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.
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 leaving nearly every state in the union.
Home features include the popular golf frontage to locations near shopping or healthcare facilities. Recreation centers near many of the villages have dozens of activities that bring residents in throughout the day. The Villages have their own newspaper and radio station. Arguably, the Villages Newspaper 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.
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.
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 scheme with buildings matching the architecture. Many buildings housing businesses are on the site of historical significance that date back to the 19th century. Most are documented with plaques along the sidewalks.
We consider The Villages a Florida attraction because of the community spirit, atmosphere of unity, activities abounding, impeccably manicured streets, and never have we seen a community universally friendly!
To visit The Villages as a day trip it is about two and a half hours from Jacksonville, Florida and an hour north of Orlando, Florida. From Tamps/St. Petersburg the day trip is about 2 hours straight north on I-75.
There are many unique shops at Lake Sumter Landing, the most central location, and a great place to stay is the Waterfront INN on the lake.
The Waterfront Inn is just steps from all the entertainment, shops and restaurants. This hotel is aging, but sits alongside Lake Sumter for a great setting. It’s a short walk to the Sumter Landing Square. Its 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!