Citrus County

Exploring the Big Bend Shellfish Trail

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Seafood is extremely popular across the state of Florida, and shellfish is practically a way of life along the Gulf Coast. Here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, we have the luxury of being located right next to the Big Bend Shellfish Trail, which is where you will find one of the best sources of fresh shellfish in the entire country.  

Whether your preference is for clams, oysters, blue crabs, shrimp, or stone crabs, you can find all of them as you make your way up and down the trail. But with so many options to choose from, figuring out how to best enjoy the trail can be a bit overwhelming.  

Let's take a closer look at what exactly the Big Bend Shellfish Trail has to offer! 

About the Trail 

The Big Bend Shellfish Trail is comprised of the working waterfront communities in Dixie, Levy, Jefferson, and Taylor Counties ranging from Steinhatchee to Yankeetown.  

At one time, this area was better known for its fishing boats, but a 1995 ban on gill net fishing forced the local workers to evolve into shellfish harvesters. Today, you will find large piles of crab traps sitting on docks the entire way up the coast, and it isn't too hard to find the shellfish that make their way into those traps either! 

Types of Shellfish 

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Scallops and Stone Crabs are probably the most sought-after shellfish you will find along the Big Bend Shellfish Trail. Both are limited in terms of fishing season and restricted to certain catch limits, which means that supplies are almost always limited, making them rather expensive.  

On the flip side, you will find all of the clams, shrimp, and blue crabs you could ever want throughout the salty marsh waters of the Big Bend Shellfish Trail.  

Big Bend Destinations 

Because the entire Big Bend Shellfish Trail is located within a short driving distance of the Villages of Citrus Hills, each of the popular stops along the trail would be an excellent day trip for our residents.  

Cedar Key is probably the most popular tourist destination along the trail, and it is also a favorite day trip spot for local residents. In addition to being a beautiful island, this is also a prime spot for oysters and clams, and there are also a number of farm-to-table shellfish restaurants on the island.  

If you are looking for a scalloping adventure, Steinhatchee is the place to find your charter service. And that won't be hard here considering the area is filled with working shellfish boats.  

Another excellent destination for a Big Bend Shellfish Trail day trip is Suwannee, where you will find some of the best stone crab fishing of the entire Gulf Coast. This is also a great place to track down clams, oysters, and blue crabs as well.  

Whether you are looking to get out on the water and catch your own shellfish or stay on dry land and enjoy a fantastic seafood experience at a locally owned restaurant, the Big Bend Shellfish Trail can help you out either way. So if you are passionate about your shellfish, it's time to get out and start exploring the trail!

April Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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We have started off 2019 with three straight months of jam-packed activities and events calendars, and the fourth month of the year is definitely poised to keep that trend going. The April calendar is full of all kinds of fun things to do around the Villages of Citrus Hills.  

Whether you lean more towards the social events and the educational seminars or the golf tournaments and dinner specials, there really is something for everyone happening around the community this month. Let's jump right in and check out some of the biggest events happening in April. 

Social Events 

The social calendar will kick off the month when the Sizzlin' Summer Show Series brings Mary Jo Vitale and Clark Barrios to the Activity Center Auditorium on Tuesday, April 2 at 7 pm. 

The Shabbat Dinner will take place on Friday, April 5 in the Garden Room. This month's meal will include your choice of Beef Brisket or Bourbon Salmon served with Garden Salad, Oven-Roasted Potatoes, Vegetables, and Carrot Cake.  

All of our local trivia junkies will be back in the Hampton Room on Tuesday, April 16 for another installment of Tasty Trivia Tuesday. The theme this month is "Geography," so make sure that you study your maps and state capitals before the big night.  

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One of the biggest social events of the month will be the annual Easter Egg Hunt in the Hampton Room on Saturday, April 20. The fun will start at 9 am with breakfast and face painting, followed by a magic show at 9:30 am before the big hunt gets going at 10:30 am.  

Arts & Education 

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This month's Speaker Series seminar will take place on Thursday, April 11 at 6 pm in the Activity Center Auditorium. Dr. Dunn and Dr. Collins from Countryside Animal Clinic will be discussing everything from hot topics in veterinary medicine to acupuncture for your pets.  

On Saturday, April 13, there will be an AARP Smart Driver Course at the Activity Center from 9 am to 4 pm. The course will teach things like defensive driving tactics, handling adverse weather conditions, and information on automobile technology.  

Lunch and Learn will also be back this month with a fascinating presentation on Cooking with Essential Oils in the Windsor Room. On top of a great discussion, there will also be delicious Taco Salads served for lunch.  

Golf & Tennis 

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There will be plenty of hysterical antics on display for the April Fools Open at The Oaks course on Saturday, April 13. Beverages and lunches will be served after the round, but make sure to be careful where you sit! 

The Meadows and Oaks courses will also be hosting the 2019 Citrus Hills Golf & Country Club Ladies' Club Championship. This will be a 36-hole stroke play tournament that is flighted by handicap. 

Over on the tennis side, the Skyview Tennis Center will be hosting their monthly Free Beginners Tennis Clinic on Tueday, April 9 at 11 am. Then the big event for the month will be the 2019 Skyview Men's and Women's Club Championship Doubles Tournament on April 12, 13, and 14.  

Dinner Specials 

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Skyview Restaurant and The Grille will both be hosting Easter specials on Sunday, April 21. The Skyview menu will include options like Carved Virginia Baked Ham, Filet Bordelaise, Grouper Oscar, and Lamb Chops.

Then The Grille will be serving a buffet with Carved Prime Rib, Honey Baked Ham, Lemon Chicken, and Fresh Salmon.  

Some of the other Skyview Restaurant specials that you won't want to miss this month include a Surf and Turf Night on Tuesday, April 2, a Southern California Wine Dinner on Tuesday, April 9, and a European Pub Night on Thursday, April 18.

BellaVita 

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This month, BellaVita Spa is going to be running a Men's Facial Special. Taking advantage of these specials is a great way to get to know all of the great things that they offer.  

With so much to do all over the Villages of Citrus Hills this month, our members are all going to be very busy. Make sure that you take some time to enjoy all that the community has to offer.

New Team in Town: Meet the Orlando Apollos

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Have you noticed that there have been spring football games on TV this year? Our desire to see gridiron action all year round is finally coming true thanks to the brand new AAF, and we are in a prime spot to witness this new league with nearby Orlando getting one of the eight inaugural franchises.  

If you are a football lover that is looking for a team to root for this spring, the Orlando Apollos are interested in giving you that opportunity. And it looks like they are going to end up being pretty good, so we will have lots to root for here at the Tiki Bar.

What is the AAF? 

The AAF is the American Alliance of Football, and it was founded by television producer Charlie Ebersol and former NFL executive Bill Polian. Former players Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, and Justin Tuck are also heavily involved in the new league, which officially kicked off on February 9 of this year.  

While it was initially conceived as a competitor to the NFL, much like the XFL positioned itself, the AAF has since evolved to see itself as a minor league for the NFL. There have already been discussions about the NFL loaning out some of its younger players to the AAF in hopes of developing them faster.  

Do I Know Any Apollos? 

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The brand new AAF wanted to make a big splash when they announced that the Orlando Apollos would be their first franchise, and they did that in April of 2018 by unveiling that Florida legend Steve Spurrier would be their first head coach.  

That's right, the "old ball coach" is back in business.  

In addition to Spurrier, football fans will certainly recognize names like Bob Sanders, Donnie Abraham, and Lito Sheppard coaching on the defensive side of the ball.  

When it comes to the players in the huddle for the Apollos, quarterback Garett Gilbert has been lighting up the scoreboard throwing to his favorite target, Charles Johnson. And then there is the running back tandem of D'Ernest Johnson and De'Veon Smith churning up yardage on the ground.  

Are They Any Good? 

With only one loss in their first six games, the Orlando Apollos are already the class of the AAF. That means that they are well on their way to making an appearance in the four-team playoff set to happen this April.  

The Apollos offense has proven to be the best in the league thus far, and the defense is currently ranked as the second-best unit in terms of yards allowed.  

When Can I See Them? 

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The Apollos are scheduled to host their final two games of the inaugural season at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 13. The April 6 contest will be against the San Diego Fleet, then the April 13 regular season finally will take place against the second place Birmingham Iron.  

Following the regular season, there will be a four-team playoff starting on Sunday, April 21 and concluding with a championship game on Sunday, April 27. And unless something goes terribly wrong in the next four weeks, Coach Spurrier should have his team in the hunt for the first ever AAF title.  

Not only are we blessed to have a new football team competing right down the road in Orlando, we are also fortunate that the team is playing extremely well to start the season. If you are looking for a fun weekend activity to keep you busy over the next few weeks, start following the Apollos and get excited about the AAF!

Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training Preview

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The Tampa Bay Rays generated some interesting conversations when they started utilizing their "opener" strategy early on in the 2018 campaign. Over the course of the season, that revolutionary approach to the game propelled the Rays to an astounding 90-win season.  

That unique strategy will be making a return to Tampa Bay in 2019, as will nearly all of the key pieces from that 90-win season. And when you factor in some of the new additions and young arms returning from injury, expectations are higher than ever for the Rays this summer.  

If you are looking to join in early on what could be a playoff caliber baseball team, we have all the key information you are going to need to know about the 2019 Tampa Bay Rays.  

Rock Solid Foundation 

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The key in 2018 was the emergence of Blake Snell as a true ace pitcher. Not only was Snell the best pitcher on the roster in 2018, he was also the best pitcher in the American League and comes into 2019 as the reigning A.L. Cy Young Award winner.  

Snell will benefit from the support of a strong defense that is anchored by centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who might be one of the best defensive players in the majors.

In addition to Snell's pitching and Kiermaier's defense, Rays fans can expect to see plenty of pop in the middle of the batting order thanks to slugger Tommy Pham, who was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals right at the trade deadline last season.  

The Rays also acquired pitcher Tyler Glasnow from Pittsburgh at the deadline, and his improved command produced impressive results down the stretch. If he can build on that success moving forward, we can expect a solid year from him in 2019.  

New Faces in Tampa Bay 

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In order to build on their successful 2018 season, the Rays made some moves to improve their roster during the offseason. The biggest of those moves was inking pitcher Charlie Morton to a two-year deal. Morton will slot in right behind Snell as the number two starter.  

Another free agent acquisition that could make an impact is the addition of Avisail Garcia on a one-year deal that is laced with incentives. Garcia is a proven major leaguer who was an All-Star in 2017, so there is plenty of reason to believe he can contribute in a meaningful way.  

The front office was also active on the trade market during the winter, which resulted in the acquisition of catcher Mike Zunino from Seattle and infielder Yandy Diaz from Cleveland. Zunino brings a big bat to the middle of the Rays order, and Diaz is someone the Rays have liked for years.  

Returning Young Arms 

In addition to a solid core and some key additions, the Rays are also going to benefit from the return of a number of young pitchers throughout the season.  

Pitchers Brent Honeywell, Jose De Leon, and Anthony Banda are all scheduled to make their return from Tommy John surgery at some point during the year. All three have the ability to earn a rotation spot upon their return, which could eventually make the "opener" strategy unnecessary.  

Barring any significant injuries, the 2019 Tampa Bay Rays are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the American League. And while they might not be talented enough to take on the Yankees and the Red Sox for the A.L. East pennant just yet, they are almost certainly going to be a serious contender for one of the two Wild Card spots.  

There are going to be a lot of very exciting games happening at The Trop this year, so make sure you plan on heading down to see the Rays as much as possible.

March Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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While March Madness is most commonly meant to describe the wild action of the annual NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, it is also a fitting description for everything happening around the Villages of Citrus Hills this month. The folks at the Activity Center are really pulling out all of the stops to keep us all moving as we officially head into Spring 2019.  

Whether you’re looking for fun social events, exciting learning opportunities, competitive sporting competitions, or delicious dinner specials, you can find all of that and more around our community this month. Let's jump in and take a closer look as some of the events you are going to want to mark on your calendar.  

Social Events

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A favorite local rock band, Rocky and the Rollers, will be performing in the Hampton Room for the Sock Hop on Tuesday, March 5. This dance party will feature a cash bar, and themed dress is encouraged but not required, so don't hesitate to break out those leather jackets and poodle skirts.

 One social event that will be taking place outside of the community this month will be the Deep Sea Fishing Excursion to Tarpon Springs on Sunday, March 10. This trip will take members out on a massive 85-foot cruiser for some of the best fishing in the world.  

You won't want to miss the Dinner Show with Marc Black the following week on Tuesday, March 12. Learn the history of music with the award-winning musician who toured with the Doors, Van Morrison and more. The dinner will include Caprese-Stuffed Chicken and Roast Pork Loin Dijonnaise.  

All of our local trivia junkies will be back in action for Tasty Trivia Tuesday on Tuesday, March 19. This month's theme is "movies," and the dinner will feature London Broil with Mushroom Sauce and Baked Haddock.  

Art & Education 

Steven Davis will be the speaker for this month's Florida-Friendly Landscaping Seminar on Thursday, March 14 at 1 pm. Steven is the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Coordinator for the Citrus County Department of Water Resources, and he will be leading a discussion on how to incorporate Florida-friendly landscaping practices into your yard.  

Doc Talk will also be back this month with a lecture from Dr. Gerilyn E. Cross in the Activity Center Auditorium on Wednesday, March 27 at 6 pm. Dr. Cross will be presenting a wide range of information concerning hormone health and how it relates to different types of diseases.  

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Local crafters will have their creations on display at the Spring Farmers' Market & Craft Fair on Sunday, March 31 from 10 am to 2 pm in the Activity Center Parking Lot.

This is one of the can't-miss attractions each and every year. Gourmet foods, craft and live entertainment by Mark Welzel. 

Golf & Tennis 

This month's golf calendar is going to start out with a fun one when the Four-Leaf Clover Open gets going on The Meadows course at 8:30 am on Saturday, March 2. Everyone involved will get to play their round and enjoy lunch afterwards.  

Things will get much more competitive on March 6 and 7 when the 2019 Skyview Ladies' Club Championship tees off. This two-day stroke play event will be flighted by handicaps and is open to all female Skyview Golf Members.  

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The Citrus Hills courses will be hosting their own competitive event later in the month with the Citrus Hills Couples Championship on March 14 and 15. This will be a 36-hole better hall tournament open to all Citrus Hills gold and social members.  

The Skyview Tennis Center is also going to be busy this month, and that will start with their Free Beginner's Tennis Clinic on Tuesday, March 12 at 11 am. Then there will be a Spring Break Tennis Social on Sunday, March 24 that will include mixed doubles from 1 pm to 3 pm followed by lunch and beverages.  

Dinner Specials

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Skyview Restaurant is pulling out all the stops with their dinner specials this month. You can enjoy an Asian Night Buffet on Tuesday, March 5, Lobsterfest on Saturday, March 9, an American Wine Dinner on Monday, March 11, and Foods of the Forgotten Coast on Thursday March 14.  

There will also be a St. Patrick's Day Dinner at Skyview Restaurant on Sunday, March 17 that will feature Slow-Cooked Corned Beef and Cabbage, Baked Cod, Irish Bangers and Mash, and Stout Braised Lamb Shanks.

The Grille will also be going all out for St. Patricks Day with specials like Irish Stew, Black and Tan Pork, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Scallop Pie, Roasted Lamb Shanks, and Lamb Shepherd's Pie.

BellaVita

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And if you happen to find any quiet time for yourself during this busy month, you should also plan on heading down to BellaVita Spa. They will be running a 24 Karat Gold Revitalizer Facial and a Wrapping-Up Winter Massage Special this month.

With so much to do this month, you’ll have to pick and choose which events are the ones that deserve a spot on your calendar. Good luck deciding, and have fun at whichever activities you choose to attend!

Weekend Getaway: New Smyrna Beach

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Residents here at the Villages of Citrus Hills typically feel that the Gulf Coast offers the best version of the Florida retirement lifestyle, but that doesn't mean that a weekend trip to the Atlantic Coast isn't warranted every once in a while.  

With its crashing waves and laid-back atmosphere, New Smyrna Beach is the perfect destination for Gulf Coast beach bums looking to head east for a relaxing weekend getaway. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, this is our best advice for making the most out of your trip.  

Places to Stay in New Smyrna Beach

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TripAdvisor.com doesn't always get it right in their rankings of the best hotels in a particular area, but we think they are right on the money in having The Black Dolphin Inn ranked at the top of their list for New Smyrna Beach. This stunning bed and breakfast will cater to your every need and have you staying right near all of the action downtown.

If staying on the beach is more of a priority for you, then the Atlantic Plaza comes highly recommended in New Smyrna Beach. These oceanfront condos will have you sleeping within steps of those famous Atlantic Ocean waves.  

Things to Do in New Smyrna Beach 

The beach is one of the popular tourist attractions in New Smyrna Beach, and we highly recommend planning to spend the bulk of your weekend enjoying the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. You will find that surfing, boogie boarding, and body surfing are all popular here, but strolling through the sand looking for shells can be just as enjoyable if you don't want to get wet.

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In between beach sessions, you will also want to check out some of the many local art galleries that you will find around town. New Smyrna Beach is known as a "small art town," which means that there are lots of independent local artists that have come together to create a very unique cultural community.

 

Places to Eat in New Smyrna 

In keeping with the theme of everything else, you will find the restaurant scene offers a fantastic selection of casual restaurants serving up world-class food paired with some truly outstanding wine lists.  One of the popular restaurants is SoNapa Grille, which is known for their Lobster Bisque and their wine list, but won't disappoint you with anything in between those either.  

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Other popular restaurants include The Garlic, which has a special approach to all of your favorite garlic-forward dishes, and Norwood's Eatery & Treehouse Bar, which is definitely one of the coolest destinations in town.  

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the fantastic dining you will find in New Smyrna Beach, which makes this a perfect destination to revisit.  

With fantastic restaurants, first-class lodging, and one of the best beaches you will find along the Atlantic Coast, there is no reason not to make the two-hour drive for a weekend getaway as often as you can. When are you going to be taking your next trip?

7 Benefits Of Building A New Home In Villages Of Citrus Hills

One of the biggest questions faced by many people who are relocating to Florida is whether they are better off to build a new home or buy an existing one. 

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While there are advantages to both options, building a new home has certain key benefits that just can’t be matched when buying an existing one. 

Here are the seven top benefits of building a new home instead of buying a resale.

Choose the Exact Look and Floor Plan 

When you choose to build your new home from scratch, you get to build it the way you want it. You will have the option to choose the ideal floor plan you want and you will also be able to choose the materials and color schemes that fit your personality.  We have 6 brand new floor plans for Terra Vista. 

Personalize Each and Every Detail 

Another big selling point for new home construction is that you will have the ability to personalize many aspects of your home. Adding features like a pot filler above the stove or a particular type of recessed lighting in a certain spot are easy to integrate when they are added before the walls go up. 

New Homes Have Warranties 

Should anything go wrong with your new construction home in the first few years, it will almost certainly be covered under your warranty. The same cannot be said with a resale home, where what you see is often what you get and you could be opening yourself up to tremendous risk if something goes wrong down the road.  

Save Energy With New Technologies 

Whether you are selflessly concerned about protecting the environment or more interested in protecting your bank account from high energy costs, the modern green technologies that will be included in your new home will actually be able to do both!

 Your new home is sure to have energy efficient appliances, and it may also feature energy saving technologies in its roofing materials, windows, and ventilation system. 

Modern Style and Design 

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Building a new home instead of buying a resale also guarantees that you are on the cutting edge of the most modern style and design in the industry.

At Villages of Citrus Hills you will have all of the design features that are popular today like granite countertops, open concept kitchens, elegant master suites, and covered lanais. 

Lower Maintenance Costs 

Simply put, new homes will require less maintenance. Your home will already have a fresh coat of paint and a brand new roof, air-conditioner and appliances, so those types of maintenance projects and replacements will not be necessary until years down the road. You will also be able to design your landscaping in a way that can help you save on maintenance there as well.   

You’re the Only One 

Another advantage of purchasing a new home is the feeling of knowing that you are the only person who has ever lived there. You won’t have to ever consider what might have happened in the home before you lived there. Everything will be brand new and built just for you. 

Building a new home from the ground up gives you the ability to create the home of your dreams where every detail matches your expectations. 

While there are pros and cons to both building a new home and buying a resale, for most people the benefits of building a new home far outweigh any potential drawbacks.

Gulf vs. Atlantic: Which Florida Coast is the Best Retirement Location?

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The decision to enjoy your retirement years here in Florida is one of the best ones you will ever make, but it is actually only the first in a series of choices that become more and more essential to finding the ideal retirement destination for you.  

After choosing to pursue a Florida retirement, the next question that you are going to have to answer is which of the two coasts you would prefer to enjoy here in the Sunshine State. And while you really can't go wrong with either option, everyone seems to have their own preferences depending on how they rank different factors.  

To help you make that second decision with a little more confidence, we have collected some of the biggest advantages that each Florida coast has to offer and put them all in one place for you to process.

 Atlantic Coast Advantages 

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One of the most significant advantages that comes with choosing the Atlantic Coast side of Florida is that you are going to be able to enjoy the waves that crash on those beaches. If you are passionate about surfing, boogie boarding, or body surfing, this is a huge plus.  

In addition to having bigger waves, the Atlantic Coast is also home to several places with larger city-style amenities. With destinations like Jacksonville, Daytona, and Miami up and down the coast, there is no shortage of exciting things to see and do along the Atlantic Coast side of Florida.  

Gulf Coast Advantages

They say that one man's trash is another man's treasure, and we have found that for everyone who prefers the bigger waves of the Atlantic Coast, there is also someone who prefers the calmer waters over on the Gulf Coast. If a relaxing morning of standup paddle boarding is what gets you going, this is the place to make it happen.  

Another huge selling point for the Gulf Coast side is the fact that all of the beaches along the west side of Florida are absolutely stunning. You won't find white sand beaches anywhere in the world that are nicer than the ones right here along the Gulf Coast.  

Because there are fewer major cities and tourist attractions along the Gulf Coast, you will find that the communities on that side have less tourists and more reasonable housing, which makes the Gulf Coast a more appealing destination for many retirees.  

Based on the fact that the Villages of Citrus Hills is located on the Gulf Coast side of Florida, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that we feel it is the better retirement destination.  

But with all of the advantages of both sides right in front of you, we think you are probably going to do just fine making your own decision.  

And no matter where you might prefer to end up, there is no arguing that just about everyone who makes the decision to move to Florida ends up being happy with their decision.

February Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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Between Groundhog's Day, the Super Bowl, and Valentine's Day, the month of February is already filled with all kinds of exciting events, but we are adding even more fun to the mix this month here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.  

In addition to those standard holiday events, we are also filling up our calendar with all kinds of social events, competitive sports, and great dinner specials. Let's take a look at some of the biggest things happening around the community in the month of February.  

Social Events

If you have been thinking about getting involved in one of the many Activity Clubs that meet all over the Villages of Citrus Hills you will definitely want to attend the Activity Club Showcase in the Activity Center Auditorium on Sunday, February 3 starting at 1 pm. More than 50 of our most popular clubs will be set up there discussing the things that their members are passionate about.  

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Lunch & Learn will be back on Tuesday, February 5 with Sabrina Watson talking about the basics of essential oils and how you can use them for health support, food flavoring, and aromatherapy. Lunch for this event will include a BLT with Avocado in a wrap and Potato Salad.  

The meal will be much more substantial when the Shabbat Dinner Club meets in the Garden Room on Friday, February 8 starting at 5:30 pm. This meal will feature Sliced Sirloin and Broiled Salmon along with Garden Salad, Parsley Steamed Red Bliss Potatoes, Glazed Baby Carrots, and Cake.  

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The most hysterical dinner in February will almost certainly be the Comedy Dinner Show featuring Sonya White in the Hampton Room on Tuesday, February 12. Dinner for this event will include Boursin-Stuffed Chicken and Sliced Sirloin in Mushroom Sauce with a laugh-out-loud comedy show to follow.  

Mah Jongg players won't want to miss the Mah Jongg Madness Tournament in the Activity Center Card Room on the morning of Tuesday, February 19. Signups for this event are already open, and seating is limited to 13 tables of four.  

Tuesday, February 19 will also be the date for this month's Tasty Trivia Tuesday in the Hampton Room. The theme this month is "science" and the menu will include Pot Roast and Chicken Maryland.  

Golf & Tennis 

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Golfers can celebrate Valentine's Day on Groundhog Day at the Citrus Hills Valentine's Open on Saturday, February 2. This fun tournament will kick off on The Meadows Course at 8:30 am and entries will include drinks and lunch.  

Following the Valentine's Open, the competition is instantly going to heat up with the Skyview Men's Senior, Super Senior, Legends, and Super Legends Tournament on February 4 and 5. That will then be followed by the 2019 Citrus Hills Men's Club Championship on February 14 and 15.  

Of course, if you aren't quite ready to be taking on the best golfers in our community, you might want to think about joining the "Newbie" Nine-Hole Golf League that plays every Thursday or attending one of PGA Teaching Professional Mary Slinkard's Free Golf Clinics this month.  

Anyone looking to get involved in the Skyview Tennis Center community this month can learn more about everything that happens there by participating in the Free Beginner Tennis Clinic on Tuesday, February 12 at 11 am. You don't even need to own a racket in order to come play! 

Dinner Specials 

The dinner specials are going to revolve around the major holidays this month, and that is going to start off with the Groundhog Day Specials running all day at Skyview Restaurant on Saturday, February 2. If the groundhog sees his shadow, the special will be 2 for 1 drinks. And if he doesn't see his shadow, all bar menu appetizers will be buy one, get one half off! 

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Things will be even wilder at the Tiki Bar this weekend as they host their annual Super Bowl Party on Sunday, February 3. They'll have the big game on all of their TVs and are planning a fun tailgate menu that they will be serving from 3 pm to 8 pm.  

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If you are looking for a special meal on Valentine's Day, you will have plenty of options to choose from between Skyview Restaurant and The Grille. Skyview Restaurant will be serving an elegant meal for two that will be accompanied by live jazz music, and The Grille is planning a fancy a la carte menu with live entertainment by Jack Dempsey.  

BellaVita Spa 

Still looking for more ways to fill up your February calendar? Make sure that you find time to stop by BellaVita Spa for the Facial Spa Special and the February Bouquet Massage that they are going to be featuring this month.  

Between all of the fun social events, the competitive golf tournaments, and the holiday-themed dinner specials, this is going to be a busy month here at the Villages of Citrus Hills. We can’t wait to see you enjoying these activities and events!

Three Sisters Springs Boardwalk and Refuge

Three Sisters Springs Boardwalk and Refuge

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We are right in the middle of manatee season here along Florida's Nature Coast, and one of the best places in the world to see them in person is right here in our backyard at Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River.  

It is important to understand that seeing Three Sisters Springs from the boardwalk and exploring the area from the water are two completely different experiences. Depending on what you are looking for, either option could make for a great afternoon in Citrus County.  

Three Sisters Springs from the Boardwalk

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With 57 acres of preserve occupying this Florida wetland, there is a lot to see and do around Three Sisters Springs. And one of the best ways to take it all in is from the 1/4-mile boardwalk that connects different viewing platforms around the property.  

The fee for visiting Three Sisters Spring varies based on the season. It is $15 for a one-day adult pass during manatee season, which is double the cost during the off-manatee season. Of course, if you are interested in actually seeing manatees, the added cost for the winter season is more than reasonable. 

In order to get to the boardwalk, you have to take the trolley from the Three Sisters Springs Center. Those trolleys head out to the boardwalk about every 30 minutes, and they are operating every day of the week during manatee season.  

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On top of providing transportation between the Three Sister Springs Center and the boardwalk, the trolleys also continue on to three other destinations around Crystal River.  

Three Sisters Springs by Water

Another way to get up close and personal with the manatees during their peak season is to visit Three Sisters Springs by water. There is nothing quite like cruising through the springs in a kayak or canoe, so this should definitely be on your Citrus County bucket list.  

There are no boat ramps or access points located within the reserve, but there are plenty of options to get into the water located nearby. For most people, the best option is to launch from Kings Bay and then making your way out to the springs.  

Anyone exploring the springs by water should be careful to respect the restricted manatee habitats.  

The following is a link for the Three Sisters Springs.

http://www.threesistersspringsvisitor.org/page/By%20Boardwalk 

The Manatee Festival

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If you have been thinking about making a special trip to Three Sisters Springs, this weekend is actually the perfect opportunity. They are hosting a Manatee Festival on Saturday, January 19 and Sunday, January 20.  

The boardwalk area will be open from 9 am to 3 pm on both days and admission will be completely free to public visitors. This will allow you to see manatees from the boardwalk without having to pitch up the usual $15 admission fee.  

Whether you are a manatee expert or just someone looking for something fun to do this weekend, Three Sisters Springs offers ways to get up close and personal with manatees on dry land via their boardwalk or in the water.

 

We highly recommend taking the time to attend the Manatee Festival there this weekend.

7 Citrus Hills Themed New Year's Resolutions for 2019

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Whether you’re ready for it or not, 2019 has arrived, and we are all planning for it to be the best year ever here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.  

And if you have not yet committed to picking a resolution for the new year, we have put together a few Citrus Hills themed suggestions that will help you get more out of your fabulous life here along Florida's Nature Coast.  

Attend More Social Events 

Spending more time with friends and neighbors is one of the most popular New Year's Resolutions here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, but we suggest taking that idea one step farther and committing to attending more of our regular social events throughout the year.  

There are dozens of fun and exciting events happening every month around the community and making a point to attend as many of them as possible is a great way to fill up your social calendar while spending quality time with friends and neighbors.

Dinners with Friends 

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In addition to attending the many social events happening around our community throughout the month, you can also spend more time with friends and neighbors by planning a regular dinner at Skyview Restaurant, The Grille, or the Tiki Bar.  

This can be an extra special resolution if you can get a group of friends to all commit to meeting for dinner on a specific day each month.  

Join a Class at PrimoVita 

Another popular resolution is to work on getting yourself into better shape, and there are tons of fun options to help you out with that in the form of exercise classes at the PrimoVita Fitness Center.  

Whether you are looking for beginner Pilates or advanced yoga, there is a class that is perfect for everybody who is looking to improve their fitness in 2019.  

Hit the Range More Often 

If improving your golf game is high on your list for the coming year, a great New Year's resolution that you can make is to put a priority on getting yourself to the Skyview Driving Range more frequently.  

Like most resolutions, this one will be more powerful if you attach real numbers to it, so pick a specific number of times you want to hit the range each week or month and hold yourself to it.

 Read Good Books at the Pool 

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Reading more books is also a popular resolution, and the pools throughout the Villages of Citrus Hills are perfect places to kick back with a good one.  

The Coffee Shop is another popular spot to catch up with your reading or a friend. 

Pick Up a New Hobby 

If you would like to bring a new hobby into your life this year, there are quite a few excellent clubs to choose from that meet regularly all over the Villages of Citrus Hills.  

We have everything from Bocce to Wood Carving, and all you have to do is call up the club leader for more information. 

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Plan a Trip 

For members who are looking to add a little more excitement to their lives in 2019, we recommend checking out some of the exciting trips that the Citrus Hills Vacationers Club has planned for the coming year.  

And if you can't find anything there that excites you, there are dozens of day and weekend trips that we have profiled on the blog over the years.  

You can't put it off any longer. 2019 has arrived, and just like 2018 it will fly by before you know it. Make sure you get the most out of the new year by making a resolution to take advantage of all that there is to see and do here at the Villages of Citrus Hills!

Birding with a Naturalist at Fort Cooper State Park

With its location right in the middle of Florida's Nature Coast, Citrus County is one of the best places in the entire world for nature-lovers who are looking to hit the trails and take in the scenery. And one of the ways to get started doing just that is to participate in the monthly naturalist-guided bird walks at Fort Cooper State Park.  

Because the park is only a quick 20-minute drive from the Villages of Citrus Hills, it is considered "home base" for many of the nature lovers that call our community home. It is also "home base" for a local expert who makes herself available to guide and teach on the second Tuesday of every month from December through May.  

Meet the Naturalist 

Dee Bolton is a member of the National Audubon Society, and she has been studying birds and wildlife across the country for the better part of her life. After spending time in Colorado, California, Arizona, Minnesota, and Key Largo, she has migrated to The Nature Coast where she has worked as a guide at Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, and Fort Cooper State Park.  

With that wide breadth of experience under her binoculars, Dee is one of the most knowledgeable guides you will find anywhere in the Sunshine State. Her birding walks at Fort Cooper State Park start at the lake at 8:30 in the morning, and allows everyone attending to appreciate a diverse collection of winged wildlife.  

Get to Know the Birds 

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With the walk starting along the shores of Lake Holathlikaha, visitors are likely to spot water-loving birds like Green Herons, Snowy Egrets, Wood Storks, White Ibises, and Sandhill Cranes. 

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Then, as they make their way around the Sandhill Loop Trail, bird lovers will be on the lookout for Bachman's Sparrows, Hairy Woodpeckers, Great Crested Flycatchers, and Common Ground-Doves. This is also an area where you might catch a glimpse of a Sherman's Fox Squirrel or a Gopher Tortoise.  

As Dee leads visitors further back into the woods, they will be looking for songbirds like Magnolia Warblers, Hooded Warblers, Red-Eyed Vireos, Yellow-Billed Cuckoos, and Grey-Cheeked Thrushes. And at the deepest parts of the walk, they might even see an Eastern Screech Owl, Barred Owl, or Chuck-Will's-Widow.

Equipment You Will Need 

Like any fun activity, birding is going to be much more enjoyable if you have the necessary equipment. But unlike some of the more complicated ways to spend your time out in the woods, the tools required here are relatively simple. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and maybe a set of binoculars.  

If you are looking to take your birding to the next level, you might want to invest in a reliable guidebook, and you could always spring for a nicer pair of binoculars. Assuming you are already planning to dress according to the weather, that is all you need for a successful birding walk.  

Whether you are an experienced bird watcher or someone who is just thinking about getting into it for the first time, the Birding with a Naturalist events at Fort Cooper State Park are the perfect way to get your feet wet without having to venture too far from home. See you at the park!

December Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

 

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It's the most wonderful time of the year here at The Villages of Citrus Hills, and we are rolling right into a jam-packed month of December that is going to be filled with all kinds of holiday fun.  

Whether you are looking for fun things to do with friends and family, opportunities to get out and learn something new, a little competition, or just a great meal, we have the best of the best activities and events happening around the community this month.  

Social Events

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The first big event of the month will be the Hanukkah Party on Tuesday, December 4 in the Hampton Room. This special party to celebrate the festival of lights will feature tray-passed hors d'oeuvres, a Mediterranean platter, and a pasta bar.  

On Monday, December 10, the Citrus Hills Vacationers Club will be taking a group down to Tampa to see our Lightning host the New York Rangers at 7:30 pm. Tickets for this event are $145 per member, and that includes great seats and round-trip transportation.

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The second biggest social event of the month will be the Holiday in the Hills Golf Cart Parade that is scheduled for Sunday, December 16. Everyone is encouraged to decorate their golf carts for the holidays and join in the parade from the Activity Center

down to Skyview Restaurant for an awards banquet.  

And the only reason that the Golf Cart Parade is the second biggest social event of the month is that there will be an even bigger party happening in the Hampton Room on New Year's Eve. Tickets are still available for this fun evening that will include appetizers, a full dinner buffet, live music, and a champagne toast at midnight.  

Arts & Education

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The Citrus Hills Speaker Series will be back in the Activity Center on Friday, December 7 when we will be welcoming Veteran Frank Jolliff. He will be discussing the book he published about his time in Vietnam starting at 5:30 pm.  

On Wednesday, December 19, Steven Davis will be discussing Florida-Friendly Landscaping in the Activity Center as part of the Citrus Hills Seminar Series. Everyone who attends the event will learn all of the basics of landscaping practices that work best here in Florida.  

Looking ahead to January, Gayle Cohen will be returning to lead a regular seminar discussing The Healing Power of Music and how you can use her tips to lift and heal your body, mind, and spirit.  

Golf & Tennis

Most golfers tend to slow down a bit over the holidays, but this can actually be the perfect time to work on your game in between the two halves of our season here at The Villages of Citrus Hills. So, make sure that you are still booking your tee times! 

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The two big golf events this month will be the St. Nick Open at The Oaks course on Saturday, December 8 and the Husband and Wife Championship at Skyview on Monday, December 10.  

In addition to those fun tournaments, there is a new "Newbie" Nine-Hole League starting up on Thursdays at The Meadows course, and PGA Pro Mary Spinkard will be hosting her usual Free Golf Clinics throughout the month.  

December is also a great month to get involved at the Skyview Tennis Center, and they will be hosting a Free Beginner Tennis Clinic on Tuesday, December 11 at 11 am. There will be a sale on all tennis apparel at the Skyview Tennis Center throughout the month of December.  

Dinner Specials

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Our community restaurants are also getting into the holiday spirit this month, and Skyview Restaurant is going to be celebrating the season with their 10th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Special Event on Tuesday, December 4 and a Members'

Holiday Party on Tuesday,  December 11. Both events will feature holiday themed buffets.  

Members will also want to hit The Grille on Saturday, December 15 for their Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. In addition to great food and drink specials, there will also be a holiday sing-a-long and some special surprises. 

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And, if you are looking to pamper yourself during the holidays, BellaVita Spa has December specials like a Perfect Appearance Dermalife Facial, a Cranberry Spa Pedicure, and a Holiday Massage Special.  

It doesn't matter which events you are most excited for this month; the important thing is that you make a point to enjoy them and spend as much time as possible with friends and family. Have a great month and we'll have more events from the Activity Center staff in the New Year!

4 Stunning Model Homes You Might Want to Purchase

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The process of building a brand-new home here at the Villages of Citrus Hills can be a fantastic experience, but it isn't necessarily an experience that is right for everybody. For a lucky few, purchasing one of our model homes can be a much better option.  

Because all of the model homes are designed to impress, most of them come with all of the additional features. On top of that, they are obviously already built, so they make an excellent option for anyone who doesn't really want to wait through the construction process.  

Being able to buy one of the builder’s model homes anywhere is a rare occurrence, but if getting into a brand-new home that comes with all kinds of bonuses sounds appealing to you, take a look at these four options that are currently available here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.

 

The Kingston

The Kingston model home is currently available for $524,900.

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The Kingston is a cozy three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a study that covers 1,936 square feet of climate-controlled living space.  

You'll love making dinner in the open-concept kitchen, and you'll REALLY love taking a bath in the master-suite jacuzzi tub! Actually, there isn't anything you won't love about this adorable home. 

 

The Somerset

The Somerset model home is currently available for $599,000. 

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The Somerset is a larger option that adds a third bathroom and 700 square feet of additional living space. And most of that living space is located in the dining room area that sits between the open kitchen and the huge living room.  

You'll also find an upgrade master suite that will have you feeling like you are walking into your own personal spa every time you take a bath or shower.  


The Winchester

The Winchester model home is currently available for $699,900. 

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With three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a study, and just over 2,600 square feet of climate-controlled living space, The Winchester is pretty similar to The Somerset at first glance. But a deeper dive will reveal that this home is something extraordinary.  

Since it was built to showcase all of the outstanding upgrades available here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, you will find that The Winchester has gorgeous cabinets, elegant ceilings, and a perfect breakfast nook. And then you head outside to find a covered, in-ground pool! 

 

The Windham

The Windham model home is currently available for $679,900.

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The Windham is the largest and most impressive model home that is currently available. With three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a family room, and almost 3,000 square feet of climate-controlled living space, there is more than enough room to spread out and relax here.  

It also has all of the exciting features that we saw in The Winchester, including the pool. And after doing a few loads in this beautiful laundry room, you might actually start to enjoy washing your clothes. 

 

Whether you are looking to go big with a model like The Windham or The Winchester or keep things more reasonable with The Kingston or The Somerset, these four model homes are a tremendous opportunity to purchase a move-in ready home complete with all the bells and whistles here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.

 

Contact our sales team today to schedule a viewing and let us welcome you to the neighborhood!

November Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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It feels like just last week that things finally started cooling off from the summer months, but believe it or not, we are already rolling right into November and the start of the holiday season. And just like every month here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, the hard workers at the Activity Center have put together an activities and events calendar that is packed with fun things to keep you busy. 

Whether you are looking for fun social events to enjoy with friends, competitive golf and tennis tournaments, or just some great dinner specials, we have it all on our calendar this month. Let's jump in and take a closer look at some of the highlights that you aren't going to want to miss in November.  

Social Events

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The first big social event of the month will be the Veterans Day Dinner Dance in the Hampton Room on Sunday, November 11. The cash bar will open up at 5:30 pm with a buffet featuring Bourbon Salmon and Thinly Sliced Prime Rib following at 6:30 pm. There will also be live music by Lisa Beck from Rock Solid.  

On Tuesday, November 13, the Hampton Room will be hosting a dinner show that features vocalists Mary Jo Vitale and Clark Barrios performing your favorite hits from artists like Michael Buble, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel, Celine Dion, and Barbara Streisand. The dinner menu will include Prime Rib, Boursin-Stuffed Chicken, Green Beans Almondine, and Oven-Roasted Potatoes.  

The Shabbat Dinner Club will be meeting in the Garden Room on Friday, November 16 starting at 5:30 pm. This month, the meal will include your choice of Sliced Sirloin in Mushroom Sauce or Broiled Salmon in a Sherry Shallot Cream Sauce.

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Auto enthusiasts won't want to miss the Third Annual Citrus Hills Car & Truck Show in the Activity Center Parking Lot on Sunday, November 18. This is going to be an all-day event running from 9 am through 3 pm, and it will feature great food, live music, and trophies for all of the best rides. 

Our local trivia buffs will be back in action on Tuesday, November 20 in the Hampton Room. This month, dinner will include Shepherd's Pie, Roast Pork Loin Dijonase, Rice Pilaf, and Broccoli with Red Pepper and Shallots.  

We will be closing out the month with one of the most popular events of the year. On Tuesday, November 27, the Hampton Room will be hosting the 14th Annual Holiday Boutique, which is the perfect place to buy all of those unique craft item gifts for everyone on your Christmas list.

 Golf & Tennis 

The Giving Thanks Open on Saturday, November 3 will be the first golf event of the month. There will be Men's, Ladies', Mixed, and Couples divisions with lots of food and beer available following the event at Citrus Hills.

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Meanwhile, the Skyview courses will be hosting a Veterans Day Scramble on Sunday, November 11 and a two-day Major Event Men's Better Ball Tournament on November 27 and 28.  

Of course, if you are interested in ramping up your golf game, you can always attend one of the free golf clinics hosted by PGA/LPGA Teaching Professional Mary Slinkard. Clinics for beginners will be held on November 5, 6, and 7. Then, there will be clinics for intermediate golfers on November 13, 20, and 27.

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Any tennis players who are interested in hitting the golf course will be thrilled to hear about the Tennis Players Golf Tournament at Skyview on Sunday, November 4. Players can choose to play either 9 or 18 holes, and there is a big party planned at the Tripp's house after the tournament.  

There will also be a Free Beginner Tennis Clinic for anyone interested in learning the basics of the game. All you have to do is show up at the Skyview Tennis Center wearing a pair of tennis shoes on Tuesday, November 13 and everything else will be handled for you.  

Dinner Specials 

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The biggest dinner special of the year will be the Thanksgiving Dinner Specials at Skyview Restaurant and The Grille on Thursday, November 22. Both restaurants will be serving dinner from 12 pm to 5 pm with Skyview Restaurant putting together a four-course, choose-your-own-adventure-style meal and The Grille serving up a traditional Thanksgiving food buffet.  

Skyview Restaurant is also going to be the place to stop on the other four Thursdays in November when they will be running a unique Tapas Menu of small plates like Roasted Brussel Sprouts Trio, Grilled Lamb Chops, Fall Shrimp Scampi, and Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli.  

In addition to all of the great activities and events happening around our community this month, you also might want to take advantage of specials like a V-Neck Soothing Facial or a Pumpkin Spice Spa Pedicure at BellaVita Spa.  

And if you are already planning ahead for December, don't forget about the big trip to Tampa to see the Buccaneers on Sunday, December 2 or the exciting New Year's Eve party that will be happening in the Hampton Room!

Benefits of Living in Citrus County

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Florida is a big state with a wide range of different options that appeal to different people for different reasons.  

But if you are considering relocating to the Sunshine State, Citrus County, which just so happens to be the home of the Villages of Citrus Hills, presents one of the best options you could choose for a number of reasons.  

Residents of Citrus County are in a position to enjoy all of the best aspects of Florida at the same time. They get to experience the famous Florida climate. They are right next to the Gulf Coast, while still not too far from the Atlantic Coast. Great cities like Tampa, Orlando, Ocala and Gainesville are just a short drive away, and the entire region is filled with amazing state parks and forests.  

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most significant benefits of living in Citrus County.

Public and Protected Lands

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Many people who relocate here don’t realize that Citrus County covers approximately 700 square miles, of which more than 152,000 acres are set aside as public and protected land. Half of the county is a protected area that will never see any type of construction. This assures residents that Citrus County will never suffer from becoming overbuilt the way other parts of Florida have.

Ideal Climate

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One of the main reasons people move to Florida is the year-round sunshine.  In a state known for great weather, Citrus County has Florida’s best.   

Unlike humid South Florida, the region surrounding the Villages of Citrus Hills doesn’t have the Everglades water effect.  We instead sit on the Central Ridge.  At 260 feet above sea level, the Villages of Citrus Hills benefits from the breezes off the nearby Gulf of Mexico, keeping the climate temperate all year round. 

Citrus County’s year-round average is about 72 degrees with 65 percent humidity.  In fact, comfortable days are the norm.  We enjoy 274 days a year in the temperature “comfort zone”, which falls between 65 and 75 degrees.  It also means you won’t spend the whole summer hiding from the heat in your air-conditioned home.  Beautiful weather isn’t just a perk; it will improve your quality of life. 

An Enormous Amount of History

From the historic sites of the Second Seminole War to the shell mounds of ancient natives, Citrus County is packed with tons of great history and plenty of places to learn all about it. The county also has a long history of producing outstanding thoroughbred horses, including multiple Kentucky Derby champions.  

Low Cost of Living

Like all Florida residents, those living in Citrus County are not subjected to any state income tax. However, unlike some of the more urban parts of the state, Citrus County residents enjoy a relaxed atmosphere where they don’t have to worry about gouging prices that you might find in many popular tourist areas. The cost of living is very reasonable in Citrus County.  

Parks and Trails

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Whether you are looking for large state parks, great walking trails built from abandoned railroad lines, or small community parks that offer some of the best sunset views you will find anywhere, Citrus County has them all. There are a number of different parks and trails throughout the county that all offer their own unique version of nature in Citrus County.

 Day Trips to “Old Florida” Towns

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Another advantage that the geographic location of Citrus County offers is that residents are within a short drive of quite a few different “Old Florida” towns that all make for great day trips. Many of these small towns have great historic shopping districts, outstanding restaurants, and plenty of history and art museums.  

 

Gulf Coast Lifestyle

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Living in Citrus County places you right in the heart of the Gulf Coast Lifestyle. Fishing, boating, and sunbathing at the beach will all be only minutes away. You can also participate in popular local activities such as scalloping, catching stone crab, or swimming with the manatees.

 


Close to Tampa and Orlando

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While the communities of Citrus County are known for their small-town environments, the big-city lifestyle is never very far away with both Tampa and Orlando being only a short drive away. This gives Citrus County residents access to great shopping, cultural events, and professional sports teams that many people like to experience from time to time.

 

As you can see, Citrus County is one of the most optimal locations for an active adult lifestyle in Florida. Make sure to include a tour through Citrus County and the Villages of Citrus Hills on your next trip to Florida so that you can see the area for yourself.  Who knows you may decide to call us home!

Stone Crab Season – October 15 to May 15

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Florida stone crabs are known around the world for their delicious claw meat. But did you know that many of the stone crabs on menus around the country come from right here near the Villages of Citrus Hills? 

Whether you prefer them served cold with mustard sauce or warm with drawn butter, the experience of cracking and eating these crab claws is something you will never forget! 

About Stone Crabs

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One of the most interesting aspects of Florida stone crabs is that they are actually a renewable resource. When the crabs are caught in the traps of professional stone crabbers, the crabbers only take one claw from each crab and the crabs are then returned to the water.

As a defense mechanism, stone crabs are able to survive losing a claw and then regenerate that claw in about a year.  

The average stone crab has a lifespan of 8-9 years, and they are generally found in sandy ocean bottoms and seagrass beds along Citrus County’s coastline out to a depth of about 20 feet. Large stone crabs can weigh as much as one pound. They feed on oysters, snails, and various other small marine life. Female stone crabs can spawn as many as six times each year, producing up to one million fertilized eggs each time. In addition to humans, stone crabs can also find themselves being hunted by octopuses and grouper.  

Catching Stone Crabs

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The Florida stone crab harvesting season lasts seven months each year from October 15 through May 15. During this time, many amateur fishermen also hunt for stone crabs. 

Amateur crabbers are required to hold a salt water fishing license from the state of Florida, and they must adhere to certain regulations.

They are limited to a total of five traps, and they cannot catch more than one gallon of claws per day. The claws must all be a minimum of 2-3/4 inches.  

Eating Stone Crab

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While some find enjoyment in catching their own stone crab, many others prefer to let the professionals do the catching and simply focus on the eating. 

Probably the most popular place for stone crab near the Villages of Citrus Hills is Charlie’s Fish House & Seafood Market in Crystal River.  

The restaurant was originally started as an oyster bar by Charlie Kofmehl all the way back in 1960. The oyster bar was an immediate success, serving the best fresh fish and seafood in Citrus County. In the early seventies, Charlie turned the oyster bar over to his two sons, Jimmy and Phil.

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After years of continuing to grow the business, Jimmy and Phil decided to build a brand-new restaurant in 1990. The new waterfront restaurant had seating for 160 guests compared to seating for 30 in the old oyster bar. In honor of their father, Jimmy and Phil changed the name to Charlie’s Fish House.


Since then, the family business has continued to grow and guests can now find a third generation of Kofmehls working there.

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The restaurant menu at Charlie’s Fish House features a chilled stone crab appetizer with a mustard dipping sauce. There is also a 1-1/4 pound warm stone crab entree. In addition to stone crab, the menu features plenty of other local seafood favorites like oysters, grouper, shrimp, and scallops. If you prefer to cook your own seafood, Charlie’s Seafood Market sells fresh stone crab claws, as well as fresh caught grouper, mullet, red snapper, and even oysters. They can even ship stone crab to anyone you like across the country! 

Charlie’s also sponsors the Stone Crab Jam Music and Food Festival every fall in Crystal River. The festival is a fun-filled day of live music, exciting exhibits, and tons of stone crab.  

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11thAnnual “Stone Crab Jam” 

is Saturday, November 3rd, 12 Noon until 10 PM, 560 N. Citrus Avenue

Downtown Historic Crystal River, FL 34423 

 

Whether you are a seafood nut, or just looking for a fun experience to share with your family, catching or eating Florida stone crab is a fantastic option. When you live in the Villages of Citrus Hills, you can choose to catch your own, cook your own, or let a place like Charlie’s take care of everything for you!

5 Reasons to Start Hiking

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While fancy water-based activities like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding definitely have their place in the life of any active adult here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, one simple activity that just about everyone could do a little more of is hiking.  

It might not be talked about in the same light as some of the more exciting things that you can be doing outdoors, but the fact that our community is completely surrounded by local, state, and national parks filled with trails for hikers of all skill levels is precisely the kind of thing that needs more press coverage.  

One of the best things about hiking is that you are never too old to get out in the woods. And, just in case you felt otherwise, we found six reasons that prove just that.  

Everyone Needs Exercise 

No matter what doctor you see or what condition your overall health is in, just about every appointment includes a recommendation to get more exercise. So, if you are looking for ways to add a little exercise to your routine, there is no better option than an enjoyable hike through one of our neighboring parks.

The Price is Right 

Not only is hiking great for fulfilling the required exercise that today's active adults are looking for, it also isn't going to cost you anything at all outside of a good pair of shoes.  

Most of the great trails in Citrus County are located in parks that are open to the public with no fees.  

Go at Your Own Pace 

It is no secret that some outdoor activities can be a bit strenuous for retirees, but one of the best things about hiking is that you can take your time and move forward through a trail at whatever pace works best for your current fitness level.  

And since many of the local trails are greatly underutilized, you will be hard pressed to find anyone out there who is going to rush you through your workout.  

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Rails to Trails

If you are a complete beginner, then the local rails to trails options will be the perfect place for you to get used to walking through the woods without having to actually leave a smooth, paved surface.  

The Rails to Trails program has converted old railroad rails into paved trails all over the state, and we are blessed to have some great choices like the Withlacoochee State Trail right in our backyard.  

Enhanced Benefits 

If you aren't sold on hiking at this point, you're probably just looking for an excuse not to get out and enjoy the beauty of our local parks. But one last thing that might change your mind is the fact that relaxing out on a trail has been proven to increase clarity of thought and creativity.  

No matter what reasons speak most to you, heading over to one of our many local parks and getting yourself out on a trail is one of the very best things that you can do for your physical and mental health. So where are you planning to hike this weekend?

October Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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We’re rolling right into the fourth quarter of 2018, and October is going to be another month that is packed full of activities and events here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.  

Whether you’re looking for an excuse to get dressed up and hang out with friends, an opportunity to learn something new, a little competition, or just a great meal, we have got you in mind with all of the most exciting things happening around our community this month.  

Social Events

The first big social event of the month will be the Shabbat Dinner in the Garden Room on Friday, October 5. This month, dinner will consist of Bourbon Salmon and Chicken Marsala with sides, and then there will be Key Lime Pie for dessert.  

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Sliced Turkey and Baked Ham will be on the menu at the Harvest in the Hills Dinner Show in the Hampton Room on Saturday, October 13. In addition to a harvest-style meal, there will also be live entertainment from The Michael and Jennifer McLain Band featuring Dan Kelly.  

The monthly Trivia Challenge will be held on Tuesday, October 16 this month, and it will be happening with a Halloween twist! In addition to the normal buffet-style meal, there will also be trick-or-treat candy for everyone.  

On Friday, October 19, Charlie De will be performing a variety of music at the Dancing Through the Decades event in the Hampton Room. Following a dinner of Boursin-Stuffed Chicken Breast and Prime Rib, the music will take guests on a walk from the 60s all the way up to today's hits.  

Arts & Education 

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Lunch & Learn will be back in the Garden Room on Monday, October 15 at 11:30 am. This month, our guest will be photographer Jerry Dawson, who will be discussing his nature photography following a grilled chicken Caesar wrap for lunch.  

Speaker Don Dittatore will be talking about Avoiding Scams in Today's World in the Windsor Room on Tuesday, October 23 at 3 pm. This discussion will cover how senior citizens can avoid being taken advantage of in today's modern world.  

Golf & Tennis 

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The big golf event this month will be the Ghost Open at Citrus Hills on Saturday, October 6. After that, most golfers will be spending the rest of the month practicing for the big November events like the Harvest Invitational Tournament, the Veterans Day Tournament, and the Skyview Men's Better Ball Tournament.  

There will also be free golf clinics for beginners and intermediate golfers at Citrus Hills during the month of October. Beginners can get free coaching on October 8, 9, and 10. Then, intermediate golfers can get help with their game on October 16, 23, and 30.  

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This month's Free Beginner's Tennis Clinic will be held at Skyview Tennis Center on Tuesday, October 9 at 11 am. That clinic should be a big help for anyone who wants to participate in the Tennis Burger Bash, which will also be held at Skyview Tennis Center on Sunday, October 14.  

Tennis players can also look forward to the Tennis Players Golf Tournament on Sunday, November 4. This fun scramble will be starting from the Skyview Tennis Center with options to play 18 holes on The Oaks course or 9 holes on The Meadows course.  

Dinner Specials 

The big October dinner special at Skyview Restaurant is going to be an Oktoberfest event happening each and every Thursday throughout the entire month. Diners will get to choose from options like Sauerbraten, Potato Crusted Cod, Chicken Riesling, and Veal Holstein.  

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Skyview Restaurant will also be hosting a California Wine Country Dinner on Tuesday, October 9. This dinner will include four separate courses, each with a unique wine pairing. And Julie Swift from Jameson Ranch Vineyards will be explaining each of the pairings as they are served.  

On Thursday, October 18, the Tiki Bar will be hosting Alfresco Fall Elegance. Entrees for this meal will include Filet Mignon, Diver Scallops, Chicken Cordon Bleu, and Honey Cilantro  

Lime Salmon. There will also be live music provided by Snap Dake.  

BellaVita Spa & Fitness

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 October is also a great month to pamper yourself, so make sure that you pencil in some time to head over to BellaVita Spa and take advantage of their specials like a Pumpkin Facial and a Pumpkin Sugar Massage.

 

With everything happening here at the Villages of Citrus Hills during the month of October, it should be no problem to fill your social calendar with all kinds of unique experiences thanks to the hard-working people at the Activity Center. For more information on any of these great events, don't hesitate to give them a call!

The Top 5 Places to Take Visitors in Citrus County

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One of our favorite things about living in Citrus County is that there is an endless number of things to see and do.  There is always something happening right here in the Villages of Citrus Hills, and there are just as many fun attractions throughout the rest of the county.  

All of these attractions and activities are great for those of us who call Citrus County home, but they can be a little overwhelming for those who are just visiting with us for a short time. For that reason, we thought it would be a good idea to put together a list of the top five places everyone must see while visiting in Citrus County.  

5. Fort Island Gulf Beach

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Fort Island Gulf Beach is one of those places that you probably say, “We should come here more often,” just about every time you visit. It has beautiful white sand beaches, public restrooms, and a great boardwalk overlooking the water.  

When your guests visit the Gulf Coast of Florida, they are definitely going to want to SEE the Gulf Coast. This is the perfect way for them to see it right here in Citrus County, and it’s also an extremely relaxing way to spend a day.

4. The Withlacoochee State Trail 

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Bicycling is a fun way to show your guests a good time outdoors, making the most of our great Florida weather. There are lots of trails to choose from around Citrus County, but the Withlacoochee State Trail is the one that is a must-see attraction. 

This is a perfect place for cyclists of all skill levels. You can take your time and cruise just a few miles, or push the envelope and explore all 46 miles of former train tracks.


3. Rainbow River Tubing

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 If your visitors are looking for something a little more adventurous that is still a great representation of life in Citrus County, taking them tubing on the Rainbow River is a perfect way to spend an afternoon. 

Tubing is popular from the beginning of April through the end of September and is the kind of experience that your visitors will be sure to tell everyone back home about!

 

2. Downtown Inverness 

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Whether your guests are interested in history, shopping, or great food, there is something for everyone to enjoy just a few miles away in downtown Inverness.  

Every tour of Inverness should start at the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum, but you might also want to explore the local shopping or grab some takeout food and head to Fort Cooper State Park for a picnic lunch.


1. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park 

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A lot of people who visit Florida want to get to the beach, which we addressed with number five on this list. But the main interest for many who visit Citrus County specifically is to see live manatees, and the best place to do that is Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park!  

Visitors can get up close and personal with live manatees from the underwater observatory. They can also learn a lot more about these local mammals from the information sessions held regularly at the park.

Among each of these five attractions, you will definitely show your guests some of the very best highlights of Citrus County. And if you haven’t been to all of these places yourself, what are you waiting for?