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Ultimate Guide to 40 Things To Do Near The Villages in Florida

Fun Things To Do Near The Villages Florida

Welcome to the ultimate guide for enjoying the incredible local attractions near The Villages in Florida. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, this area is teeming with exciting fun things to do near the Villages and many sights to explore along the way.

Discovering things to do near the Villages is easy when you are in one of the state’s most attraction concentrated areas in Florida. From untouched natural reserves to vibrant cultural centers, there’s something here for everyone to enjoy.

things to do near the villages in Florida - Ocala National Forest
As you enter Ocala National Forest from the south on route 19, we highly recommend you stop in the Visitor Center for detailed information about the forest.

Get ready for the breathtaking beauty of nature as you venture into the nearby Ocala National Forest and discover its diverse range of flora and fauna. If you’re seeking some adrenaline-pumping fun, a visit to a canopy zip line should be on your itinerary, allowing you to soar through the treetops and take in stunning aerial views.

For those interested in history and culture, our guide includes the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing is a must-see, offering an extensive collection of vintage vehicles and memorabilia. Additionally, the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center hosts a variety of captivating shows and performances throughout the year.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, history buff, or art aficionado, this guide will serve as your compass through the abundance of attractions near The Villages. Prepare to create unforgettable memories as you explore the wonders that this vibrant Florida community has to offer.

what is the closest major city to the villages - the sharon performing arts center
Renamed “The Sharon”, the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center is a jewel in The Villages. The shows and performances there are excellent.

Benefits of Exploring Local Attractions Near The Villages

Exploring the local attractions near The Villages offers numerous benefits. First of all exploring allows you to become involved in the beauty of nature and experience the tranquility that comes with it.

The Villages is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Second, discovering these attractions provides an opportunity to learn about the rich history and culture of the area. From museums to cultural centers, there are plenty of educational experiences awaiting you.

Lastly, by venturing out and enjoying the local attractions, you can support the local economy and contribute to the growth of the community.

where are the villages in Florida - alexander springs
Alexander Springs is part of the Ocala National Forest. This is probably the closest spring near The Villages.

Popular Local Things To Do Near The Villages

The Villages is ideally located near some of the most popular attractions in Florida. One such attraction is the Ocala National Forest, a vast expanse of natural beauty that offers endless opportunities within its boundaries for outdoor adventure.

With its numerous hiking trails, camping sites, and crystal-clear springs, the forest provides a perfect escape for nature lovers. Additionally, this part of Florida is loaded with springs that provide all kinds of wildlife, fun and beauty.

In a previous post we outlined 12 Incredible Day Trips from the Villages. We won’t reiterate them here, but those 12 options are also available as we explore more things to do near the Villages Florida.

things you need when flying

Pack a day bag and let’s explore more than 30 additional attractions!

Here are things to do near The Villages that are all within 90 minutes of The Villages.

The World Equestrian Center

Just about 35-40 minutes north of the Villages is one of the area’s amazing new attractions, the World Equestrian Center is in Ocala and offers daily equestrian events in a modern outdoor setting. Plenty of grandstand free seats for all the horse-jumping action. Check out the 5-Star hotel called The Equestrian on the property.

Visit Salt Springs National Park & Springs

things to do near the villages in florida - salt springs
Camping, hiking, swimming, kayaking and more at this national park.

Not only will you get to visit one of Florida’s National Parks, but the area is full of the sights and sounds of the Ocala National Forest, which is an attraction in its own right. Swim, hike, picnic, kayak – it has it all.

Zipline and Canopy Tour

Hop on I-75 for a 45-minute ride to explore the forest canopy by zipline, horse or Kayak. This incredible place offers an experience rarely found in Florida and it is just a few minutes away. 

Catch a Show at Florida’s Orange Blossom Opry

It is not quite to Nashville, but the same great country talent can be heard at this music venue in Weirsdale, Florida. Just a few miles north of the Villages at State Routes 42 and 25 where they meet. Great place for fun.

Visit the Marion County Museum and the Silver River Museum

These museums are in Ocala not far from each other. Marion County Museum explores the archeology of the area and the Silver River Museum is a project of the school district. More things to do in Ocala.

Hike a Trail or Visit Alexanders Springs in the Ocala National Forest

There are several trails here from a half mile to 9 miles long. If you prefer to swim, there is a gorgeous swimming area at the springs. Great place for bird watching and wildlife spotting in general. About an hour away off Route 19 through the Ocala National Forest.

what hotels are near the villages - villages trail
When looking for things to do near The Villages, don’t forget the many trails around the squares that lead to scenes like this.

Watch the Seaplanes at Tavares and Have Lunch

Seaplanes are fascinating. They land on water and then operate much like a boat. They go from flight rules to water regulations. Enjoy the sights at Tavares and then head to Puddle Jumpers to watch the lake and planes. Up to 45 minutes away from the Villages.

Take an Airboat Tour at Lake Panasoffkee

Just 20 minutes south of the Villages is Lake Panasoffkee. You can enjoy the lake and take a thrilling ride on an airboat. Take your camera and be ready for the ride of your life while viewing Mother Nature’s habitat. This is a fun thing to do in The Villages. More about things around Lake Panasoffkee.

Take a Tour of Kings Bay on the Crystal River

You will see manatees, a nature preserve, Three Sisters Springs, and beautiful homes on Crystal River. If you want a more hands-on experience take a Swim with The Manatees Tour. You will snorkel along side manatees in the river. This is one of our favorite things to do near The Villages in Florida. Check out other Crystal River things to do.

Visit Ginnie Springs and High Springs Museum

Both of these attractions are in the town of High Springs, Florida. Ginnie Springs is a privately owned Florida oasis. You can swim, kayak, hike and enjoy the springs’ crystal clear water. The High Springs Museum gives you a view of Florida a couple hundred years ago. Other things to do in the area.

what airport is close to the villages - watermill at Juniper
This old watermill can be seen at the Juniper Springs Recreation Area in the Ocala National Forest. Juniper Springs is a few miles east of Ocala.

Take Route 40 Florida Black Bear National Scenic Byway

This designated scenic highway runs from just east of Silver Springs almost to Ormond Beach, some 60 miles. However, we recommend you take it to Rt. 19 which runs south through the Ocala National Forest to Route 44 which will take you back into The Villages. Route 19 is also a designated Florida Scenic Highway.

Take A Ride on a Real Paddlewheel Boat Tour of the St. John’s River

The St. John’s River is the biggest river in Florida. It is a fun ride to take the paddle wheeler up the river to see the sights, and have some lunch or dinner on the way. Find out more on boat tours on St. John’s River.

Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway

The Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway is a vast nature reserve that offers hiking and biking trails, as well as opportunities for fishing and wildlife spotting.

Lake Griffin State Park

things to do near The Villages - kayaking
Kayaking in the state and national parks is always an option. You can bring your own or rent one at most locations. This woman is on the Silver River in Ocala National Forest.

Another popular destination is Lake Griffin State Park, where you can enjoy boating, fishing, and picnicking in a serene lakeside setting. This is an easy trip and fun thing to do near The Villages.

Lake Weir and Eaton’s Beach

Visit Lake Weir and Eaton’s Beach for some fun on Lake Weir just north about 10 miles from The Villages.

Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area

Bird enthusiast? Visit the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area, which is home to over 350 species of birds.

These are things to do within the Villages or within a mile or two:

Visit the Sharon Rose Wiechens Preserve in The Villages

Visit the Don Garlits Museum a Mile or Two Outside The Villages

Visit one of the Squares –

Spanish Springs

Lake Sumter Landing

What is the closest airport to the villages - statue schwartz
In Spanish Springs, there is a statue of Harold Schwartz, the founder of The Villages in Florida.

Brownwood Paddock

Sawgrass Grove

Rent a Golf Cart and see a different side of The Villages you can only see by driving a golf cart along the paths, in the tunnels, and parallel to the golf courses. There are golf cart rentals in all of the squares.

Go Bowling at the Only Bowling Alley within the squares of The Villages.

Take a tour boat ride on Lake Sumter at the Lake Sumter Landing.

Visit the Eisenhower Regional Recreation Center to see the military history displayed throughout the building in multiple areas. The Eisenhower Rec Center is near Brownwood. This should be high on your list of things to do near The Villages.

Go to a polo match at The Villages Polo Club.

fun things to do near the villages florida - World Equestrian Center
These are just a few of the acres of Christmas decorations at the World Equestrian Center during the Christmas season.

Here Are The Latest Fun Things To Do Near The Villages

We keep adding things to do for Villagers as we find them. Check back often for our newest adventures.

Have you visited the Lake Panaoffkee region recently? This lake is literally 20 minutes away and offers some fun opportunities such as:

Just 25 miles south, off Route 301, is Dade Battlefield Historic State Park. Enjoy the history and wildlife.

Here is one of the wildest things to do near The Villages – have you ever shot clay targets? At BlackJack Sporting Clays, you can try your hand at shooting clays as they fly up. Just say pull, and the target clay goes!

Another thing you won’t see on other blogs – how about visiting Cottom Farm’s Christmas Village. Fun time – take a hayride too! Just 25 minutes away in Weirsdale.

Since we are talking wild things to do, have you ever been to an escape room? Try your hand at solving puzzles and finding a way out! Check out Riddlers Escape Room ten minutes from The Villages.

We know we suggested earlier a visit to The World Equestrian Center. At Christmas time it is a must-visit. Have you ever seen a half million dollars in Christmas decorations? You will here!

Some Notes About Your Day Trips Near The Villages

Here are some tips to make your trips to the attractions near The Villages.

  • Plan your destination carefully. Have a GPS (smartphone)or map in your car.
  • Have a backup plan in case your attraction is closed or the weather fails to cooperate.
  • Pack the basics like water, any medications and optional clothing based on the weather.
  • A camera or a good smartphone camera is essential. Making memories is fun, but capturing those memories is even better.
  • Take friends or neighbors with you to add to the fun.
  • Dining destinations should be researched beforehand. Check the menu, operating hours and seating options.

The key element to any day trip in Florida is to have fun. See the humor around you and share the fun with friends.

Two of the Most Notable Museums and Cultural Attractions Near The Villages

For art lovers, the Appleton Museum of Art is a treasure trove of diverse artworks, ranging from ancient artifacts to contemporary masterpieces. Just a few minutes away at Ocala.

Additionally, the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center hosts a variety of captivating shows and performances throughout the year, ranging from Broadway productions to symphony orchestra performances.

what are the villages known for - Brownwood paddock
Brownwood Paddock Square was the third square opened. It was notably smaller, but has the same community feel and most of the same services.

Shopping and Dining Options Near The Villages

When it comes to shopping and dining, The Villages has a plethora of options to satisfy every taste. Spanish Springs Town Square is a vibrant hub of shops, restaurants, and live entertainment, offering a delightful atmosphere for an evening stroll.

For a unique shopping experience, head to Brownwood Paddock Square, where you can find boutique shops and specialty stores.

Of all the squares, Lake Sumter Landing has the widest range of shops and dining opportunities.

Each of the squares has numerous restaurants that will satisfy most tastes. Take a stroll and choose your dining experience.

what is the closest airport to The Villages - Bluefin Restaurant
The Villages have numerous dining options in and around the area. One of our favorite seafood restaurants is Bluefin in Brownwood.

Events and Festivals Near The Villages

Throughout the year, The Villages hosts a variety of events and festivals that cater to different interests. The Strawberry Festival is a popular annual event that celebrates the region’s strawberry harvest with live music, arts and crafts, and delicious treats.

The Rhythm and Ribs Festival is another must-visit event, featuring mouthwatering BBQ, live music, and a friendly atmosphere. Additionally, The Villages hosts regular live music performances, dance classes, and community events that showcase local talent and bring the community together.

To keep up with all the events, dates and locations of things going on in The Villages, use this website to find your event.

Tips for Enjoying Local Attractions Near The Villages

To make the most of your experience, here are a few tips for enjoying the local attractions near The Villages. First, plan your itinerary in advance to ensure you have enough time to explore all the places you’re interested in.

Secondly, check the opening hours and availability of any attractions or activities, as some may require reservations or have limited capacity.

Additionally, don’t forget to pack essentials such as proper sunscreen, insect repellent, and comfortable shoes for outdoor activities. Lastly, consider taking advantage of guided tours or renting a bike to explore the area at your own pace.

what hotels are near the villages - sunset sumter
There are a number of boardwalks around The Villages like this one at sunset along Lake Sumter. In the background is the Waterfront Inn.

What Hotels Are Near The Villages?

If you’re planning to stay near The Villages, there are plenty of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. From luxury resorts to cozy bed and breakfasts, you’ll find a range of choices that offer comfort and convenience.

Some popular options include The Waterfront Inn, The new Brownwood Hotel & Spa, and the Comfort Suites The Villages.

Of the many hotels in the area, our favorite hotel is the Waterfront Inn at Lake Sumter Landing. It is right on the lake, it is in the center of The Villages and they have reasonable rates.

Where Are The Villages in Florida?

The Villages in Florida are located in the central part of the state, specifically in Sumter County. However, The Villages has continued to grow into two additional counties, Lake and Marion.

The Villages have several major highways running through or along the borders of The Villages. They include national routes 27 and 441. State Road 44 and County Road 466 run east to west through The Villages.

The Villages are the largest retirement community in the world – and getting bigger!

This vibrant retirement community is known for its picturesque landscapes, charming neighborhoods, daily activities and numerous recreational amenities.

With its convenient location, visitors can easily explore nearby attractions such as Orlando’s theme parks or enjoy outdoor activities in the surrounding natural areas. So, if you’re looking for a relaxing and welcoming destination, the Villages in Florida is definitely worth a visit.

Where is the Closest Airport to The Villages?

The closest airport to The Villages in Florida is the Orlando International Airport (MCO), which is approximately 65 miles (about 105 kilometers) to the southeast of The Villages. Orlando International Airport is a major airport serving the central Florida region and offers a wide range of domestic and international flights. It is the most convenient option for travelers heading to The Villages.

In addition to Orlando International Airport (MCO), there are a few other airports in the vicinity of The Villages that travelers can consider:

  • Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV): Gainesville Regional Airport is located approximately 62 miles (about 100 kilometers) to the north of The Villages. While it’s not as large as Orlando International Airport, it does offer some commercial flights and may be a more convenient option for travelers coming from the north.
  • Ocala International Airport (OCF): Ocala International Airport, also known as Jim Taylor Field, is the closest general aviation airport to The Villages. It’s located just a few miles from The Villages and primarily serves private and smaller aircraft. If you have access to a private plane or charter flight, Ocala International Airport could be a convenient choice.
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA): Tampa International Airport is located approximately 80 miles (about 129 kilometers) to the southwest of The Villages. While it’s a bit farther away than Orlando International Airport, it is another major airport in the region and offers a wide range of domestic and international flights. Some travelers may find it convenient depending on their travel plans.

Ultimately, the choice of airport will depend on your specific travel itinerary, airline preferences, and proximity to The Villages. Orlando International Airport is typically the most commonly used option due to its size and the variety of flight options available.

what major city is the villages near - salt springs
The cool Salt Springs swimming area in Ocala National Forest.

What Major City is The Villages Near? 

The Villages in Florida is located near several major cities in the state. The largest and most notable city in the vicinity is Orlando, which is approximately 60 miles (about 97 kilometers) to the southeast of The Villages. Orlando is known for its theme parks, including Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando, making it a popular tourist destination.

Additionally, The Villages is also relatively close to Ocala, which is approximately 20 miles (about 32 kilometers) to the southwest. Ocala is known for its equestrian culture and is often referred to as the “Horse Capital of the World.”

Both Orlando and Ocala are major cities in Central Florida, and The Villages is situated in close proximity to these urban areas, making it accessible for residents and visitors to enjoy the amenities and attractions they offer.

The Villages in Florida is also relatively close to a few other major cities and metropolitan areas:

  • Tampa: Tampa is located approximately 80 miles (about 129 kilometers) southwest of The Villages. Tampa is a major city on the Gulf Coast of Florida and is known for its cultural attractions, sports teams (such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Rays), and beautiful waterfront areas.
  • Gainesville: Gainesville is situated approximately 60 miles (about 97 kilometers) north of The Villages. It is home to the University of Florida and offers a vibrant college-town atmosphere.
  • Jacksonville: Jacksonville is a bit farther away, at around 125 miles (about 201 kilometers) to the northeast of The Villages. It is the largest city in Florida by land area and has a diverse range of attractions, including museums, beaches, and a thriving arts scene.
  • Miami: Miami is located in South Florida and is approximately 260 miles (about 418 kilometers) southeast of The Villages. Miami is known for its vibrant culture, beautiful beaches, and international flair.

The Villages’ central location in Florida makes it relatively accessible to many of the state’s major cities, each offering its own unique attractions and amenities for residents and visitors to enjoy.

What Are The Villages Known For?

Nestled away from the chaos of city life, villages hold a charm that is truly enchanting. With a slower pace and a unique way of life, these communities offer a glimpse into the rich traditions, tranquility, and simplicity that many of us yearn for.

From century-old customs to the vibrant celebrations that bring the entire village together, these tight-knit communities are a treasure trove of traditions. Each village has its own set of customs and rituals that have been passed down through generations.

 The Villages are known for their hospitality, cleanliness, active lifestyle, entertainment and beauty.

What are the villages known for - sharon wiechens preserve
This boardwalk is over the marsh at Sharon Rose Wiechens Preserve in The Villages. The Villages are known for their preservation efforts throughout all three counties of the development.

The Villages provide a sense of tranquility that is increasingly rare in the modern world. Surrounded by green fields, winding rivers, and picturesque landscapes, these serene havens offer a respite from the hustle and bustle of urban living.

The slower pace of life allows visitors to reconnect with nature, experience genuine hospitality, and find inner peace.

The slower pace of life in villages allows visitors to take a step back and appreciate the simple pleasures that nature has to offer. Whether it’s taking a leisurely stroll through the countryside, enjoying a picnic by the river, or simply sitting under a tree and listening to the birds sing, the community provides ample things to do near The Villages for relaxation and rejuvenation.

The absence of noise pollution and the abundance of clean air make villages the perfect destination for those seeking peace and tranquility.

For nature enthusiasts, villages also offer a wealth of outdoor activities. From hiking trails that wind through lush forests to cycling routes that showcase breathtaking landscapes, there is something for everyone.

where are the villages in florida - boat tour crystal river
Anytime you can enjoy Florida’s natural beauty on a boat tour, it’s a great day like this one in Crystal River’s King’s Bay.

Exploring the natural beauty of villages not only provides an opportunity for physical exercise but also allows visitors to develop a deeper connection with the environment and gain a greater appreciation for its preservation.

While culture, tranquility, beauty are significant reasons to enjoy what The Villages have to offer, there is another reason in today’s world. It’s called security.

The Villages have very little crime. Their record is the best in the state of Florida. That means people aren’t worried about being mugged walking down the street, their homes being burglarized daily or their cars being broken into nightly.

Is there crime, yes, but it is rare. People feel safe. That may be the primary reason why a hundred new people move into The Villages each day.

Take Advantage of the Many Benefits of Living in The Villages

The Villages, Florida is a unique, age-restricted community designed for active adults over the age of 55. It’s known for its distinctive lifestyle and offers numerous benefits for its residents:

1. Active Lifestyle: The Villages promotes an active lifestyle with numerous recreational activities and facilities. Residents can participate in golf, tennis, pickleball, swimming, fitness classes, and more. The community boasts multiple golf courses, swimming pools, and recreation centers.

2. Golf: Golf enthusiasts will find a wide range of golf courses, including executive and championship courses. The Villages is often considered a golfer’s paradise with various options for golfers of all skill levels.

3. Social and Cultural Activities: There are a plethora of social clubs and cultural events within The Villages. Residents can join clubs based on their interests, from arts and crafts to dancing, theater, and beyond.

4. Entertainment: The Villages offers numerous live entertainment venues, including town squares where residents can enjoy live music, dancing, and various performances.

5. Wellness and Healthcare: The community provides access to healthcare facilities and services, including The Villages Regional Hospital and numerous medical centers, making it convenient for residents to receive medical care.

6. Dining and Shopping: The Villages has a wide variety of dining options, from casual to upscale restaurants. Additionally, there are shopping centers and retail areas where residents can find everything they need.

7. Beautiful Landscaping: The community is known for its meticulously maintained landscaping, beautiful parks, and well-kept common areas. Residents can enjoy the scenic beauty of the Florida landscape.

8. Safety and Security: The Villages places a strong emphasis on security, and its gated entrances and security patrols provide peace of mind for residents.

9. Active Social Scene: The Villages is a vibrant, tight-knit community, and residents often form close relationships through shared activities, events, and clubs.

10. No State Income Tax: Florida does not have a state income tax, which can be advantageous for retirees looking to maximize their retirement income.

11. Accessibility: The Villages’ layout is designed with golf carts in mind, making it easy to get around within the community without relying heavily on traditional cars. The golf cart paths are an essential mode of transportation.

12. Warm Climate: Florida offers a warm and sunny climate, which can be particularly appealing to those seeking to escape cold winters and enjoy outdoor activities year-round.

13. Proximity to Attractions: The Villages is conveniently located near major Florida attractions like Orlando, which is home to theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.

14. Age-Restricted Community: The age-restricted nature of The Villages means that residents can enjoy a peaceful and comfortable environment surrounded by peers in similar stages of life.

It’s important to note that The Villages may not be the ideal living situation for everyone, as it caters specifically to active retirees aged 55 and older. However, for those who are seeking a retirement community with a lively atmosphere and a wide range of amenities and activities, The Villages can offer a unique and fulfilling lifestyle.

On of the advantages not mentioned above is value and affordability. Based on our research and many trips to The Villages, prices are reasonable for housing, dining and enetrtainment.

Final Thoughts on Exploring Local Attractions Near The Villages

The Villages in Florida is a treasure trove of nearby attractions that offer something for everyone.

Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure, cultural experiences, or simply a relaxing getaway, this vibrant community has it all. By exploring the natural reserves, museums, shopping districts, and attending local activities, you’ll create unforgettable memories and immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of this unique destination.

So, prepare for an adventure, and get ready to enjoy the things to do near The Villages in Florida.

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