Jim Abbott on Travel
Postcards from Florida
October 20, 2012
It's possible to drive past landmarks for years without stopping, but that's not my style anymore.
I've looked behind the giant fake dinosaurs along Interstate 4 in Plant City, investigated the attraction behind that vintage aircraft on that same highway in Polk City and gazed at half-submerged Airstream trailers on the outskirts of Tampa.
If something catches my eye, I'm stopping.
Even if it catches someone else's eye, I'm open to ideas.
That's how goat-milk fudge inspired a recent road trip along U.S. Highway 27, south of the I-4 exit in Haines City. Long ago, that stretch of U.S. 27 used to be the home to Boardwalk & Baseball and Circus World, and it's now the route from Orlando to Legoland Florida in Winter Haven.
A colleague who covers the theme parks makes frequent Legoland runs and pointed out that old-school tourist stops line the highway, including one that proudly touts its goat-milk fudge. My co-worker, like so many of us, never had time to stop.
So I checked it out for him.
When it comes to candy, there are two essential shops on U.S. 27 between Haines City and Winter Haven. Ground zero for goat-milk fudge is Webb's Candy Shop (38217 U.S. Highway 27, Davenport), which also stocks homemade ice cream, ornamental glass, coconut footballs, teddy bears, hot sauces, gator-shaped chocolates and an assortment of fruit and citrus wines.
I didn't sample the wine, but the goat-milk fudge is rich and tasty.
In Dundee, a few miles south of Webb's shop, Davidson of Dundee specializes in fruit baskets and citrus candies, the chewy kind that I never liked because they stick in your teeth. To my surprise, the Davidson treats don't have that trait because the recipe from the family-owned company doesn't include pectin, a gel often used by candy makers.
Want to walk off all that candy? Historic Bok Tower Gardens (boktowergardens.org) is about 15 miles away in Lake Wales. The 50-acre garden is a quiet gem, with its ferns, palms, oaks, pines and seasonal blooms, accompanied by carillon bells.
On Nov. 10, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra performs a 6 p.m. Sunset & Symphony concert at the gardens. Cost: $25 adults, $10 ages 5-12. Stop for candy first.
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