Mixon Fruit Farms in Bradenton is a family-owned citrus farm, but it’s actually so much more than that. Whether you want to try homemade fudge or orange swirl ice cream, see a crocodile, feed koi fish, or hold a special event like a wedding, you can do it there.
Mixon Fruit Farm has been part of the Bradenton community since the late 1930s. As you likely know, oranges have been a huge part of Florida agriculture, although a disease called citrus greening has pummeled citrus growth in the state over the past decade or so.
To diversify, the Mixon family now grows more than just oranges and other citrus fruit. It also grows a small number of star fruit, bananas, and papayas, among other items. The farm has focused big time over the past four or five years on organic Asper bamboo, which can be used in a variety of ways, including in textiles and for eating. It’s clear that the Mixons are adapting with the times.
You can learn all about the Mixon legacy — and a whole lot more — during their tram tours. Held three times a day in season (usually at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm), the tram tours will give you a soup-to-nuts look at the farm’s agricultural growth, kids’ play place, and its Wildlife Rescue Center. If you have time for more than just a cursory visit to the retail store, we definitely recommend a tram tour. The cost? $12 for adults and $6 for kids.
10 Things You Can Do at Mixon Fruit Farms in Bradenton
OK, so let’s dive in and find out the many things your family can do at Mixon Farms in Bradenton:
—Enjoy the retail store. Think of their retail store almost like a Floridian Cracker Barrel store….and we mean that in a good way. It’s chock full of Florida-themed souvenirs, candy, and food. Whether you want sea salt harvested from local waters (Sea Salt Florida), a kids’ book about marine life, coastal art work, local honey, or gator jerky, you can find it here. All of that is in addition to the homemade and farm-type items available….and that brings us to our next item.
—Sample juices and other items, like homemade fudge. Well, you’re at a citrus business, so of course you have to try some fresh orange juice, right? Get yourself free samples of orange and grapefruit juices or lemonade. If that wasn’t enough of a sugar rush, then there’s the homemade fudge to sample. Plus, there are samples of Florida-made wines with names like Mango Mamma and Key Limen (three guesses on the flavors in those wines). It should go without saying that you should follow up your samples with some purchases of orange juice, fudge, and wine to enjoy at home.
—Grab a meal. If all the retailing and tram touring wipes you out and you and your companions are starving, don’t miss the Groveside Cafe. Menu choices include a Citrus Splash Salad, Mixon’s Renowned Cuban Sandwich, and the Italian Stallion sub. The cafe is also where you can try some of the yummy orange swirl ice cream.
—Buy citrus. Naturally, you can load up on oranges and grapefruits at Mixon, and we’ve heard of many snowbirds who stop at citrus sellers like Mixon in the spring to buy a bag full of oranges before they drive back home to Indiana or Michigan. You can do that, or you can buy some citrus fruits to take home to your local abode as well. Don’t miss out on the citrus fruit samples, including a massive-sized fruit called a pomelo. Gift shipping of citrus also is available at Mixon’s.
—See wildlife. Aside from the store, our favorite location at Mixon is the Wildlife Rescue Center that is part of the tram tour. Damien Hurd, of Wildlife, Inc., in nearby Anna Maria, gives the scoop on his scaly and furry friends. They include a crocodile, smaller alligators, a leucistic raccoon (basically, a raccoon without pigmentation so it’s white), owls, an emu, and other creatures. Hurd’s friends were all rescued locally, and many come with offbeat #FloridaMan or #FloridaWoman type stories. Hurd and the folks at Wildlife Inc, rescue about 4,000 animals a year and give them a place to live.
As part of the wildlife experience, youngsters and the young at heart can hold a small (maybe 2 or 3 feet) alligator so you can take pics to share with Aunt Zelda and your friends back at home. Hurd also shares some tips on how to live safely around gators–because let’s face it, there are about 2 million alligators here so they’re about as common as human sunbathers. Keep a safe distance if you spot one and never feed them.
—Visit the packing plant. Attached to the Mixon retail shop is its packing plant, where the oranges are processed for orange juice and other purposes. You can see the goings on in the packing plant from a vantage point in the retail store.
—Feed the fish at the koi pond. The koi pond at Mixon is chock full of fish, and you can buy some feed to keep them happy and full.
—Play at the play space. If you need a surefire way to tire out the kiddos, Mixon has a children’s maze and a play place. You can also rent these areas for special events.
–-Get married. Well, maybe don’t come to Mixon’s and decide to get married right there on the spot. You’re not in Vegas, so that may not work out. But if you book in advance, you can rent the farm’s wedding pavilion, which bills itself as “Vintage Charm with a Southern Twist.” You and your partner can get pics in the orange grove to show how your love has blossomed.
—Attend a special event. Mixon’s is always attracting new visitors with its special events. In March 2022, it will hold its Taste of Mixon’s and Blossom Craft Fair. The website’s Calendar of Events will keep you up to date on special events.
3 Ways to Prepare for Your Visit to Mixon Fruit Farm in Bradenton
For the most part, you can just show up and have fun at Mixon’s Farm, but we’ve discovered some tips that may help you be better prepared:
- Buy your tram tour tickets online, in advance. This is especially important in the busy winter months. If you just show up minutes before a scheduled tram ride, you may find that it’s full. Buying online in advance helps ensure you get on the tour that you want.
- Double check hours on the website. It’s typically closed on Sundays and Mondays. In the summer, there are a few weeks when the business is closed to the public. Retail store and tram tour hours are usually reduced in the summer.
- Have your kids wear shoes they can run in. You may show up just for the retail store or tram tour, but when your kids see the play area or koi pond, they’ll want to run around a lot more than you may have thought.