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Paddle Boarding

July Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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As we roll into the dog days of summer here in 2018, we are going to get every bit of the hot and humid weather that Florida is known for! This makes it very easy to spend most of our time at home enjoying the modern luxury of air conditioning, but it can also make us feel just a bit antisocial.

In order to counteract that, the great team at the Activity Center has put together another full calendar of events that will keep you engaged with your friends and neighbors throughout the month of July. Let's take a few minutes to break down some of the exciting events happening around the Villages of Citrus Hills this month.

Social Events

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The first social event of the month will be an informational meeting for the Ka Nalu Nui Paddle Club at BellaVita Spa and Fitness Center from 8 am to 12 pm on Wednesday, July 11. If you have ever wanted to learn more about standup paddle boarding, paddle tours of local waterways, or the excitement of dragonboat racing, this is your chance to get involved.

On Thursday, July 12, there will be a Name That Tune Game Show and Dance happening in the Hampton Room. This event will be based on the classic game show that we all loved, and it will be followed by a fun evening of drinks and dancing.

Tasty Trivia Tuesday is back in the Hampton Room on Tuesday, July 17. This month, the dinner buffet will include Tossed Salad, Pot Roast, Chicken Maryland, Glazed Baby Carrots, Parsley Steamed Red Bliss Potatoes, Rolls, and Chocolate Mousse for dessert.

Motivational speaker Gayle Cohen will be hosting a musically interactive seminar and luncheon in the Hampton Room on Wednesday, July 25. She will use her 35-year career to demonstrate how music has the power to heal mind, body, and soul.

Sports & Recreation

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Competitive golfers won't want to miss the Stars & Stripes Tournament at Skyview on Wednesday, July 4 or the Firecracker Open at the Citrus Hills Course on Saturday, July 7. Both events will have an 8:30 am shotgun start.

And if your golf game isn't quite ready for a big tournament, you might want to consider attending one of the Free Golf Clinics hosted by Golf Pro Wayne Larsen this month. Wayne will be working with beginners on July 9, 10, and 11. Then he will be back to work with intermediate golfers on July 17, 24, and 31.

This month's Free Beginner Tennis Clinic will be held on Tuesday, July 10 at the Skyview Tennis Center starting at 10 am. The clinic is geared towards complete novices, and you don't even need to own a racket to come learn about the game with us.

Dinner Specials 

The Fourth of July holiday is all about enjoying a great cookout, and the people at Skyview Restaurant and The Grille are going to be offering up just that this year.

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Skyview will be serving a lunch buffet with Memphis Blue Ribs, Honey Barbecued Chicken, and Firecracker Grilled Salmon. Then, The Grille will be taking the evening shift with dinner entrees like Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken Breast, Grilled Sirloin with Corn and Black Bean Salsa, and Pulled Pork with Peach Bourbon BBQ Sauce.

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You'll also want to plan on attending Italian Night at Skyview Restaurant on July 31, which will include entree options like Veal Parmesan, Shrimp Scampi, Chicken Giardino, Salmon Piccata, and Eggplant Parmesan.

And if you find yourself craving some chicken wings this month, make sure you remember that the Tiki Bar will be having 30 cent wings on special for "Wing Wednesday" every Wednesday in July.

BellaVita Spa and Fitness

And if you just need some pampering, book yourself an appointment for one of the specials this month at the spa.

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You can choose between the Seaside Therapy Spa Pedicure with Epsom salts and a marine cooling mask, or, the Summer Serenity Swedish Massage with essential oils to melt any stress away. 

 

For a look at a complete listing of all the activities and events this month at the Villages of Citrus Hills please click on the link below.

http://www.citrushillsgolfandcountryclub.com/userfiles/file/July%202018%20Connections%20ONLINE.pdf

 

Have a Wonderful July!

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

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

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

Buying a Kayak

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

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

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

 

 

 

Tips for Beginners

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

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

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

Where to Kayak

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

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

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

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

Weekend Trip to America's Best Beach

Everyone knows that Florida's Gulf Coast has some of the most spectacular beaches in the world, but Dr. Stephen Leatherman aka “Dr. Beach” drove that point home last month when he named Siesta Beach on Siesta Key just south of Sarasota as the top beach in America this year.

Residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills will be pleased to know that the best beach in the country is located just 2.5 hours south of their community, which makes for a perfect day trip or weekend getaway. If you are looking to check out the pristine white sand and clear blue water of Siesta Beach, we have all the information you need to plan an enjoyable trip.

Where to Stay Near Siesta Beach 

 The Capri at Siesta

The Capri at Siesta

According to TripAdvisor, the number one hotel on Siesta Key is The Capri at Siesta, located right on the most beautiful beach in the country. This charming boutique hotel offers everything from simple studio rooms to suites and villas, and all of the prices are surprisingly reasonable considering the popularity of their location.  Staying at The Capri will get you right into the heart of the action without breaking the bank.

 

Another popular option located right on the beach is Tropical Beach Resorts, where you can park your car right in front of your room and then never bother to use it for the entire length of your stay. Much like The Capri, Tropical Beach Resorts gets high marks for service, friendliness, and cleanliness. It also won't cost you an arm and a leg to stay here for the weekend.

If you are thinking about spending more than a weekend in Siesta Key, you might also want to consider one of the many vacation rentals available all over the island. These often end up being a better deal if you are planning to stay for a week or more, and there are plenty of options to choose from.

 

What to Do Near Siesta Beach

As you might expect, just about everything revolves around the beautiful beaches in Siesta Key. In addition to the stunning Siesta Beach, you can also explore Crescent Beach and Turtle Beach, which are equally beautiful but often get less tourist traffic.

No matter which beach you prefer, you are never far from a parasailing adventure on Siesta Key, which is an excellent way to get a great view of the island.  Snorkeling, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, jet skis, boat tours, and deep-sea fishing are also popular in the area.

There are dozens of local tour companies that offer all kinds of water activities, so just ask your hotel concierge to recommend one, and you can get right down to business.

 

If you are looking for great shopping on Siesta Key, you are definitely going to want to stop at The Gallery. Here you will find all kinds of unique gifts, clothing, and hand-made jewelry.

 

Where to Eat Near Siesta Beach

When you are spending your time relaxing on Siesta Beach, you might be tempted to grab a bite from the Siesta Sun Deck right on the beach, but there are many more options located on the northern end of the island if you are willing to stroll up the beach to Ocean Boulevard.

3.14 Pi is a local favorite for anyone looking to grab some gourmet pizza, delicious wings, and a cold craft beer. All of their pizzas are fantastic, but you can never go wrong with the 3.14 Siesta Pi or the Beach Bum Pi.

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Another casual option is the Siesta Key Oyster Bar, where you will find all of the shellfish and frozen cocktails you could ever desire. They have a great happy hour special from 3-6 pm every single day with half off oysters and crawfish boils.

One of our favorite spots for dinner on Siesta Key is The Cottage, where you will find a fantastic tapas menu featuring          excellent seafood items like Wonton Tuna Tacos, Black Mussels, and Peruvian Ceviche.

 

Not only is Siesta Beach the best beach in the country, but it is also located on a beautiful island, filled with great places to stay, and surrounded by excellent local restaurants. If you are looking for a reason to start planning your next getaway, this is it! See you at the beach!

Weekend Trip: Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood, Florida

The state of Florida is packed with great destinations for a weekend getaway, but you will be hard-pressed to find a more intriguing choice than Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood Florida.

This brand-new resort opened at the end of 2016, and is already receiving rave reviews on TripAdvisor. If you are looking for the perfect destination to exercise your "License to Chill," then start planning a weekend in Margaritaville.

Getting to Margaritaville

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Resort is located in beautiful Hollywood, Florida, which is just a bit south of Fort Lauderdale. Residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills can drive there in about four and a half hours by taking the Florida Turnpike passing just south of Orlando as they head east across the state and then following the same road south through Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale right into Hollywood.

Entering Paradise

You'll know you’ve arrived someplace special the minute you step into the Margaritaville lobby, where you will find the perfect decor that includes a large blue sandal sculpture, margarita glass chandeliers, and antique surfboards that are part of Buffet's private collection.

From there, you will make your way up to one of the resort's 349 rooms that all feature spacious balconies and views of either the Atlantic Ocean or the Intercostal Waterway.

 

 

Margaritaville Dining

Guests at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Resort have the option to enjoy any of eight different dining options on the property. Included are the JWB Prime Steak and Seafood Restaurant for a more upscale experience, the classic Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville and LandShark Bar & Grill restaurant for the more traditional Parrot Head experience.

In addition to those three full-service restaurants, guests can also grab a bite to eat and enjoy the stunning views from the License to Chill Bar on the 11th floor of the resort. As you make your way around the property, you will also find the 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill near the 5 O'Clock Somewhere Boat Dock on the Intercostal Waterway side, and the Lone Palm Beach Bar over on the beach side. There is also the Floridays Airstream Cafe or the Margaritaville Coffee Shop.

Wasting Away in Margaritaville

Kicking back with a cold drink in hand is probably the most popular activity at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Resort, but there are plenty of other things to do.

On the Intercostal Waterway side, you will find the 5 O'Clock Somewhere Boat Dock where you can rent stand-up paddleboards to take out on the water. If you want a bit more action, there is the FlowRider surfing simulator over on the beach side. Guests can also spend time exploring the famous Hollywood Beach Boardwalk or the excellent shopping on nearby Las Olas Boulevard.

At the end of the day, Margaritaville is all about music, and the resort offers plenty of that as well. Between the stages at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Restaurant, the 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill, and the Landshark Bar & Grill, there is almost always live music happening somewhere on the resort. And in case that isn't impressive enough, the resort has also taken over the nearby Hollywood Bandshell, where it hosts all kinds of music events.

When you are ready to kick back with some boat drinks and enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere for a weekend, changing your latitude is the key to changing your attitude. And since this fabulous destination is located not too far away from the Villages of Citrus Hills, you might want to think about making this weekend trip a regular event! Just don't spend your whole trip searching for that lost shaker of salt!

The Manatees are Back for the Winter

There are dozens of reasons why Florida is a great place to live, but one of the top reasons has to be that the weather is nice and warm during the winter months.

Many of our friends and neighbors here in the Villages of Citrus Hills go north for the summer only to come running back at the first sign of winter.

Ironically, our local manatee population demonstrates the exact same behavior!

West Indian Manatees are extremely popular animals in Citrus County due to our year round population of them, which gets especially large during the winter months.

Despite their enormous size, these sea mammals have relatively little body fat and require warm water in order to survive. For that reason, they tend to migrate to the warm spring waters such as Crystal River and Homosassa Springs during the winter months. 

Another way that manatees are similar to our snowbird friends and neighbors is that once they find a place they like, they will return to the same spot year after year. It is not uncommon for a mother and her calf to go their separate ways out at sea for the entire summer and then be spotted hanging out together in their usual winter habitat the following year. 

As the manatees begin to migrate back towards our local springs for the winter, now is a great time to be planning your next manatee encounter. Whether you are looking to swim alongside the manatees, kayak near them, or observe them from dry land, there are great places to do all of those in Crystal River and Homosassa Springs!

Crystal River

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The best places to see manatees in the Crystal River area are Three Sisters Springs and the Kings Bay Manatee Sanctuary. Both of these places are best accessed by boat, but you can only get so close. In order to get up close and personal you will have to be in a kayak or canoe.

There are also a number of tour companies that operate out of the Crystal River area that specialize in manatee tours. These companies can take you right up to the popular manatee areas and many will instruct you on swimming right along with the manatees!

Homosassa Springs 

If you are looking to learn more about manatees, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is the best place in the region. There is a daily educational program that gives visitors some background on manatees including their history and the rehabilitation efforts that are conducted at the park. 

The Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park also has what they call the “Fish Bowl,” which is an underwater viewing area similar to what you would expect to find at an aquarium. This gives visitors the chance to get up close and personal with manatees without even getting wet!

Tampa Electric Company 

Because manatees are attracted to warm waters, they also tend to be attracted to power plants. One really interesting place to observe them is from the Tampa Electric Company near the mouth of the Hillsborough River. The warm water that the power plant discharges into the river is like a magnet for manatees, and the company has built a visitor center, overlook, and walkway for visitors to observe this phenomenon. 

Whether you prefer to break out your kayak and meet the manatees in their natural environment in Crystal River or stay on dry land and observe them from a distance at Homosassa Springs or the Tampa Electric Company power plant, make sure you take some time to get out and see these amazing sea mammals near the Villages of Citrus Hills this winter.

Stand Up Paddleboarding at Night

It’s no secret that stand up paddleboarding is quickly becoming one of the most popular water activities in the state of Florida and across the country. “SUPing”, as the early adopters who have fallen in love with the sport call it, offers the perfect combination of a low-stress workout and a sense of adventure and exploration in a relaxing environment.  

We’ve published a few pieces focused on the benefits that stand up paddleboarding can offer and some of the best local places to give it a shot. But this young sport is still evolving and there are new opportunities making use of these paddleboards every single day.  

Next Level Stand Up Paddleboarding 

If you have already experienced the calm feeling of floating through one of our local waterways on a paddleboard, you will probably see the natural connection to yoga and mediation. But many local tour companies have taken that connection a step further by offering yoga classes right out on those stand up paddleboards.

And since stand up paddleboard yoga wasn’t innovative enough for some people, there have also been a handful of companies that are attaching waterproof LED lights to the bottom of their boards at night, which has opened up a whole new paddleboard experience.  

The After Dark Experience

Taking your board out in the water during the day usually tends to be more about a great way to exercise than it is about having fun. But when you take that same board out at night, the fun level kicks up a notch and things start to get very interesting.  

First of all, when your paddleboard is throwing out a beam of light into the water surrounding it, you can’t help but notice that it closely resembles something that might have come from outer space. And when you get a group of these UFO-looking boards together, the effect is extremely beautiful.  

As you might expect, local fish think those LED lights are pretty interesting too. That means that your evening cruise is likely to be completely surrounded by all types of underwater friends. It’s not unusual to encounter small fish attracted to the lights, big fish attracted to the small fish, an octopus getting up close and personal with your board, and even more intimidating creatures like sharks and sting rays.  

Nearby Night Tours 

If you are the type of person who has already invested in your own stand up paddleboard, you can order your own set of LED lights to attach to the bottom of it and start exploring all of your favorite local spots at night.  

But if you prefer to try out stand up paddleboarding at night as a part of a group, John Sharrrk’s Paddle Adventures in Tampa is currently one of the closest options. Captain John takes out groups of paddleboarders for a 90-minute lighted tour that starts right at sundown.

You can get more information about pricing and book your trip right from his website.

www.sharrrkspaddle.com

Heading further south, another lighted stand up paddleboarding option is Hooked on SUP in Englewood, FL. They offer all kinds of unique SUP experiences, and their lighted tour is absolutely fantastic.

You can get more information about pricing and book your trip right from his website.

www.hookedonsup.com

This lighted SUP experience is also extremely popular throughout the Keys, so you can find plenty more options down that way if you are looking for an excuse to book a weekend getaway.  

Residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills have already been quick to jump on the stand up paddleboard bandwagon. During the day, this experience offers a fantastic workout and a relaxing experience. But when you add in the lighted boards in an after dark experience, the fun level skyrockets and you will find the next level of enjoyment when it comes to stand up paddleboarding.