Parks

10 Favorite Weekend Getaway Destinations in Florida

Over the years, we have published dozens of articles highlighting some of the best weekend getaway destinations in Florida. But one thing that we have never done is put together an article highlighting the best of the best when it comes to getting out of town for a few days.  

If you are thinking about planning a weekend getaway of your own, we believe these ten destinations are the best places to start. So pick whichever one that you haven't been to yet and start planning your next trip! 

Daytona Beach Pier

Daytona Beach Pier

Daytona Beach 

Everyone knows that Daytona Beach is home to the famous Daytona International Speedway. And if NASCAR is your thing, this is definitely a trip that should be on your list. But there is also a lot more that Daytona Beach has to offer for a weekend getaway.  

You can choose to stay at a wide range of excellent resorts located right along the "World's Most Famous Beach," and you won't want to leave without taking a stroll out onto the Daytona Beach Pier. 

Las Olas Boulevard

Las Olas Boulevard

Fort Lauderdale 

Fort Lauderdale is known for two things: it's iconic beachfront and the equally iconic shopping available on Las Olas Boulevard. This is a perfect destination for anyone who is passionate about arts and culture mixed with beachfront living.  

While you are in Fort Lauderdale, make sure that you take the time to drive, ride, or stroll through Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and stop for burgers and beer at the park restaurant.  

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Jacksonville 

The Jaguars put Jacksonville back on the map, but Florida residents have always known that this is a great spot for a weekend getaway. If you’re looking for an affordable way to stay at a luxury beachfront hotel, this is your destination. Jacksonville is also home to more than 20 miles of beautiful beaches, and they have the largest urban park system in the country.

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Key West 

You might think you know what to expect from a weekend in Key West, but you honestly haven't lived the complete Florida experience until you’ve explored some of the outstanding bars and restaurants that are located just off of the famous Duval Street.  

Miami Sunset

Miami Sunset

Miami 

Miami is best known for the late-night club scene you will find in South Beach, but this popular tourist destination actually has something for everyone. And because there are so many tourists that frequent the area, you can always find an Uber driver, and there are often some great deals on last-minute hotel rooms. 

While you are in town, make sure that you head down to Joe's Stone Crab. They offer two versions of the Joe's experience with the casual take-out side and the formal restaurant side.  

Disney World Magic Kingdom

Disney World Magic Kingdom

Orlando 

It's all about the theme parks in Orlando, and since Florida residents get discounted admission, this is the type of getaway that will make all of your friends and relatives around the country jealous.  

While you are in Orlando, head over to one of the interesting seasonal events at Epcot, and don't forget to check out The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. 

Gallery Night

Gallery Night

Pensacola 

When you are ready to start exploring the Panhandle, Pensacola is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. Here you will find lots of history that you can explore through walking tours. Plus, the city is also home to a thriving community of artists with galleries.  

Pensacola is also home to the National Naval Aviation Museum and the world-famous Blue Angels.  

St. Lucie Trail Golf Club

St. Lucie Trail Golf Club

Port St. Lucie 

Most of our favorite weekend getaway destinations are cities or towns that are filled with fun things to do and great places to eat. But if you are looking for a getaway that is focused on golfing in a relaxing environment, Port St. Lucie should be at the top of your list.  

Port St. Lucie is also the winter home of the New York Mets, so make sure you plan your trip around Spring Training! 

Nights of Lights

Nights of Lights

St. Augustine 

In terms of history, no city in the country can match what you will find in St. Augustine. Known as the "Nation's Oldest City," it is here that you will find landmarks like Castillo de San Marcos, Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth, and the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.  

But don't let the history make you think that St. Augustine doesn't have a modern flair as well. The city is also home to a thriving restaurant scene where you will be hard pressed to run out of options.  And now is the perfect time to visit as they have the Nights of Lights running nightly November 23rd, 2019 through February 2nd, 2020.

Palm Beach Zoo

Palm Beach Zoo

West Palm Beach 

Don't let the name fool you because West Palm Beach is actually located on the east coast of Florida, just north of Fort Lauderdale. This classic "Old Florida" community is home to stunning white sand beaches, as well as four different retail districts to keep all the shopaholics happy.  

West Palm Beach is also home to the Palm Beach Zoo and the Norton Museum of Art.  

When you live at the Villages of Citrus Hills, you may never feel the urge to leave the community. But if you decide to venture out, you can’t go wrong with any of the destinations we’ve mentioned here.

5 Fun Things to Do in Clearwater

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Located on the Gulf Coast just west of Tampa, Clearwater is a little more than 90 minutes away from the Villages of Citrus Hills. And while those 90 minutes might not seem like much, spending time in this beachside paradise will make you feel like you are miles from anywhere resembling your normal life.

If you are looking to plan a weekend getaway to the beach or simply want a fresh day trip destination, the Clearwater area is packed full of things to do. Let’s jump right into the warm water and check out five fun things to do on your next trip to this white sand paradise.


Hit the Beach

When a destination is known around the world for its beautiful white sand beaches, spending some time enjoying those beaches should be at the very top of every visitor’s list.

Clearwater Beach is the most popular beach destination in the area, and it offers an absolutely gorgeous stretch of pristine sand and crystal clear water. This is the perfect place to lay out, walk with your feet in the water, or go for a swim.

So grab a towel, kick off your shoes, and get ready to hit the beach.

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Beach Walk

When you are ready for a break from the beach, the Beach Walk pedestrian area offers a nice place to stroll along a paved sidewalk under the shade of palm trees.

The road is pushed back a bit from this area, which is also filled with local shops, restaurants, and an old-time ice cream parlor.

You won’t believe some of the cool things you will find in the boutique shops along the Beach Walk, so this is the perfect way to get your shopaholic fix in Clearwater.

Pier 60

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Another popular destination that isn’t far from the beach is Pier 60. This 1,080-foot fishing pier is the perfect place to cast a line in Clearwater, day or night.

There is a small fishing shop right on the pier that can fix you up with everything you need to catch local fish like Spanish mackerel and spotted trout.

The pier also features a constant flow of entertainment from local musicians and jugglers, so there is always something to see and do here. It’s also a wonderful spot to watch the sunset.

Kayaking & Standup Paddleboarding

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Whether you prefer to kick back in a kayak or do your paddling while standing up, there are a number of fantastic paddling options around Clearwater for anyone who prefers to relax out on the water.

Spending some time exploring the waters around Sand Key Park, Moccasin Lake Nature Park, or Cliff Stephens Park is an activity that you could base an entire trip around.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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In addition to everything there is to do outdoors, Clearwater is also home to the famous Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This massive aquarium features all kinds of marine life on display, including Winter, the dolphin who served as the inspiration for the movie Dolphin’s Tale.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium specializes in marine rehabilitation, so you can also learn quite a bit about how they are working to improve conditions for marine life along the Gulf Coast.

From kicking back on the beach to paddling kayaks through untouched nature parks, everything in Clearwater is focused on relaxation. So the next time you feel the need for a day or two of recovery, let Clearwater help you reconnect to nature in whatever way works best for you.

 

5 Fun Things to Do in Dunnellon

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Known for its prime location along the Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers, as well as its historic downtown district, Dunnellon is one of the many hidden gems residents will find located all around the Villages of Citrus Hills.

Because of its location just over 20 minutes north of our community, Dunnellon is one of the popular day trip destinations for our residents. And with everything from river tubing and horseback riding to airboat tours and shopping, there is never a dull moment in this nearby town.

Let’s take a closer look at five of the most fun things you can do while spending a day up in Dunnellon.

Tubing Down the Rainbow River

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One of the most popular things to do in Dunnellon is break out a tube or kayak and spend the day floating down the Rainbow River. This is a great way to take in the beauty of the area without having to do a whole lot of work.

The best places to start any tubing or kayaking adventure here are Rainbow River State Park and the KP Hole County Park. There are companies available to rent tubes or kayaks near both locations, so the only thing you have to bring is a swimsuit.

Rainbow Springs State Park

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While Rainbow Springs State Park is best known for being a perfect launch point for a day out on the Rainbow River, the park offers so many additional amenities that it actually deserves a place of its own on this list.

In addition to river access, Rainbow Springs State Park offers some of the best hiking and camping areas you will find this close to the Villages of Citrus Hills. So whether you are looking for a wilderness weekend or just a picnic outside, this is the type of location you definitely want to experience.

Happy Acres Ranch

If horses are your passion, then Happy Acres Ranch is going to be the type of place you want to visit over and over again.

This working ranch specializes in trail rides, lessons, and boarding. They have over 50 miles of trails to explore on horseback, so there is always a new path to explore while you are out riding.

In addition to being a great place for horseback riding, Happy Acres Ranch also offers campers and cottages for rent if you want to turn Dunnellon into your home for the weekend.

Airboat Tours

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While exploring the Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers by kayak can be quite relaxing, airboat tours offer visitors a much more exciting version of that same experience. These flat-bottom boats are powered by massive fans attached to the back of them.

Local companies like Captain Bob’s Airboat Tours offer regularly scheduled tours that will get you up close and personal with all kinds of local plants and native wildlife. Plus there is the fun of actually getting to experience riding on an airboat.

Historic Shopping District

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Most of the small towns throughout the state have some interesting boutique stores for shoppers to explore, but Dunnellon has the Historic Village Shops of Dunnellon, which is a collection of those types of stores that work together to create an amazing shopping experience.

The Historic Village Shops of Dunnellon also hosts a market of local crafters and artists on the first Saturday of each month. So if you are planning on shopping in town, that is the best time to visit.

With everything from tubing down the Rainbow River to exploring the Historic Villages Shops of Dunnellon, this quaint little town is packed with fun and adventure for anyone who wants to visit. And since it is located just a short drive from the Villages of Citrus Hills, there is no reason you can’t plan to head up to Dunnellon on a regular basis.

Benefits of Living in Citrus County



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

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

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

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

53% Will Never Be Built On 

Many people who relocate to Citrus County don’t realize this fact until after they move here, but more than half of the county is protected areas that will never see any type of construction. This assures residents that Citrus County will never suffer from becoming overbuilt the way other parts of Florida have.  

Ideal Climate 

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The location of Citrus County along the Gulf Coast near the central part of Florida gives it one of the best climates in the entire country. The average high in the summer is in the low 90’s, and the average low in the winter is in the mid-40’s. This moderate climate allows residents to avoid the cold winters without having to endure the 100+ degree summers that residents find in southern Florida and Arizona.  

Low Cost of Living 

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

Parks and Trails 

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

Day Trips to “Old Florida” Towns 

Mount Dora

Mount Dora

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



An Enormous Amount of History 

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

Gulf Coast Lifestyle 

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

Close to Tampa and Orlando 

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

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

Bird Watching at Flying Eagle Preserve

Eagle

Eagle

While there is no shortage of great attractions all along the Gulf Coast to the west of the Village of Citrus Hills, there are also plenty of interesting places to the east of our community. One of the best places in the area for bird watching is Flying Eagle Preserve, which is located throughout the Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes.  



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This amazing string of natural bodies of water mixed with marshes, swamps, and islands is located just east of Inverness. The entire preserve includes just over 16,000 acres ranging from Inverness on its west side to the Withlacoochee River on its right side.  

The entire area is vitally important to facilitating local water drainage, and just happen to also be an amazing place for bird watching and other outdoor activities.  

Bird Watching at Flying Eagle Preserve 

Kestrel

Kestrel

With more than 16,000 acres to cover, this is not a “sit on a bench and wait” type of birding experience. However, if you are willing to trek through the woods across the area, you are bound to see some fascinating birds.  

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

Some of the birds you might spot here include Anhingas, Purple Martins, Wood Ducks, Northern Harriers, Sandhill Cranes, Eastern Screech-Owls, Brown Thrashers, Prairie Warblers, Le Conte’s Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, Eastern Bluebirds, Loggerhead Shrikes, and American Kestrels.  
Whether you are a seasoned bird watcher looking to cross a specific species off of your bucket list or are more of a novice just looking to appreciate a beautiful collection of flying colors, Flying Eagle Preserve is a great place to explore the types of birds that inland Florida has to offer compared to the coastal birds you will find along much of the Nature Coast.  

Flying Eagle Nature Center 

Flying Eagle Preserve also contains the 150-acre Flying Eagle Nature Center, which is a complete group campsite.  

The property features a multipurpose building, a lodge, two residences, six cabins, and a total of 10 camping sites. There is also a large commercial kitchen, an outdoor pavilion with seating for up to 400 people, and a swimming pool.  

Most of the buildings here were built in the 1970s when the area was owned and maintained by the Boy Scouts of America. From 2006 to 2012, the property was maintained by the Gulf Ridge Council and the district is currently looking for a new long-term management partner.  

Recreational Activities

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In addition to bird watching throughout the preserve and camping at or near the Flying Eagle Nature Center, there are also a host of more active recreational features in the area. Bicyclers will love making use of the 13 miles of paved trails and hikers will want to take advantage of the 16 miles of wooded trails.  

There are also nine miles of multi-use trails that are marked as “equestrian-friendly”, so horseback riding is also a very popular activity at Flying Eagle Preserve. There are even equestrian facilities at the Flying Eagle Nature Center.  

Provided you adhere to the rules and regulations set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Flying Eagle Preserve is also a great place for fishing and hunting. One of the best fishing spots in the preserve is the Moccasin Slough Bridge.  

It might take you days or even weeks to explore everything included in the 16,000 acres of Flying Eagle Preserve, but since the edge of the park is located less than 20 minutes away in Inverness, heading back for multiple trips will never be a problem.