Citrus County

5 Fun Things to Do in Inverness

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Located just under fifteen minutes from the Villages of Citrus Hills, Inverness offers the perfect combination of nature and history, along with a growing restaurant scene that keeps getting better and better.

Whether you are looking to explore local history at the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum, take in a little culture at the Valerie Theatre, get outdoors on the Withlacoochee State Trail or at Fort Cooper State Park, or just grab an excellent bite to eat, there is never a dull moment in Inverness. Let’s take a quick run through five of our favorite things to do in Inverness.

Embrace History at the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum

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If you are interested in learning about the history of Citrus County, there is no better place to start than the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum. This historic building in the heart of town was built in 1912 and served as the local courthouse until 1978.

Today, the first floor features a number of exhibits detailing the rich history of Citrus County.

On the second floor, the old courtroom still looks just as it did when Elvis came to town in 1961 to film a movie there. The courtroom is also available to rent for private parties.

Take in a Film at the Valerie Theatre

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Located right across the street from the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum is the equally historic Valerie Theatre. This gorgeous theatre was reopened to the public in 2015, and it is currently hosting a wide range of live stage performances and film showings.

Originally built in the mid-1920s by Mrs. Pearl G. Maddox, the Valerie Theatre was named after her daughter and designed to show silent films. Many local residents believed that the building closed for good in 1987, but the city bought it in 2009 and local residents pitched in to restore it to its former glory.

Today, you can catch weekly showings of classic films at the Valerie Theatre. And there are also plenty of live stage shows scheduled throughout the year.

Go Biking on the Withlacoochee State Trail

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Anyone looking to get outside and experience the beautiful Florida weather can take advantage of the fact that the 46-mile Withlacoochee State Trail runs right through Inverness.

This long stretch of former railroad was purchased from CSX Transportation in 1989 as one of the very first acquisitions of Florida’s Rails-to-Trails program. Because of its former life as a railroad corridor, the entire length of the trail is flat, making it perfect for biking. Starting from Inverness, bikers can head north up to Citrus Springs, or they can venture south all the way down through Hernando County to Trilby.

Hit the Lake in Fort Cooper State Park

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Another way to enjoy nature in Inverness is to head out for a day at Fort Cooper State Park. Not only is this massive 700-acre state park a part of the Withlacoochee State Trail, but it is also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail and the Seminole Heritage Trail.

Fort Cooper State Park is also home to Lake Holathlikaha, which is open for all kinds of boating activities throughout the year.

Enjoy the Local Restaurant Scene

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Inverness might be a small town, but this nearby community packs a serious punch when it comes to outstanding local restaurants. Whether you are looking for a neighborhood pub, an Italian deli, first-class pizza, or any other type of cuisine, you can find it in Inverness.

As you plan your visits to our neighbor down the road, make sure that you check out some of the great restaurants there like Pine Street Pub, Little Italy of Inverness, Motor City Pasta Company, and Kawa Sushi House.

Not only is there a never-ending list of exciting activities and events here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, but there is also plenty to keep you busy right in Inverness.

Don’t miss your chance to get to know everything that this next-door-neighbor town has to offer!

July Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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The month of July is known for being hot and humid in Florida, but the activities and events happening here at the Villages of Citrus Hills might be even hotter than the weather this month.

Whether you are looking for fun social events, opportunities to explore arts and education, competition on the golf course or tennis court, or just a great meal, there is something for you on the July calendar.

Social Events

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This month’s social calendar is going to kick off on Sunday, July 7 when 7 Bridges: The Ultimate Eagles Tribute Band takes the stage at the Activity Center Auditorium as part of the Sizzlin’ Summer Show Series.

Tickets are going to go quickly for this one, so make sure you get yours soon.

The Hampton Room will be hosting a Comedy Night with Rick Corso on Thursday, July 11 with cocktails at 6 pm followed by the show starting at 7 pm. Rick is a nationally touring comedian who has been featured in Showtime’s Comedy Club All-Stars and Comedy Central’s “The A-List.”

The Hampton Room will also be hosting another installment of Tasty Trivia Tuesday. The competition will take place on July 16, and the menu this month will feature Beef Tips Marsala and Roast Pork with Cinnamon Apple Glaze with plenty of sides and dessert.

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The Hampton Room is going to close out the month with a wild time when DJ Butch Phillips shows up for the Hampton Hoedown on Friday, July 26.

This country-style dancing event will be a super casual party that includes lessons for all of your favorite line dances.

Arts & Education

Lunch & Learn is going to be back in the Garden Room on Tuesday, July 9 at 12 pm. This month's guest will be author Kelly Spence Cain, and the meal will include a Spinach Salad topped with Grilled Chicken Breast and Fresh Strawberries.

The Garden Room will also be hosting the Ageless Beauty Luncheon with Marie Grace on Tuesday, July 23. Marie will be discussing “Flawless Foundation Highlights & Contour” while everyone attending enjoys a Citrus Chicken Salad.

Golf, Tennis, & Pickleball

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The Meadows Course is going to be the focal point of the golf action this month when it hosts the Firecracker Open on Saturday, July 6. Like all of the open tournaments at Citrus Hills, this will be a relaxed event that also includes lunch and beverages following the round.

If you are looking to step up your golf game this month, you might want to think about attending one of PGA/LPGA Pro Mary Slinkard’s Free Golf Clinics. Mary will be working with beginners on July 8, 9, and 10. Then she will be back to fine-tune intermediate golfers on July 16, 23, and 30.

Speaking of clinics, the Skyview Tennis Center will be hosting their monthly Free Beginners Tennis Clinic on Tuesday, July 9 at 11:30 am. You don’t even need to own your own racket to show up and have a great time at this event, but you might find yourself buying one after learning some of the fundamentals.

Pickleball is being promoted as “the fastest growing sport in America,” and that is certainly the case here at the Villages of Citrus Hills. You can learn all about this fun and exciting game by attending Pickleball 101 on the first Tuesday of the month at 1 pm or the third Thursday of the month at 6 pm.

Dinner Specials

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The Fourth of July is obviously the biggest holiday event of the month, and Skyview Restaurant and The Grille are both going to be putting out impressive spreads. You can celebrate with entrees like Memphis Blues Ribs, Honey Barbecue Chicken, and Firecracker Grilled Salmon at Skyview from 12 pm to 4 pm, or you can head down to The Grille for similar specials and live music from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

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Skyview Restaurant is also going to be running “Summer Faire” specials every Friday night throughout the month of July that will include options like Roasted Cod, Baby Back Ribs, Butcher’s Block Beef Tips, and Aztec Chicken.

And you won’t want to miss National Hot Dog Day at The Grille on Wednesday, July 17. They will be serving up hot dog meals from 5 pm to 8 pm, and there will be a full toppings bar so you can create any kind of dog you like.

BellaVita Spa and Fitness

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In between all of the fun things happening around the community this month, you might also want to book some time for self-care at BellaVita Spa. Their specials for the month include the BellaVita Flawless Facial and a Swedish Massage Special.

For what is traditionally considered to be a slower time of year here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, there is actually quite a bit on the schedule throughout the entire month. Make sure that you mark down your favorite options so that you don’t miss out on the fun!

Florida Scalloping Season Starts July 1st!

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Throughout most of the country, the weeks leading up to the 4th of July are filled with fireworks and cookouts. But here along the Gulf Coast, we’re also focused on one of our favorite seafood items: SCALLOPS! 

That’s right! Scalloping season is right around the corner. This year, the season kicks off on Monday, July 1 and runs all the way through Tuesday, September 24.

And whether you enjoy eating scallops or not, spending a day catching them is one of the most exciting things you can do in Citrus County.  

Bay scallops are a type of shellfish that live in shallow waters along the Gulf Coast of Florida just minutes from the Villages of Citrus Hills.

They tend to be found living in sea grass areas, where they can blend in well except for their bright blue eyes. If startled, you will see the scallops attempt to make their getaway by quickly opening and closing their shells to propel them backwards.

Scalloping Rules & Regulations 

If you are planning on heading out on your own scalloping adventure this year, you will want to be aware of the rules and regulations that you are going to be expected to follow. First and foremost, anyone out scalloping on their own must obtain a Florida Saltwater Fishing License.

In addition to having a license, there is a limit to how many scallops you are allowed to harvest on any given day. Just as it has been in previous years, the limit in 2019 is two gallons of whole scallops or one pint of scallop meat per person.  

There is also a maximum of 10 gallons permitted for each vessel out in the water. On top of that, the vessel you are using to scallop must leave from and return to a dock that is located within an area where scalloping is permitted.  

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There are only three acceptable ways to harvest scallops; you must either catch them by hand, landing, or dip net. The most popular method is by hand, which is usually done while snorkeling with a mesh bag to hold your catch. You’re also required to utilize diving flags to alert any other boats in the area to your presence.

One particular rule that might seem confusing at first is that any boat that catches scallops in the legal area to do so, must also dock in the same area. It is illegal to catch scallops in the legal area and then unload them outside of the legal area.

The following link will bring you to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with all the official information.

https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/bay-scallops/

Scheduling a Scalloping Charter

If all of those rules and regulations are making your head spin, you are not alone. Luckily, there is another option. By scheduling a private scalloping charter with one of the many tour companies throughout Citrus County, you can enjoy harvesting your scallops without having to worry about remembering the rules.  

When you go scalloping with a reputable charter company, you will be provided with all the gear and licenses you need, plus a guide who knows all of the details about how much you can harvest.  

There are dozens of local tour companies that would be happy to host your next scalloping adventure. The following link will bring you to a wonderful website, Discover Crystal River, with a few charter companies to consider.

https://www.discovercrystalriverfl.com/play/scalloping/ 

Shucking & Cooking Your Scallops 

After spending a fun afternoon out in the water grabbing scallops and shoving them into your mesh bag, the next step is to get them ready for dinner. But don’t worry, that process isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think.  

If you have the benefit of being on a scalloping charter, there is a good chance that shucking your scallops is included in the price. If not, get out your knife and dig in! Here is a great video that breaks down the process for you. 

https://www.saveur.com/video-how-shuck-scallop 

Once you get your scallops shucked and cleaned, it’s time to figure out how to cook them!

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However, scallops are actually incredibly easy to cook. All you need to do is pan-sear them with a little bit of oil over very high heat. Just cooking them for about one minute on each side is all you have to do. There is actually a better chance of you overcooking them than undercooking them.  

Some recommended approaches to cooking scallops include seasoning with salt and pepper, lemon pepper, or blackened Cajun seasoning before you sear them. Many recipes also recommend basting them with butter while cooking.  

While most people prefer their scallops fried in butter with a bit of their favorite seasoning, this article from Coastal Living Magazine offers up 34 delicious scallop recipes for anyone who is looking for something a bit different. The Scallop and Avocado Tostadas sound delicious. 

www.coastalliving.com/food/kitchen-assistant/scallops-recipes 

No matter how you like your scallops prepared, there is no denying that spending a day out on the boat harvesting them is one of the biggest benefits to living along The Nature Coast.

This recreational fishing activity combines all of the excitement of the catch that comes with traditional fishing without the worms. If you have ever enjoyed delicious scallops at a local restaurant, this is your chance to get out and catch your own.  

Because some of the best scallops in the world are basically sitting in our backyard, we would all be crazy to not go out scalloping at least a few times each year. The fact that there are so many great charter operations in our area makes it even easier. 

Even if you don’t care for seafood, the treasure hunt feeling you get from scalloping is a blast. Make sure that you don’t let this year’s scalloping season pass you by without filling a few mesh bags of your own!

5 Fun Ways to Spend a Day in Ocala

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Located just an hour drive from the Villages of Citrus Hills, Ocala is one of the most unique destinations in all of Florida. There is a nearly endless number of things to do in and around this dynamic city, which makes it a perfect day trip destination for Citrus Hills residents.  

Whether you are interested in horseback riding and drag racing or shopping and art, there is something for everyone in Ocala. Let's take a quick look at five different ways to spend an exciting afternoon in "horse country." 

Horse Farm Tours 

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Because horse culture is such an integral part of Ocala, the first option for visitors is always going to be one of the many horse farm tours like the one you will find at Gypsy Gold Farm.  

No one ever has a bad thing to say about a visit to Gypsy Gold Farm, which typically includes a tour of the massive 40-acre property. The tour is filled with stories about both the property and the heritage of the horses that are raised there.  

If you are looking for even more horse-related fun, there is also Farm Tours of Ocala. This fun adventure takes visitors on a walking tour that covers three different farm properties.  

Drag Racing History 

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Visitors looking to experience something even faster than horse racing, the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing is a popular Ocala attraction that will get your motor running.  

This museum is full of historic drag racing cars, and there is an additional building filled with a fabulous collection of antique cars. You will not be disappointed.  

The Great Outdoors 

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Way back before things took off in Orlando, it was Silver Springs that was attracting people to visit sunny Florida. Silver Springs State Park is still an amazing place to visit any time of year, especially if you are interested in taking the glass bottom boat tour.  

For visitors who prefer flowers to boats, Sholom Park is a gorgeous 44-acre botanical garden that offers another option for enjoying the great outdoors in Ocala.  

Appreciation for the Arts 

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One of Ocala's hidden gems is the diverse collection of artworks on display at the Appleton Museum of Art. This small little museum contains art ranging from ancient Greece all the way up to today's modern art, and walking through the facility is always a relaxing experience.  

Shopping & Dining 

Sometimes, the best days in Ocala are the ones that start out without any plan at all, and that is exactly the type of fun you can find wandering around downtown Ocala.  

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Downtown Ocala features a fun combination of restaurants, boutique shops, and art exhibits that you won't find in other Florida towns. There are also a lot of historic buildings in this area, so make sure you take some time to let yourself wander around.  

With everything from horses to modern art available throughout the year, it's no wonder that Ocala is one of the most popular day-trip destinations for residents here at the Villages of Citrus Hills. The next time you are looking for a fun way to spend a day, head to Ocala and you are sure to find something amazing.

Bayfront Health Seven Rivers to open FSED

For those of you that haven’t already heard, the following is the announcement of the new medical facility that will be right across the street from the Villages of Citrus Hills.

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BAYFRONT HEALTH SEVEN RIVERS PLANS FREESTANDING EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT IN CENTRAL CITRUS COUNTY 

Crystal River, FL (May 28, 2019) — Bayfront Health Seven Rivers will open the first freestanding emergency department (FSED) in central Citrus County, giving residents in the Citrus Hills area access to nearby emergency services.   Bayfront Health Seven Rivers FSED will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to serve patients who experience medical emergencies. 

Bayfront Health Seven Rivers Chief Executive Officer Linda Stockton said, “Bayfront Health Seven Rivers FSED will provide faster access to emergency care and is another example of our commitment to expand healthcare throughout Citrus County.”

An artist's rendering shows the freestanding emergency department planned for Citrus Hills.

An artist's rendering shows the freestanding emergency department planned for Citrus Hills.

Like any hospital emergency department, the new Bayfront Health Seven Rivers FSED will be equipped to treat patients with illnesses and injuries that require a higher level of care than urgent care facilities offer. The freestanding emergency department will have 12 treatment areas with radiology and lab services on-site. Many emergency services can be effectively managed at freestanding emergency departments without the need for transfer to a traditional hospital setting.

Board-certified emergency physicians, registered nurses and other patient care providers will staff the center. Dr. Roderick Bennett, medical director of the Emergency Department at Bayfront Health Seven Rivers, said, “Our team of emergency physicians is looking forward to being part of this exciting new venture.  This facility will be a first in Citrus County and we are pleased to be able to offer high quality emergency care at another convenient location.”

Bayfront Health Seven Rivers is investing $12.3 million in the new facility.  More than 30 new jobs will be created to serve patients at the new center, including registered nurses, lab, imaging, admitting and environmental services staff.

“We congratulate Bayfront Health Seven Rivers on this expansion.  Strong healthcare is a key focus area for economic development in the region and we are thrilled to see Bayfront Health expand their footprint in Citrus County,” said Steve Tamposi, the developer of Citrus Hills.  

Bayfront Health Seven Rivers FSED will be located 795 W. Norvell Bryant Hwy. in Citrus Hills.  Construction is scheduled to begin later this summer and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.

Bayfront Health Seven Rivers currently offers primary care, cardiology, orthopedic and surgical services, outpatient therapy, cardiac rehab and wound care in Citrus County.