FLORIDA DESTINATIONS TO EXPLORE
The welcoming town of Ocala and surrounding Marion County are the “Horse Capital of the World” and there are scores of thoroughbred equestrian centers in the area for visitors to enjoy. There are also plenty of opportunities for hiking, hunting, fishing, and boating in this area of rich natural resources, while the revitalized downtown Ocala is home to antique shops, art galleries, performing arts venues, and restaurants that feature farm-fresh local cuisine.
ST. AUGUSTINE VisitStAugustine.com
America’s oldest city and an ever-popular visitor destination, St. Augustine features a central Historic District with Spanish-style architecture and the Colonial Quarter living-history museum, as well as new restaurants and inns. The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum is a must for lovers of the game, the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall hosts big-name performing artists, and the Anastasia Island beaches offer plenty of oceanfront lodgings.
If you’re vacationing with the grandkids, then theme-park attractions like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando are already on your itinerary. But if you want to explore the other side of Orlando, check out the Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens and the Morse Museum of American Arts, enjoy a ballet or symphony concert at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and catch an Orlando Shakespeare Theater show. There are also boat and kayak tours, dozens of daily-fee golf courses, dining on Restaurant Row, and nightlife entertainments along International Drive.
DAYTONA BEACH DaytonaBeach.com
The 23 miles of local oceanfront are just the beginning of a trip to Daytona Beach, where auto-racing enthusiasts flock to the Daytona International Speedway and its Motorsports Hall of Fame. There are also historic sites, amusement parks, golf courses, and the 30-mile Ormond Scenic Loop to drive. Among the best free local attractions are the Daytona Beach Oceanfront Bandshell music concerts every Saturday evening from May through September and visits to the Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens.
PORT ST. LUCIE VisitStLucie.com
Port St. Lucie is the heart of Florida’s Treasure Coast region that also includes historic Fort Pierce and 20+ miles of white-sand beaches. Kayaking on the St. Lucie River and deep-sea fishing in the warm offshore waters are popular outdoor activities. There are also nature preserve hiking trails and horseback riding on Hutchinson Island beaches, as well as scores of waterfront dining venues, boutique shops, and art galleries.
The hub of southwest Florida’s Treasure Coast and its 30 miles of beaches, Naples is also the western gateway to the wonders of Everglades National Park. The region’s tropical climate make it an international sport-fishing center and local restaurants serve fresh-from-the-Gulf seafood. Big-name destination resorts dot the waterfront landscape with more than 30 daily-fee golf courses—and twice that number of private clubs that are among the state’s finest.
FORT MYERS FortMyers-Sanibel.com
The River District in downtown Fort Myers features an eclectic mix of waterfront restaurants, pubs, antique shops, and art galleries, while the nearby Edison and Ford Winter Estates are popular historic sites. Sanibel Island is known for its laid-back resorts, seashell-covered beaches, and nature trails in the 6,400-acre Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
Sarasota has established itself as the region’s cultural center, with professional ballet, opera, symphony, and theater companies that offer a year-round schedule of performances. Popular day-trip destinations in the area include the beaches of Siesta Key, the shops and restaurants of downtown Venice, and the Village of the Arts in Bradenton.
TAMPA BAY VisitTampaBay.com
The heart of the Tampa Bay area is the Tampa Riverwalk, a 2.4-mile stretch of waterfront that’s home to shops, restaurants, and attractions like The Florida Aquarium, the Tampa Museum of Art, and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. The historic Ybor City enclave is renowned for its Cuban cuisine, coffee, and cigars. Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays play all spring and summer at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, and nearby beach towns are where Gulf Coast fishing adventures begin.
FLORIDA EVENTS TO ENJOY
WORD OF [SOUTH] FESTIVAL WordOfSouthFestival.com
Held at downtown Tallahassee’s Cascades Park, Word of [South] is a unique annual event that celebrates the relationship between literature and music, with writers who specialize in musical topics and artist biographies, as well as musicians who are also authors.
APRIL 24-MAY 7
STAY IN MAY FESTIVAL StayInMay.com
Two full weeks of eclectic events in Naples that include art shows, short film debuts, culinary exhibitions, and health and wellness programs, plus live music performances from classical to bluegrass and jazz to pop.
SMOKE ON THE WATER BARBECUE FESTIVAL SBDAC.com
The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in downtown Fort Myers hosts this sanctioned event as barbecue cook teams from throughout the South compete for the top prizes, plus a full weekend of live music and family fun.
APRIL 27-MAY 4
MINTO US OPEN PICKLEBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS USOpenPickleballChampionship.com
On the 50 courts at East Naples Community Park, America’s fastest-growing sport will crown its national champs from among the 2,000 competitors in pro/amateur divisions and age groups that range from 19+ to 80+. The 2019 event also features pre-tournament festivities and network TV coverage of the finals.
ST. JOHNS RIVER FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS StJohnsRiverArtFest.com
Juried arts and crafts shows are the highlight of this annual event in downtown Sanford, with sidewalk exhibitions, Art-in-Action demonstrations, gourmet sampling at the Culinary Arts Court, and acoustic music performers in a variety of genres.
JACKSONVILLE JAZZ FESTIVAL JacksonvilleJazzFest.com
One of the nation’s largest and longest-running free music events, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival features headliner performances on outdoor downtown stages along the St. Johns River, and signature activities like the Jazz Piano Competition, the Omni Sacred Jazz Brunch, and Jazz Fest After Dark, plus an artists’ marketplace and plenty of al fresco dining choices.
Florida Communities to Visit
On Top of the World (Ocala) is an active-adult community that offers energy-efficient and solar-powered homes, plus three golf courses, fitness centers, 17 miles of walking trails, hundreds of interest clubs, and a lifelong learning center.
Lakes of Mount Dora is a masterplanned community for age 55+ active adults with waterfront homes and home sites, along with amenities that include resort pools, pickleball courts, a fitness studio, and clubhouse social activities.
Cresswind at Victoria Gardens in DeLand offers gracious age5 5+ living with club amenities like an Aquatic Center, racquet courts, and The Vine Bar & Bistro, plus access to golf, shopping, and medical services in neighboring Victoria Park.
GlenLakes (Weeki Wachee) features estate-size and maintenance-free homes with a centerpiece championship golf course and clubhouse amenities in a Weeki Wachee location with hiking trails in the adjacent 85,000-acre national wildlife refuge.
LakePark at Tradition in Port St. Lucie offers single-family homes and villas, with on-site community features like the fitness center with pool and spa, an event lawn, and a dog park, plus access to all adjacent Club at TownPark amenities.
Cresswind at PGA Village Verano is a 55+ enclave in Port St. Lucie with unique floor plans and clubhouse amenities, as well as free PGA Golf Club social memberships and access to its superb golf courses, and new 27-court Pickleball Center.
Oak Harbor in Vero Beach offers a unique mix of cottages, condos, and luxury villas overlooking lakes and the private executive golf course, with gourmet clubhouse dining, concierge services, and wellness/home health programs.
Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach is a 55-and-better community based on the Jimmy Buffet lifestyle, with a private beach club, Town Center with shops, restaurants, and music venues, and a fitness center that includes Halifax Health services.
Artesia in Sunrise features “Minto Green” residences with Villa Artesia Club extras that include state-of-the-art fitness equipment, a demonstration kitchen, sports lounge, indoor basketball court, tennis center, and pools with private cabanas.
The Lakes at Harmony is a Central Florida active-adult community with choice amenities that include a Johnny Miller Signature golf course, recreation center with racquet courts, fishing lakes, 12+ trail miles, and Townsquare shops.
TwinEagles (Naples) is a country-club community with inclusive golf membership for the enjoyment of year-round play on a pair of South Florida’s best private courses and the St. Andrews-style clubhouse amenities like a complete fitness center.
The Isles of Collier Preserve has single-family homes and luxury villas just minutes from downtown Naples. The new Overlook Bar & Grill, Isles Club social/fitness center, kayak greenways, and a 2,400-acre nature preserve are top amenities.
Verandah by Kolter Homes (Fort Myers) features a complete fitness center with pool and spa, River House community center with cafe and sports bar, nearly 10 miles of nature trails, Orange River kayak launches and private golf access.
Verandah neighborhoods by Neal Communities include new riverside homesites and custom home designs, plus access to two private golf courses and clubhouse social amenities, fitness facilities, bike paths, and walking trails.
Grand Palm features villas and single-family homes in a location convenient to both the Gulf and downtown Venice, with amenities like a lap pool, fishing lake, nature trails, dog parks, kids playground, and courts for tennis and basketball.
Boca Royale Golf & Country Club near the Sarasota County town of Englewood offers flexible membership options that can include championship golf, clubhouse dining, resort amenity center, and social activities.
Milano in Venice is a Tuscan-inspired community with customizable and quick-move-in residences, plus lifestyle amenities like pickleball and bocce ball courts, resort pool, clubhouse social activities, and trails around scenic ponds.
Lakewood Ranch near Sarasota offers a range of home choices in 14 village-style neighborhoods surrounding three distinctive town centers. On-site amenities include three golf courses, a complete Athletic Center, and a polo club.
Indigo offers stylish and distinctive homes in the heart of Lakewood Ranch, as well as a community Activities Director who plans daily classes, outings and social events, plus fitness extras like racquet courts and work-out facilities.
Harbour Isle on Anna Maria Sound near Bradenton is just five minutes from the Gulf Coast, with lakeside homes and Beach Club amenities like four resort pools, a fitness center, kayak launches, and Sky Bar lounge, plus a planned marina.
Medley at Southshore Bay in Wimauma offers spacious estate homes and low-maintenance villas with amenities for active adults that include a private clubhouse, pool with tiki bar, and pickleball/bocce courts near Gulf Coast beaches.
Encore at Fishhawk Ranch is a David Weekley Homes age 55+ community in the Tampa Bay area that offers smart single-family designs, its own Oasis Lifestyle Club social/fitness activities, and access to 25 miles of nature trails.
Southern Hills Manors is a single-family community just north of Tampa in Brooksville. Amenities include Pete Dye championship golf, plus a six-hole par 3 course, clubhouse dining, fitness facilities with a full-service spa, and walking/biking trails.
One Particular Harbour Margaritaville features waterfront residences overlooking Anna Maria Sound with a private beach club, resort pool/spa, fitness center with kayak launch, and a brand-new marina with direct access to Gulf sport fishing.
Latitude Margaritaville Watersound in the Panhandle region near Panama City Beach will open in 2020 as the third Jimmy Buffet-inspired lifestyle community, with “Minto Green” homes, and fun-in-the-sun amenities for age 55+ residents.
GL Homes are found in the most popular masterplanned communities on both coasts of Florida. Since 1976, the company has built warrantied homes that maximize space and efficiency with personalized details and top-quality materials.