on weekends.  It’s a great setting for relaxing after a day of sightseeing in the Redland.

Schnebly Redland’s Winery makes wines without grapes, instead using tropical fruits such as mango, guava, avocado, lychee, and passion fruit.

One wine expert ranked the avocado wine among the most interesting Florida-made wines he has tasted. Stephen Brown writes about it in Naples Illustrated:

“AvoVino is highly aromatic, with avocado peel being the most notable smell. When you first taste it, you are immediately presented with something different: it’s off-dry, no real sweetness to it, with medium body. There is a slight mineral taste which is countered nicely the acidity, making for a pretty balanced wine.”

Entrance to Schnebly Redland's Winery & Brewery.
Entrance to Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Brown also liked the lychee dessert wine.

The craft beers here are well-regarded, too. Big Rod Coconut Ale gets the good reviews, and there are a variety of other interesting options.

Schnebly Redland’s Winery
30205 SW 217th Ave.
Homestead
888-717-WINE

Exotic fruit, fresh vegetables and even emu

Robert Is Here bursts with flowers, fruits, colors and fun in the Redlands area.
Robert Is Here bursts with flowers, fruits, colors and fun in the Redland area. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Stopping at Robert Is Here, a funky Florida fruit just outside Everglades National Park, is a 50-year tradition for park visitors. The classic thing to do is have a mouth-puckering key lime shake. But the choice of fresh-fruit shakes is vast and includes such unusual options as a canistel mango shake, a blacksapote banana shake or one made with sapodilla and pineapple.

The milk shakes are made to order with fresh fruit, and, at busy times, you’ll stand in line, place your order and wait for your number to be called.

And that’s fine. Because you’ll want to soak up the ambiance of this fruit stand, not to mention the samples of free exotic fruits scattered throughout — from the scary looking Monstera Deliciosa (looks like a pale green banana with lizard-like scales) to lychees and persimmon and kumquat. Here’s a Florida Rambler story on Robert is Here.

Robert Is Here
19200 SW 344th St.
Florida City
305-246-1592
Hours: 8 a.m. to 7  p.m. daily. Closed in September and October.

Note: Some Redland spots are open only in winter, so check hours and days open ahead.

Berry farms and world-famous cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon rolls at Knaus Berry Farm in the Redland: Irresistible. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Cinnamon rolls at Knaus Berry Farm in the Redland: Irresistible. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The Redland is the last agricultural region in Miami-Dade and has its own brand: “Redland Raised.” Farms in the Redland are family owned, and some of the most popular are the strawberry farms. You can find several you-pick-it strawberry farms, but even if you don’t want to pick fruit, you might like this: Somehow over the years, the strawberry farms started competing in creating delicious fresh-fruit milkshakes.

One strawberry farm has achieved fame in a different category: Cinnamon rolls. The Knaus family has operated a farm and bakery in the Redland for 50 years. When the storefront farm stand opens for the season in late October, folks start lining up.

The cinnamon rolls are dense, rich and gooey and people go to extraordinary lengths to buy them. Because Knaus Berry Farm is closed on Sundays, there is always a long line on Saturdays. On the busiest Saturdays, people will line up 150 deep and wait 60 to 90 minutes to buy those rolls. (There is a separate line for milkshakes and produce and it is far shorter.) To avoid the wait, visit Monday to Friday.

The folks who run the farm look Amish, with bonnets, long beards and plain cotton clothes. They’re not; they’re members of the German-origin Church of the Brethren, often called Dunkers because they believe in full-immersion baptism. Knaus Berry sells a variety of baked items, including pecan rolls, guava pies, key lime pies, cheesecake, brownies and cookies. Here’s a full Florida Rambler story on Knaus Berry Farm.

Knaus Berry Farm and Bakery
15980 SW 248th Street (Coconut Palm Drive)
Homestead
305-247-0668
NOTE: Open late October through mid-April, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., closed Sunday.

Other Redland strawberry farms offers milkshakes, fruit and other products, such as jams and jellies, and are open on Sundays and year round.

Phil’s Berry Farm: Phil’s touts on its website that a key attraction is its lack of long lines. That’s understandable – it’s on the same street at the Knaus Berry Farm. Phil’s is also open year-round and instead of cinnamon rolls, its specialty is monkey bread.
13955 SW 248th Street
Homestead
(305) 905-2284

What’s near the Redland?

Everglades National Park, of course, is a key destination. Here’s a Florida Rambler guide filled with useful visitor tips. We advise that there’s an excellent visitor’s center and if you want to see wildlife, take the Anhinga Trail,  which is four miles beyond the visitor’s center. Beyond that, there are many excellent places to hike and paddle, as well as a great boat tour on Florida Bay at the end of the road in Flamingo.

One option is to book a night at the end of Everglades National Park in an eco-tent, which do not require you bring any camping gear; the tents have beds with linens. Eco-tents in Flamingo: Glamping in Everglades National Park

Phil's Berry Farm in the Redlands, home to milk shakes and monkey bread
Phil’s Berry Farm in the Redland, home to milk shakes and monkey bread. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Other things to do in the Redland area:

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Rainbow

Thursday 23rd of June 2022

I lived in the Redlands (and yes we did say the "s" at the end) in the 60s and 70s and it was beautiful, a paradise. Hurricane Andrew and all the encroaching development and too many people, most of whom are litterers, have made it not as nice now. Still pretty, but not the same. Not as much flowers and foliage and many old historic houses were destroyed.

Kathie

Thursday 8th of September 2022

@Rainbow, I'm also from that area and was thrown out by Hurricane Andrew which took my home. However, we took our insurance money and headed for the mountains of North Carolina and started a farm, adopted three more children and then because of a tragic situation I have moved back to Florida. However I'm much further north than the Redlands. And you are right, we always use the S when speaking of the Redlands. I'm originally a Florida girl.

Carol

Monday 27th of December 2021

A little know fact is Redland is not called "the Redland" or "the Redlands". It is very annoying seeing this since I was raised there. Now most of the old timers are gone or have moved away after Andrew. Needless to say South Dade isn't what it used to be.

Bob Vandivort

Tuesday 23rd of January 2018

Hi Bonnie Looks like the Redlands is go to more than one area.. you are having to much FUN Glad you started Ramblin! Thanks Bob Vandivort

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