One Tank Trip: The Presidents Hall of Fame

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Clermont, Florida is 82 miles away, but a visit to the Presidents Hall of Fame will make the drive well worth it.

From Tampa, it's 58 miles east on Interstate 4, then 24 miles up Highway 27.  It could take you close to two hours, especially if you stop for a refreshment.

One place worth stopping is Showcase of Citrus, five miles outside Clermont.

"We have so many unique and eclectic items around here. People are curious," said their manager, Tara Boshell.

Their specialty is the orange juice slushie. Since 1989, the country store has been the hub of a 2,500-acre citrus grove.

"I would say probably 95 percent of (the store product comes from Florida)," Boshell said.

Right outside the Hall of Fame is the historic Citrus Tower.  From 22 floors up, you can make out EPCOT, the Space Center, and... Mount Rushmore?

Of course, that Mount Rushmore is a "mini" one, in the parking lot of the Presidents Hall of Fame.

Inside, you can see a collection of memorabilia, including a state dining table, memorabilia from old campaigns, voting machines from the 2000 election, dioramas of the White House construction, and mannequins of every president and some of the first ladies.

You can also sit at an Oval Office desk, and see how each president decorated their own office.

They are most proud of their mini White House, which is a scale model that is 60 feet long, 20 feet wide and about eight feet high.  It weighs ten tons.

It was made by Jon and Jan Zweifle, starting in 1961 with thousands of hours of work dedicated to getting every detail exactly right.

"He felt it was the people's house," said museum coordinator Joy England. "And he wanted to take the people's house to the people."

You can see a cross section of every room from the south side.

"We are looking at how the White House looks inside, room by room," said England.

You see the familiar rooms like the Oval Office and press briefing room, but there is plenty you won't see unless you win the presidency yourself.

"When you go to the White House in Washington DC, you don't get to visit these rooms that you can see here," she said. "The private quarters are decorated through the George W. and Laura Bush administration," said England.

The Zweifles' work started with in-person examinations of the real White House, and is so precise that President Reagan called it a "national treasure."

It has been to all 50 states and has been visited by six presidents, the British royal family and handfuls of Disney tourists who make the half-hour trip.

"I am getting a lot of people from the Orlando-Kissimmee area, who come for the attractions, but they have been there, done that, and now we are getting them."

About a 1,000 people visit per-month, and they say a redo of the exterior paint job is in the works.

They urge you to get past the front door to take a walk through history, a tank of gas and 82 miles away.

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