Fair Warning: My kids did state that after this little excursion, I would no longer be allowed to pick our day trip destinations. Hahaha!!
We were camping nearby and I thought it would be fun to get out and explore the area a little. And I’m so glad we did! I found what sounded like a fun little petting zoo – who doesn’t love animals? – and there was mini golf! Plus, at less than $10 per person for both (with a coupon), the price was completely reasonable. What a perfect combination for a whole afternoon of family fun! Right?
There weren’t many cars when we drove up to the top of the hill near Brooksville where Boyett’s Grove sits. As soon as we stepped through the door that beckoned us into the unique gift shop with, um, vintage items, we knew we were in for an interesting time. There was not a person in sight and the odd assortment of items, from dusty jars of jellies to what looked like second-hand stuffed animals, adorned the shelves with no rhyme or reason. We somehow meandered our way to a counter in the back where we bought tickets for mini golf and the petting zoo, plus food for the animals.
We began our tour by being ushered into a room and handed pairs of 3D glasses to admire some pretty wild mural paintings. The expressions on my teens’ faces in particular made this worth the trip (and I do mean it was a trip) already! After admiring the art, we were then instructed to pass through a door – the first of many in this crazy maze of a place. We had our hand-drawn map in hand but hardly gave it a glance as we were mesmerized by what surrounded us. As we passed through the first door, we found ourselves surrounded by all things dinosaur. Truly, from animatronics to fossil displays to newspaper clippings, there was something peculiar everywhere you looked.
Through yet another door, we found ourselves outside and at the beginning of the wildlife park portion of our experience. We had received a brown paper bag stuffed to the brim which we would come to find contained a variety of feed ranging from bread to lettuce to a small bag of seed, with no further explanation as to what to feed to which creature. Quite mysterious. Therefore, my daughter gleefully ended up hurling bread to a zebra… is that even a good idea? I’m really not so sure it is, but since it seemed like definitely not the weirdest thing happening that day, I let it go and moved on.
Among the animals you’ll encounter here are pigs, ostriches, fish, a malformed tortoise, eerily empty tanks, a camel, a whole room full of birds, fish, a monkey, and a very smart coatimundi who will pull up a dish from his sheltered perch if you drop in some feed. This is not your run-of-the-mill petting zoo. This place is unique!
There was also art to be found outside, such as this oddly mesmerizing sculpture.
Be prepared to encounter a variety of mannequins (ranging from almost creepy to downright creepy) stationed throughout the vast interior, such as my personal favorite:
This was also, without question, a most unique mini golf experience. This is not some manicured course. We played all 18 holes, sometimes having to chase after our balls in the dusty corners under stairs, and always intrigued by the tremendous hodgepodge of stuff around us, from decrepit pianos and a carriage to bold wall art and kitsch.
Boyett’s Grove honestly has a fascinatingly eclectic collection of creatures and of stuff. It has clearly taken decades to acquire and a great deal of time to care for this collection. I imagine the stories behind the acquisition (rescue?) of these animals and pursuit of these various interests must be a grand story to hear and I admire the owners for keeping this place alive since the 1960s, when a severe freeze killed much of the citrus grove and prompted them to expand their business. It really is a trip through the past of Florida’s citrus heyday. Stop by the Boyett’s Grove attraction if you’re in the area and you won’t regret it. A memorable outing for the entire family, for sure!