Florida

Gulf vs. Atlantic: Which Florida Coast is the Best Retirement Location?

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The decision to enjoy your retirement years here in Florida is one of the best ones you will ever make, but it is actually only the first in a series of choices that become more and more essential to finding the ideal retirement destination for you.  

After choosing to pursue a Florida retirement, the next question that you are going to have to answer is which of the two coasts you would prefer to enjoy here in the Sunshine State. And while you really can't go wrong with either option, everyone seems to have their own preferences depending on how they rank different factors.  

To help you make that second decision with a little more confidence, we have collected some of the biggest advantages that each Florida coast has to offer and put them all in one place for you to process.

 Atlantic Coast Advantages 

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One of the most significant advantages that comes with choosing the Atlantic Coast side of Florida is that you are going to be able to enjoy the waves that crash on those beaches. If you are passionate about surfing, boogie boarding, or body surfing, this is a huge plus.  

In addition to having bigger waves, the Atlantic Coast is also home to several places with larger city-style amenities. With destinations like Jacksonville, Daytona, and Miami up and down the coast, there is no shortage of exciting things to see and do along the Atlantic Coast side of Florida.  

Gulf Coast Advantages

They say that one man's trash is another man's treasure, and we have found that for everyone who prefers the bigger waves of the Atlantic Coast, there is also someone who prefers the calmer waters over on the Gulf Coast. If a relaxing morning of standup paddle boarding is what gets you going, this is the place to make it happen.  

Another huge selling point for the Gulf Coast side is the fact that all of the beaches along the west side of Florida are absolutely stunning. You won't find white sand beaches anywhere in the world that are nicer than the ones right here along the Gulf Coast.  

Because there are fewer major cities and tourist attractions along the Gulf Coast, you will find that the communities on that side have less tourists and more reasonable housing, which makes the Gulf Coast a more appealing destination for many retirees.  

Based on the fact that the Villages of Citrus Hills is located on the Gulf Coast side of Florida, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that we feel it is the better retirement destination.  

But with all of the advantages of both sides right in front of you, we think you are probably going to do just fine making your own decision.  

And no matter where you might prefer to end up, there is no arguing that just about everyone who makes the decision to move to Florida ends up being happy with their decision.

Weekend Trip: Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood, Florida

The state of Florida is packed with great destinations for a weekend getaway, but you will be hard-pressed to find a more intriguing choice than Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood Florida.

This brand-new resort opened at the end of 2016, and is already receiving rave reviews on TripAdvisor. If you are looking for the perfect destination to exercise your "License to Chill," then start planning a weekend in Margaritaville.

Getting to Margaritaville

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Resort is located in beautiful Hollywood, Florida, which is just a bit south of Fort Lauderdale. Residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills can drive there in about four and a half hours by taking the Florida Turnpike passing just south of Orlando as they head east across the state and then following the same road south through Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale right into Hollywood.

Entering Paradise

You'll know you’ve arrived someplace special the minute you step into the Margaritaville lobby, where you will find the perfect decor that includes a large blue sandal sculpture, margarita glass chandeliers, and antique surfboards that are part of Buffet's private collection.

From there, you will make your way up to one of the resort's 349 rooms that all feature spacious balconies and views of either the Atlantic Ocean or the Intercostal Waterway.

 

 

Margaritaville Dining

Guests at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Resort have the option to enjoy any of eight different dining options on the property. Included are the JWB Prime Steak and Seafood Restaurant for a more upscale experience, the classic Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville and LandShark Bar & Grill restaurant for the more traditional Parrot Head experience.

In addition to those three full-service restaurants, guests can also grab a bite to eat and enjoy the stunning views from the License to Chill Bar on the 11th floor of the resort. As you make your way around the property, you will also find the 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill near the 5 O'Clock Somewhere Boat Dock on the Intercostal Waterway side, and the Lone Palm Beach Bar over on the beach side. There is also the Floridays Airstream Cafe or the Margaritaville Coffee Shop.

Wasting Away in Margaritaville

Kicking back with a cold drink in hand is probably the most popular activity at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Resort, but there are plenty of other things to do.

On the Intercostal Waterway side, you will find the 5 O'Clock Somewhere Boat Dock where you can rent stand-up paddleboards to take out on the water. If you want a bit more action, there is the FlowRider surfing simulator over on the beach side. Guests can also spend time exploring the famous Hollywood Beach Boardwalk or the excellent shopping on nearby Las Olas Boulevard.

At the end of the day, Margaritaville is all about music, and the resort offers plenty of that as well. Between the stages at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Restaurant, the 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill, and the Landshark Bar & Grill, there is almost always live music happening somewhere on the resort. And in case that isn't impressive enough, the resort has also taken over the nearby Hollywood Bandshell, where it hosts all kinds of music events.

When you are ready to kick back with some boat drinks and enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere for a weekend, changing your latitude is the key to changing your attitude. And since this fabulous destination is located not too far away from the Villages of Citrus Hills, you might want to think about making this weekend trip a regular event! Just don't spend your whole trip searching for that lost shaker of salt!

Local Attractions: The Historic Valerie Theatre in Inverness

While most of the buildings you see here at the Villages of Citrus Hills are brand new and state-of-the-art, we are literally surrounded by Old Florida towns that are overflowing with historical significance. One popular local attraction that specializes in taking visitors back in time is the amazing Valerie Theatre in Inverness.

Whether you are attending a live performance or viewing a classic film, the Valerie is one of the most breathtaking theaters you will find anywhere. Located right in the heart of downtown Inverness, the theatre holds a special place in the hearts of just about everyone who lives nearby.

About the Valerie Theatre

The Valerie Theatre was originally built by Pearl G. Maddox between the years of 1926 and 1927. The theatre specialized in showing the silent films that were popular at the time, and admission costs were typically 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children. The first film ever shown there was The Only Woman back in 1927.

When movies with sound became popular, Herbert Pittman from Clearwater leased the theatre and installed the necessary technology. Aside from the short time that it was closed for reconstruction after a devastating fire in 1939, the Valerie Theatre operated all the way up until 1987.

In 2009, the building was purchased by the city of Inverness and the entire facility was renovated to create the brand-new Valerie Theatre Cultural Center, which celebrated its grand opening in 2015 and hosts concerts, plays, and movies today.

Events at the Valerie Theatre

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If you are a fan of classic films starring brilliant actors like Humphrey Bogart, Gene Kelly, and Paul Newman, then the Valerie Theatre is definitely a place that you will be visiting frequently. They show an iconic film each and every Sunday afternoon at 3 pm.

In the month of March Footloose, Dial M for Murder, The Sting, and Singin’ in the Rain will be featured.

There are also a number of exciting live performances that will be gracing the stage of the Valerie Theatre in the coming months. The current schedule lists an upcoming performance by local jazz artist Johny Carlsson on March 25, and four members of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra that are known locally as The Valerie String Quartet on April 29.

Valerie Theatre Information

If you are interested in attending a show at the Valerie Theatre, you can purchase your tickets online right from their website. Tickets are also available at the theatre box office, which is open every Thursday through Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm.

When the date of your show arrives, you can feel comfortable knowing that the dress code at the Valerie Theatre is extremely casual. In most cases, jeans and tennis shoes are considered appropriate attire. And there is always plenty of free parking in the municipal parking lots just off of Courthouse Square.

If you are looking for a great dinner option for before or after a show, you might want to check out one of the excellent nearby restaurants like Little Italy of Inverness Deli, Motor City Pasta Company, or Pine Street Pub.

There aren’t many places you can go where you will find the combination of entertainment and historical significance that you get at the Valerie Theatre in Inverness. So, the next time you are looking for some great entertainment, make sure you check out their website to see what is playing at the Valerie!

5 Weekend Getaways in Greater Florida

One of the best things about living here at the Villages of Citrus Hills is that all of the amazing tourist destinations throughout the state of Florida are just a stone’s throw away. That means that our residents have the luxury of being able to head out on a weekend getaway to all of those famous Florida destinations pretty much any time they like.  

Of course, there are so many fantastic destinations across the state that it can actually be hard to choose which one to visit first. For that reason, we put together this list of five weekend getaways that should definitely be on your list!

Key West 

If you chose the Gulf Coast because you prefer the calmer pace of life compared to the Atlantic Coast, then you will like the laid-back feel of beautiful Key West. This amazing little town is one of the fun spots in Florida, and you can get there by flying into their airport, taking a jet boat from the mainland, or driving down US Highway 1.  

Once you’re in Key West, everything revolves around Duval Street. This is where you will find plenty of shopping, dining, and more bars than you could possibly visit. There are also some really great local tours like the Hemingway Estate, as well as the beautiful Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park and the ultimate photo op spot at the Southernmost Point!

 For more information on this location please click on the link below.

http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/key-west.html

Miami - South Beach 

If exciting nightlife is your cup of tea, then a weekend in South Beach is just what the doctor ordered! Pick any of the fabulous hotels along the famous A1A and you will be set to enjoy all that this vibrant town has to offer. 

While you are in Miami, make sure to visit the iconic Joe’s Stone Crab for some of the best stone crab claws you’ll find anywhere. You can dress up and eat in their restaurant, or go super casual and enjoy the same food over on their take-out side.

For more information on this location please click on the link below.

http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/miami-beach.html

Naples 

Keeping our focus in the southern part of the state, if relaxing on the water is more your speed, then Naples will appeal to you. This is the ultimate destination for visitors who enjoy a calm and upscale atmosphere that is also accompanied by some spectacular high-end shopping.

 For more information on this location please click on the link below.

http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/naples.html

Panama City Beach 

Moving up north into the panhandle area, Panama City Beach has a reputation as a spring break destination, but it is also a fabulous spot for residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills who are looking to get away for a weekend.  

This little gem features 27 miles of gorgeous white sand beaches, along with world-class golf facilities, two excellent state parks, and enough delicious restaurants to ensure that you never run out of options.

 For more information on this location please click on the link below.

http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/panama-city-beach.html

Daytona Beach 

Another popular destination that certainly ranks at the top of the list of any NASCAR fan is the home of the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach. Here you will find the amazing Daytona International Motor Speedway and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. There are also many other great attractions that make a weekend in Daytona Beach fun for everyone even when it isn’t race week.

For more information on this location please click on the link below.

http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/daytona-beach.html

 

Whether you are looking for exciting nightlife or beachfront relaxation, there is something for everyone to be found on a weekend getaway somewhere in the state of Florida. So, next time you start feeling the urge to get away, take out your Florida map and book the next trip!

The Manatees are Back for the Winter

There are dozens of reasons why Florida is a great place to live, but one of the top reasons has to be that the weather is nice and warm during the winter months.

Many of our friends and neighbors here in the Villages of Citrus Hills go north for the summer only to come running back at the first sign of winter.

Ironically, our local manatee population demonstrates the exact same behavior!

West Indian Manatees are extremely popular animals in Citrus County due to our year round population of them, which gets especially large during the winter months.

Despite their enormous size, these sea mammals have relatively little body fat and require warm water in order to survive. For that reason, they tend to migrate to the warm spring waters such as Crystal River and Homosassa Springs during the winter months. 

Another way that manatees are similar to our snowbird friends and neighbors is that once they find a place they like, they will return to the same spot year after year. It is not uncommon for a mother and her calf to go their separate ways out at sea for the entire summer and then be spotted hanging out together in their usual winter habitat the following year. 

As the manatees begin to migrate back towards our local springs for the winter, now is a great time to be planning your next manatee encounter. Whether you are looking to swim alongside the manatees, kayak near them, or observe them from dry land, there are great places to do all of those in Crystal River and Homosassa Springs!

Crystal River

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The best places to see manatees in the Crystal River area are Three Sisters Springs and the Kings Bay Manatee Sanctuary. Both of these places are best accessed by boat, but you can only get so close. In order to get up close and personal you will have to be in a kayak or canoe.

There are also a number of tour companies that operate out of the Crystal River area that specialize in manatee tours. These companies can take you right up to the popular manatee areas and many will instruct you on swimming right along with the manatees!

Homosassa Springs 

If you are looking to learn more about manatees, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is the best place in the region. There is a daily educational program that gives visitors some background on manatees including their history and the rehabilitation efforts that are conducted at the park. 

The Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park also has what they call the “Fish Bowl,” which is an underwater viewing area similar to what you would expect to find at an aquarium. This gives visitors the chance to get up close and personal with manatees without even getting wet!

Tampa Electric Company 

Because manatees are attracted to warm waters, they also tend to be attracted to power plants. One really interesting place to observe them is from the Tampa Electric Company near the mouth of the Hillsborough River. The warm water that the power plant discharges into the river is like a magnet for manatees, and the company has built a visitor center, overlook, and walkway for visitors to observe this phenomenon. 

Whether you prefer to break out your kayak and meet the manatees in their natural environment in Crystal River or stay on dry land and observe them from a distance at Homosassa Springs or the Tampa Electric Company power plant, make sure you take some time to get out and see these amazing sea mammals near the Villages of Citrus Hills this winter.

Weekend Golf Getaways: 5 Destinations to Put on Your List

Golf is one of the reasons that people choose to live here at the Villages of Citrus Hills. We have four pristine courses located right in the community, and our members also have access to a fifth course at Ocala National as well.  

Despite the vast amount of golfing that is available right here in the community, we are also surrounded by other fabulous golf destinations across the state of Florida. You could probably be perfectly happy playing our courses almost every day, but you might also want to plan a few weekend trips each year to see some of the other amazing golf destinations located within a few hours of the Villages of Citrus Hills.  

If you are thinking about putting together a golf-themed bucket list for your time here in Florida, these are five of the destinations we think everyone should start with.  

Jacksonville 

The city of Jacksonville might not exactly bring to mind visions of a fabulous golf vacation, but there are plenty of unbelievable courses surrounding this underrated Florida golf destination.

Just down the road from Jacksonville in Ponte Vedra Beach is where you will find the iconic TPC Sawgrass. This is THE course that every golfer dreams about, and they offer lots of great vacation getaway packages that include the opportunity to try your hand at sticking a tee shot onto their famous island green on the 17th hole.  

Daytona Beach 

Working our way down the Atlantic Coast a bit, you will find that in addition to being a favorite destination for many NASCAR fans, Daytona Beach is also filled with several stunning golf courses designed by some of the best in the business.  

The LPGA is headquartered in Daytona Beach, and the two golf courses at LPGA International Golf Club should not be missed.  

The Jones Course, designed by Rees Jones, is a traditional links-style 7,088-yard design where you'll enjoy strategic mounding, numerous expanses of sand bunkers, natural marsh areas, beautiful lakes and undulating greens. 

The Hills course, designed by Arthur Hills, is a classic at 6,984 yards. Hills used the area’s natural setting to create a masterpiece in playability and variety featuring natural wetlands, narrow pine corridors, small greens and strategically placed water hazards. 

Orlando 

Just a bit southwest of Daytona Beach, and only a little over an hour from the Village of Citrus Hills, is the city of Orlando. Everyone knows Orlando as the theme park capital of the world, but not as many people realize that those theme parks are surrounded by some of the best golf courses in the entire world.

Some of the most popular public courses here include Celebration Golf Club, Highlands Reserve Golf Club, Mystic Dunes Golf Club, Stoneybrook West Golf Club, and Windermere Country Club. But those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the seemingly endless amount of courses in Orlando.  

West Palm Beach 

Heading a further south along Florida’s Atlantic Coast, the PGA National Resort and Spa located in Palm Beach Gardens is a first-class luxury golf experience. If you are looking for the type of golf getaway that has you feeling like a tour pro, this is the place to start.

If the first-class prices at the PGA National Resort and Spa are a little steep for your game, you can find similar views for a fraction of the cost over at the Palm Beach Par 3 Course. This unique course sits right between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercostal Waterway, and it can be played for about $50.  

Naples 

If you prefer to stay on the Gulf Coast of Florida, heading down to Naples is the weekend golf getaway that should be at the top of your list.  

This is another place where you will find more golf courses than you could possibly play in one trip, but The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club and LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort are two that make for an excellent place to start.

You could spend weeks in any of these five destinations and not even come close to playing all of the golf courses available to the public, and we haven’t even gotten into some of the more obscure destinations.  

So, while we are proud to stack the courses here at the Villages of Citrus Hills up against any in the world, there are also plenty of fun getaways you can plan across the state of Florida.