The retirement community of The Villages is located in sunny, central Florida. It is 20 miles south of Ocala and 57 miles northwest of Orlando in Lake, Sumter and Marion counties. This development is home to more than 51,000 people and the fastest-growing micropolitan area in the U.S. as well as the fastest-growing small town.
The Villages' history dates back to the 1960s when Harold Schwartz, a Michigan businessman, sold land to retirees looking to escape to a warmer climate. Today, the descendants of Harold Schwartz and his son H. Gary Morse still control The Villages.
The Villages Attractions
The master-planned retirement community offers several forms of recreational activity. The Villages has numerous golf courses and offers "Free Golf for Life." Thirty-two of the courses are 9-hole layouts while the remaining 10 are country club championship courses. Two additional courses will be 27-hole layouts with a total of 621 holes of golf by the end of a final course build?-out.
Visit the Florida Carriage Museum and Resort and take a step back in time. This museum is home to the largest collection of antique horse-drawn carriages in the U.S. and is one of the largest in the world. There are more than 160 carriages from Europe and America, including the 1850 Ambruster Dress Chariot that once carried Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph and his wife, Elisabeth.
You can do plenty of shopping without leaving The Villages. There are boutiques scattered throughout the town squares, including many of the country's most popular brands. There are also grocery stores, pharmacies and superstores that will help you find everything you need. You can even venture throughout The Villages on your golf cart, the most fun way to travel through a small town.
Things to Do in The Villages
- Recreation: Aside from golf, there are three recreation centers in The Villages. These include neighborhood centers, village centers and regional centers with pools and bocce, horseshoe and shuffleboard courts as well as tennis and pickleball courts. Regional centers feature courts and fitness facilities. Those who have dogs can take their furry friends for outdoor activities at any of the 11 parks, dog parks and trails owned by The Villages.
- Entertainment: There are three town squares in The Villages, including Lake Sumter Landing's Market Square, Spanish Springs Town Square and Brownwood Paddock Square. These town squares feature nightly activities such as live music and a farmer's market. If you want to watch sports rather than participate, you can also catch a game at one of numerous softball fields or The Villages Polo Stadium. There are also opportunities to learn woodworking or take a class at the Lifelong Learning College in The Villages.
- Wineries: Visitors to The Villages can take a tour and enjoy wine tasting at Lakeride Winery and Vineyards. The winery is located in Clermont and is the former center of Florida's grape industry. There is an extensive tasting room with annual festivals and a gift shop. More than 80,000 cases, or more than 960,000 bottles, are produced at Lakeride Winery each year.