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Ice cream

Pitching oranges in Central Florida

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posted June 12, 2018

I spent a spring-break week in Central Florida this year to watch my son’s college baseball team. As luck would have it, the Visit Central Florida office is located beside the ball fields in Auburndale, so I stopped by and chatted with Joni Allen to get some tips for not only us baseball parents, but for NTA tour operators as well.

She recommends the area’s top attractions: Bok Tower Gardens, LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Safari Wilderness Ranch and Circle B Bar Reserve.

“And if you don’t have time for anything else during your stay, I highly recommend a trip to Ridge Island Groves in Haines City,” Joni told me. “It’s one of few places in Florida where visitors can go into a working citrus grove and sample various types of fruit. They also have homemade ice cream.”

That’s all I needed to hear. As soon as that morning’s baseball game ended, my wife and I high-tailed it to Haines City. We took a quick tour of the groves and then—out of professional dedication—I sampled some soft-serve while chatting with co-owner Jill Ritch.

“We make our own ice cream from our fruit—blackberry, strawberry and orange,” she said. “We also have fresh-squeezed juice, and we can ship fruit to your home.”

Jill said the citrus fruits are picked October through May, blueberries and strawberries are ripe December through March, and May is peach month.

To get more information, go to or email Joni Allen

Top photo: Ice cream at Ridge Island Groves
Photo by Bob Rouse