A Welcoming Florida Day Trip
If you have been to The Villages, you know why thousands of people made the right choice to retire or move to the friendliest community in America. The impeccably manicured streets lead to the individual clusters of homes (ergo, The Villages) sprawled out over three counties. Each village has homes of the same relative price, design and features. Every income is accommodated with homes ranging from under $200,000 to well over a million dollars.
Home features include the popular golf frontage on some 30 golf courses. Most subdivisions are near shopping or healthcare facilities. Recreation centers are scattered throughout most of the villages. These activity centers include everything from bocci ball to softball – many start as early as 7 AM daily!
Seeing The Well-Manicured Streets and Squares Make The Villages a Fun Florida Day Trip
The Villages have their own newspaper and radio station. Arguably, the Villages Daily Sun may be the largest remaining newspaper in the country publishing every single day. They publish all the news, but positive news seems to take precedence over the negative news of the world. Much of the Villages newspaper is about daily activities and sports. Upcoming events and entertainment keep residents informed.
CART LINED STREETS OF THE VILLAGES
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, about 1000 people move to Florida every day. Fortunately, Florida is a big state and can handle this influx of both retirees and working families. While we don’t know where all of these new arrivals are going, we do know that in 2012 The Villages had about 100,000 residents. Today the population has grown to over 132,000. In eight years, 32,000 people made the Villages their new home after moving from almost every state in the union. That’s why The Villages are the fastest-growing community in Florida.
Part of the fun in The Villages is comparing each other’s modes of transportation. Thousands of golf carts roam the several miles of streets designed to accommodate the carts. The fun is the custom carts that feature unique designs and the names of the owners. Most have some football or baseball team logos proudly displayed on the customized carts.
SQUARES ARE THE CENTER OF ACTIVITY
The Villages have three main squares that are the center of activity and entertainment. The oldest square is Spanish Springs followed by Lake Sumter Landing and then Brownwood.
All three town squares come alive at 5 PM daily. Each square features a bandstand where above-average bands play daily. Upwards of 500 people may show up in their golf carts. The bands go from contemporary to country to old rock & roll. Entertainers typically play to a big dancing crowd until 9 PM.
If you visit Spanish Springs, the northerly most square, there are multiple shops and restaurants. We would recommend the Americana or McCall’s for lunch or dinner.
At Lake Sumter Landing, located in the center of The Villages, Red Sauce is our Italian favorite and the local happy hour place is The Lighthouse Point Bar & Grill.
Brownwood, the southerly most Square, has a new seafood restaurant called Blue Fin Grill which is a little more upscale. Don’t forget Scooples for ice cream!
Each Square has a different decorative theme with buildings matching the architecture. Many buildings housing businesses around each square are on the site of historical significance that dates back to the 19th century. Most are documented with plaques along the sidewalks.
We consider The Villages an attraction and a fun day trip in Florida because of the community spirit, an atmosphere of unity, activities abounding, and impeccably manicured streets. We have never seen a community so universally friendly!
More Than a Florida Day Trip if You Want to Make It a Weekend
There are many unique shops at Lake Sumter Landing, the most centrally located square. A great place to stay is the Waterfront Inn on Lake Sumter.
The Waterfront Inn – Perfect Place to Stay
The Waterfront Inn is just steps from all the entertainment, shops and restaurants. The hotel is aging but sits alongside Lake Sumter for a picturesque setting. The location is a few steps to the Sumter Landing Square. It’s a short drive to the other two squares, one a few miles north and the other a few miles south.
Most people will find The Villages a place to have fun and enjoy life! Our travels take us to many places, but we can’t find anywhere in Florida that is more welcoming than The Villages. Maybe that is why they are the fastest-growing community in Florida.
To visit The Villages as a Florida day trip, the location is about two and a half hours from Jacksonville, Florida. A quick day trip from Orlando, Florida is only about an hour. From Tampa/St. Petersburg the day trip is about 2 hours straight north on I-75. Actually, The Villages is very convenient from anywhere in Florida with the Florida Turnpike, I-75, Rt. 301 and Rt. 27 converging in the area – that is why The Villages ranks high on the list of Florida day trips.
The Villages keep their residents and visitors entertained. Two large halls (The Savanah Center & The Sharon) host many big name talents. Everyone from the Beach Boys to the Doobie Brothers make annual appearances to packed crowds.