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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!

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.

Day Trip: 24 Hours in Cedar Key

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Located just over an hour northwest of the Villages of Citrus Hills, Cedar Key is a quaint beachfront community that fully embraces the "Old Florida" lifestyle. You won't find many chain stores or restaurants here, but you will find a unique little town that is always a fun place to visit.  

If you have been looking for a different destination for your next day trip, Cedar Key offers the perfect combination of close proximity to our community, unique atmosphere to enjoy, and plenty of fun things to do.  

Let's take a walk through what a perfect day trip to Cedar Key might look like for a resident here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.  

Morning Activity: Cedar Key Fishing Pier 

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After enjoying a beautiful drive up the Gulf Coast, you will find yourself pulling into Cedar Key at just about the perfect time for a morning stroll down the Cedar Key Fishing Pier.  

This trip is all about embracing the relaxing charm of "Old Florida." And that is exactly what you are going to feel as you kick back and relax watching the fishermen in action on the pier.  

If you are an angler, you might feel compelled to cast a line yourself, but you don't have to fish here to enjoy the sights.  

Lunch: 83 West 

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From the Cedar Key Fishing Pier, it is just a short walk over to one of the best lunches in town at 83 West. This unique restaurant offers two different experiences under one roof, but for lunch, we are going to focus on the more casual version downstairs.  

With everything from shrimp tacos and crab bites to smoked mullet dip and bourbon marinated gator kabobs on the menu, there is plenty of authentic local food to choose from.  

Afternoon Activity: Cedar Key Historical Society Museum 

After lunch, we are heading over to the Cedar Key Historical Society Museum to see the most popular tourist attraction in town. This friendly little museum does a great job telling the story of Cedar Key to anyone who might be interested.  

There are lots of local artifacts on display throughout the museum's self-guided tour, and at only $3 it is also one of the best deals in town as well.  

Dinner: Duncan's on the Gulf 

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When dinner time rolls around, we are heading back to the Cedar Key Fishing Pier for reservations at Duncan's on the Gulf. This hidden gem is known for handling all things seafood-related, but they also have a fantastic selection of steaks and pasta dishes.  

If this is your first time dining at Duncan's, you can feel comfortable choosing any of the specials that might sound interesting. But if that doesn't do the trick for you, there are plenty of great entrees in the Island Dinner section of their menu.  

After enjoying two fabulous meals and a couple of fun destinations in Cedar Key, you are probably going to be ready to get home as quickly as possible. Fortunately for you, the Villages of Citrus Hills is only a little over an hour away, so you will be back home before you know it!

 

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!

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.

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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!