Villages of Citrus Hills

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.

 

Stone Crab Season Has Finally Arrived

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As we ease into the coming fall and winter seasons here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, one of the many bright spots on the horizon is the return of Stone Crab season in Florida.

Whether you prefer to get out on the water and catch your own or simply buy them from one of our local fresh seafood markets, those delicious stone crab claws are going to be plentiful throughout the rest of this year and the first part of 2020.




About Stone Crab Claws

Unlike so much of the seafood that comes out of the Gulf of Mexico, stone crab claws are actually a renewable resource since they are able to regrow their claws after those claws are harvested by local fishermen.

Stone crabs are able to regenerate their claws over the course of about a year, and with a life expectancy of about 8-9 years, they can produce that delicious claw meat quite a few times in their lives.

Catching Stone Crab Claws

Like any seafood that you might be looking for here in Florida, there are plenty of rules and regulations to be aware of when it comes to stone crab claws. The most important of those is the fact that you can only catch stone crabs when they are in season from October 15 through May 15.

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Any amateurs fishing for stone crab need to obtain a saltwater fishing license and respect limits of just five traps, only collecting one gallon of claws per day, and making sure that all of those claws are at least 2 ¾ inches long.

Of course, if you don’t feel like remembering all of the details, you can always go the charter route and let the captain take care of worrying about the rules, or you can just purchase claws that someone else harvested at one of our many local seafood markets.

Cooking Stone Crab Claws

There are four ways to cook your freshly harvested stone crab claws, and the easiest one is to throw them right into a pot of boiling water. The only tips you need to worry about here are to make sure that you season the water with plenty of salt and be careful not to overcook the claws.

Another simple way to cook your fresh stone crab claws is to put them in a casserole dish with a little bit of water at the bottom and bake them covered in the oven at 350 degrees.

The slightly more complicated way to cook stone crab claws that often produces a better quality meal is to steam them in a basket over a pot of boiling water. It’s really only complicated in that you have to have the right equipment. Once again, you want to be careful not to overcook the claws.

Boiling your stone crab claws should take about 5-10 minutes. For steaming and baking allow 8-10 minutes. You know they’re done when they smell like delicious crab meat. You will also see the color change and brighten.

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In Florida we love to grill all year round, so why not grill our claws. Simply put the claws on a medium heat grill for about 5 minutes for each side. The temperature for grilling should be between 300 and 325 Fahrenheit. When you are grilling, it's advisable to spread olive oil or butter on the claws.

Again, it is crucial to check the crab claws when heating them. Baking and grilling can give out sweet meat, but overheating them will make the meat tough and lose the flavor.

Stone Crab Claw Dippage

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One of the things that make stone crab claws so popular is that there is a wide variety of things you can dip them in. For many home cooks, the best place to start is with drawn butter or cocktail sauce.

Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami is probably the most popular stone crab restaurant in the world, and they are known for serving stone crab claws with a unique mustard dipping sauce. Thanks to websites like Epicurious, you can make a great mustard sauce for your home-cooked stone crab claws using their version of that recipe.

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If you are a stone crab expert looking for some new flavors, this article from News-Press offers some unique twists on dipping sauces like Brandy Mustard Sauce, Jalapeno Honey Sauce, Ginger Scallion Sauce, and Spicy Marinara Sauce.

However you prefer to cook and dip your stone crab claws, there is no denying that they are one of the best treats available throughout the winter here in Florida. Make sure you take the time to enjoy plenty of these local delicacies this year!

7 Benefits of Building a New Home

The Westchester

The Westchester

One of the biggest questions faced by many people who are relocating to Florida is whether they are better off to build a new home or buy an existing one.  

While there are advantages to both options, building a new home has certain key benefits that just can’t be matched when buying an existing one.  

Here are the seven top benefits of building a new home instead of buying a resale: 

Choose the Exact Look and Floor Plan 

When you choose to build your new home from scratch, you get to build it the way you want it. You will have the option to choose the ideal floor plan you want and you will also be able to choose the materials and color schemes that fit your personality.  

Personalize Each and Every Detail 

Another big selling point for new home construction is that you will have the ability to personalize many aspects of your home. Adding features like a pot filler above the stove or a particular type of recessed lighting in a certain spot are easy to integrate when they are added before the walls go up.  

New Homes Have Warranties 

Should anything go wrong with your new construction home in the first few years, it will almost certainly be covered under your warranty. The same cannot be said with a resale home, where what you see is often what you get and you could be opening yourself up to tremendous risk if something goes wrong down the road.  

Save Energy With New Technologies 

Whether you are selflessly concerned about protecting the environment or more interested in protecting your bank account from high energy costs, the modern green technologies that will be included in your new home will actually be able to do both!  

Your new home is sure to have energy efficient appliances, and it may also feature energy saving technologies in its roofing materials, windows, and ventilation system.  

Modern Style and Design 

Building a new home instead of buying a resale also guarantees that you are on the cutting edge of the most modern style and design in the industry. At Citrus Hills you will have all of the design features that are popular today like granite countertops, open concept kitchens, elegant master suites, and covered lanais. 

Lower Maintenance Costs 

Simply put, new homes will require less maintenance. Your home will already have a fresh coat of paint and a brand new roof, air-conditioner and appliances, so those types of maintenance projects and replacements will not be necessary until years down the road. You will also be able to design your landscaping in a way that can help you save on maintenance there as well.  

You’re the Only One 

The Westchester

The Westchester

Another advantage of purchasing a new home is the feeling of knowing that you are the only person who has ever lived there. You won’t have to ever consider what might have happened in the home before you lived there. Everything will be brand new and built just for you.  

Building a new home from the ground up gives you the ability to create the home of your dreams where every detail matches your expectations.  

While there are pros and cons to both building a new home and buying a resale, for most people the benefits of building a new home far outweigh any potential drawbacks.