Many visitors to Florida may flock to either Miami or Orlando. Unbeknownst to many, a great, quiet, safe town lies only an hour drive from Orlando, and offers some relaxing recreation. It just so happens to be one of the fastest growing US cities as well, so it’s beginning to lose its status as a best-kept secret. Take your time while visiting The Villages. Stroll through the state parks or beautiful town square, or take a night to visit a museum or playhouse!
There are loads of activities here! Read on to check out the top things to do while in The Villages in Florida.
1. Walk through Lake Griffin State Park
Lake Griffin State Park offers 620 acres (250 hectares) of nature and space for wildlife; a great way to spend a day. Whether you’d like to be more active or not, the park offers hiking, fishing and a playground for kids as well as picnic areas, great spots to view wildlife, and even an amphitheater for various events. Lake Griffin itself is an impressive 9,400 acres (3,804 hectares), and visitors are able to rent canoes and kayaks to go out on the lake.
If one day isn’t enough for you, the park also has 40 campsites available with water and electricity, as well as showers, restrooms and laundry facilities. This park isn’t something to skip over, as it also is home to the second largest Live Oak tree in the state of Florida! You can find it at the end of the park’s nature trail, where it has become a special landmark within the park. Its age is estimated at an incredible 300 to 500 years old.
Lake Griffin State Park
Address: 3089 U.S. Highway 441-27, Fruitland Park, FL 34731
Website: Lake Griffin State Park
2. Learn about old-time farming at Paquette’s Historical Farmall Tractor Museum
Whether you’re a farmer yourself or simply have a taste for some American farming history, the Paquette’s Historical Farmall Tractor Museum is a great spot to visit. The entire museum is dedicated to the preservation of international harvester equipment, and hosts a variety of farming and construction equipment, including Farmall brand tractors. The museum itself is located on a beautiful farm near The Villages, and provides a great scene of Florida separate from the typical sandy beaches most are used to.
The museum is open from 9 am to 4 pm Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is a suggested donation of 15 USD per person. Groups of 10 or more are able to enter the museum at a rate of 10 USD per person, and children under the age of 10 are free. If you’re lucky, you might also catch them during a time when one of their special events is happening, which includes tractor shows and other fun events.
Paquette’s Historical Farmall Tractor Museum
Address: 615 S Whitney Road, Leesburg, FL 34748
3. Spend a day at the Eisenhower Regional Recreation Center
The Eisenhower Regional Recreation Center is just one of the several recreational centers that The Villages have to offer, but it’s one of the biggest. At the center, you can choose to swim, indulge in some arts and crafts, play a variety of indoor and outdoor sports, dance and eat dinner in the restaurant lounge, or plan to attend one of the interest group meetings that occur often at the center. Admission and hours for the centers can vary, but more information is available at The Villages website.
Eisenhower Regional Recreation Center
Address: 3560 Buena Vista Blvd., The Villages, FL 32162
4. Stroll along Spanish Springs Town Square
Spanish Springs Town Square isn’t only a great spot to get in some walking and shopping - it also has a unique look and feel that’s different from many typical town squares. The Southwestern style might make you feel like you’re in a completely different state, but many of the local shops and stores are true to Florida. There is also a performing arts center and theater in the square that offer great shows, and the square itself hosts outdoor entertainment every day of the year.
Spanish Springs Town Square
Address: 1120 Main St, The Villages, FL 32159
Website: Spanish Springs Town Square
5. See a show at the Old Mill Playhouse
The Old Mill Playhouse may not be true to its name anymore, but viewing a movie there feels like taking a seat back in history. The old playhouse still has a unique architectural style, and may prove to be cozier than a modern-day movie theatre. You can catch the latest movies here for a relaxing night or date!
Old Mill Playhouse
Address: 1000 Old Mill Run, The Villages, FL 32162
Website: Old Mill Playhouse
6. Shop on the lake at Lake Sumter Landing Market Square
Lake Sumter Landing Market Square is another spot for shopping and eating that comes with a great atmosphere and unique style. Situated directly on the water, the cluster of restaurants and shops are reminiscent of a seaside village or fully lakefront town. Similar to Spanish Springs Town Square, Lake Sumter Landing also offers free nightly entertainment year-round.
Lake Sumter Landing Market Square
Address: 1000 Lake Sumter Landing, The Villages, FL 32162
Website: Lake Sumter Landing
7. Enjoy the serene Sharon Rose Wiechens Preserve
The Sharon Rose Wiechens Preserve was opened recently in 2015, and it is now The Villages’ largest nature preserve out of the 11 available. It encompasses 624 acres (252 hectares) and most notably includes a gopher tortoise preserve. It’s a great spot to see a very wide variety of Floridian plant species, as more than one million have been installed before its opening. The preserve is a great place for some peace and quiet if you want some contrast from all of the nightly entertainment happening at The Villages.
Sharon Rose Wiechens Preserve
Address: Moyer Loop, The Villages, FL 32163
Website: Sharon Rose Wiechens Preserve
8. Don't forget to visit Brownwood Paddock Square
If you’re ready for another themed night on the town, head to Brownwood Paddock Square. In contrast to the Spanish Springs and Lake Sumter squares, this area invokes a theme reminiscent of an early 19th-century Florida cattle town, which The Villages very well might have been back in the day. The log cabin-style stage in the middle of more restaurants, shops and theaters houses even more nightly entertainment. You can even make a plan to hop around all of the different town squares in order to catch the best entertainment of the night.
Brownwood Paddock Square
Address: 2705 Brownwood Blvd, The Villages, FL 32163
Website: Brownwood Paddock Square
Relax and unwind both day and night
The Villages encompass a unique Florida vacation where you can get all the sun and relaxation you need while never stepping foot on a beach. The town will also ensure you’re never bored, with so much to do both day and night.
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