Paddle Boarding

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!

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

02-kayaks-crowd-three-sisters-springs-670.jpg

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.

Stand Up Paddleboarding at Night

It’s no secret that stand up paddleboarding is quickly becoming one of the most popular water activities in the state of Florida and across the country. “SUPing”, as the early adopters who have fallen in love with the sport call it, offers the perfect combination of a low-stress workout and a sense of adventure and exploration in a relaxing environment.  

We’ve published a few pieces focused on the benefits that stand up paddleboarding can offer and some of the best local places to give it a shot. But this young sport is still evolving and there are new opportunities making use of these paddleboards every single day.  

Next Level Stand Up Paddleboarding 

If you have already experienced the calm feeling of floating through one of our local waterways on a paddleboard, you will probably see the natural connection to yoga and mediation. But many local tour companies have taken that connection a step further by offering yoga classes right out on those stand up paddleboards.

And since stand up paddleboard yoga wasn’t innovative enough for some people, there have also been a handful of companies that are attaching waterproof LED lights to the bottom of their boards at night, which has opened up a whole new paddleboard experience.  

The After Dark Experience

Taking your board out in the water during the day usually tends to be more about a great way to exercise than it is about having fun. But when you take that same board out at night, the fun level kicks up a notch and things start to get very interesting.  

First of all, when your paddleboard is throwing out a beam of light into the water surrounding it, you can’t help but notice that it closely resembles something that might have come from outer space. And when you get a group of these UFO-looking boards together, the effect is extremely beautiful.  

As you might expect, local fish think those LED lights are pretty interesting too. That means that your evening cruise is likely to be completely surrounded by all types of underwater friends. It’s not unusual to encounter small fish attracted to the lights, big fish attracted to the small fish, an octopus getting up close and personal with your board, and even more intimidating creatures like sharks and sting rays.  

Nearby Night Tours 

If you are the type of person who has already invested in your own stand up paddleboard, you can order your own set of LED lights to attach to the bottom of it and start exploring all of your favorite local spots at night.  

But if you prefer to try out stand up paddleboarding at night as a part of a group, John Sharrrk’s Paddle Adventures in Tampa is currently one of the closest options. Captain John takes out groups of paddleboarders for a 90-minute lighted tour that starts right at sundown.

You can get more information about pricing and book your trip right from his website.

www.sharrrkspaddle.com

Heading further south, another lighted stand up paddleboarding option is Hooked on SUP in Englewood, FL. They offer all kinds of unique SUP experiences, and their lighted tour is absolutely fantastic.

You can get more information about pricing and book your trip right from his website.

www.hookedonsup.com

This lighted SUP experience is also extremely popular throughout the Keys, so you can find plenty more options down that way if you are looking for an excuse to book a weekend getaway.  

Residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills have already been quick to jump on the stand up paddleboard bandwagon. During the day, this experience offers a fantastic workout and a relaxing experience. But when you add in the lighted boards in an after dark experience, the fun level skyrockets and you will find the next level of enjoyment when it comes to stand up paddleboarding.