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Kayaking: Things You Need to Know Before Pushing Off for the First Time

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Having some fun in the sun is one of the best things about living along the Gulf Coast of Florida, and kayaking is one of our absolute favorite ways to do just that here at the Villages of Citrus Hills. Our community is surrounded by popular kayak destinations, so if you are looking for a fun activity to enhance the summer, we have the perfect idea for you!

While there isn't a whole lot to know when it comes to paddling your kayak, purchasing one and getting out to use it can actually be pretty intimidating for a first timer. In order to help with that, we put together this simple guide to make pushing off as easy as possible for you.

Buying a Kayak

The act of purchasing a kayak that will best suit your needs can be as complicated as you want to make it. As long as it floats, most any kayak can get you where you want to go, but there are an endless number of different options you can tweak to make sure that you get the most out of your investment.

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The most important factor in evaluating how well any kayak will fit your needs is the size of the kayak. You will find that the longer and wider kayaks offer more stability, are faster in the water, and can carry more equipment with you. On the flip side, shorter and narrower kayaks are easier to maneuver in the water, and the fact that they are lighter makes them easier to transport.

Another factor that you will want to consider is the shape of the hull. Kayaks with flat hulls will offer greater stability, while kayaks with round hulls will allow you to change course much more efficiently.

 

 

 

Tips for Beginners

The most important thing to remember any time you are out on the water is that safety should always be a top priority. And the most important safety precaution that a kayaker can take is to always wear a properly fitting life vest. On top of that, it is always safer to kayak with a friend or a group of friends so that you have someone to help you if something goes wrong.

One of the best ways to get started kayaking is to go on a group trip with an experienced guide. This will help you learn the basics like how to hold the paddle and steer the boat in a completely safe environment.

When you are ready to head out without a guide, make sure that you always have a plan for where you will be kayaking, and it never hurts to have a change of clothes with you…just in case!

Where to Kayak

You don't have to look very hard to find a great kayak destination near the Villages of Citrus Hills, and most of our residents get started by exploring the crystal-clear water of the Rainbow River just north of the community.

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Once you have mastered the Rainbow River, we recommend taking some time to explore other nearby destinations like The Withlacoochee River, the Chassahowitzka River, and the Crystal River.

In addition to exploring local rivers, there are also lots of state parks that feature boat launches, and don't forget to hit up all of the popular manatee destinations as well!

No matter how much boating experience you have, kayaking is the kind of thing that just about anyone can learn and enjoy. And with so many local destinations surrounding the Villages of Citrus Hills, there is no reason not to spend your summer getting out and exploring our local waterways.

June Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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Summer has officially arrived here along the Gulf Coast of Florida, and the activities calendar here at the Villages of Citrus Hills is heating up right in step with the temperature.

This month, our activities and events include a number of old favorites with some exciting new ones mixed in to keep things interesting. 

Social Events

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The first social event of the month will be the "Broadway and Beyond" Dinner Show in the Hampton Room on Wednesday, June 6. Mary Jo Vitale will be taking center stage to perform a selection of Broadway hits, opera classics, and more, following a delicious meal of Sliced Sirloin topped with Mushroom Gravy and Bourbon Pecan Chicken.

Tasty Trivia Tuesday will return to the Hampton Room on Tuesday, June 19 with a menu that features Baked Ham with Pineapple Raisin Sauce and Turkey and Gravy. If you think you have what it takes to compete in this knowledge battle, the only way to prove it is to put together a team of your own or join an existing one at the event!

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On Thursday, June 21, the Hampton Room will once again be hosting the fun. This time, it will be a Classic Rock Party featuring The Cara James Gang playing all of your favorite classic rock hits from the 60's, 70's, and 80's. Doors for this event will open at 6:30 pm with the music following at 7 pm.

Sports & Recreation

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There are still plenty of golfers hanging around our courses this summer, and the best ones will be competing in the Men's Pinehurst Major Championship Event on June 11 and 12. They will also be playing in the US Open-style US Impossible Tournament on Saturday, June 16.

If your golf game isn't quite up to competition level, you might want to attend one of Golf Pro Wayne Larsen's free clinics this month. Wayne will be working with beginners on June 4, 5, and 6. Then he will be back to work with intermediate golfers on June 12, 19, and 26.

But if golf isn't your thing, there will also be a Pickleball Summer Bash on Saturday, June 16.

Dinner Specials

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The big holiday on the calendar this month is Father's Day on June 17, and between Skyview Restaurant and The Grille, there’s going to be plenty to choose from. Skyview will be hosting an over-the-top brunch buffet that every dad will love. But if you aren't able to make it to brunch, you can plan on having one of the four Father's Day Entrees that will be available that evening at The Grille.

The Grille is also planning a Burgers and Brews event for Thursday, June 28 that will feature Salmon Burgers, Jerked Turkey Burgers, Bacon Bourbon Burgers, Surf & Turf Burgers, and Veggie Burgers along with some delicious craft beers to choose from.

BellaVita Spa and Fitness

And, as always, keep a moment for yourself this month.  BellaVita Spa is offering Summer Berry Facials, Pomegranate Lime Ultimate Spa Pedicures, and Sweet Citrus Massages as their specials all month long.

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So, you really don't have any excuses at all not to get out and get active here at the Villages of Citrus Hills this month!

Massive Expansion at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa

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There is nothing in the world quite like the thrill of a gaming experience done right, and thanks to a brand new $100 million expansion to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, residents here at the Villages of Citrus Hills can now treat themselves to an extraordinary experience any time they feel like making the 90-minute drive down to Tampa.

The massive expansion project at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa took about two years to complete, and it has improved the facility to the point where it can legitimately claim to offer one of the biggest and most luxurious gaming experiences in the entire world. And in true Hard Rock fashion, the grand opening included a ceremonial guitar smashing!

Let's take a closer look at some of the impressive new amenities you can find there!

Smoke-Free Gaming Expansion

The most significant addition to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino is the massive new gaming floor that is completely smoke-free. While many casinos offer limited non-smoking sections with older machines, this enormous space features over 800 of the newest and most popular slot machines, like Michael Jackson Icon, as well as five live-action blackjack tables.

The new smoke-free gaming floor also features convenient entrances and exits that are right next to valet and ride-share drop-offs, so you won't have any trouble finding the place. You can also enjoy a cocktail at the Video Poker Bar or watch the biggest game of the day on one of the 20 flat screen televisions throughout the smoke-free space.

State-of-the-Art Smoke-Free Poker Room

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Poker enthusiasts will be blown away by the look and feel of the brand new, 46-table poker room that offers Wi-Fi throughout, a sports bar, and more than 40 flat screen televisions. If poker is your thing, the new poker room just became your favorite place in the world. 

Smoke-Free Dining

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With seven different smoke-free dining options to choose from, finding a great meal at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino is never a difficult task. Visitors can dine at the new Council Oak Steak & Seafood, or head over to The Rez Grill, Hard Rock Cafe, Fresh Harvest Buffet, Rise Kitchen & Bakery, Rock 'N Raw, or Jubao Palace Noodle Bar. 

Smoke-Free Shopping

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 As if the new spaces at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino were not already impressive enough, the expansion also included some upgrades to smoke-free shopping destinations like the Hard Rock Store, Rock Shop, Rainmaker, and the Rock Spa & Salon. So, if you are looking for great shopping, you don't even have to leave the facility!

Residents here at the Villages of Citrus Hills have known for years that the Seminole Hard Rock Casino was a fantastic destination for a quick day trip or a weekend getaway, but with the new upgrades and expansions, it has evolved into a must-see destination for just about everyone in the state of Florida.

Where else could you find a luxury casino and hotel on the level of a Las Vegas property only 90 minutes from home?

 

Cruising the Key West Express Out of Fort Myers

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Key West is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Florida but getting there by traveling down US Highway 1 is a long journey that makes it just a bit too far away for quick trips. However, there is a speedboat shuttle service operating out of Fort Myers that changes all of that!

The Key West Express

The Key West Express is a high-speed catamaran that takes passengers back and forth from Fort Myers to Key West just about every day. The boat can reach speeds as high as 40 miles per hour, which will cover the distance between the mainland and the keys in about three and a half hours.

You can structure your tickets on the Key West Express to accommodate a trip of just about any length you like. Some people prefer just to go down and enjoy the island for a quick day trip, while others opt to spend a few days in paradise before making their return trip. The world is your oyster.

Grabbing the Discount

If you are looking to experience the Key West Express on the cheap, they offer an excellent discount for anyone who purchases their tickets online at least eight days before they venture out on the open seas.

This will bring the cost of a round-trip ticket down from $155 for adults and $145 for seniors to $140 on weekends and $125 if you travel on a weekday. For the most up-to-date information click on the link below.

https://www.keywestexpress.net/

Enjoying Key West

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One of the most beautiful things about Key West is that you will never have a hard time looking for something fun to do there! If it is your first trip to the island, we recommend taking either the Conch Train Tour or the Trolley Tour to get an idea of what areas you might like to explore further. From there, you  can choose to spend your time relaxing on beautiful beaches, devouring exciting history, or strolling up and down Duval Street.

If the beach is your preferred way to pass the time, you have your choice between Smathers Beach, Higgs Beach, and Fort Zachary Taylor. Each of these destinations offers a slightly different experience and taking one of the tours will be a great help in deciding which is right for you.

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For the history buffs, we highly recommend taking the time to enjoy tours of the Hemingway House and the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. Both of these attractions will impress you with their attention to detail and impressive artifacts.

 

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Finally, making your way up and down Duval Street should include stops at famous spots like The Smallest Bar, Sloppy Joe's, and Margaritaville. After that, be sure to venture off Duval a bit as well. You will find that a thriving foodie community has sprouted in Key West over the past few years and there are some amazing chefs working just off of the main drag.

 

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Whether you prefer to spend your time relaxing on the beach, learning about the history of a unique island paradise, or partying on Duval Street, having the ability to get to Key West quickly is a game changer for Florida residents and tourists.

 

 

The Key West Express makes a great day trip for anyone who is already in Fort Myers, but it might be a bit of a journey for residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills to pull off in one day. By planning your trip to include a stay in Fort Myers as well, you can enjoy two amazing Florida towns in one getaway!

Tampa Concert Calendar: 8 Summer Shows You Won't Want to Miss

There are hundreds of things to love about life here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, but one of the perks that often goes overlooked is the fact that just about every major concert tour makes a stop right down the road in Tampa.

The big national acts will pack the house at large venues like Raymond James Stadium, the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater, and the Amalie Arena. But there are also plenty of smaller venues like the Tampa Theatre and the Capitol Theatre for more intimate shows.

If you are looking to catch a great concert this summer, we have pulled together a list of eight shows that you definitely won't want to miss.

Luke Bryan - June 23 - Raymond James Stadium

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 Serious country music fans pretty much plan their summers around the annual Luke Bryan concert at this point, and Tampa is going to have an outstanding date this year. Luke will be out promoting and performing songs from his most recent album, "What Makes You Country," which debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200 and the Billboard Top Country Albums.

 

 Rascal Flatts - July 20 - MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater

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 You might not realize it, but Rascal Flatts has been around for almost 20 years now, and they have sold an astounding 22.5 million albums and have 15 number one hits under their belts. They're heading out on the road again this summer with Dan and Shay & Carly Pearce.

 

Chicago / REO Speedwagon - July 21 - MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater

Another can't-miss show heading to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater this summer will be the combo of Chicago and REO Speedwagon hitting the stage on July 21. Fans of either group will be excited about the show, and most people who are fans of one group are also thrilled to see the other.

 

Dave Matthews Band - July 25 - MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater

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 The Dave Matthews Band has become a modern-day version of The Grateful Dead with a similarly passionate fan base that simply doesn't miss shows. After taking the summer of 2017 off, the band is back this summer and we can expect those fans to be as excited as ever. Expect to hear all of your favorite DMB classics, as well as some new songs from the album that should be out soon.

 

Miranda Lambert & Little Big Town - August 3 - MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater

Just as joint concerts are popular with classic rock bands, they are also something we see more and more of from the country genre. On August 3, we will have the opportunity to catch country stars Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town at the same show here in Tampa. Miranda is amazing.

Taylor Swift - August 14 - Raymond James Stadium

Speaking of amazing ladies, the iconic Taylor Swift will be in town on August 14 as a part of her Reputation Stadium Tour. Whether you love her or hate her, you'll know every song she sings, and you're sure to have a blast at this one.

 

Jeff Beck & Paul Rodgers with Ann Wilson - August 26 - MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater

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Anytime you have the chance to see one of Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time," you'd be crazy to miss out on the opportunity. And that is exactly what you will have when this former Yardbird shows up in Tampa on August 26. Jeff will be joined by Paul Rodgers, as well as Ann Wilson from Heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Simon - September 7 - Amalie Arena

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 Jeff Beck might be the best guitarist passing through Tampa this summer, but Paul Simon could be the most admired songwriter we will have the chance to see this year. This farewell tour could be your last opportunity to see the legend headlining, and it will happen in one of the most intimate arenas in the city.

Nature Coast Recommended Reading

If you are an avid reader, you will be thrilled to discover that there are a number of fiction and non-fiction books that have been published about Florida’s Nature Coast over the years

It’s no secret that the areas surrounding the Villages of Citrus Hills has a way of commanding the attention of various artists, and authors have been no exception.

Here are some of the interesting history, tour guide, and fiction books that cover the Nature Coast that current and prospective residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills might want to check out. 

Cedar Key, Florida:  A History by Kevin McCarthy

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The history of Cedar Key, Florida is a fascinating story, and author Kevin McCarthy presents that history in a well-researched manner that keeps the reader engaged while still hitting on all of the facts about Cedar Key.  This tiny island community has seen and survived plenty over the years, and McCarthy does a great job of capturing exactly what makes “Old Florida” and the Nature Coast so popular.

 

Disaster at Dawn:  The Cedar Keys Hurricane of 1896 by Alvin Oickle

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If you like the historical perspective presented in McCarthy’s book, this is an excellent follow-up read that takes a closer look at one particular event in Cedar Key’s history.  In 1896 there was a hurricane that leveled everything on the island and killed dozens of people.  Oickle chronicles the devastating impact of that hurricane and how it forever changed the way we would experience Cedar Key.

 

 Levy County (Images of America) by Carolyn Cohens

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A picture is worth a thousand words.  This is another great book that shows the history of Levy County through pictures.  The pages are packed with great photos of Cedar Key, Chiefland’s Train Depot Museum, the Suwannee Valley Theater, the Watermelon Festival, the Christmas Parade of Lights and the Williston Peanut Festival.  Touching on all the history that makes Levy County such a fascinating place.

 

A Naturalist’s Guide to Cedar Key, Florida by Harriet Smith

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With this book, author Harriet Smith takes on the role of travel guide as she profiles 19 different self-guided walks and boat trips that she recommends taking to explore the areas surrounding Cedar Key.  She includes plenty of detailed information about the different types of wildlife and foliage you will find on each of these trips.

 

 

Backroads and Byways of Florida by Zain Deane

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This is a really interesting book that profiles 12 different day trips and weekend excursions that you could take through less-traveled areas of Florida.  No matter what type of excursion you are looking for, this book promises to deliver on memorable trips to must-see Florida attractions that are often overlooked by tourists and even locals.

 

 

Cedar Key:  A Jack Shaw Adventure by James West

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If fiction reading is your preference, this is a great place to start!  This book tells the story of Jack Shaw, a jaded personal injury lawyer turned private investigator who finds himself wrapped up in a wild plot to instigate war in the Middle East.  There is a large portion of the book that is set in Cedar Key.

 

 

Shadow Over Cedar Key by Ann Turner Cook

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This mystery novel features Brandy O’Bannon, a Florida reporter who is investigating the disappearance of a mother and daughter during Hurricane Agnes.  Parts of the story include a private detective who placed a classified ad asking the woman to come forward and the possibility that her skeleton was found in the basement of a Cedar Key hotel.

 

While these particular books are all currently available on Amazon, a quick trip to on the of local libraries will allow you to find many more books on the Nature Coast that are not as widely available.

May Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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In the stock market, there is a commonly repeated phrase that advises investors to "sell in May and go away." Here in Florida, we experience a similar phenomenon during this late spring season when many of our friends and neighbors pack up their things and head north for the summer. But for those of us who plan on sticking around, the folks at the Activity Center are still hard at work coming up with fun things to keep us busy throughout the month.

During the month of May, residents at the Villages of Citrus Hills will have the opportunity to stay busy with a wide range of fun activities.  From a dance party, a baseball game, to golf tournaments, dinner specials, and amazing opportunities to pamper ourselves at the spa. No matter what type of activity or event you are looking for, there is definitely something on the calendar to keep you active!

Social Events 

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One of the bigger social events of the month will be Dance Night with Second Slice on Wednesday, May 9 in the Hampton Room.

This four-piece band will have you up on your feet all night long. 

There will also be a cash bar starting at 6:30 pm before the band hits the stage from 7 pm to 10 pm.

The Shabbat Dinner Club will be celebrating the end of their season with a Shabbat Cocktail Party from 5 pm to 7 pm in the Garden Room on Friday, May 11. In true Shabbat style, there will be plenty of great food here with an over-the-top hors d'oeuvres table, trays of Boursin Stuffed Mushrooms, Sesame Chicken Fingers, and Spinach Phyllo Triangles. There will also be a pasta bar that you won't want to miss.

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The Tiki Bar is hosting a Music Trivia Night on Thursday, May 24. If you are passionate about music, you won't want to miss this fun evening hosted by James Brocato of Brocato Entertainment. 

                                                           James will be performing from 5 pm to 7 pm before hosting the trivia portion of the evening from 7 pm to 8 pm.

Golf & Tennis

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Casual golfers will want to mark their calendars for the Cinco de Mayo Open on Saturday, May 5 and the Memorial Day Tournament on Monday, May 28. The Cinco de Mayo Open will be held on The Oaks course, and the Memorial Day Tournament will be held over at Skyview. Both will have divisions for men's, ladies', and mixed, and the Cinco de Mayo Open will also have a "Couples Only" division.

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The stakes will be a little more serious at the Men's A/D-B/C Better Ball Tournament at Skyview on Monday, May 7 and Tuesday, May 8.

All Skyview Men's members are invited to participate, and teams will be assigned by the pro shop based on handicaps. For this event, everyone will be hitting from the white tees.

The summer months are also an excellent time to work on your tennis game over at the Skyview Tennis Center. There will be a Free Beginner Tennis Clinic held there on Tuesday, May 8 at 11 am. Whether you are completely starting from scratch or just looking to improve your skills, everyone is welcome to participate. Rackets are available to borrow if needed. 

Dinner Specials 

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In addition to being Cinco de Mayo, Saturday, May 5 is also Kentucky Derby Day this year! In order to celebrate, Skyview Restaurant will be featuring Mint Juleps and encouraging everyone to wear their best Derby Day attire in their bar area from 5 pm to 7 pm. There will also be a Kentucky Derby party out at the Tiki Bar that will feature Mint Juleps along with Margaritas and Mexican food for the combined holiday.

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Sunday, May 13 is Mother's Day, and Skyview Restaurant is celebrating with spectacular a la carte dinners including Prime Rib, Seafood Stuffed Flounder, and Filet Bordelaise from 12 pm to 5 pm.

                                                            There will also be a Mother's Day Buffet over at The Grille from 12 pm to 5 pm.

Skyview Restaurant and The Grille will both be featuring over-the-top specials for Memorial Day on Monday, May 28.  The Skyview Restaurant Menu will be more grill-oriented with Grilled New York Strip Steaks, Barbecue Chicken, and St. Louis Style Ribs. And they'll be cooking low and slow at The Grille before serving up Fireball Whiskey Baby Back Ribs and Smoked Brisket.

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In addition to all of the group events and activities happening throughout the Villages of Citrus Hills this month, there will also be some exciting ways to pamper yourself at the BellaVita Spa if you happen to find some quiet time.

They will be running specials on Pure Love Hot Stone Massages and Island Dream Spa Pedicures all month long.

So, whether your goal is to get out and have a blast with friends, hit the golf course or tennis court, or enjoy some delicious meals, we have got you covered pretty much all month long here at the Villages of Citrus Hills. The only question left to answer is how you are going to fit all of this fun into your personal schedule!

Rays Tickets: 4 Day Trips with the Vacationers Club

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We're only a few weeks into the 2018 Major League Baseball season, but our hometown Tampa Bay Rays are already struggling for all of the reasons we predicted in our season preview. Despite the team's struggles, they are still going to be involved in one of the most exciting division races of the season…they just won't be competing to win.

As the summer progresses, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are going to be firing hard at each other for the top spot. While the Yankees probably have the better team overall, the Red Sox jumped out to a quick lead after their hot start this month.

As these elite teams compete for the 2018 American League East pennant, each of them will make multiple trips down to Tampa to take on the Rays.

The Citrus Hills Vacationers Club has already put together plans to attend four of those games over the next few months. Let's take a quick look at what we might expect to see each time one of the top two teams in the division comes to town!

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Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox - Thursday, May 24 - 7:10 pm

The first club trip down to Tropicana Field will be held on Thursday, May 24 for the last game in a series of three that will start earlier that week.

The Red Sox are likely to be favored in any game against the Rays that Chris Archer

isn't pitching, and we can also expect to see some exciting offense anytime a lineup that features studs like Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez comes to town.

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Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees - Saturday, June 23 - 4:10 pm

The New York Yankees will make their first trip to Tampa in the middle of June, and there is a good chance that they will have caught up to the Red Sox in the division race by then.

With power hitters like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez hitting in the heart of the lineup, referring to the Yankees as the Bronx Bombers is going to be very appropriate this season.

This is also a free jersey giveaway game where everyone in attendance will receive a Rays/Devil Rays reversible jersey!

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Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox - Sunday, August 26 - 1:10 pm

The Red Sox will be back in town for an early afternoon game on Sunday, August 26. And if we know the Red Sox, there will likely be some trade deadline additions to their team this time around.  Depending on where they are sitting relative to the Yankees and who becomes available at the deadline, there could be some real excitement to see in this series.

Sundays are kid’s days at the Trop, so the promotional calendar will feature DJ Kitty Slippers for all kids attending.

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Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees - Thursday, September 27 - 1:10 pm

Before closing out their season with a home series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Rays will host the New York Yankees once last time in a weekday series that could see them clinching the AL East pennant on any given day.

This could be a chance to see the dramatic conclusion of an epic pennant race, and it could happen right here in sunny Florida!

 

Each of these Citrus Hills Vacationers Club trips to see the Tampa Bay Rays includes a ticket to the game in a group section, roundtrip transportation, and a free Rays hat. Make sure that you call the Activity Center to reserve your spot for one or all of these trips soon!

 

The Mermaids & Margaritas Festival

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Located just west of downtown Crystal River is the peaceful Fort Island Gulf State Park. But that beautiful beach is going to be anything but relaxing on Saturday, April 14 during the Mermaids and Margaritas Festival from 12 pm to 8 pm.

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This all-day festival was created by "The Mertailor" Eric Ducharme, who has been selling the best swimmable mermaid tails on the market since 2009. Along with a great selection of mermaid apparel, the festival will also feature three local bands, lots of amazing food, and enough margaritas to make Jimmy Buffett jealous. 

 

The Mermaid Contests

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When you attend a festival that is sponsored by a company that makes swimmable mermaid tails, you can certainly expect to find plenty of people dressed up as mermaids. Those people will be competing in a Mermaid Costume Contest sponsored by MezMerEyes starting at 2 pm.

There will also be a Ms. Mermaid and Mr. Merman contest held later in the day at 5 pm.

The Live Music

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This fun-filled festival will kick off with live music right at 12 pm when The TJ Brown Band takes the stage. He might not be a Florida native, but Thomas Junior (T.J.) Brown has been a Florida resident since he was nine years old, and his version of country music feels well-grounded in our local Florida culture.

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Following The TJ Brown Band, the parrot heads will be out for The Landsharks. This Jimmy Buffett tribute band has toured all over Florida while holding down a steady two-year gig playing at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville in Orlando. Add a Hawaiian shirt and a margarita to your mermaid tail and you will fit right in with this crowd!

After the Ms. Mermaid and Mr. Merman contest, Homosassa native Ashley Young will take the stage to perform for her hometown residents. After spending time in both Nashville and New York City, Ashley is on the move again and will be singing all over Florida for much of the summer. 

The Food

Spending the day at the beach can be a real blast, but you are going to get hungry at some point! Fortunately, there are plenty of Citrus County businesses that will be on hand to help you out.

When you are ready for a meal, you'll be able to choose between pizza from Light My Fire Mobile Pizza Co., tacos and rice bowls from Riviera Mexican Cantina, seafood from Dan's Clam Shack, and all kinds of bar and grill food from Dawg House Dogs & Grill, Inc.

If you're just looking for something to munch on in between meals, there will also be snacks available from Kona Ice of Citrus County, Lynn's Ice Cream, Calypso Concessions, Tropical Acai Bowls, and Pop Fusions Gourmet Ice Pops.

The Booze

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With all of the exciting festivities planned for the Mermaids & Margaritas Festival, it's easy to forget about the margaritas part of the event. But don't worry, because Riviera Cantina will make sure to remind you that they will be selling those margaritas all day.

There will also be beer and wine for sale. Visitors can choose from Budweiser, Bud Light, Landshark, Bud Light Straw-Ber-Ritas, Bud Light Lime-a-Ritas, and Bud Light Mong-o-Ritas, as well as a selection of merlot, cabernet, and white zinfandel.

Getting to the Party

One important thing that every mermaid and merman planning to attend the event needs to know is that there will be no parking available at Fort Island Gulf Beach. Everyone attending will need to park at the lot on the corner of US-19 and Fort Island Trail, across from the Winn Dixie Plaza and Clawdaddy's.

There will be a free shuttle taking people back and forth out to the beach from this free parking lot.

No matter how serious you are about your mermaid costume, just about everyone could benefit from just a little bit more glitter in their lives. So, grab your tail, and we'll see you at Fort Island Gulf Beach on April 14!

April Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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The weather is warming up around the country as we move into the second quarter of 2018, and things are heating up here at the Villages of Citrus Hills as well! Over the past few months, residents have seen improvements to the community that have included repaved walking trails, upgrades to the dog park, and a brand-new dock on Lake Marie.

In addition to enjoying those upgraded amenities during the month of April, there’s also a wide range of activities and events that are in the works thanks to the wonderful people at the Activity Center. Whether you are looking for fun social events, inspiring educational seminars, golf or tennis competition, or just a great bite to eat, we've got you covered with information on all of the best things happening around the Villages of Citrus Hills this month.

Social Events

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Comedian Rocky LaPorte will be performing in the Hampton Room on Tuesday, April 10 at 7 pm. With a performance on The Tonight Show and a feature on Comedy Central Presents on his resume, there isn't much that Rocky hasn't accomplished in the comedy world during his long career. But on this night, his only focus is making you laugh.

On April 25, there will be a Dinner Show with Valerie Sneade in the Hampton Room. The meal will include Boursin Stuffed Chicken Breast and Sliced Prime Rib, and it will be followed with a fun, dinner party-style performance where Valerie Sneade will be singing all of those classic pop songs that you used to play on 45s!

Arts & Education

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The Speaker Series returns to the Activity Center Auditorium on Thursday, April 12 when two doctors from Countryside Animal Clinic will be discussing taking the best possible care of your furry, four-legged friends. This event is scheduled to start at 6 pm.

Lunch & Learn will be hosting three financial experts from Merrill Lynch on Wednesday, April 18 at The Grille. The lunch menu will feature a Caprese Chicken Sandwich, and the discussion will be focused on how to best manage your retirement assets with a focus on IRAs.

Craft lovers won't want to miss the Spring Farmers Market and Craft Fair happening in the Activity Center Parking Lot on Sunday, April 22 from 10 am to 2 pm. In addition to local produce vendors, there will also be some amazing craft vendors selling their creations, as well as live entertainment.

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There will be a Piano Workshop in the Activity Center Auditorium on Saturday, April 28 from 2 pm to 5 pm. If you have ever regretted the fact that you didn't stick with learning how to play the piano, this is the perfect opportunity to get a quick refresher course to get you playing again! Almost zero experience is required, and you will learn how to continue to develop your abilities moving forward.

Golf & Tennis

It is also going to be an exciting month for the ladies with the Skyview Ladies’ Spring Invitational happening on Monday, April 9 and the Citrus Hills Ladies' Club Championship being held on Monday, April 16 and Tuesday, April 17.

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If you are looking for a more relaxed event, you won't want to miss the April Fool's Open played on The Oaks course on Saturday, April 14. And if you are looking to improve your golf game this month, there will be free clinics hosted by Mary Slinkard happening throughout the month.              

Over at the Skyview Tennis Center, the Men's and Women's Club Championship Doubles Tournament will take place on April 20-22. But if you aren't quite up to that level of competition, you might want to check out the Free Beginner Tennis Clinic on Tuesday, April 10.

Dinner Specials

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As they do every month, our friends at Skyview Restaurant are going to be going all out on their dinner specials in April. Two that we are most excited about are the Farm to Fork Dinner on Thursday, April 5 and the Asian Buffet Night on Thursday, April 26.

The Grille will be serving up all of your favorite dishes as part of their "Grille Favorites Menu" on Thursday, April 12, and they are also planning a fun "Tax Day Menu" for Tuesday, April 17.

Reservations will be required for Alfresco Spring Elegance night at the Tiki Bar on Thursday, April 26. This is the one special you definitely don't want to miss this month, as it will feature delicious surf and turf options along with live entertainment from Snap Dare.

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In addition to all of the fun activities and events happening throughout the Villages of Citrus Hills this month, BellaVita Spa is running specials on Coconut and Lavender Sugar Back Scrubs and Ginger Facials.  

 

 

 

And with all of those options available, the choice is yours on just how active you want to be in the month of April!

Weekend Getaway: Port St. Lucie

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Residents here at the Villages of Citrus Hills often start out their wish list of weekend getaways with popular Florida tourist destinations like Orlando, Daytona Beach, Miami, and Key West. But after exploring many of the most popular destinations across the state, they often find that it is the little towns in between that are the real hidden gems.

Port St. Lucie is one of those places.

Located along what is known as "The Treasure Coast," Port St. Lucie sits on the Atlantic side of Florida just north of West Palm Beach and about three hours south of Daytona Beach. If you are looking for a weekend getaway filled with affordable hotels, stunning golf courses, and delicious dining, this is the hidden gem that you have been looking for.

Where to Stay in Port St. Lucie

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Whether you are planning on golfing or not, the best place to stay in Port St. Lucie is definitely the Sheraton PGA Vacation Resort Villas. This fabulous facility will have you feeling like you are staying at a tropical resort for a price that is comparable to (and often cheaper than) the nearby Holiday Inn Express.

All of the rooms at the Sheraton are either one-bedroom or two-bedroom villas that come complete with separate living areas, kitchenettes, and even dining tables, so you will feel right at home here. The resort also offers an elegant outdoor pool, access to fishing in the St. Lucie River, and a full staff of experts who will be available to help you book your tee times at local golf courses.

What to Do in Port St. Lucie

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With over 30 beautiful golf courses to choose from, there is no beating around the bush about the fact that you are going to be bringing your clubs to Port St. Lucie. And, the PGA Courses are at the top of just about every golfer's list for a weekend round. But in addition to those championship-level PGA courses, visitors will also find places like Legacy Golf & Tennis Club and Hammock Creek Golf Club to be up to their standards.

If you happen to find time outside of golfing, we also recommend hitting the local waterways in Port St. Lucie. Whether you prefer to rent a fishing boat out on the St. Lucie River or to relax in the sand during low tide at Walton Rocks Beach, there is something so soothing about the water on a weekend getaway that will make you feel like all is right with the world.

Where to Eat in Port St. Lucie

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The culinary scene in Port St. Lucie offers selections from around the world. If you are looking for a unique dining experience, you might want to try making a reservation at Fernando's Dockside Grille for Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine or Machu Picchu Restaurant for a Peruvian meal.

But if that international flair isn't quite your style, there are also plenty of classic American options like Buffalo Chophouse, where you will find a full range of traditional steak and seafood dishes.

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For a casual meal in a fun environment, it's hard to beat a good Irish pub, and that is precisely what you will find at Shindig Irish Restaurant & Pub. Their menu features all of the classic Irish dishes like Fish & Chips, Bangers & Mash, and Shepherd's Pie, but they also have plenty of Florida seafood options, as well as a selection of American pub food.

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And for a quick meal on the go, it doesn't get any better than Taco Dive. This self-described "hole in the wall" uses nothing but fresh ingredients to create some of the most interesting tacos you will find anywhere. The classics like steak, pork, chicken, and beef are all good here, but don't sleep on the BLT Dive Style taco that features Applewood bacon, fried egg, pimento cheese, arugula, and tomato!

We certainly don't blame you if you prefer to start your weekend getaway wish list by checking out some of Florida's best tourist hotspots. But make sure that you keep the golfers' paradise of Port St. Lucie on your list as well because this is one of the best-kept secrets in all of Florida!

 

Visiting Dunedin: Craft Beer and Open-Air Markets

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To the average person, the little towns that exist along the Gulf Coast might look to be interchangeable. But to those of us who make a habit of visiting these towns regularly, each one has its own personality that has developed over the years. In Dunedin, that personality is built around an impressive lineup of craft breweries and a fabulous open-air farmers' market.

Located just west of Tampa and north of St. Petersburg, Dunedin is about an hour and a half away from the Villages of Citrus Hills. That makes it a perfect destination for a quick day trip, but there is also enough excitement here to turn that day trip into a weekend getaway if you like!

Touring the Dunedin Breweries

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With eight different breweries operating in Dunedin, there is never a shortage of fantastic craft beers to sample. And having that many breweries in such a small area has created a unique opportunity to participate in walking tours that visit multiple options on the same trip.

One of the most iconic choices is Dunedin Brewery, which was the very first microbrewery in all of Florida. There’s a lot of history to enjoy here, but the brewing equipment and the beer it produces all utilize modern technology to create an amazing variety of products.

Two others that should be on your brewery tour list are 7th Sun Brewing Company and Woodwright Brewing Company. 7th Sun is known for making killer IPAs and sour beers, and Woodwright is attached to a woodworking shop that has created just about everything in their tasting room.

In addition to these three breweries, visitors to Dunedin should also check out Cueni Brewing Co., Soggy Bottom Brewing, and Caledonia Brewing. Each offers a slightly different twist on tastings, tours, and taprooms, so make sure you plan to visit as many as possible. 

Dunedin Downtown Market

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Another popular reason to visit Dunedin is the weekly open-air market that is filled with more than 60 vendors selling everything from basic produce to fully cooked meals and everything in between.

The Dunedin Downtown Market takes place every Friday and Saturday from November through the end of May, and then just on Saturday through the end of June. It is located in Pioneer Park right at the corner of Main Street an Douglas Avenue in downtown Dunedin.

The Islands off of Dunedin

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On top of all the action you will find in downtown Dunedin, there are also two fabulous islands located just off the coast that offer some of the most pristine beaches in all of Florida.

Honeymoon Island State Park and Caladesi Island State Park both offer stunning white sand beaches in a quiet and peaceful atmosphere that will take your breath away. The parks also provide plenty of choices for hiking, kayaking, swimming, fishing, and observing a wide range of wildlife.

The Dunedin Restaurant Scene

With all that there is to see and do in Dunedin, you are probably going to work up quite the appetite during your visit. Fortunately, the community is also home to a thriving restaurant scene that offers something special for just about every craving.

Three suggestions for a quick lunch are Lucky Lobster, Dunedin Fish Market & Olde Bay Cafe, and Happy's Bayou Bites. All three specialize in creating delicious seafood dishes with their own unique twists.

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If upscale dining is what your palate seeks, a reservation at The Black Pearl should be on your list. With Maple Glazed Pork Belly, White Truffle Lobster Risotto, and Twice Cooked Maple Leaf Duckling, the French and New American style menu here is a foodie's dream come true.

Combining outstanding food with stunning beaches, the excitement of the market, and the range of flavors coming out of the breweries, Dunedin offers a truly unique Florida experience.

 

The only question left to ask is when are you planning to visit?

March Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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Between St. Patrick's Day, Lent Fridays, and Major League Baseball's Spring Training, there’s already an overwhelming amount of activity happening all around the Villages of Citrus Hills in the month of March. And thanks to the dedication of the Activity Center staff, there are also quite a few activities and events happening right here in our community.

If you are looking to fill up your calendar with fun and exciting things to do this month, we have hand-picked all of the very best things to look forward to in March!

Social Events

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The biggest social events of the month always start out with the Show Series, and the month of March is not an exception.  The Orlando Jazz Orchestra will be performing "A Tribute to the Big Band Era" on Tuesday, March 13, and Johnny Contardo, Johnny Tillotson, & Ron Dante on Thursday, March 22.

There will be plenty of fun in the Hampton Room on Thursday, March 8 with The Not-So-Newlywed Game Show and Dinner scheduled to start with dinner at 6:30 pm followed by the game show at 7:30 pm. Four lucky couples will be selected from a hat to participate.

The Garden Room will be hosting a Seder Dinner on Friday, March 30. This meal will feature a menu of chicken matzo ball soup, beef brisket or roasted chicken, tsimis, kugel, green beans, and sponge cake.

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The Easter Bunny will be hosting an Easter Egg Hunt and Brunch in the Hampton Room on Saturday, March 31, and all of your favorite little ones are invited to attend!

 

 

 Arts & Education

The Citrus Hills Vacationers Club has been planning all kinds of trips to local and international destinations over the past few years. If you have been thinking about getting more involved with the club, the first step is attending one of their quarterly meetings, and the next one will take place on Thursday, March 15 at 10 am in the Activity Center.

The Activity Center Auditorium will be hosting guest speakers from The Greener Side of Heaven, Inc. to discuss their work at local animal shelters on Monday, March 19. This will be a very informative discussion for anyone who loves animals.

Golf & Tennis

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For the more competitive golfers, the Citrus Hills Couples Championship on March 16 and 17 is coming up.  But, if you aren't quite ready to compete in one of our major events, you might want to think about attending one of the free golf clinics. This month, PGA/LPGA teaching pro Mary Slinkard will be working with beginners on March 5, 6, and 7. Then she will be back to work with intermediate golfers on March 13, 20, and 27.

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The Skyview Tennis Center will be hosting a Spring Break Mixed Doubles Round Robin on Sunday, March 11 from 1-3 pm. The tournament will be followed by dinner and live music, so this is one that you won't want to miss!

There will also be a Free Beginner Tennis Clinic on Tuesday, March 13 at 11 am.

 

Dinner Specials

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Saturday, March 17 is St. Patrick's Day, and that is definitely a night that you are going to want to think about going out to dinner. Skyview will be serving a special menu featuring Irish Soda Bread, Corned Beef and Cabbage, and Irish Bangers and Mash.

The Grille will be offering a similar menu of a la carte items.

In addition to feeling a bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day, you might also be interested in checking out the Asian Family Feast at The Grille on March 11.

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And please find time for yourself this month.  Make an appointment at BellaVita Spa. Lemon is the theme this month as they will be doing Lemongrass Hand and Arm Retexturizing Treatments and Lemon Dream Spa Pedicures all month long.

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Have a great month full of activities and events, and we will see you at the Activity Center!

Where to Catch the Best Spring Training Games Near the Villages of Citrus Hills

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It might feel like just yesterday that the Houston Astros clinched their first World Series title, but the 2018 Major League Baseball season is coming up quickly on our calendars.  Spring training has begun, and there will be competitive games happening across the state of Florida for much of the next two months.

Six different teams make their winter homes near the Villages of Citrus Hills, and we have put together a few reasons that each are worth visiting during the next few weeks. So, whether you are a passionate baseball fan or just looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon, we will have you up to speed when it comes to the spring training games happening nearby.

New York Yankees, Tampa

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It's no secret that our hometown Rays suddenly become second-class citizens in Tampa while the Yankees are in town for spring training. And there will be plenty of excitement at George Steinbrenner Field this winter after the Bronx Bombers came up just short of another World Series appearance in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

To build on the talented young core that the Yankees put together last season, they went out and traded for power-hitting outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who will now team with sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez to create one of the most intimidating offenses that baseball has seen in years.

Philadelphia Phillies, Clearwater

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After the Philadelphia Eagles shocked the world by winning the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback last month, anything seems possible in the City of Brotherly Love this year. However, a deep playoff run still seems a bit ambitious for a Phillies team that was one of the worst in all of baseball last season.

One bright spot that will be worth watching this spring will be outfielder Rhys Hoskins, who came out of nowhere in the middle of last summer to smash 18 home runs in only 50 games. If Hoskins can continue to develop his skills while other key players like Maikel Franco also improve, the Phillies could be one of the most pleasant early surprises of the year.

Toronto Blue Jays, Dunedin

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The Toronto Blue Jays are another local spring training destination where you won't find many honest World Series believers. But with that said, there is still going to be plenty of excitement wherever the Blue Jays go with power hitters like John Donaldson and Justin Smoak in the lineup.

Donaldson proved that he is still one of the best hitters in baseball last season while Smoak had a stunning breakout campaign. Those two have taken over the power hitting from aging slugger Jose Bautista, who will find himself in a position battle with Curtis Granderson and Randal Grichuk this spring.

 

 Detroit Tigers, Lakeland

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With long-time veterans like Justin Verlander, Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, and Justin Upton all finding new homes over the course of the 2017 season, the Tigers that reported to Lakeland this winter have a completely different look from the ones we are used to seeing.

What the Tigers are counting on is continued production from aging veterans like Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. They are also

looking for guys like James McCann and Nick Castellanos to step into leadership roles in the clubhouse.

If those things happen, and some of the young players received in trades last season blossom into major league prospects, the Tigers could actually be one of the most fun teams to watch this spring.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Bradenton

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The Pirates shocked the baseball world this winter when they dumped ace pitcher Gerrit Cole and former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen for pennies on the dollar in trades with the Astros and the Giants. Those sudden moves created some friction in the clubhouse that will be the biggest story of spring training in Bradenton this year.

Players like Josh Harrison have made it clear that they are not happy with the front office, but we have seen manager Clint Hurdle work miracles with the Buccos before. The big question will be whether any of the players that general manager Neil Huntington received as compensation for Cole and McCutchen can contribute in a meaningful way. If so, those contributions need to start right away.

Baltimore Orioles, Sarasota

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Orioles fans can understand what the Pirates fans are going through as they have watched their front office attempt to shop stud third baseman Manny Machado for the better part of the past year now.

Fortunately for them, Machado is still around, and he is planning to move back to shortstop for the upcoming season. How he adjusts to his old position will be interesting to watch this spring.

We will also be keeping a close eye on the performances of center fielder Adam Jones and closer Zach Britton. Along with Machado, both are slated to be unrestricted free agents following the season, so all three will be playing hard for new contracts and will become potential trade targets in July.

No matter how good or bad they might look on paper, every major league team has plenty of interesting things to watch for during spring training. And with these six teams all making their winter homes within a short drive of the Villages of Citrus Hills, we recommend scheduling a visit with each of them over the next few weeks.

5 Local Wineries to Put on Your To Do List

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With such an astounding number of exciting tourist attractions surrounding the Villages of Citrus Hills, our residents are always finding new adventures all around them. One easy activity that just about everyone will enjoy is visiting some of the outstanding wineries of the region.

Whether you see yourself as an amateur sommelier, or you are looking to up your wine knowledge, or just looking for something fun to do on a Saturday afternoon, these wineries in and around Citrus County offer the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a wide range of excellent local products.

Copp Winery, Crystal River

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Located right down the road in Crystal River, Copp Winery is one of the friendliest and inviting winery atmospheres you will find anywhere. They do an excellent job of putting novice wine drinkers at ease with their three tasting rules: relax, enjoy, and don't worry. 

Copp Winery produces a wide range of wines that includes the most common varietals, but they also specialize in creating some unique blends and sweet wines.

There are plenty of options to try by the glass at their wine bar, and they also sell bottles and cases to take with you.  They also micro brew ales.

If you are having a few glasses in the wine bar, you might also want to plan on ordering the Cheese Sampler Plate or the Bruschetta Pomodoro from their Snack Bar menu. Both are excellent.

Whispering Oaks Winery, Oxford

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You won't find any traditional choices on the wine list at Whispering Oaks Winery. That's because they make all of their wines from locally grown and freshly harvested blueberries.

Located just a bit east in Sumter County, Whispering Oaks is doing some amazing things with one of the hottest new trends in the world of wine. They also serve fantastic flatbreads that can be paired up with whatever blueberry wine you decide is right for the moment.

And if you are planning an evening trip to Whispering Oaks, you should make a reservation for one of their steak nights that includes a fantastic steak dinner on the stunning patio next to the wood grill and koi pond.

Lakeridge Winery, Clermont

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With more than 200 acres of vineyards under contract across the state of Florida, Lakeridge Winery in Clermont is one of the largest and most impressive wineries in the entire state. But that doesn't stop them from paying particular attention to every single bottle they produce, as well as every single customer that walks through their doors.

The wine offerings include many of the standards like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but we recommend tasting their Chablis, which is a blend of Florida Muscadine grapes. The winery has tours every day of the week, and they also have a great retail area where you can purchase all kinds of gift items along with their wines.

Backyard Barn Winery and Microbrewery, Wildwood

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While visiting a winery always sounds like an excellent idea for wine drinkers, you might have a hard time convincing your beer drinking friends to tag along. That won't be a problem if you are heading to Barnyard Barn Winery because they also brew their own small-batch beers with the same level of craftsmanship that they put into their wines.

 

This is an excellent place to visit if you are planning to spend some time in the tasting room. And make sure that you check their website for upcoming events because they regularly host live music nights.

Katya Vineyards, Ocala

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Located in downtown Ocala, Katya Vineyards offers another excellent selection of local wines to choose from. In addition to their own wines, they also carry a number of carefully chosen imported wines and craft beers in their tasting room.  Be sure to try their flagship white blend.

Katya Vineyards also offers a Wine Club program where you can have their wines shipped right to your door at whatever schedule works best for you!

 

10 Reasons Why Retirement is Awesome!

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1. You get to decide what to do every day. Unlike the predictability of your former life (work, dinner, TV, sleep, repeat), now you get to decide each day’s structure.

2. There's time to give back. Many retirees find it enormously rewarding to volunteer their skills to worthy charitable organizations, whether it's the Lions Club, animal shelters, the food pantry or a community college.

3. Travel, travel, travel. Almost everyone's bucket list includes a trip to some special place, from the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China to the Grand Canyon.

4. Catch up on TV and movies you've always wanted to see. Maybe you were too busy with your career and kids to follow some of the great directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen and Robert Altman. Now you have time to go on Netflix, Amazon or even borrow CDs from the library.

5. You can still work part time. Just because you're retired doesn't mean you can't work part time. A lot of people carry over assignments from their old company, while others parlay their personal interests into a moneymaking venture.

6. Spend more time with family and grandchildren. Spending time together helps to form lasting connections between family members. Relish the opportunity of this time to create deep and wonderful memories that last a lifetime.

7. You can sleep whenever you want. Retirement isn’t about sleeping, it’s about recharging when you need it, not just when you can fit it in.

8. Senior discounts are yours for the asking! Take advantage of your age and experience with substantial savings. Google “Senior discounts” to get an idea of what’s available.

9. There's no pressure, no stress and no problems. It's the freedom that retirees appreciate so much: Freedom from the pressure to get ahead at work, get your child into college and keep up with the neighbors.

10. You now have the time to do nothing. Finally, there's time to enjoy the pleasure of sitting on the back deck and soaking up the atmosphere, reflecting on your life and enjoying the cool breezes across your face

Top 10 Reasons to Live in Citrus County

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As any resident of the Villages of Citrus Hills will happily tell you, there are hundreds of great reasons to choose Citrus County as your retirement destination. Depending on your own personal interests, there are a number of different things about our community that might excite you.

To help make sure that you don't miss the most important reasons to head our way, we have put together a list of the top 10 reasons to live in Citrus County!

10. Great Healthcare

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One of the reasons to live in Citrus County that often goes overlooked is the fact that we have an outstanding network of healthcare providers.

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Between Citrus Memorial Health System and Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center, you won't believe the quality of care that is available here, should you ever need it.

 

9. Close to Major Cities…

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Because we’re situated just over an hour from both Orlando and Tampa, there are big-city amenities associated with both of those cities that are available to residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills.

This is great to know for things like catching shows, shopping, or attending professional sporting events, but it can be an even bigger deal if you need to fly out of one of the international airports in those cities.

8. …Not Too Close Though

While many of our residents think nothing of driving to Orlando or to Tampa for a day, we are also located far enough away that you don't have to worry about any of the stress that comes with city living. Like big-city traffic.

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7. Fantastic Golf Courses

One amenity that Citrus County residents are not lacking is quality golf courses. In addition to the excellent courses here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, there are also more than a dozen other public and private courses to choose from in the area.

6. Beautiful Local Parks

Being "just far enough" from the big cities goes hand-in-hand with the number of local, state, and national parks you will find throughout Citrus County. Whether you are looking for a great picnic spot, a place to relax on the beach, or a walk through the woods, you will never run out of quality options here.

5. Rich History

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Many of our local parks also boast impressive history that tells the incredible story of the area. But in addition to the local parks, you will also find lots of history in downtown areas like Inverness and Crystal River, as well as in our local museums. 

 

4. The Nature Coast

Another thing our residents love about all of the local parks in Citrus County is the amazing amount of wildlife you can find there. We are located right in the heart of Florida's "Nature Coast," so there is never a shortage of wildlife to be seen, especially if you are passionate about birding.

3. Wide Array of Dining Options

You can find a single great restaurant in just about any town across the country, but here in Citrus County we are proud of the fact that we have an incredibly wide range of excellent restaurants. No matter what style of food you are looking for, you can find someone making it right here.

2. Pristine Waterways

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Between the Withlacoochee River, Crystal River, Kings Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico, there are more waterways to explore in and around Citrus County that most people know what to do with. Whether you are passionate about kayaking, fishing, or just heading out for a cruise, there is always something happening on the waterways around the Villages of Citrus Hills.

 

1. The Manatees

As much as we love to brag about the rest of the wildlife you will find throughout Citrus County, our biggest selling point is that we are the only place in Florida where you can swim along with giant manatees right in their natural habitat. 

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Between Homosassa Springs and Three Sisters Springs, manatees make their homes here in Citrus County and our residents love to stop by to appreciate them.

As we said before, this list is just the tip of the iceberg as far as reasons you might choose to live in Citrus County. Come on down and see for yourself!

February Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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It feels like every month flies by as we enjoy life here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, and the month of February is the shortest one of them all. So, if you thought that January came and went quickly this year, don't blink or you might miss February altogether.

Despite that, the great people at the Activity Center still have lots of exciting activities and events planned for us. Let's take a quick look at some of the ones that you are going to want to make sure to put on your calendar.

Social Events

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The 2018 Show Series is in full swing this month. You can catch a comedy performance from Lucas Bohn on Tuesday, February 6 and a spectacular concert from Lou Christie on Thursday, February 8.

Then, later in the month, you can catch Bertie Higgins on Tuesday, February 13 and The Grass Roots on Thursday, February 22.

The regular Shabbat Dinner will be held in the Garden Room on Friday, February 23. This month, the menu will feature Baked Haddock or Chicken Piccata paired with a Tossed Salad, Glazed Baby Carrots, Oven-Roasted Potatoes, and Challah Bread.

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The big party that everyone is going to be talking about is the Sock Hop scheduled to happen at the end of the month on Wednesday, February 28 in the Hampton Room. Rocky & the Rollers will be performing live music for a night of fun and dancing, and anyone heading to the party can get 10% off of a dinner entree at The Grille that evening.

Hockey fans looking to plan ahead will want to take note that The Vacationers Club is planning a trip to see the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, March 6. You can get more information and purchase tickets at the Activity Center.

Art & Education

Anyone wanting to learn more about all of the different clubs that exist throughout our community is encouraged to attend the Activity Club Showcase in the Activity Center Auditorium on Sunday, February 11 from 1-4 pm. There will be more than 50 of our clubs represented at the event, which makes it the perfect opportunity for you to get more information about the ones you have been thinking about joining!

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Lunch & Learn is back on Monday, February 26 with a fascinating guest in Lisa Didier, who will be discussing "The History of Forensic Science." In addition to a great speaker, this event will also feature Harvest Chicken Salads for lunch.

Golf & Tennis

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The Oaks course will be celebrating the month of February in the right way with a Valentine's Mixer event scheduled for Saturday, February 3.

That event will be the perfect warm-up for the Men's Senior, Super Senior, Legends, and Super Legends Club Championship at Skyview on February 5 and 6. And that major golf event will be followed by the 2018 Citrus Hills Men's Club Championship on February 15 and 16.

If you are looking for a more casual golfing environment, you might want to check out the "Newbie" Nine-Hole Golf League. This crew meets on The Meadows course every Thursday afternoon at 3 pm, and golfers of all skill levels are welcome.

In addition to practicing your game in the "Newbie" Nine-Hole Golf League, you can also participate in the Free Golf Clinics with Mary Slinkard. She will be helping beginners on February 5, 6, and 7. Then she will be back to work with intermediate golfers on February 13, 20, and 27.

There will be a Free Beginner Tennis Clinic at the Skyview Tennis Center on February 13 at 11 am. This could be a great time to get into tennis because there is a big Spring Break Round Robin planned for early March.

Dinner Specials

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Valentine's Day is the biggest holiday of the month, and Skyview will be celebrating with a romantic meal for two on Wednesday, February 14. There will also be a delicious a la carte menu for those wanting to celebrate Valentine's Day at The Grille.

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The other big day this month is the Super Bowl, which is happening on Sunday, February 4. The Tiki Bar is definitely the place to be for the big game, and they are going to be having all kinds of fun along with a fantastic tailgate menu.

In addition to all of the big holiday meals, Skyview will be hosting a Shrimp Fest Buffet on Tuesday, February 6. Then they will be bringing us a Taste of New Orleans on Tuesday, February 20 and a Turkey Buffet on Thursday, February 22.

BellaVita Spa

And don’t forget to save time for yourself at BellaVita Spa this month.

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Take advantage of the February specials like the Rose Petal Facial and the Exotic Mango Ultimate Spa Pedicure.

Just make sure you don't put it off too long because this month is going to go fast!

New Year, New Home

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The new year has finally arrived, and what better way to celebrate it than with a brand-new home! If you are the type of person who is ready to make a dramatic change in a hurry, one of the move-in ready showcase homes available at the Villages of Citrus Hills might be the perfect fit for you.

Before we take a look at the details of what types of floor plans and neighborhoods are currently available, let's first take a few minutes to review some of the reasons that opting for a move-in ready home might be a better fit than building your Citrus Hills home from scratch.

Advantages of Move-In Ready Homes

The most significant advantage to choosing to purchase a move-in ready showcase home here at the Village of Citrus Hills is that you won't have to waste any time waiting for your new home to be built. With everything already finished, there simply aren't any construction delays or unforeseen complications to worry about.

Another advantage to choosing a move-in ready showcase home is that you won't have to bother with making any decisions about what features you want in your home. In many cases, some of the best features that we offer here at the Villages of Citrus Hills will already be included in those homes.

Available Move-In Ready Homes

There are currently two Amherst floor plan homes available in the Brentwood neighborhood. These two-bedroom, two-bathroom homes have a total of 2,420 square feet with 1,666 square feet of living feet. They offer a large great room with an attached kitchen and breakfast nook area, as well as a great master suite.

 Amherst

Amherst

The Brentwood neighborhood also has three move-in ready showcase homes modeling The Cromwell floor plan. This layout is actually quite similar to the Amherst floor plan, but with 2,620 total square feet and 1,798 square feet of living space, everything here is just a little bit bigger than it is in the Amherst and has a dining room.

 Cromwell

Cromwell

If you have a bigger budget and are looking for a deal on a slightly bigger home, you might want to check out some of the move-in ready showcase homes in the Terra Vista neighborhood. Here you will find three Fairmont floor plans, which are also two-bedroom, two-bathroom homes, but everything is just a little bit more spacious.

There is also a special floor plan in the Citrus Hills neighborhood that is an absolute must-see. Whether you have the budget for this one or not, you have to check it out just to appreciate the amazing possibilities here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.

2018 is sure to bring a host of exciting possibilities to anyone who is willing to pursue them. If you have always dreamed of moving to Florida, these move-in ready showcase homes can be the perfect opportunity to make that dream a reality before we get too far into the new year!

Click on the link below to view details and pricing on our Showcase Homes.

https://www.citrushills.com/showcase-homes

 

January Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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Happy New Year! We have officially closed the door on 2017 and opened a new one with endless possibilities in 2018. There is no telling what the coming year will hold for each of us, but one thing that we do know for sure is that the good folks at the Activity Center are going to have the calendar packed with great events and activities each month.

We're starting the year off right with a January calendar that is filled with everything from classic rock concerts to CPR certification classes. Let's take a look into the calendar and highlight some of the events and activities that you won't want to miss.

Show Series Lineup

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The Activity Center is going to kick off the year by hosting Free Fallin: A Tribute to Tom Petty for a live concert on Saturday, January 6. Then, another amazing concert featuring Hollywood Nights: The Ultimate Tribute to Bob Seger on Thursday, January 11.

The Comedy Cabaret Series will bring comedian George Casey to the Hampton Room on Tuesday, January 9, and Franc D'Ambrosio will be singing Broadway hits in the Activity Center Auditorium on Thursday, January 18 as part of the Special Performances Series.

Social Events

Tasty Trivia Tuesday will be back in the Hampton Room on Tuesday, January 16 for an exciting night of dinner and trivia. This month, there will also be a special raffle where one member will receive a season pass to the 2018-2019 Big Show Series.

The Garden Room will be hosting another Shabbat Dinner on Friday, January 19. This month, the meal will feature Broiled Salmon with Sherry Shallot Cream Sauce or Sliced Sirloin with Mushroom Sauce.

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And at the end of the month we will have the Woodstock Revival Party happening in the Hampton Room on Wednesday, January 31. There will be a cash bar and light appetizers at 6:30 pm followed by a live performance from Petrina & the Flashback Band starting at 7 pm.

Arts & Education

Lunch & Learn will be back on Monday, January 8 with a Healthy Cooking Demonstration from The Grove Health & Rehabilitation. The lunch menu will feature a beet salad with goat cheese and orange vinaigrette, as well as turkey sausage spaghetti with zucchini noodles.

Professional artists from Paint the Town Citrus will be hosting the Craftea Art Workshop in the Activity Center on Monday, January 22. There will be a great selection of coffees and teas, and everyone attending will be supplied with everything they need to create their own masterpiece.

The Activity Center will also be hosting a Free CPR Certification Class on Wednesday, January 24 at 6 pm and an AARP Smart Driver Course on Saturday, January 27 at 9 am.

Golf & Tennis

A brand-new year of golf will kick off on Saturday, January 6 with the New Year's Cross Country Open. If you've never played one of these exciting cross-country events, make 2018 the year that you start!

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There will also be some more serious golf tournaments happening later in the month with the Men's Ringer Tournament Major Event on Monday, January 8 and Tuesday, January 9, the Ladies' Winter Invitational on Friday, January 12, and the Ladies' Citrus Cup Championship on Friday, January 19.

If you are looking to improve your game before making the leap to serious competition, you might want to think about attending one of the Free Golf Clinics scheduled for the month of January. PGA Teaching Pro Mary Slinkard will be helping beginners on January 8, 9, and 10. Then she will be back to teach intermediate golfers on January 16, 23, and 30.

And if one of your New Year's Resolutions is to hit the tennis court, you can start with the Free Beginner Tennis Clinic on Tuesday, January 9 at 11 am.

Dinner Specials

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Skyview Restaurant will be right back at it with amazing dinner specials for the new year starting with Asian Night on Thursday, January 4. They will also be having Lobster Night on Thursday, January 11 and a delicious Turkey Buffet on Tuesday, January 23.

Over at The Grille, January is going to be a month full of free extras on Sundays! Anyone who purchases two entrees there will receive a free appetizer on January 7, a free dessert on January 14, a free bottle of wine on January 21, and a free appetizer on January 28.

The Tiki Bar will be hosting a block party for the Hamptons POA neighborhood on Tuesday, January 30.

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And you must pamper yourself in between all the excitement this month.  BellaVita Spa is offering a Winter Mint Massage and a Vanilla Almond Spa Pedicure that will be the key to starting your new year off on the right foot.

 

Happy New Year