Before there were Interstate Highways 95, 75 and 4, and Florida’s Turnpike, there was State Highway 27. For more than 90 years, the highway has been the primary route through the middle of the Sunshine State – stretching from the Panhandle near Tallahassee and traversing south through the citrus groves of Central Florida and rich farm lands of western Palm Beach and Broward Counties, across Alligator Alley and finally to Downtown Miami.
Slightly more than halfway down Highway 27 – let’s call it the central part of Central Florida – is Sebring. Perhaps best known for the Sebring International Raceway – host to the 24 Hours of Sebring race – this town set amongst the hammocks and cypress swamps is a terrific respite and alternative for those seeking to get away from the frenetic theme parks in Orlando and Tampa. Sebring also is a favorite among Floridians looking for a quick day trip or vacation to experience a piece of authentic Florida.
Hotels such as the Inn on the Lakes and Seven Sebring Raceway Hotel offer outstanding accommodations for visitors looking for activities that range from value-driven golf courses, such as Golf Hammock and Highands Ridge; hiking the elevated walkways of Highlands Hammock State Park; and bass fishing in one of the area’s 100-plus lakes.
The Raceway, of course, gets most of the attention – and almost any week you can find races or cars being tested on its 3.74 miles track. But off the track, here are a few of my favorite spots in and around the Sebring area:
Good News Juice & Smoothie Cafe
The Good News Juice & Smoothie Café is a healthy, all natural, counter-serve eatery offering a health-conscious menu of fresh, juices, fruit smoothies, a mega salad bar and sandwiches with build your own options. The cafe offers raw, vegan and vegetarian choices. Each of the menu options is made with the freshest all- natural ingredients and salad dressings. Soups and in-house sides are made from scratch.
The cafe has a passion to bring health awareness to the community by offering raw food classes and workshops about the raw, vegan and vegetarian diets.
Faded Bistro and Beer Garden
An open-air neighborhood hangout built on seasonal ingredients and warm hospitality with alfresco dining in the garden. From the moment you walk through the door, you’re greeted with a smile, beautiful flowers, and the random beer garden gnome. Faded Bistro is a great place to mingle with the locals.
Nutmeg’s serves sandwiches, paninis, salads, soups, 12 flavors of hand dipped ice cream, cakeballs, cupcakes, cheesecake and hot teas.
Among the more popular menu items are the Tropical Turkey Wrap, the Mouse Trap, Pear & Bacon Salad Louisiana Muffuletta, Peanut Butter & Bacon Panini, Chicken Spinach Panini, English Pea Salad, Beet Salad and unique cupcakes such as the Maple Bacon and the Lemon Curd Filled.
Wild Turkey Tavern
For more than 35 years, the Wild Turkey Tavern has been serving locals and visitors with its unique rustic decor, cold beer, friendly service, and food. “The Turkey” is a regional landmark known nationwide for its camouflage building and great food. With a full bar, pool tables, dart lanes and eight TVs, the Turkey is a great place to hangout and eat gator tail, wings and burgers. Favorites include the Cheese Curds, Fried Green Tomatoes, Pork Cracklins & Basket Cases.
Don’t leave without trying a piece of the Orange Cake complete with white chocolate chips lining the exterior. The Turkey is a “must visit’’ in Sebring’s citrus country.
A small country that serves delicious fresh squeezed orange juice, local honey, gifts, and amazing fresh orange ice cream. Sit on one of the orange rocking chairs on the front porch and take in a bit of Florida’s citrus heritage.
Jaxson’s on the Lake
A lively waterside tavern that serves serving casual American bar food, including gator bites and catfish. The restaurant is located among residential houses on Lake Henry. A small enclosed back patio with picnic tables allows for about 30 diners to take in the water views. Inside, Jaxson’s is heavy on the country music theming, with tabletops adorned with laminated homages to country stars. Jaxson’s is well-known for its Hookiemelt, which is a large appetizer of cheese-smothered goodness. But foodie fans also love Jaxson’s Fried Cheesecake.
Feature Photo: Eliteautosport.com