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Day Trips

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.

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!

 

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?

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!

 

November Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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The first ten months of 2017 have flown right by us and we are now heading into the holiday season here at the Villages of Citrus Hills. November is typically a month where the activities calendar lightens up a bit, but that is simply not the case this year.

Between all of the social events, arts and education activities, golf and tennis tournaments, and dinner specials, there is something for residents to get excited about just about every single day throughout the month. Let's take a closer look at some of the exiting activities and events you won't want to miss.

Social Events

Fans of the monthly Trivia Challenge will want to check out the brand new Extreme Jukebox event happening in the Hampton Room on Thursday, November 9. There will be a live host leading a game that combines elements of bingo, karaoke, and "Name That Tune."

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We will be celebrating Veterans Day with a Veterans Day Dance in the Hampton Room on Saturday, November 11. There will be a dinner featuring Bourbon Salmon and Sliced Prime Rib followed by live music from Lisa Beck of Solid Rock.

Our Second Annual Car & Truck Show will be taking place in the Activity Center Parking Lot on Sunday, November 12 from 9 am to 3 pm. This will be a great chance for everyone to get out and enjoy the fall weather while appreciating some of the coolest rides you will find here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.

Anyone who enjoys the Extreme Jukebox event will also want to attend this month's Trivia Challenge on Tuesday, November 21 in the Hampton Room. Dinner this month will feature Boursin Stuffed Chicken Breast.

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If you would like to join a group of people in getting away for Thanksgiving Day, the Citrus Hills Vacationers Club is planning a Thanksgiving Dinner Cruise for Thursday, November 23. We will be heading east to Sanford to board a classic paddleboat for lunch and live entertainment.

Arts & Education

Dr. Joe Coffey will be leading a weekly lecture series on the relationship between the United States and China starting on Wednesday, November 1 and running through Wednesday, December 13. Each of the lectures will take place in the Activity Center Card Room from 4:30 pm to 6 pm.

Local author Linda Tillis will be hosting a Book Reading and Q&A Session at the Coffee Shop on Friday, November 3 from 12:30 pm to 2 pm. Guests at this event can take advantage of a great coffee and croissant special as well!

The Lunch & Learn series will be back on Monday, November 6 with U.S. Air Force Veteran Joe Romiti speaking about patriotism, the history of our country's flag, and the importance of the Pledge of Allegiance. Lunch for this event will include an Open-Faced Hot Turkey Sandwich with Mashed Potatoes and Cranberry Sauce.  This event will be taking place in the Garden Room.

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More than 50 local craft vendors will be setting up in the Hampton Room on Tuesday, November 28 for the 13th Annual Holiday Boutique. There will be all kinds of great gift ideas to choose from, which makes this the perfect time to start your Christmas shopping for the year!

Golf & Tennis

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Competitive golfers will be lining up to have some fun participating in the Veterans Day Scramble at Skyview on Saturday, November 11. They will also be heading over to The Oaks course for the Pro Shop Open on Saturday, November 18.

If you are new to golf, you might want to join the Newbie Nine Hole League that plays on The Meadows course every Thursday at 3 pm. And you can also get plenty of advice on your golf game at one of Mary Slinkard's Free Golf Clinics scheduled throughout the month.

The Skyview Tennis Center will be a busy place this month with their Burger Bash Tennis Social scheduled for Sunday, November 5, a Free Beginner Tennis Clinic on Tuesday, November 14, and a Tennis Taco Fest right around the corner on December 3.

Dinner Specials

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Skyview Restaurant and The Grille will both be having Thanksgiving Dinner Specials on Thursday, November 23. Skyview will be serving entrees like a Roast Turkey Platter and New York Strip Steak, and The Grille will be having a traditional Thanksgiving Buffet. Both restaurants will be serving from 12 pm to 5 pm and reservations will be required.

In addition to their Thanksgiving Dinner Special, Skyview Restaurant will also be hosting a Wine for the Holidays Tasting on Tuesday, November 7, and a European Pub Night on Tuesday, November 21.

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Over at The Grille, there will be a Fall Harvest Dinner on Thursday, November 2, a Family Feast of Comfort Food on Sunday, November 12, and a Taste of the Southwest on Thursday, November 16.

BellaVita Spa & Fitness

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If you manage to find some time for yourself during the month of November, you might want to head over to BellaVita Spa to take advantage of their Cranberry Orange Massage and Pumpkin Enzyme Facial specials.

And, as if all of that still wasn't enough, start marking your December calendars for the Holiday Tree Lighting on December 5 and make your reservations for the New Year’s Eve Party in the Hampton Room!

For a complete listing of all the events and activities for the month of November, click below.

http://www.citrushillsgolfandcountryclub.com/userfiles/file/November%202017%20Connections%20ONLINE.pdf

 

 

August Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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The hot and sticky month of August has arrived, but the activities and events calendar here at the Villages of Citrus Hills is packed with plenty of cool things to do throughout the month.

Whether you are looking for exciting social events, fun opportunities to learn, clinics for improving your golf or tennis game, or just a great meal with friends, we have got you covered with everything happening around the community this month. Let's take a closer look at some of the exciting activities and events coming your way in the month of August!

Social Events

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The August social events will kick off with the Citrus Hills Cruise-In on Friday, August 11 in the Tiki Bar parking lot. Sponsored by the Citrus MOPARS, this event is completely free to attend, and will feature all of the very best muscle and sports cars from around the community.

The next edition of our monthly Trivia Challenge will be held on Tuesday, August 15 in the Hampton Room. This month, the dinner menu will include Baked Haddock, Chicken Parmesan, Penne Pasta with Garlic, and lots of veggie and dessert options. Dinner starts at 5:45 pm and the trivia fun will follow around 6:30 pm.

It wouldn't be summer in the Villages of Citrus Hills without a Flicks & Floats party at the Activity Center Pool. This month's movie night is set for Friday, August 18, and the movie will be The Accountant starring Ben Affleck as a brilliant but lethal numbers wizard.

There will be plenty of buttery popcorn available, but you can also get 10% off of a meal at Skyview Restaurant or The Grille by showing your tickets for this event!

The biggest party of the summer will definitely be the 10th Annual Copacabana Night on Friday, August 25 in the Hampton Room. This year, the event will feature a menu of Cuban Pulled Pork, Chicken and Red Peppers in Garlic Wine Sauce, and some delicious sides.

There will also be salsa lessons and a live orchestra, so this is one summer party that you don't want to miss out on.

Arts & Education

The new Coffee Shop will be holding an Interactive Reading event on Tuesday, August 8 from 12:30 pm to 2 pm. Local author Ronnie Allen will be present for a group reading of her first novel, Gemini: The Sign Behind the Crime. There will also be a Q&A and book signing after the reading.

On Saturday, August 12, the Citrus Hills Vacationers Club will be taking a group trip down to Tampa to see Motown The Musical at the Straz Performing Arts Center. Tickets to this event are $125 and include orchestra seating and round-trip transportation to the event.

The Citrus Hills Vacationers Club is also planning a trip to St. Petersburg to see The Chihuly Glass Collection by artist Dale Chihuly at The Morean Arts Center. In addition to exploring the glassblowing exhibit, there will be plenty of time to venture out and see other popular St. Petersburg attractions.

There will be a Lunch & Learn event in the Garden Room on Thursday, August 31 at 12:30 pm with guest speaker Lisa Dider discussing American Madams (1870-1910). Lunch for this talk will include a Caprese Chicken Sandwich and Pasta Salad, followed by a slice of Strawberry Cloud Cake.

Golf & Tennis

The big golf event of August will be the Southern-Sky Two Person Championship that will start at Skyview at Terra Vista on Saturday, August 26 and conclude at Southern Hills Plantation Club on Sunday, August 27. If you would like to participate in this unique pairs tournament that covers two different courses, you must register with the Skyview Pro Shop by August 14.

If you are looking to improve your golf game during the month, you should definitely make a point to attend Golf Pro Wayne Larsen's Free Golf Clinics. This month, Wayne will be working with beginners on August 7, 8, and 9. Then he will be back to work with intermediate golfers on August 15, 22, and 29.

Anyone looking to learn the basics of tennis is welcome to attend the Free Beginner Tennis Clinic on Tuesday, August 8 at 11 am. As always, the only thing required to attend this clinic is a pair of tennis shoes. The Skyview Tennis Center will be happy to loan you a racket for the clinic.

Dinner Specials

 Skyview Restaurant has some exciting Tuesday night dinner specials planned for the month of August. You won't want to miss their Greek Night on August 12 or the Asian Feast on August 29.

 

Both dinners are scheduled to start at 5 pm and run through 8 pm.

It's all about mixers over at the Tiki Bar, and they will be mixing it up this month with block parties for Cambridge Greens on August 3, Canterbury Lakes on August 17, and Celina Hills on August 31. They will also be hosting a Singles Social Happy Hour on Tuesday, August 29 from 4 pm to 6 pm.

If those mixers and the warm weather aren't enough to get you to the Tiki Bar this month, you might want to visit for their Beers Around the World special on Thursday, August 24 or the Fantasy of Flights Wine Night on Tuesday, August 29.

Citrus Surprise Pedi  2017.jpg

 

If you are interested in pampering yourself, you might want to try a Citrus Surprise Spa Pedicure at the BellaVita Spa.

 

With all of the exciting things happening around our community during the month of August, there is absolutely no reason not to get out of the house and have some fun!

Visiting Dinosaur World in Tampa

Many benefits come with living just north of a city like Tampa, and one such benefit is that residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills never have to worry about finding fun and exciting activities to keep visiting children occupied. Whether we are talking about kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or just good friends, one of the coolest places to take any visiting children is Dinosaur World.

This awe-inspiring 20-acre facility is located just east of Tampa in Plant City, which is also known for hosting the Florida Strawberry Festival each and every March. Here you will find more than 200 life-sized dinosaur models, as well as an overwhelming amount of educational information on all things prehistoric.

Getting to Dinosaur World

The fastest way to get to Dinosaur world is to take US-41 south towards Tampa and then use US-98 to connect to I-75 and continue heading south. As I-75 makes its way down towards the city, you will exit onto I-4 heading east towards Plant City. 

Dinosaur World is located just off of exit 17, shortly before Plant City.

The Dinosaur World Experience

Children absolutely love Dinosaur World, and a big reason for that is that the facility offers an astounding number of activities to keep them occupied throughout their time at the park.

But before heading to those activities, you might want to take them through the Prehistoric Museum. Here they can see things like dinosaur eggs and raptor claws, as well as a number of other unique artifacts. The Prehistoric Museum also includes the Animatronics Exhibit, where visitors can see life-sized dinosaurs that come to life with sounds and movements.

The Exploration Cave is another educational adventure where children get to interact with a real-life paleontologist who will act as their tour guide as they move through a massive cave, dig site, and workstation. Then, when the kids are ready to get their hands dirty, they can participate in activities like the Fossil Dig, Dino Gem Excavation, and the Bone Yard!

With ticket prices of $16.95 for adults, $14.95 for seniors, and $11.95 for kids, it's actually hard not to get your money's worth with all of the great things to see and do at Dinosaur World.

 

http://dinosaurworld.com/florida/

Dining Near Dinosaur World - Fred's Southern Kitchen

Dinosaur World encourages visitors to bring coolers packed with their own preferences for food and snacks, but if you are looking for a great restaurant located nearby, just about everyone will enjoy a meal from Fred's Southern Kitchen. Actually, a trip to Fred's for some "Slow Food, Fast" might be worth the drive even if you aren't heading to Dinosaur World!

The buffet-style menu here always contains Jack Black Oak Smoked Pork Ribs, Golden Fried Chicken, Crispy Catfish, Grilled Tilapia, Fresh Vegetables & Casseroles, and Skillet Cornbread. On top of that, there is a rotating list of Daily Entree Specials, as well as a Salad Table and a Dessert Table. And don't forget that all kids 10 and under eat for free on Mondays and Tuesdays!

Since Dinosaur World is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, you could plan your trip on any Monday or Tuesday and include a free meal for the kids at Fred's Southern Kitchen. But even if those days don't work with your schedule, both places are always going to deliver a fantastic experience that is perfect for the whole family!

The Henry B. Plant Museum in Tampa

Located just a bit west of Downtown Tampa, The Henry B. Plant Museum is one of the most beautiful museums you will ever see.

Originally constructed as one of the most elegant hotels in all of Florida, this mind-blowing property is sometimes referred to as "Florida's Original Magic Kingdom," and there is definitely good reason for that.

Henry B. Plant

In order to better appreciate the specific details of the museum, we first have to understand the man himself. Henry B. Plant was born in 1819 in Branford, Connecticut. Following the Civil War, he saw tremendous potential in connecting the south via railroad, and set out to build an empire doing just that.

As he continued to grow his southern railroad empire, Plant expanded further and further into Florida. When his railroad finally made its way to Tampa, the city exploded with growth and has never looked back.

The Tampa Bay Hotel

After connecting the city of Tampa to the rest of the world with his railroads, Plant's next major project would be the construction of the fabulous Tampa Bay Hotel.

Because his vision for the hotel was so far beyond what anyone considered reasonable, he could not find any investors to partner with on the project and ended up footing the entire $2.5 million bill himself. He then kicked in another $500,000 to furnish the property after it was constructed.

After Plant's death, the city of Tampa continued operating the hotel for about 30 years before turning it into a museum and giving a significant portion of the grounds to the University of Tampa in 1933.

Henry B. Plant Museum                                                                                   

With all of the history that went into creating the Tampa Bay Hotel, the building itself is worth the trip. However, the large portion of the first floor that acts as the Henry B. Plant Museum offers even more insight into what life might have been like at the hotel during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

In addition to all of the artifacts that are part of the museum's permanent collection, there are also a number of temporary exhibits that make their way through the museum.

This year, visitors have the pleasure of viewing an exhibit dedicated to the dining experiences of the museum during its peak years. There are detailed explanations of the type of meals served, the required dress for those meals, and some of the unique dining customs of the time.

Dining Near the Museum

Spending a day at the Henry B. Plant Museum learning about what it was like to attend a fancy dinner in the early 1900s is a good way to work up an appetite. Luckily, there are quite a few excellent restaurants located right by the museum.

If the idea of learning about high-end dining gets you excited to experience your own fancy dinner, you will want to make a reservation at Mise En Place for the perfect conclusion to your trip to Tampa. This is one of the best restaurants in the city, and it just happens to be located near the museum. Just be sure to keep in mind they are closed Sunday and Monday.

For those looking for more casual dining, TamPiz has delicious pizza in a relaxed setting and is located nearby.

 

A 2minute walk from the museum is another historic building originally built in 1891 as the stable for the Tampa Bay Hotel.  It has gone through many transformations over the years and is now the home to the Oxford Exchange. 

 

 

 

It is a European-inspired space featuring a restaurant, bookstore, coffeehouse & shop with decor & gifts. 

 

Whether you are passionate about the history of Tampa or just looking for something different to do on a rainy day, the Henry B. Plant Museum is only 90 minutes from the Villages of Citrus Hills and offers over 100 years worth of local history, not to mention the fact that the building itself is stunning. Visiting the museum and having a great meal afterwards is just one more way to enjoy the fact that we are located so close to the city of Tampa.

July Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

As we roll right into the dog days of summer, you might catch yourself feeling like you don't want to leave the house. But that is a big mistake here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, because our activities calendar for the month of July features a great list of fun and exciting things to do across the community.

So, before you resign yourself to spending the next month indoors, make sure you put some of these great events on your calendar and RSVP with the Activity Center!

Social Events

Smarty Jones was the big winner at last month's Trivia Challenge, but that title will be up for grabs again on Tuesday, July 18 in the Hampton Room. Dinner for this month's event will feature London Broil Topped with Béarnaise Sauce, Chicken Marsala Oven Roasted Potatoes, Veggies, and Dessert!

There will be another Flicks & Floats night at the Activity Center Pool on Friday, July 21. This month, the feature film is Me Before You. Showtime is 8:30 pm, and there will be plenty of buttery popcorn for everyone!

Our friends over at the Tiki Bar have a number of different social events planned for the coming month. They will be hosting an Illinois Happy Hour on July 27 from 4 pm to 6 pm. Then they will also be hosting block parties for the Belmont Hills Neighborhood on Thursday, July 6 and for all the Brentwood Neighborhoods on Thursday, July 20.

Arts & Education

The Citrus Hills Vacationers Club is planning a group trip to The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art on Saturday, July 22. In addition to taking in all that the museum has to offer, there will also be time for shopping in Winter Park!

The Vacationers Club is also planning a trip to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts to see Motown The Musical in August, so you will also want to mark that on your calendar and be sure to reserve your tickets as soon as possible.

Golf & Tennis

The big golf event for July will be the Stars & Stripes Open at Skyview on Tuesday, July 4. This tournament will feature men's, ladies', and mixed foursomes competing with 3 best balls on red flag holes, 2 best balls on blue flag holes, and 1 best ball on white flag holes.

Many of the serious golfers in our community will spend their summer working to improve their game, and a great way to do that is to participate in one of the free clinics with Golf Pro Wayne Larsen. This month, Wayne will be hosting beginner clinics on July 10, 11, and 12. Then he will move on to intermediate clinics on July 11, 18, and 25.

July is also a great month to practice your tennis game, and you can learn all of the basics at the Free Beginner Tennis Clinic at the Skyview Tennis Center on Tuesday, July 11 at 11 am.

Dinner Specials

You definitely don't want to miss the Patriotic Buffet that Skyview Restaurant has planned for Tuesday, July 4. The buffet entrees will include Memphis Blue Ribs, Honey Barbecued Chicken, and Firecracker Grilled Salmon with Tropical Fruit Salad.

Two other festive holiday celebrations that you should note on your calendars this month are the Thanksgiving in July dinner at Skyview Restaurant on Tuesday, July 18 and the Christmas in July dinner at The Grille on Tuesday, July 25. Both specials are set to include all of the holiday classics you might expect!

The Grille will also be hosting a Taste of Cuba dinner on Thursday, July 27 from 5 pm to 8 pm. This meal will include Spicy Black Bean Soup, Cuban Chicken and Rice, and Red Snapper.

If you are looking to pamper yourself during the month of July, BellaVita has got you covered with Detox Stem Cell Facial Treatment and Massagarita specials.

 

Whether you are looking for social interaction, exposure to the arts, a little competition, a great meal, or just some quiet spa time, there are plenty of options to keep everyone busy here at the Villages of Citrus Hills this month. Make sure you don't miss out on any of the action!

Day Trip: Cape Canaveral

The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral is one of the top ten most popular attractions in all of Florida. But this coastal town also offers plenty of other reasons to visit for the day. When you combine those exciting attractions with all of the great restaurants here, there is no reason not to schedule a day trip to experience Cape Canaveral.

Getting to Cape Canaveral

Getting to Cape Canaveral from the Villages of Citrus Hills takes just a touch more than two hours. The easiest path by car is to take Florida's Turnpike towards Orlando like you are going to the airport, then head east on 528 until you hit the Atlantic Coast.

Towards the very end of your trip, you will notice that 528 leads you right onto A1A, which means that you are about to arrive at your destination.

The Cape Canaveral Experience

The most popular attraction in Cape Canaveral is the Kennedy Space Center. People come from all over the world to take part in the astronaut experiences you will find throughout the museum and in the live tours available here. In addition to the space center itself, Cape Canaveral is also home to the Air Force Space & Missile History Center and the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory.

But just focusing on the aerospace experience would be selling beautiful Cape Canaveral short. Another extremely popular local attraction is the Brevard Zoo, which sits on 75 acres of land and contains more than 650 different animals from all over the world. Animal lovers will also be thrilled to experience the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science, where they can learn about animals of the past like the Woolly Mammoth and Saber-toothed Cat.

One of the most scenic attractions you will find in Cape Canaveral is the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, which is located right on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base. In 2016, the base started offering a three-hour tour on Fridays and Saturdays that includes the chance to explore the lighthouse first-hand.

Still looking for more to experience in Cape Canaveral? Don't forget about the Canaveral National Seashore, which contains 24 miles of undeveloped seashore. This area is filled with trails to explore the local wildlife and foliage, but many visitors also enjoy simply sitting on one of the few beaches that aren't surrounded by development.

Cape Canaveral Dining

Just as you would expect from a popular coastal town, there are plenty of great places to eat in Cape Canaveral. If you are looking for a quick bite for breakfast or lunch, there are some great cafes like Cafe Monte Carlo, Vargas Cafe, Euro Kafe' Etcetera, and Southern Charm Cafe to choose from, and they all offer their own unique twists on local cuisine.

One of our favorite cafe-style seafood restaurants in the area is Crackers Island Grille, where you will find a cozy little dining room and a great outdoor seating area. Mahi Tacos are the signature item here, and they are good enough to merit the trip East all by themselves.

 

Another fine family owned restaurant is the Sage Bistro.  Every unique creation from the kitchen is made from scratch and all the fish served is freshly caught.

 

The Kennedy Space Center is always the first thing that comes to mind when we think of Cape Canaveral, and it is well worth the drive all by itself. But this great Atlantic coastal town also offers a wide range of other attractions, as well as some of the best cafes you will find anywhere in Florida. So, the next time you are looking to get away for a day, head east past Orlando and visit Cape Canaveral.

The following link is full of information for your next visit.

https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/

 

The Next:  Rocket Launch: July 2, 2017 7:30 PM | SpaceX Falcon 9 Intelsat 35e

 

Day Trip: Ybor City

Ybor City is a historic neighborhood located just northeast of downtown Tampa. Cigar manufacturers founded this amazing little community in the 1880s, and it has a rich history that combines Cuban, Spanish, and Italian influences into a culture that is truly unique. The neighborhood has maintained its sense of history over the years, and that is what makes just walking through this fabulous place so enjoyable.

Spending the day in Ybor City can take you in a number of different directions, but we highly recommend that each of those paths start out with a cafe con leche from one of the local Cuban coffee shops. After that, the choice is yours, but of course we have some suggestions.

The Ybor City Experience

Anyone interested in learning more about the rich history of Ybor City should make it a point to start their day at the Ybor City Museum. Located inside the historic Ferlita Bakery Building, this is where you will find an excellent base of knowledge about Ybor City.

Another must-see destination for history buffs is the Cigar Industry Walking Tour, which will start at the Ybor City Museum and take you through the neighborhood with a tour guide pointing out all of the historic buildings and explaining the role they played when cigar making was at the height of its popularity.

 

Anyone who is a fan of fine art will love spending time at the Hoffman Porges Gallery. The Ybor City Museum Society also runs regular tours that highlight some of the amazing architecture you will find throughout the community. 

The Ybor City Restaurant Scene

With the combination of culture that you will find in Ybor City, it is no surprise that this neighborhood is also known for having some of the best restaurants in all of Tampa.

The local icon here is the Columbia Restaurant, which is the oldest continuously operated restaurant in Florida. Started in 1905 by a Cuban immigrant, this restaurant has been serving delicious Spanish and Cuban cuisine for more than 110 years!

 

 

Another favorite Ybor restaurant is La Terrazzo Restaurante Italiano, which focuses on serving Northern Italian classics. If you are craving a perfect Caprese Salad or Scaloppine al Marsala, this is the place you’’ll want to head to.

If you prefer something a little more casual, you might check out Al's Finger Licking Good Bar-B-Que, the Tampa Bay Brewing Company, or The Bricks of Ybor. All are known for having excellent food and exceptional service.

The Ybor City Nightlife

Not only is Ybor City known for its history and dining, but the neighborhood is also famous for having an exciting nightlife scene where you can find all kinds of entertainment on just about any night of the week.

On any given night, there will be multiple venues offering a wide range of live music. There are also more formal shows like the Flamenco Show at the Columbia Restaurant, and if you are feeling adventurous you could also look into Drag Queen Bingo at Hamburger Mary's!

 

 

 

There are also plenty of restaurants that keep serving late into the night, so you are always going to be able to find something to eat in Ybor City!

No matter what type of adventure you are looking for, there is something for everyone in Ybor City. And since it is located just 85 minutes from the Villages of Citrus Hills, it is the perfect distance for a day trip or an overnight excursion that can be planned on a whim any time you like!

Spring Training 2017 - 6 Teams to Watch Nearby

Spring is one of the busiest times of the year for many of the communities that surround the Villages of Citrus Hills.

We have the pleasure of being located close to the Spring Training homes of six different Major League Baseball teams, so if you are looking for a fun way to spend a day before those teams head north for the summer, here is a little background on each of the six teams you can visit.

New York Yankees - Tampa

The past few seasons have not been kind to the Yankees, but their current rebuild is likely to produce a number of interesting stories to watch at their Spring Training home in Tampa this year. Gone are Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann, which will make room for up-and-comers like catcher Gary Sanchez, who burst onto the scene last year, and first base prospect Greg Bird, who hopes to follow in Sanchez’s footsteps this year.

The Yankees were also active on the free agent market bringing in talented veterans like Aroldis Chapman, Matt Holiday, and Chris Carter, so there should be plenty of pieces to complement the pinstriped youth movement.

Toronto Blue Jays - Dunedin

Last year was supposed to be the year that the Blue Jays returned to the World Series, but those dreams were derailed by the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship series. Unfortunately for Blue Jays fans, just getting back to the playoffs is going to be difficult this year after losing Edwin Encarnacion, Michael Saunders, Brett Cecil, Joaquin Benoit, and R.A. Dickey all to free agency.

The team that will be taking the field in Toronto is definitely going to have a lot less firepower this year, but they still have an extremely deep pitching staff. Watching how those arms come around this spring will be able to tell us a lot about what to expect from the Blue Jays in 2017.

Philadelphia Phillies - Clearwater

This is the first spring training in Clearwater without Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard in more than a decade. There hasn’t been much winning for the Phillies in recent years, but things are looking better and better as many of the team’s young prospects like Odubel Herrera have started to produce.

In addition to all of the great young talent the Phillies will be working with this year, they have also added proven commodities like Clay Buchholz, Howie Kendrick, Michael Saunders, and Joaquin Benoit through various trades and free agency.

Detroit Tigers - Lakeland

After failing to make the playoffs last season, many experts expected the Detroit Tigers to tear apart their entire roster and start from scratch with a complete rebuild. But as the winter wore on, it became clear that the upper management in Detroit was going to take one more shot with their core in 2017.

Many of the regular Tigers like Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Ian Kinsler, and J.D. Martinez are back in Lakeland this spring getting ready to take one last shot at getting to the World Series together.

Pittsburgh Pirates - Bradenton

Much like the Detroit Tigers, the Pittsburgh Pirates are a team that is bringing back the same roster that failed to make the playoffs last year. But the difference between the two clubs is that the team that makes its spring home in Bradenton is much younger.

Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen had a terrible 2016 campaign, and has been dealing with trade rumors all winter long, but he is still on the Pirates roster and might come into the season with a massive chip on his shoulder. Combine that with all of the young talent that fills out the rest of the lineup and there is plenty to watch out for in Bradenton.

Baltimore Orioles - Sarasota

ed-smith-stadium-2.jpg

The Baltimore Orioles had a fantastic year in 2016, but they fell just short at the end and lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Wild Card Game. Since then, the O’s have said goodbye to catcher Matt Wieters, as well as Pedro Alvarez, Steve Pearce, Yovani Gallardo, Nolan Reimold, Michael Born, and Vance Worley.

With all of those subtractions, this is going to be a much different lineup in 2017. But the core of sluggers Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Mark Trumbo is still intact. New to the Orioles this year are outfielder Seth Smith and catcher Willington Castillo.

Whether you are a baseball junkie or just looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon, Spring Training games are always relatively inexpensive to attend and can be lots of fun if you know a little bit about what the teams are likely to be working on when you see them.

With this little bit of background, you should be able to have a great time at any of the local games over the next few weeks!

Enjoying a Fabulous Weekend in Winter Park

  Winter Park is known for the wild peacocks that roam the old McKean estate.     

Winter Park is known for the wild peacocks that roam the old McKean estate.

 

Located about 15 minutes north of Orlando and a little over 90 minutes from the Villages of Citrus Hills, the town of Winter Park often gets overlooked as a weekend getaway destination. However, if you are looking for a great place to enjoy the arts, history and fine dining, it doesn’t get much better than Winter Park.

Places to Stay in Winter Park 

 The Alfond Inn

The Alfond Inn

When looking for a place to stay in Winter Park, The Alfond Inn should definitely be the top option on your list. This boutique hotel offers an interesting experience for art lovers, as the walls of the hotel are decorated with pieces from the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, which we will get to in a few minutes.

In addition to being an art lover’s dream, The Alfond Inn is also pet friendly, and they offer a number of different packages that include such things as bicycle rentals, boat tour tickets, and picnic lunches to enjoy in one of the local parks.

 Park Plaza Hotel

Park Plaza Hotel

While we can’t say enough about The Alfond Inn, staying at the Park Plaza Hotel is also a wonderful experience. The history of this hotel dates back to 1922, so there is plenty to appreciate here as well.

Things to Do in Winter Park

One of the first stops for anyone spending time in Winter Park is the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. At the Morse Museum, visitors can spend a day exploring a massive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

 Morse Museum

Morse Museum

The museum’s permanent collection includes jewelry, pottery, paintings, and different glass works that were designed by Tiffany throughout his career. One of the interesting exhibits you will find here is the chapel interior from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Located on the campus of Rollins College, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum contains more than 5,000 historic paintings, prints, drawings, and photographs.  Highlights in the Cornell Museum collection include 30 Bloomsbury Group paintings and drawings, and 156 photographs taken by Andy Warhol.

Another place worth a visit in Winter Park is the Kraft Azalea Park. This 11-acre park is the perfect setting for spending a relaxing afternoon outdoors. There are trails and a boat dock if you are into that sort of thing, but most of the people who visit this beautiful green space prefer to simply sit on one of the many benches and enjoy their surroundings.

 Scenic Boat Tour

Scenic Boat Tour

Last but not least, the highly-rated Scenic Boat Tour should be near the top of your “To Do” list. This hour-long guided cruise takes passengers through three of the seven lakes and two, narrow manmade canals on the tranquil Winter Park chain of lakes. In addition to the various wildlife, plants, flowers, and trees you’ll encounter along the way, you’ll also see opulent private homes and exquisite estates as you cruise along the shoreline.

Places to Eat in Winter Park

There are dozens of great places to eat in Winter Park, but Prato is one of the few places that has something for everyone. This casual Italian restaurant is all about simplicity, and it doesn’t hurt that they offer seating with a view on their patio. Whether you choose the pizza, pasta, or the Veal Marsala, everything is delicious at Prato.

 Prato

Prato

If you are in the mood for unique dining, Bosphorus Turkish Cuisine offers an experience that you will not soon forget. Visitors who are new to Turkish food should definitely consider the Mixed Grill for Two, which allows them to try a variety of chicken and lamb dishes.

Another choice is The Wine Room that offers a classy atmosphere and a tapas menu that will have your mouth watering. And with a name like “The Wine Room,” you know that they are going to have the perfect wine to pair with just about anything you choose to order.

 The Wine Room

The Wine Room

With two very unique hotels for lodging, plenty of parks and museums to explore, and some of the best dining you will find anywhere, Winter Park has everything you need for a fabulous weekend getaway. A lot of times people looking to get away in Florida are going to more well-known destinations, this is one that you can have all to yourself!

 

March Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

The month of March is known for unpredictable weather in some parts of the country, but here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, the only thing we have to worry about this month is making sure we remember to set all of our clocks forward an hour on Sunday, March 12!

Other than that, we are all set for another fantastic month filled with fantastic events and activities.

Social Events

The first big event of the month will be the Vacationers Club trip to Tampa to see the Tampa Bay Lightning host the New York Rangers on Monday, March 6. There are two seating options available, both include round-trip transportation to the game.

The last Big Show Series event of the year will be held on Tuesday, March 14 in the Activity Center Auditorium. If you are a fan of the Beatles, and particularly Paul McCartney, you will be absolutely blown away by the way that The McCartney Years are able to replicate the McCartney that you remember.

Another fun event that is planned for the month of March is the Party at Gatsby’s in the Hampton Room on Thursday, March 16. Blair Crimmins & The Hookers will be rocking out all of your favorite ragtime hits, and there will be coffee, desserts, and light appetizers served.

The Shabbat Dinner Club will be back in action on Friday, March 24 in the Garden Room at The Grille. Dinner for this event will include your choice of Sliced Sirloin with Mushroom Sauce or Broiled Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce along with side dishes and Key Lime Pie for dessert.

If you thought that the monthly Trivia Challenge was a good time, you won’t believe how much fun we are going to have at the Interactive Game Show Night and Dinner event on Thursday, March 30. There will be a professional game show host on hand to conduct Citrus Hills’ versions of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Jeopardy, Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune, Hollywood Squares, and Deal or No Deal.

Arts & Education

We mentioned last month that you don’t want to miss out on the Paint Your Pet Party at the Crystal River Mall on Saturday, March 4. Residents will be provided with transportation to the event, food and drinks at the event, and all the necessary supplies for a ticket price of $72.

Amy Southgate from Royal Caribbean will be the guest speaker at the quarterly Citrus Hills Vacationers Club meeting on March 23 at 11 am. She will be discussing an upcoming cruise leaving from Boston, as well as their newest monster ship “Oasis of the Seas.”

Dr. Chris Reudink from Pa-C of Citrus Orthopedic & Joint Institute will be speaking at the Wellness Wednesday event on Wednesday, March 29 at 2 pm. The topic of this discussion will be Non-Surgical Patient Care for Spine Health.

Golf & Tennis

The golf month will kick off with the Four-Leaf Clover Open on Saturday, March 4 on The Oaks course. Then, the 2017 Skyview Ladies’ Club Championship will be held on March 8 and 9. And if you are looking to improve your game, Golf Pro Wayne Larsen will be hosting free clinics for beginners on March 6-8, and free clinics for intermediate golfers on March 14, 21, and 28.

The Free Beginner Tennis Clinic will be held on March 14 this month, which will be just in time to get you ready for the Men’s and Women’s Club Doubles Championship on March 10-12. There will also be a Tennis Burger Bash mixed doubles event on March 30.

Dinner Specials

St. Patrick’s Day is on Friday, March 17, and both Skyview Restaurant and The Grille have big specials planned for the occasion. Skyview Restaurant will be serving Corned Beef & Cabbage, Baked Scallop Pie, Bangers & Mash, and Stout Braised Lamb Shank, while The Grille is going to be cooking up Corned Beef & Cabbage, Braised Lamb Shank, Black & Tan Pork, Scallop Pie, and Irish Steak.

As if that wasn’t appetizing enough, Skyview Restaurant is also planning a Clambake special for March 9, a Brazilian Steakhouse Night on March 14, and a Napa Valley Wine Dinner on March 28. Then over at The Grille, there will be a Red-Carpet Night special on March 9 and a Taste of the Pacific Rim special on March 28.

In addition to all of these scheduled activities, you should also make some time this month to stop by BellaVita Spa, where they will be running Spring Forward Facial and Springtime Serenity specials all month long. As usual, if you have questions about any of the activities or events happening this month, be sure to contact the Activity Center Service Desk for more information!

For all the activities and events happening around the Villages of Citrus Hills click below into the link below for our Connections Club Newsletter for March 2017.

http://www.citrushillsgolfandcountryclub.com/userfiles/file/March%202017%20Connections_ONLINE.pdf

 

5 Weekend Getaways in Greater Florida

One of the best things about living here at the Villages of Citrus Hills is that all of the amazing tourist destinations throughout the state of Florida are just a stone’s throw away. That means that our residents have the luxury of being able to head out on a weekend getaway to all of those famous Florida destinations pretty much any time they like.  

Of course, there are so many fantastic destinations across the state that it can actually be hard to choose which one to visit first. For that reason, we put together this list of five weekend getaways that should definitely be on your list!

Key West 

If you chose the Gulf Coast because you prefer the calmer pace of life compared to the Atlantic Coast, then you will like the laid-back feel of beautiful Key West. This amazing little town is one of the fun spots in Florida, and you can get there by flying into their airport, taking a jet boat from the mainland, or driving down US Highway 1.  

Once you’re in Key West, everything revolves around Duval Street. This is where you will find plenty of shopping, dining, and more bars than you could possibly visit. There are also some really great local tours like the Hemingway Estate, as well as the beautiful Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park and the ultimate photo op spot at the Southernmost Point!

 For more information on this location please click on the link below.

http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/key-west.html

Miami - South Beach 

If exciting nightlife is your cup of tea, then a weekend in South Beach is just what the doctor ordered! Pick any of the fabulous hotels along the famous A1A and you will be set to enjoy all that this vibrant town has to offer. 

While you are in Miami, make sure to visit the iconic Joe’s Stone Crab for some of the best stone crab claws you’ll find anywhere. You can dress up and eat in their restaurant, or go super casual and enjoy the same food over on their take-out side.

For more information on this location please click on the link below.

http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/miami-beach.html

Naples 

Keeping our focus in the southern part of the state, if relaxing on the water is more your speed, then Naples will appeal to you. This is the ultimate destination for visitors who enjoy a calm and upscale atmosphere that is also accompanied by some spectacular high-end shopping.

 For more information on this location please click on the link below.

http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/naples.html

Panama City Beach 

Moving up north into the panhandle area, Panama City Beach has a reputation as a spring break destination, but it is also a fabulous spot for residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills who are looking to get away for a weekend.  

This little gem features 27 miles of gorgeous white sand beaches, along with world-class golf facilities, two excellent state parks, and enough delicious restaurants to ensure that you never run out of options.

 For more information on this location please click on the link below.

http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/panama-city-beach.html

Daytona Beach 

Another popular destination that certainly ranks at the top of the list of any NASCAR fan is the home of the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach. Here you will find the amazing Daytona International Motor Speedway and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. There are also many other great attractions that make a weekend in Daytona Beach fun for everyone even when it isn’t race week.

For more information on this location please click on the link below.

http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/daytona-beach.html

 

Whether you are looking for exciting nightlife or beachfront relaxation, there is something for everyone to be found on a weekend getaway somewhere in the state of Florida. So, next time you start feeling the urge to get away, take out your Florida map and book the next trip!

Great Day Trip from the Villages of Citrus Hills to Cedar Key

With all of its unique shops and restaurants, as well as plenty of great history and wildlife attractions, Cedar Key contains all of the amenities of a great tourist town without all of the tourists!

This once-small fishing village has gradually turned itself into one of the more popular day-trip locations for Florida residents who are looking for a location that is not so tourist-focused.

Residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills can drive to Cedar Key in about an hour and fifteen minutes by taking US-41 north to Country Road 40 and then US-19 North, then turning left and taking FL-24 all the way to the coast.

The breathtaking views you will see driving from the mainland out to Cedar Key alone make the whole trip worthwhile!

Once you arrive in Cedar Key, you will definitely want to see some of the wonderful historic sites, museums, wildlife preserves and state parks.

There are also great locations for fishing and boating, as well as great small town shopping and restaurants to keep you busy for the day.

Cedar Key Historical Museum 

One of your first stops in Cedar Key should be the Cedar Key Historical Museum. Even if you aren’t curious about the interesting history of the island, you will still want to grab all of the visitor information located here to plan the rest of your day.

If you are interested in the history of Cedar Key, this great little museum will walk you through the entire history of the island including Civil War artifacts and brooms made from palmettos.

You will learn all about the town’s storied history with the railroad industry, cedar and palm products, and gulf coast seafood. 

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Preserve

Another popular attraction in Cedar Key is the nine-mile drive through the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Preserve.

As you drive through the preserve, you can expect to see alligators, turkeys, otters, and many different types of birds. You will also want to stop near the Shell Mound Campground to see the 28-foot high mound of ancient shells. 

Seahorse Key Lighthouse 

Just south of Cedar Key is Seahorse Key, which is home to the Seahorse Key Lighthouse.

This key is only accessible by boat, and the lighthouse is only open on certain days of the year, but there are a number of tour companies in Cedar Key that will either take you past Seahorse Key or allow you to get out and look around the island.

Like everything else in this area, the lighthouse has a storied history including the pivotal role it played in the Second Seminole War and the Civil War.  

Shopping in Cedar Key

If shopping is what you are looking for, Cedar Key is perfect for that as well!

Most of the shops are on either Dock Street or Second Street, so that is the best place to start your shopping spree. You will definitely want to check out Cedar Key Canvas, Dilly Dally Gally, The Island Trading Post, and The Salty Needle Quilt Shop.

Dining in Cedar Key 

Your long day of history, wildlife, boating, and shopping will probably cause you to work up quite an appetite. That won’t be a problem though, because Cedar Key has an excellent collection of local restaurants.

One of the most popular restaurants in Cedar Key is Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, and they are known for their famous clam chowder. 

If you plan to visit Cedar Key more than once, you will also want to try eating at Kona Joe’s Island Cafe, Ken’s Cedar Keyside Diner, and the Big Deck Raw Bar. Each of these restaurants is known for putting out outstanding food accompanied by friendly service. 

As you can see, there really is something for everyone in Cedar Key.

And because it is only 75 minutes from the Villages of Citrus Hills, this might be the type of place you find yourself going back to over and over again!

5 Places to Take Your Holiday Guests in Citrus County

One of our favorite things about living in Citrus County is that there is an endless amount 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 

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 

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 

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 and with the beautiful forecast for the next week it will be the kind of experience that your visitors will be sure to tell everyone back home about! Kayaking or canoeing is another way to see the beautiful Rainbow River if the tubing is not of interest. 

2. Downtown Inverness 

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 

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?