The alliterative town of Weeki Wachee, FL, is home to the Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, who perform 365 days a year—even eating and drinking underwater.
Billing itself as ‘the only city with live mermaids,’ Weeki Wachee is an hour north of Tampa. Mermaids aside, it’s also the idyllic location of the gated golf community of GlenLakes.
A former executive at 3M, Jerry Maybrey was drawn to all that GlenLakes had to offer—including the weather. “We were from Minnesota,” he says. “We found GlenLakes online as one of the top 100 places to retire to, visited, and loved the situation there, loved how well-kept it was.”
The Retirement Two-Step
Jerry’s wife, Jean, was also an executive—the Director of Marketing for the National Sports Center in Minnesota. When the couple moved down to GlenLakes, Jerry hadn’t yet retired; he commuted back and forth from Florida to Minnesota for the first two years of their residency. Despite her husband’s travel schedule, Jean was far from lonely.
“There are a lot of different business people that reside there. People who worked for General Motors and Ford, plus entrepreneurs who had their own businesses,” Jerry says. “We made friends immediately. To be quite honest, we have more friends in the GlenLakes area than we do in Minnesota, and we spent 20 years in Minnesota. Everyone’s in retirement mode. Most are there without family, so therefore it’s a much more social situation.
Now that Jerry is retired, he can take full advantage of one of his favorite aspects of living at GlenLakes. “I’m a golfer. I love the golf course. My wife enjoys other things—pickleball, tennis, riding bikes, and walking. I fish as well. GlenLakes hit all the hot buttons we had from a retirement perspective,” he says.
Jerry and Jean were also drawn to the area for practical reasons. “It’s not as crowded as further south in Florida, and the traffic isn’t as bad,” he says.
The couple has explored their new home state, driving up to the Emerald Coast and down to Key West. They’ve also visited Charleston. There’s so much to do in GlenLakes, though, that they don’t feel the need to venture that far from home. “We go to the club quite often. The food is so unbelievably good. There’s a wonderful chef,” Jerry says. “There’s a nice clubhouse with various things to do. There are exercise courses, and a heated pool, if you don’t have one at your house. It’s just a well-run and well-designed facility.”
The Maybreys have also found their way to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park—not necessarily to see the mermaids, but to kayak down the Weeki Wachee River. “It’s like going through a jungle. My wife and I do it at least twice a year,” says Jerry, who had never kayaked before the couple moved to Florida. “There’s a nice beach, about 4-5 miles away. It’s just well situated.”
A fishing enthusiast, Jerry now casts a line from his kayak. “I fish right on the lake in GlenLakes,” he says. “There’s wonderful fishing—big bass.”
When it’s time for family to visit, GlenLakes is also ideally located. “Tampa is one of the best airports to fly into in the nation,” says Jerry, who traveled extensively during his career at 3M. “There’s long-term parking right in the building. It’s unbelievable.”
Living the Florida Dream
The Maybreys have lived in GlenLakes since 2010, and life just keeps getting better.
“I never get sick of the golf course. It’s such a unique golf course. My wife never gets sick of playing pickleball and tennis,” Jerry says. “The biggest thing is how well-kept it is and how people do so much due diligence to make sure it’s top-notch all the time. The property is kept up, the golf course is kept up—I think it’s very well run.”
The Stories of Seven Couples Who Lowered Their Taxes & Improved Their Lives
By Kelly Godbey
“What we saved in taxes, we now use to fund our lifestyle.”
~ Leslie Jacobson of Dataw Island, SC
In 2018, the number one reason people were considering a move was to save money in taxes, followed closely by moving to a better
climate. So, we interviewed people to see how much they saved in taxes when they relocated to a low tax state. As I spoke with each one of them, their lifestyles simply overpowered the amount that they saved. While saving money in taxes was wonderful for them all, their stories were more about the new lives they lead. Meet these joyous people who moved from a high tax state and improved their lifestyles.
Leslie and Bill Jacobson of Dataw Island and Logan Homes
Saved $6,000 a year in property taxes
“If you had told me in 2016 that I would be living in South Carolina, I would have told you that you were crazy,” said Leslie Jacobson, formerly from Montgomery County, PA. In the Spring of 2016, they mapped out a trip from Williamsburg, VA, to Savannah, GA, and toured developments down the coast. Leslie says: “On this trip a light bulb went off for me … This is what my life could be? …This is what my taxes could be? … This is what the weather would be? Then Bill said, ‘I want to look at this place I saw in Ideal-Living magazine, Dataw Island,’ so we went there and stayed with a Discovery package. We narrowed it down to two places, then we bought a lot at Dataw Island in the spring of 2017. And, we moved in May 2018.”
The Jacobson’s knew they wanted Logan Homes to build their home. The Jacobson’s home has a pond view and a golf view. “Logan Homes were in our price range, and we love the product. Logan builds quality homes and they have a great design center. They have really streamlined the process. We used one of their floor plans and customized it the way we wanted it. We made a lot of modifications in the kitchen. I tell everyone we live in paradise,” says Leslie.
“The people who we have met have been so wonderful and gracious. We have become a part of ‘Island Friends.’ Dataw Island puts together groups of nine to 12 couples who rotate dinners at their homes once a month that gives us a chance to get to know new people. We were social before, but this was even easier to meet people.”
Leslie loves the beach and Bill loves golf. Bill (64) plays golf three to four times a week and Leslie (56) just isn’t ready to retire yet. Their taxes were in excess of $11,000 prior to moving, not to mention the new SALT tax legislation that would have eaten up all of their $10,000 deduction for state and local taxes. They encourage others to do their due diligence by attending an Ideal-LIVING Real Estate Show, just as they had done. Bill says, “You’ll know the place is right when you see it.”
Larry and Sherry Sherman of the Villages at Citrus Hills
Saved $5,000 a year in property taxes
As an accountant, Larry Sherman did his homework before moving from a small town in Connecticut to Citrus Hills, FL. The Shermans were tired of fighting all of the snow and ice, so climate was a big factor, but so was saving money. By moving to Florida, they saved seven percent in state income tax, as Florida is known for NO STATE INCOME TAX. And, even saved a couple thousand dollars on property tax for cars every year. Larry still works part-time as a CPA and keeps himself busy along with going outside everyday and exercising. They both take much better care of themselves living in Florida than they did previously. He says, “Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if this is real.” He now loves to golf, as does his wife, Sherry, who has just taken up golf in addition to donating time to various charities. The Shermans are busy every day, from day trips to kayaking and socializing. He says, “Don’t wait too long in life. You only get one shot at life, so don’t hesitate; come down and try. I used to work 80 hours a week during tax season, and you have to think of yourself. You have to enjoy life while you can, even if you have to take a loss in selling your home today.”
Pam Avila of Hot Springs Village, AR
Saved $9,000 a year in property taxes
Relocating from California a year and a half ago to Hot Springs, AR, was a big change and culture shock for Pam Avila, and she loves it! At 75 years young, Pam still runs a consulting business, now working with marketing. She has always been an entrepreneur. In California, she had a tech consulting business that worked with companies such as Microsoft and Apple.
When it was time to partially “retire” Pam knew that there was no way she could afford to stay in California, so she looked at places around the country and found a wonderful cost of living and tax situation in Arkansas. “It’s been an adventure!” Pam says. “I came here on a Monday and bought on a Wednesday. It just felt right! You hear about ‘Southern Hospitality,’ but you really don’t know until you experience it.” Pam now goes to dance fitness classes twice a week, enjoys kayaking, and even goes line dancing.
Just by relocating, Pam saved $9,000 a year in real estate taxes, not to mention a lower cost of living. The home costs in California were approximately three times what she paid for a home in Hot Springs Village. And, all of the costs for services like landscapers, plumbers, and electricians are much lower. And, the property tax for the same car went from $450/year to $27 per year.
Spread across 26,000 acres in the Oachita Mountains, Hot Springs Village is the largest gated community in the U.S. with all of the amenities you can imagine, including nine golf courses, 12 lakes, two marinas, fitness centers, country clubs, and over 20 miles of trails. It’s easy to see why Pam fell in love.
Peter and Susanne Lividini of Heritage Shores, Bridgeville, DE
Saved $15,000 a year in property taxes
When the Lividini’s retired, they made a lateral move from a 2,700 sq. ft. home in New York to a 2,600 sq. ft. home with property taxes of $1,877 a year. Peter says that living in Putnam Valley was just too expensive with high taxes and a high cost of living. He was a school teacher in Harrison, NY, where the average costs for monthly taxes are between $16,000 and $60,000 a year.
The Lividinis now live the epitome of the active lifestyle. Peter retired at age 62 for a different way of life. He says, “When I was working, I had 45 to 50 minutes a day commute, and now I have so much time. The best part of retirement is that I didn’t expect retirement to be like this! At Heritage Shores, there are so many amenities. I bowl every week, play pickleball three days a week, bocce ball on Mondays, every other week there’s water volleyball, and I bike to the gym. This place is scheduled like a cruiseship with something different to do all of the time. I even started golfing and play nine holes two to three times a week.”
According to Peter, living at Heritage Shores is like being at “Cheers,” where everybody knows your name. There are many clubs where residents show up to learn about anything from history to science fiction. They even have groups where homeowners plan trips to various destinations for groups.
In addition, Peter is an artist who works on commissions and has set their new home up like a gallery. But, it’s not all about Peter, Susanne is very active too. They still make time for each other, like going for bike rides, and social gatherings. The pair loves to hang out at the Sugar Beet Market, where you’ll find lots of Heritage Shores residents listening to music or grabbing a bite to eat. Susanne participates in co-ed water volleyball, plays mahjong, and is a member of the “Red Hat Society” that raises money for charities and social issues.
Peter says, “It’s fun! It’s everything we’ve always wanted.”
Jere and Jill Hassberger of Fairfield Glade, TN
Saved $6,000 a year in property taxes
In July 2017, Jere and Jill relocated to Fairfield Glade, TN, from Ann Arbor, MI, for a better climate with four seasons of moderate temperatures with a lower cost of living. While Jere is now retired, Jill still works remotely. They have found their new life in Fairfield Glade quite enjoyable, as have many other Midwesterners. In addition to saving approximately $6,000 a year in property taxes, they have also saved his pension from being taxed, as there is no state income tax in Tennessee. (His pension was taxed in Michigan). Jere says, “When you put it all together, Fairfield Glade was great from the golfing and hiking to the community to the weather to the cost of living.”
The weather is so conducive to outdoor living that Jere now tries to play golf at least two to three days a week on one of the 90 holes and five courses available at Fairfield Glade. They also enjoy hiking and being closer to their daughter in Nashville. Many residents also enjoy boating and fishing on one of the 11 lakes in the community or enjoying the racquet sports from pickleball to tennis.
The Hassbergers had looked at planned communities in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, and recommend that others spend time in a community and take advantage of discovery travel to help them make a decision.
Dodie and Gary Koch of Waterways, Richmond Hill, GA
Saved over $8,000 a year in property taxes
The primary reason the Kochs decided to relocate was that living in Connecticut was cost prohibitive, in addition to cold winters. They both said, “We don’t have to suffer through this!” And, they didn’t. The Kochs relocated to Waterways in Richmond Hill, just outside of Savannah, GA, in January 2016, and they still have a summer place in Vermont. They started looking in northern Florida, but decided on Savannah for the great culture and food.
Dodie takes classes at the Savannah Learning Center and even works with the Dolphin Project where she counts dolphins in the estuaries around Savannah. Every morning they walk for three miles around Waterways, a 2,300 acre development with boat access. “The community looks like it has been here forever; they love the trees. There’s no clearcutting here!” says Dodie. They also love to cycle around the 12 miles of paved roads and talk to their neighbors.
According to the Kochs, the community is very friendly with new families, young couples, and retirees. It keeps them young at heart. It’s a melting pot with people from all over. Their new home is so well-built that it is incredibly efficient, costing less than half of what they paid in Connecticut for their utilities (they save $1,000/year just for utilities).
“As a New Englander, I always thought of Georgia as the deep South. But, I have embraced the South. I really enjoy the Southern culture,” Dodie says. And, the Kochs agree,“You are never too old to try something new. Don’t be afraid to take the leap!”
Gerard and Jane Sunderland of Brunswick Forest, Wilmington, NC
Reduced taxes by two thirds
Wilmington, NC attracts thousands of retirees each year, and three and a half years ago, it snared Gerry and Jane Sunderland from Wooster, MA. Jane was ready to retire from nursing and Gerry’s job was flexible, so they could move anywhere. Although they already had a second home in Vermont, they wanted to get closer to the sea. They knew immediately it was the right place for them when they reached Brunswick Forest.
The Sunderlands were looking for a lifestyle near a city. They thought they would downsize when they relocated, and did, but then after they built, they decided to add on a huge sunroom with air conditioning and a fireplace so they could host more parties for all of their new friends.
They now have many more friends than when they lived in Wooster, MA.
Jane had never golfed before and now is a self-acclaimed golf-aholic. They enjoy golf, tennis, pickleball, biking, and walking; they are active all day long. They love all the culture that the Wilmington area has to offer, including seeing shows at Thalian Hall and the Wilson Center.
Their taxes are now at least a third of what they were, and their cost of living is so much less, including entertainment and dining options. Even the parking is significantly cheaper than in the Boston area.
The Sunderlands advise, “Try everything at least once. Reach out and meet people. We’ve never regretted it.”
The drive across the Lowcountry marsh in Beaufort, SC, to Lady’s Island to the 400-acre riverfront community of Coosaw Point is both breathtaking and serene. An unrestricted community, residents enjoy vibrancy with a slower pace as told by the stories of two couples in slightly different phases of life.
Dave and Pam Rimer have lived in many places, but found their favorite place in Beaufort, SC, when they moved into their home at Coosaw Point in 2006. They decided to relocate after their son graduated from high school. They toured the Charleston area and spent several days driving around the Lowcountry until they came upon Coosaw Point, and they knew they had found their place. They downsized from a 4,500 square-foot home and now have more time to have fun than maintaining a large home, though Pam added that you can have as large of a home as you’d like at Coosaw.
“The community was small at that time and really just getting started. It was just a sense of what it was going to be,” said Pam. She organizes the community directory and has seen the community’s growth first-hand. Pam says, “We enjoy the mix of ages and people, from newborns to 90. It’s a vibrant community, full of caring neighbors.”
While Dave is “semi-retired,” they find time to enjoy boating as often as they can. With the warmer climate, they have even been boating on New Year’s Eve. Pam and Dave enjoy the people and Pam says, “You can participate as much or as little as you want.” The Rimers particularly enjoy “High Tide Fridays,” where neighbors meet for happy hour.
Next, meet Dee (48) and Marc (47) Robinson who relocated from Colorado just a year ago with their 16-year-old son. They had vacationed to the coast and knew they wanted to retire by the coast one day. Dee said, “We thought why wait until we retire? Let’s see if we can make this work now.” She found a job in Beaufort, and they couldn’t be happier that they made the move.
They are enjoying the outdoors. “Marc likes to stand-up paddle board, while my son and I like to kayak. So, we kayak to Hunting Island State Park. We’ve seen all kinds of wildlife from deer to dolphin. We are hoping to see the sea turtles hatch.”
“It’s a totally different life than in Colorado. Each are beautiful in their own way. It’s particularly wonderful to see the water so much living here. When you go over the bridges, the views are so amazing with the vibrant greens of the saltwater marsh. It’s breathtaking,” says Dee.
The Robinsons enjoy walking along the waterfront in the quaint town of Beaufort and sitting on the swings in waterfront park. They’ve been finding some good restaurants including Plums, Breakwater, and the Foolish Frog, just to name a few.
Dee says, “We made a good decision to take the plunge. We love the style of houses and walking trails. Coosaw Point has a great mix of people. Everyone is here because they love it.”
Ideal-LIVING welcomes the following communities to the scene. These are the new communities to follow in 2019. Please take the time to visit their websites. When you request more information, please be sure to tell them you discovered them in Ideal-LIVING Magazine!
Birchwood at Brambleton
Birchwood at Brambleton is a unique residential community in the Virginia countryside that’s an oasis from the bustle of big-city life and serenely walkable by design. From the nature trails that ring the neighborhoods to the planned commercial center, Birchwood residents will need only their sneakers (or bikes) to stay fit and access community amenities, shops, restaurants, and professional services.
Also just a stroll away is the Birchwood Clubhouse, which features indoor/outdoor pools, indoor/outdoor kitchens, bocce and pickleball courts, and plenty of rooms for activities like yoga classes, arts & crafts, and special-interest club meetings. The Stream Valley Trail Park offers a community event pavilion, outdoor fitness stations, communal gardens, and a fishing dock.
Model homes by the region’s leading builders are now open for inspection that feature cottage-style residences with more than 2,500 square feet of living space, plus private outdoor courtyards. Bungalow home models that can be nearly 3,000 square feet in size with four bedrooms and baths are also available, as well as low-maintenance condos and villas with designer touches and state-of-the-art conveniences.
Birchwood at Brambleton is located near the Virginia town of Ashburn in the heart of Loudoun County, just 25 miles from Washington, D.C., and only minutes from the rest of the world via Dulles International Airport. A short drive to the west brings residents to the natural wonders of the Blue Ridge Mountains and popular wineries in the historic Middleburg area.
GL Homes Valencia
Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of Florida
Since 1976, GL Homes has become one of Florida’s most successful developers of innovative masterplanned communities. The Sunshine State builder continues that tradition with four active-adult Valencia communities featuring world-class amenities specifically designed for the 55+ lifestyle in a choice of distinctive locations.
On the Atlantic Coast of Florida are Valencia Bay in Boynton Beach and Valencia Cay in Port St. Lucie, while the Gulf Coast is home to Valencia del Sol in Tampa and Valencia Bonita in Bonita Springs. Those locations were carefully chosen for their convenient access to each area’s top health care facilities, cultural and entertainment attractions, shopping centers, golf courses, and beaches.
All of the GL Homes Valencia communities are designed with central clubhouses that are the hub of its signature resort-style living. Each has a fully-equipped fitness center with cardio/strength training equipment and regular fitness classes, a grand social hall for music concerts and theatrical performances, restaurants with indoor/outdoor seating, and multipurpose rooms for special-interest clubs and activities. Just outside are pool complexes and racquet clubs with pickleball, tennis, and bocce courts for both friendly and competitive league play. Single-family homes and villas in an amazing variety of floor plans range in price from the $200,000s to the $500,000s.
GL Homes is currently offering a special three-day/two-night “Stay and Play” package at your choice of destination for just $99, with accommodations in an on-site furnished home and access to all community amenities.
Cresswind by KOLTERHOMES is a fresh concept in 55+ new-home communities. With eight locations across the southeast, each is designed around a lifestyle concept that empowers residents to live better, longer.
Fitness, nutrition, and relationships are the three pillars that support the Cresswind lifestyle. It starts with the resident-exclusive clubhouse, designed specifically for active adults with features such as fitness centers, yoga/aerobics studios, indoor/outdoor pools, and courts for tennis, pickleball, basketball, and bocce.
Full-time activity directors are the real difference-makers, maintaining full and diverse event calendars. Relationships and social growth are fostered with walkable neighborhoods and meeting spaces for clubs, lifelong-learning programs, and volunteer opportunities.
Locations. Locations. Locations. Cresswind currently features eight of them, each with unique qualities and offering proximity to medical facilities, shopping, dining, and cultural centers. In the Carolinas, there’s Cresswind Charlotte, and along the South Carolina coast, Cresswind Myrtle Beach and Cresswind Charleston. Georgia’s Cresswind at Lake Lanier and Cresswind Peachtree City are located north and south of Atlanta. And, in Florida, there’s Cresswind at PGA Village Verano in south Florida, Cresswind at Victoria Gardens near Orlando, and coming soon to the Sarasota/Bradenton area, Cresswind Lakewood Ranch.
To learn more, visit GoCresswind.com to download a free GOGuide, featuring home buying tips, area information, event updates, and road trip itineraries.
Ovation at Mountain Falls by William Lyons Homes is Nevada’s newest 55+ active lifestyle community. The single-story Ovation home designs are offered in nine unique two-, three-, and four- bedroom floor plans ranging from 1,461 to 2,494 square feet in size. Homesites can include golf-course views, and choice move-in-ready homes are currently available.
The Ovation Recreation Center is the heart of community activity with indoor amenities like a complete fitness facility, group work-out areas, billiard room, creativity center, and meeting space. Just outside are tennis, pickleball, and bocce courts, plus a pool with spa. Ovation owners can also enjoy the Mountain Falls Residents‘ Center with its huge pool complex, new gym facilities, and 2.5 miles of walking/biking paths.
The Mountain Falls Golf Course has been known as “The Desert Jewel” since this acclaimed Jack Nicklaus/Cal Olsen design opened in 2002. With a scenic valley setting embraced by mountain peaks, Golf Advisor ranked Mountain Falls as the No. 3 best course in all of Nevada. And there are no membership fees, just pay-as-you-play discounts for golfers who appreciate real value.
The town of Pahrump on the Nevada/California border is surrounded by huge natural recreation areas and is home to the award-winning Pahrump Valley Winery. The popular Pahrump Hotel & Casino offers evening entertainment, while modern medical facilities are available at the full-service Desert View Hospital and the new VA Outpatient Clinic.
Located just 15 miles from Historic Charleston on the South Carolina Lowcountry waterfront, Kiawah River is an emerging residential community that will encompass 2,000 acres of natural beauty. Developed by The Beach Company, Kiawah River is designed to be a refuge for sea-island wildlife and new residents seeking a lifestyle that’s both active and tranquil in equal measure.
The masterplan for Kiawah River features large waterfront homesites with sweeping views as well as unique village homes with a leisurely small-town ambiance. In partnership with the Charleston area’s most respected architects and builders, Kiawah River will offer distinctive floor plans and impressive exteriors in the Lowcountry style that feature wide wrap-around porches and open interiors to catch the cool sea breezes.
All of the distinctive Kiawah River neighborhoods will be connected by walking trails to a riverfront village and shared amenities like the Mullet Hall Basecamp for fishing, a riverside pier, a swim club, community gardens, and sports fields. The Kiawah River Hall will host community meetings and special events on the same site as the Hope Chapel for worship services and weddings. Visiting family and friends can choose to stay at the Jack Island Lodge and guest cabins, right next door to the Jack Island Restaurant and adventure outfitter shops.
Just beyond the Kiawah River gates are equestrian centers, world-class golf courses, farmer’s markets, historic plantations and gardens, top-rated medical centers, oceanfront parks, and all of the delights of the Charleston peninsula.
Located on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, Ladera San Jose is a new residential community for owners who want a full-time lifestyle or care-free second home in one of North America’s greatest vacation destinations.
The unique single-family residences at Ladera San Jose have been skillfully designed by architect Agustin Landa to flow with the site’s topography and maximize the sweeping views of mountains and sea. A choice of four condominium styles in the first phase offer equally beautiful natural vistas from every den and bedroom.
The heart of community life in Ladera San Jose is the central clubhouse, which features swimming pools, a complete fitness center, a family restaurant, play rooms for kids and teens, and a lounge with games for adults. Also included in the masterplan are hiking/biking paths, an outdoor amphitheater, and a stargazing deck. Located just outside the Ladera San Jose’s secure entrance is the Koral Center, home to the region’s most modern medical facilities, a shopping plaza, day spas, casual and gourmet restaurants, a collaborative business center, and a Hampton Inn & Suites hotel. Right next door is the top-rated Picacho McGregor School with bilingual classes for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Convenient access to a pair of international airports at Los Cabos and Cabo San Lucas, plus the pristine beaches, abundant sport fishing, and top-flight golf courses that draw visitors from around the world, make Ladera San Jose a sunny new destination for adventurous families and retirees.
In six featured states west of the Mississippi River, you’ll find intriguing spring vacation destinations and new retirement communities in enticing locations.
WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI DESTINATIONS TO EXPLORE
Arkansas offers a number of unique visitor attractions, from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville to Murfreesboro’s Crater of Diamonds State Park, the world’s only place where the public is invited to dig for the precious stones. Driving tours include the 300-mile Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway and the Talimena Scenic Drive, which meanders along the ridgetops for 54 miles through the spectacular 1.8 million-acre Ouachita National Forest. In Hot Springs, you can luxuriate in the natural thermal waters, enjoy the spring blooms at Garvan Woodland Gardens, and tour historic sites where, from the 1880s through the 1930s, gangsters like Al Capone gambled and baseball legends like Babe Ruth played spring training games.
Everything’s big in Texas, including the list of vacation destinations that range from relaxing beach towns on the Gulf of Mexico coast and historic sites in San Antonio like The Alamo to the the vibrant multi-cultural nightlife in Houston and the funky arts-and-music scene in Austin. Natural adventures include kayaking in Big Bend National Park, exploring huge underground caverns, and saddling up at a guest ranch for an authentic Western experience. And you’ll never lack for sustenance on your travels because Texas restaurants serve up some of America’s juiciest steaks and spiciest ribs, washed down with wine from the state’s 20 vineyards and craft beers from microbreweries in nearly every city and town.
Utah is a four-season destination with ski resorts like Alta and Snowbird near Salt Lake City, where you can take a guided tour of historic Temple Square. Park City has its own ski slopes and annually hosts the acclaimed Sundance Film Festival. Visits to the Dinosaur National Monument and the new Natural History Museum of Utah highlight the state’s fascinating past, while southern Utah in springtime is the ultimate outdoor destination: St. George is the gateway to the unparalleled Mighty 5 National Parks and other natural wonders in Snow Canyon State Park and Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. Drive along the scenic byways, bike on mountain trails, kayak on hidden streams, and camp out under star-filled skies.
The energetic and culturally rich city of Denver is the first stop for most Colorado visitors on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park. Along the Front Range and beyond, you’ll find hot-springs resorts, mile-high golf courses, dude ranches, fly-fishing streams, and top-of-the-world trails for hikers and bikers. In the state’s central region around Colorado Springs are historic Pike’s Peak, inspiring drives on the Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway, and kayak adventures on the Arkansas River through Browns Canyon National Monument. To the southwest is the Four Corners area near Durango, which features Mesa Verde National Park, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, and the 116-mile parkway that connects them.
From parasail races and dinner cruises along the Lake Tahoe shoreline to boating and fishing in the nation’s largest reservoir at Lake Mead—plus the man-made wonder of Hoover Dam that created it—Nevada is filled with cool places and activities for springtime travelers. Among them are kayaking expeditions on the Black Canyon Water Trail, off-road driving treks in the Mohave Desert, and late-night ventures on the Extraterrestrial Highway just outside of top-secret Area 51. And with lively Reno in the north and iconic Las Vegas in the south, Nevada is in a class by itself for luxurious spas, top-celebrity shows, and destination casino resorts.
Start your Arizona spring adventure at breathtaking Grand Canyon National Park, but be sure to include on your itinerary other natural wonders like the Petrified Forest, Kartchner Caverns, Monument Valley, and Meteor Crater. You can hike, bike, or ride a horse on one of the 43 passages of the 800-mile Arizona Trail or cruise with the top down on legendary Route 66. Explore historic mining towns and witness a gunfight at the OK Corral, then mosey over to the Phoenix-Scottsdale area for trendy food and beverage venues, major-league sporting events, and more golf courses than you can shake a club at.
WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI EVENTS TO ENJOY
APRIL 10-14 CLARK COUNTRY FAIR & RODEOCCFair.com
The town of Logandale just north of Las Vegas hosts this annual Western-style celebration that includes professional rodeo competitions, main-stage entertainments, hundreds of arts & crafts exhibitors, and Midway rides, games, and food.
APRIL 12-14 SCOTTSDALE CULINARY FESTIVALScottsdaleFest.org
An Arizona spring staple since 1978, this year’s event features a kick-off party, the finest dishes from more than 35 local restaurants, beer garden, vodka lounge, wine and chocolate tastings, and live bands on three Scottsdale Civic Center stages.
APRIL 19-20 ST. GEORGE ART FESTIVALSGArtFestival.com
This Southern Utah tradition since 1980, set amid the fountains and gardens of St. George Town Square, showcases original works by more than 100 of America’s finest artists in a dozen mediums, plus live music and special events for the kids.
MAY 2-4 DURANGO WINE EXPERIENCEDurangoWine.com
A full weekend of fine food and drink in downtown Durango, CO, features top-chef cooking demonstrations, libations from some of the world’s best wineries, breweries, and distilleries, and a Grand Tasting finale event.
MAY 10-12 KAABOO TEXASKAABOOTexas.com
Enjoy all the comforts inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington for performances by 20 all-time favorites like Sting, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The B-52s, plus comedy from Dennis Miller to Brad Garret, art shows, spa services, and skybox dining with fine wines and craft beers.
JUNE 2-25 HOT SPRINGS MUSIC FESTIVALHotMusic.org
This two-week festival in Arkansas features classical music performances by the110 artists from around the world, including rare sneak-peek open rehearsals, creative-mix chamber ensembles and full-orchestra symphonies in churches, ballrooms, and open-air settings.
West of the Misssissippi Communities to Visit
ARKANSAS Hot Springs Village is America’s largest gated community, with amenities that include nine golf courses, 11 recreational lakes, and 30 miles of nature trails, plus a performing arts center, 100+ clubs, and a new 14-court pickleball complex.
Elements at Viridian is a new age 55+ community in Arlington that features single-level homes with expanded outdoor living spaces and lifestyle extras like an amenity center with pools, tennis courts, and walking/biking trails.
The Glacier Club features homes and sites with spectacular mountain views, plus two top-ranked golf courses with clubhouse dining and a complete spa/fitness center with indoor pool in a southwest Colorado location just north of Durango.
SunRiver in St. George is a premier active-adult community featuring amenities like a picturesque golf course with fine clubhouse dining, fitness facilities with indoor/outdoor pools, 50+ social clubs, and new pickleball courts at the tennis center.
Red Ledges is a mountainside residential community near Park City that features play on its award-winning Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and unique golf park with 12 par-3 holes, plus an equestrian center, and ski trips to nearby slopes.
Cordero Ranch offers low-maintenance Freedom Homes by D.R. Horton, age-55+ lifestyle amenities like a community clubhouse, and a fully equipped fitness center with two pools in a convenient location south of Las Vegas in Henderson.
Ovation at Mountain Falls in the town of Pahrump near the California border is a new active-adult community with its own private recreation center and Mountain Falls amenities like award-winning golf and a huge pool complex.
Mountainside at Victory in the Verrado community near Phoenix welcomes age 55+ residents with home styles inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and lifestyle extras like resort pools and spa, hiking trails, clubhouse dining, and golf access.
Victory at Verrado features energy-efficient homes and fairway homesites with play on two golf courses, community clubhouse, fitness center, and water park in Buckeye near the attractions and services in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.