Weekend Getaways

Weekend Getaway: New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach Surfer.jpg

Residents here at the Villages of Citrus Hills typically feel that the Gulf Coast offers the best version of the Florida retirement lifestyle, but that doesn't mean that a weekend trip to the Atlantic Coast isn't warranted every once in a while.  

With its crashing waves and laid-back atmosphere, New Smyrna Beach is the perfect destination for Gulf Coast beach bums looking to head east for a relaxing weekend getaway. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, this is our best advice for making the most out of your trip.  

Places to Stay in New Smyrna Beach

night-facade.jpg

TripAdvisor.com doesn't always get it right in their rankings of the best hotels in a particular area, but we think they are right on the money in having The Black Dolphin Inn ranked at the top of their list for New Smyrna Beach. This stunning bed and breakfast will cater to your every need and have you staying right near all of the action downtown.

If staying on the beach is more of a priority for you, then the Atlantic Plaza comes highly recommended in New Smyrna Beach. These oceanfront condos will have you sleeping within steps of those famous Atlantic Ocean waves.  

Things to Do in New Smyrna Beach 

The beach is one of the popular tourist attractions in New Smyrna Beach, and we highly recommend planning to spend the bulk of your weekend enjoying the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. You will find that surfing, boogie boarding, and body surfing are all popular here, but strolling through the sand looking for shells can be just as enjoyable if you don't want to get wet.

Canal Street.png

In between beach sessions, you will also want to check out some of the many local art galleries that you will find around town. New Smyrna Beach is known as a "small art town," which means that there are lots of independent local artists that have come together to create a very unique cultural community.

 

Places to Eat in New Smyrna 

In keeping with the theme of everything else, you will find the restaurant scene offers a fantastic selection of casual restaurants serving up world-class food paired with some truly outstanding wine lists.  One of the popular restaurants is SoNapa Grille, which is known for their Lobster Bisque and their wine list, but won't disappoint you with anything in between those either.  

the-new-treehouse-bar.jpg

Other popular restaurants include The Garlic, which has a special approach to all of your favorite garlic-forward dishes, and Norwood's Eatery & Treehouse Bar, which is definitely one of the coolest destinations in town.  

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the fantastic dining you will find in New Smyrna Beach, which makes this a perfect destination to revisit.  

With fantastic restaurants, first-class lodging, and one of the best beaches you will find along the Atlantic Coast, there is no reason not to make the two-hour drive for a weekend getaway as often as you can. When are you going to be taking your next trip?

7 Citrus Hills Themed New Year's Resolutions for 2019

depositphotos_81812734-stock-photo-pen-writes-2019-resolutions-on.jpg

Whether you’re ready for it or not, 2019 has arrived, and we are all planning for it to be the best year ever here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.  

And if you have not yet committed to picking a resolution for the new year, we have put together a few Citrus Hills themed suggestions that will help you get more out of your fabulous life here along Florida's Nature Coast.  

Attend More Social Events 

Spending more time with friends and neighbors is one of the most popular New Year's Resolutions here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, but we suggest taking that idea one step farther and committing to attending more of our regular social events throughout the year.  

There are dozens of fun and exciting events happening every month around the community and making a point to attend as many of them as possible is a great way to fill up your social calendar while spending quality time with friends and neighbors.

Dinners with Friends 

Happy Hour Dec 2018 EB.jpg

In addition to attending the many social events happening around our community throughout the month, you can also spend more time with friends and neighbors by planning a regular dinner at Skyview Restaurant, The Grille, or the Tiki Bar.  

This can be an extra special resolution if you can get a group of friends to all commit to meeting for dinner on a specific day each month.  

Join a Class at PrimoVita 

Another popular resolution is to work on getting yourself into better shape, and there are tons of fun options to help you out with that in the form of exercise classes at the PrimoVita Fitness Center.  

Whether you are looking for beginner Pilates or advanced yoga, there is a class that is perfect for everybody who is looking to improve their fitness in 2019.  

Hit the Range More Often 

If improving your golf game is high on your list for the coming year, a great New Year's resolution that you can make is to put a priority on getting yourself to the Skyview Driving Range more frequently.  

Like most resolutions, this one will be more powerful if you attach real numbers to it, so pick a specific number of times you want to hit the range each week or month and hold yourself to it.

 Read Good Books at the Pool 

Buddy Brew Wednesday May 2018 EB 2.jpg

Reading more books is also a popular resolution, and the pools throughout the Villages of Citrus Hills are perfect places to kick back with a good one.  

The Coffee Shop is another popular spot to catch up with your reading or a friend. 

Pick Up a New Hobby 

If you would like to bring a new hobby into your life this year, there are quite a few excellent clubs to choose from that meet regularly all over the Villages of Citrus Hills.  

We have everything from Bocce to Wood Carving, and all you have to do is call up the club leader for more information. 

activity club link2.jpg

Plan a Trip 

For members who are looking to add a little more excitement to their lives in 2019, we recommend checking out some of the exciting trips that the Citrus Hills Vacationers Club has planned for the coming year.  

And if you can't find anything there that excites you, there are dozens of day and weekend trips that we have profiled on the blog over the years.  

You can't put it off any longer. 2019 has arrived, and just like 2018 it will fly by before you know it. Make sure you get the most out of the new year by making a resolution to take advantage of all that there is to see and do here at the Villages of Citrus Hills!

12 Hours In St. Petersburg

St Pete.jpg

While many people think of St. Petersburg as an extension of Tampa, local residents will tell you that this fun-filled city has a personality that is all its own. It also has plenty of things to do, which makes it an excellent day trip option for residents here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.  

If you are looking for a perfect day trip destination and don't want to be bothered with all of the research that goes into

planning an exciting getaway, we have taken care of all the details for you and put together a choose-your-own-adventure style trip to St. Pete.

Let's dive in and check out some of the options!

 

Morning Activity - Art & History 

Depending on what time you leave, the hour and forty-minute drive will probably have you arriving in St. Petersburg with a few hours to kill before lunch. We recommend starting off your day with a little bit of culture at one of the many art galleries and museums that the city has to offer.

S Dali Museum.png

Three of the most popular options for this part of the trip are the Duncan McClellan Gallery, the Ted Williams Museum, and the Salvador Dali Museum. Each offers a slightly different type of cultural experience, but all three are highly recommended attractions in St. Pete.  

Lunch - Bodega

Bodega.jpg

For lunch, we are heading over to the EDGE District to check out a little place called Bodega. St. Pete residents can't get enough of the Cuban-style food you will find here, so make sure you try one of their soon-to-be-world-famous sandwiches.  

Bodega is also known for having outstanding Cuban coffee and some of the best fresh juices in the city.

 

 

 Early Afternoon - Close to Nature 

After lunch, it's time to get outside at places like Fort De Soto Park and Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.

Fort de Soto.jpg

If the beach is your happy place, then Fort De Soto Park could be your own personal paradise in St. Petersburg. This stunning county park includes five islands to explore by canoe, kayak, or bicycle. There is also a historic fort and museum that appeals to all of those history buffs out there.  

For anyone who is more interested in wildlife, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve offers a lake, marsh, swamp, and woods that are filled with a wide range of animals from the land, air, and sea. There is also a Pioneer Settlement living history museum for visitors to explore.  

 Late Afternoon - Out on the Water 

After having some fun getting close to nature, it's time to ratchet that excitement level up a notch and get out on the water.  

speed-boat-adventures-san-diego-attraction.jpg

One of the most popular boat tours in the area is St. Petersburg Speedboat Adventure, which offers a 2-hour self-drive speedboat tour for two passengers in the same boat. You will have an absolute blast cruising up and down Tampa Bay in these little boats.  

For day trippers who are looking for something a little more upscale out on the water, you could skip the speedboats and charter a private yacht from Tampa Bay Yacht Charter that will have you cruising Tampa Bay in style before dinner.  

Dinner - Brick & Mortar

BrickandMortar_DTSP-7.jpg

Dinner at Brick & Mortar is the perfect way to wrap up a fun day exploring the sights and sounds of St. Petersburg. This fun and innovative restaurant will astound you with a wide range of small and large plates that are perfect for sharing.  

We recommend getting a few things that are inside your comfort zone and then getting wild with a few dishes that might be pushing your boundaries a bit…and don't forget to order the truffle fries!

 

There is a good chance that you are going to be completely exhausted after all of this fun in St. Pete. But we are just scratching the surface with everything that there is to do here in the Sunshine City, so it won't be long before you are planning another trip with a brand-new itinerary!

Florida College Football Preview

florida college football.png

As we count down the days until this summer heat cools off a bit, it is only natural to start thinking about the upcoming football season. There is always a lot of great college football being played all over the state of Florida.

To help get you ready for the upcoming season, we put together a quick breakdown of the five major college teams that make their home in the Sunshine State. And if you are looking for an excuse to plan a day trip, we have also highlighted all of the biggest matchups coming to Florida this year.

Miami Hurricanes

university-of-miami-hurricanes-roundel-27inch-round-area-rug.jpg

The Miami Hurricanes and their famous "turnover chain" were the class of the Florida teams in 2017. Head coach Mark Richt had them playing way above anyone's expectations before falling to Clemson in the ACC title game.

This year, we can expect to see the same aggressive defense from the Hurricanes. The big question is whether Richt will stick with Malik Rosier at quarterback or make a move to one of the three extremely talented freshmen on his roster.

 

If you are looking for a reason to visit Miami, the Hurricanes will be hosting LSU, North Carolina, and Florida State early in the year. Then, Duke and Pitt will both be coming to town in November.

Florida State Seminoles

FSU.png

The Florida State Seminoles rolled into the 2017 season with lofty expectations, but things fell apart in a hurry when quarterback Deondre Francois went down with a knee injury in the first game of the year. After stumbling through the rest of the season and posting a 7-6 record, head coach Jimbo Fisher took a lucrative offer to jump ship and move to Texas A&M.

 

That means that the major story of 2018 in Tallahassee is going to be whether new head coach Willie Taggart can turn this program around before things get any worse. With impressive talent across the board and an entirely new coaching staff, Taggart is a safe bet to do just that. Look for him to lean on his impressive young running backs early in the year.

The Seminoles kick off their season hosting Virginia Tech on Labor Day Weekend. They will also be hosting big games against Clemson, Boston College, and Florida later in the year.

Florida Gators

university-of-florida-gators-roundel-27inch-round-area-rug.jpg

There was also a head coaching change in Gainesville this year, and the Florida faithful were happy to welcome back former Gators offensive coordinator Dan Mullen as the head of their program. Mullen was at the helm of the offense during the glory days when Tim Tebow was lighting up the SEC, and he expects the Gators attack to return to that level of prominence this year.

 

 

While there is plenty of talent for Mullen to work with on the offensive side of the ball, Florida has some glaring red flags on defense. Look for that to be the issue on early road trips to Tennessee and Mississippi State. Later in the season, the Gators will be hosting big games against LSU, Georgia, Missouri, and South Carolina. 

CF Knights

3a77fc94d35afb156738288f89495bc9--knight-logo-sports-logos.jpg

The UCF Knights went on a magical run in 2017 that culminated with them taking down a solid Auburn team in the Peach Bowl. However, the loss of head coach Scott Frost has left this program with more questions than answers heading into 2018.

New head coach Josh Heupel believes that his Knights will be even more explosive this year, and home games against Pitt, Temple, and Navy all make for a great reason to spend a weekend in Orlando.

 

 

South Florida Bulls

USF Bulls.jpeg

2018 will be the second year at USF for head coach Charlie Strong, and he expects to see continued improvement implementing his style of offense, which focuses on the running game. The Bulls were in the top ten in the nation in rushing last season, but replacing offensive players like D'Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice, as well as quarterback Quinton Flowers, is going to be a difficult task.

 

The biggest games of the year for the Bulls will be an early matchup hosting Georgia Tech and the regular season finale against UCF, but we will also see East Carolina, UConn, and Tulane make their way down to Tampa for games this year.

There is nothing quite like seeing a college football game in person, and with five talented teams taking the field in Florida this year, there are going to be great games happening almost every weekend. Get out your calendar and start planning your next weekend getaway before those tickets get too expensive!

Massive Expansion at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa

Exterior-1250x450.jpg

There is nothing in the world quite like the thrill of a gaming experience done right, and thanks to a brand new $100 million expansion to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, residents here at the Villages of Citrus Hills can now treat themselves to an extraordinary experience any time they feel like making the 90-minute drive down to Tampa.

The massive expansion project at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa took about two years to complete, and it has improved the facility to the point where it can legitimately claim to offer one of the biggest and most luxurious gaming experiences in the entire world. And in true Hard Rock fashion, the grand opening included a ceremonial guitar smashing!

Let's take a closer look at some of the impressive new amenities you can find there!

Smoke-Free Gaming Expansion

The most significant addition to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino is the massive new gaming floor that is completely smoke-free. While many casinos offer limited non-smoking sections with older machines, this enormous space features over 800 of the newest and most popular slot machines, like Michael Jackson Icon, as well as five live-action blackjack tables.

The new smoke-free gaming floor also features convenient entrances and exits that are right next to valet and ride-share drop-offs, so you won't have any trouble finding the place. You can also enjoy a cocktail at the Video Poker Bar or watch the biggest game of the day on one of the 20 flat screen televisions throughout the smoke-free space.

State-of-the-Art Smoke-Free Poker Room

Poker-Room-Header-1250x450.jpg

Poker enthusiasts will be blown away by the look and feel of the brand new, 46-table poker room that offers Wi-Fi throughout, a sports bar, and more than 40 flat screen televisions. If poker is your thing, the new poker room just became your favorite place in the world. 

Smoke-Free Dining

fine-dining-interior-hero_1250x450.jpg

With seven different smoke-free dining options to choose from, finding a great meal at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino is never a difficult task. Visitors can dine at the new Council Oak Steak & Seafood, or head over to The Rez Grill, Hard Rock Cafe, Fresh Harvest Buffet, Rise Kitchen & Bakery, Rock 'N Raw, or Jubao Palace Noodle Bar. 

Smoke-Free Shopping

shoppingHeader.jpg

 As if the new spaces at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino were not already impressive enough, the expansion also included some upgrades to smoke-free shopping destinations like the Hard Rock Store, Rock Shop, Rainmaker, and the Rock Spa & Salon. So, if you are looking for great shopping, you don't even have to leave the facility!

Residents here at the Villages of Citrus Hills have known for years that the Seminole Hard Rock Casino was a fantastic destination for a quick day trip or a weekend getaway, but with the new upgrades and expansions, it has evolved into a must-see destination for just about everyone in the state of Florida.

Where else could you find a luxury casino and hotel on the level of a Las Vegas property only 90 minutes from home?