Citrus County

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!

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.   



 

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, Ocala 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.

Public and Protected Lands

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Many people who relocate here don’t realize that Citrus County covers approximately 700 square miles, of which more than 152,000 acres are set aside as public and protected land. Half of the county is a protected area 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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One of the main reasons people move to Florida is the year-round sunshine.  In a state known for great weather, Citrus County has Florida’s best.   

Unlike humid South Florida, the region surrounding the Villages of Citrus Hills doesn’t have the Everglades water effect.  We instead sit on the Central Ridge.  At 260 feet above sea level, the Villages of Citrus Hills benefits from the breezes off the nearby Gulf of Mexico, keeping the climate temperate all year round. 

Citrus County’s year-round average is about 72 degrees with 65 percent humidity.  In fact, comfortable days are the norm.  We enjoy 274 days a year in the temperature “comfort zone”, which falls between 65 and 75 degrees.  It also means you won’t spend the whole summer hiding from the heat in your air-conditioned home.  Beautiful weather isn’t just a perk; it will improve your quality of life. 

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.  

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

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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 a 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

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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.  

 

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 such as scalloping, catching stone crab, 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.  Who knows you may decide to call us home!

The Top 5 Places to Take Visitors in Citrus County

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One of our favorite things about living in Citrus County is that there is an endless number of things to see and do.  There is always something happening right here in the Villages of Citrus Hills, and there are just as many fun attractions throughout the rest of the county.  

All of these attractions and activities are great for those of us who call Citrus County home, but they can be a little overwhelming for those who are just visiting with us for a short time. For that reason, we thought it would be a good idea to put together a list of the top five places everyone must see while visiting in Citrus County.  

5. Fort Island Gulf Beach

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Fort Island Gulf Beach is one of those places that you probably say, “We should come here more often,” just about every time you visit. It has beautiful white sand beaches, public restrooms, and a great boardwalk overlooking the water.  

When your guests visit the Gulf Coast of Florida, they are definitely going to want to SEE the Gulf Coast. This is the perfect way for them to see it right here in Citrus County, and it’s also an extremely relaxing way to spend a day.

4. The Withlacoochee State Trail 

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Bicycling is a fun way to show your guests a good time outdoors, making the most of our great Florida weather. There are lots of trails to choose from around Citrus County, but the Withlacoochee State Trail is the one that is a must-see attraction. 

This is a perfect place for cyclists of all skill levels. You can take your time and cruise just a few miles, or push the envelope and explore all 46 miles of former train tracks.


3. Rainbow River Tubing

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 If your visitors are looking for something a little more adventurous that is still a great representation of life in Citrus County, taking them tubing on the Rainbow River is a perfect way to spend an afternoon. 

Tubing is popular from the beginning of April through the end of September and is the kind of experience that your visitors will be sure to tell everyone back home about!

 

2. Downtown Inverness 

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Whether your guests are interested in history, shopping, or great food, there is something for everyone to enjoy just a few miles away in downtown Inverness.  

Every tour of Inverness should start at the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum, but you might also want to explore the local shopping or grab some takeout food and head to Fort Cooper State Park for a picnic lunch.


1. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park 

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A lot of people who visit Florida want to get to the beach, which we addressed with number five on this list. But the main interest for many who visit Citrus County specifically is to see live manatees, and the best place to do that is Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park!  

Visitors can get up close and personal with live manatees from the underwater observatory. They can also learn a lot more about these local mammals from the information sessions held regularly at the park.

Among each of these five attractions, you will definitely show your guests some of the very best highlights of Citrus County. And if you haven’t been to all of these places yourself, what are you waiting for?

5 Local Restaurants You Might Not Know About

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It's no secret that there are more than a few great restaurants here in Citrus County. In fact, we have three outstanding options right here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.

With so many choices available, there are bound to be some restaurants that slip through the cracks when we are deciding on a place for dinner. And on top of that, there are always new places opening up all around our community.

To help you keep your dinner plans fresh and exciting, we pulled together a list of five excellent restaurants that you might not know about just yet!

    Kelly's Half Shell Pub

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One of the newest on the Citrus County restaurant scene is Kelly's Half Shell Pub in Crystal River. This new joint is all about oysters, and you can order them just about any way you like!

Oysters Rockefeller is popular, but if you are feeling brave, we recommend trying their Spicy Raw Oysters!  In addition to the half shell menu, Kelly's also has some killer pub food with feature items like Reuben Eggrolls, Irish Poutine, Guinness Mussels, and Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi.

 

Los Magueyes of Inverness

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Another new restaurant that just recently opened its doors is Los Magueyes of Inverness. They specialize in authentic Mexican cuisine, and according to a number of local diners, they are absolutely knocking it out of the park.

The homemade salsas are the main selling point at Los Magueyes, but keep in mind that each entrée is

going to be prepared just  like it would be if you were actually dining in Mexico. Ole!

   Habaneros Mexican Grill

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Because one new Mexican restaurant just wouldn't be enough, Inverness has also welcomed Habaneros Mexican Grill to the local dining scene recently. And while Los Magueyes of Inverness is the place for great salsa, Habaneros is where you should be going to satisfy your guacamole cravings!

The menu here is every bit as authentic as Los Magueyes of Inverness, so you can definitely add it to your regular rotation of local Mexican options.

 

 

 

Sauced Hogs BBQ Bar & Grill

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As you drive through Hernando, you might not even notice the next restaurant on our list, but this nondescript white building is the home of some of the best BBQ in Citrus County today.

One thing that patrons are loving about Sauced Hogs is that their menu is not exclusively BBQ items. In addition to serving up some awesome BBQ plates, you will also find a great Reuben sandwich here, as well as some solid burgers and salads.

 

 

 

West 82 Bar & Grill

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While it is not a new restaurant, the fact that it is located inside Plantation on Crystal River has kept West 82 Bar & Grill off of the radar of many Citrus County diners. However, the food you will find here is nothing short of exceptional.

 

With appetizers like Smoked Mullet Dip and Baked Brie and Wild Mushrooms, you can tell from the very first bite that everything you eat at West 82 is going to be amazing.

 

Everyone at the Villages of Citrus Hills knows that the food at Skyview Restaurant, The Grille, and the Tiki Bar is outstanding. But when the situation calls for something outside the gates, these five restaurants in Citrus County are more than happy to step up and serve you!