Discover the FUN at Forest Lake Village in Zephyrhills, FL

Your Winter Home

When you’re looking for a place to call home for the winter, head to Forest Lake Village. It’s a peaceful oasis away from noisy cities, nestled in the countryside around Zephyrhills. Nearby are some well-known springs and it’s near here where Crystal Springs bottled water comes from. With clean air and crystal clear streams, it’s no wonder so many Snowbirds call this place home in the colder months.

Canuckville

This is Floridian lifestyle at its finest. It’s home to over 100 Canadians every winter, and they keep coming back time and time again. Stephen Bagiardi, manager of Forest Lake Village, knows why they keep coming back. “We have 274 sites in this RV park and I would say we have about 100 Canadian guests each year. They love that they have so many friends here from all over Canada. It’s their central meeting spot. When newcomers arrive, the first thing they notice is the comradery. There’s a strong family like atmosphere here.”

It also helps that Forest Lake Village is 30 minutes from Tampa, 45-50 minutes to the Gulf Beaches and 45 minutes to Orlando.

Great Activities and Amenities

Guests at Forest Lake can be as relaxed or as active as they choose. “We have lots of events for our guests,” said Bagiardi. “We have Bingo and card nights multiple times a week. There’s water aerobics, line dancing, shuffleboard clubs and tournaments. People get together to shoot pool three nights a week. There are ping pong games and a library.”

Around the holiday season they have Christmas, Valentine’s and Thanksgiving dinners and dances. Also at Christmas, they have a parade that goes throughout the park and for those who want to work off some of those pesky seasonal calories, there are runs. Come join in the fun with the Turkey Trot and a Reindeer Run throughout the park. “You don’t have to run,” said Bagiardi. “Many of our guests prefer to walk, and some use it as a fundraiser.”

The RV resort comes complete with a clubhouse, swimming pool, laundry, horseshoes, library, shuffleboard, hot tub, a billiards/games room and a picnic and barbeque area. You can even get your own private mailbox, and yes, you can bring your furry friends with you.

For those who just want to relax, there’s a lake right on the property. Thirty of the sites back onto the small lake. There are no boats allowed, but you can cast or fly fish from shore into this fish filled lake.

Get Out and Explore

The biggest draw in this area is golf. There are six golf courses within 15-20 minutes of Forest Lake Village, and a dozen more about 30 minutes away. “There’s always a group heading out to one of the nearby courses every day,” said Bagiardi. And with this many great golf courses, why not!

As the RV resort is located between Tampa and Orlando there are plenty of sporting events to go to as well. Then there are the 20 theme parks in the area including Knott’s Berry Farm, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Busch Gardens.

Head out shopping to one of the outlet malls in the area and find something unique at one of the local specialty stores. When you’re done exploring for the day, there are dozens and dozens of restaurants within 15 minutes of Forest Lake Village.

Parks at the Gulf

Hop in the car and head west to Gulf. Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs has 155 acres on the Gulf of Mexico. Walk the white sandy beaches or go for a swim. You’ll see nesting ospreys and eagles above you and dolphins and manatees in the gulf. Bring your kayak or canoe (or rent one locally) and spend the day on the water.

Walls Springs Park is south of Tarpon Springs and is a great place to take a hike in nature. The park is 210 acres with a natural spring, with water temperatures at a nearly constant 23C (74F). There’s a 10 m (35 ft) observation tower that you can climb for some amazing views of the Gulf of Mexico. Bring your bike, or pack a picnic and spend the day exploring.

At the end of the day, head back to the Forest Lake Village, your winter home away from home.

Meet Roy From Sherwood Forest RV Resort In Kissimmee, Florida

  • Name: Roy Reyes Silverio
  • In position since: November 27th, 2014
  • Title: Resort Manager
  • Work Location: Sherwood Forest RV
  • Previous parks you’ve worked at (if applicable): n/a
  • Favorite hobbies or sport(s): Spending time with my family and friends, drawing and some karaoke

What brought you to Sherwood Forest?

My first introduction to the property was through another employee inviting me to play Bingo at the community. After that event, the rest was history. I never thought I would get the opportunity to grow with the company as I did. I had also never worked at an RV resort so the challenge of a new adventure peaked my interest.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a Resort Manager?

The most rewarding aspect of being a Resort Manager for me would be the opportunity to interact with so many people. I love connecting and making bonds with customers and guests which turn into valued customer returns or new beginnings. It’s our relationships that people remember and cling to, why not put that same emphasis to our clients? The guests and residents have become a Sherwood family that I love to spend time with.

How do you help make guests vacations at Sherwood Forest special?

The best way to understand what guests expect and want is by simply asking them. What acts do you like to see as far as entertainers go? What about the ice cream social made you want to come support us? Put yourself in their shoes and participate. Nothing gets your residents more interested than jumping in during a line dancing routine. You want to create memories that they will want to remember and give them a reason to come back for more.

Can you share something you’ve learned from your guests?

I’ve learned a lot from my guests. Their life experiences, their many travels and family stories. The one thing I have taken from everyone is don’t be so serious. Broken water pipes can be repaired, cable can go haywire but the one thing that you can control is your outlook on things. Staying positive and not allowing yourself to become detracted from the world is essential and just makes you a better human being.

What’s special about Sherwood Forest?

Whenever I get asked this question I always refer to Sherwood Forest as a hidden gem. The property is tucked cubby behind other local business that drowns out the hussle and bussle of the major highway but we are still so close to everything your heart desires. Between the vast choices of dining and local eateries you can find just about anything within a 10 mile radius. The attractions are a big seller as well. Why not save a buck camping instead of a hotel and use the extra money to spend at Sea World or Disney. We even promote our local attractions that are not costly that just give us an edge due to our location.

Can you use 3 words to describe your RV park to someone who is considering visiting Kissimmee?

The first word I would use to describe Sherwood is “exciting”. We know how to have a good time here even if we are grilling hot dogs and hamburgers in the blistering heat. Every event is such a joy to participate in that we want you wanting more. The second word I would choose is “friendly”. I have come to see the residents and guests to form groups and connections that present during dinners. They will come in before a potluck and reserve a table just so they can sit by their friends. It’s truly a sight and a testament to their belief in friendship. Last word that comes to my mind would be “relaxed”. Nothing like hearing about a lazy day at the pool. You can’t go wrong with knowing you can spend your day just lounging about the property and enjoying the comforts of the amenities on site. You can choose to play a round of golf at our miniature putt putt course or even surf the internet at our rec center. You choose your own activities and events, there is no wrong way to vacation.

What area attractions or entertainment do you recommend guests experience while at Sherwood Forest?

The best bang for your buck I could offer would be Old Town and Fun Spot. Both are just 1 mile from the property that offer games and rides for kids plus some bars and shopping for adults. There is also a great place to kayak for those outdoor activity junkies at The Paddling Center at Shingle Creek. Obviously you can’t go wrong with Disney, Sea World, Universal, Legoland and all the other major attractions close by. If you think it, we probably have it.

What accomplishment at Sherwood Forest are you most proud of? Why?

There are a lot of things that we do as managers on a daily basis that change the property for the better but the one accomplishment I take with me is really delving into the activities we provide. Of course there are the staples such as potluck, bingo and cards but I didn’t want it to just end there. We have introduced new performers to the resort, painting classes, Happy Hour at our tiki bar and other events that give people a reason to come out of their campers and see us. I’m not afraid of trying anything once, if it works do it again, otherwise look for another event to fill the guests calendars up with another fun filled activity.

What’s your favorite funny story to tell from Sherwood Forest?

One of the funniest stories I can recollect is helping aid the guard shack dressed in a Luigi costume from the Mario Brothers. It was close to Halloween and I was trying out an outfit to wear and was asked by other employees to drive around the community in it. As we reached the entrance we all collectively thought the same idea as to have me wave in traffic. We were laughing from the time I stepped off that golf cart to my departure. Everyone stopped that night to get a good look and it made for a good story to those who caught me in character.

Can you share your favourite memory at Sherwood Forest?

One of my most memorable moments I can think of is when I was finally offered the management position. It had finally come to fruition on Thanksgiving day and during my speech to the guests at Thanksgiving Dinner in the clubhouse I announced to everyone my new role as manager. Everyone was so supportive and I’m still so thankful to be here to this day. Whenever I need a reminder as to why I do what I do, I think back to that day and it pushes me to do more and want more for the property and the guests.

Can you tell us about some of the friendships that have developed between guests at Sherwood Forest?

The bonds of friendship truly shine when I think about Sherwood. One group that comes to mind rotates dinner and drinks from camper to camper every night and have even put up lights for the holidays which coincided with each other. And if you weren’t aware of how close these guests get with each other just wait for a meal event. You’ll always have one in the group come in before the event to save seats for their gang. A lot of the guests that come truly call their stay here with us their home away from home.

Why do you think your veteran guests keep coming back to Sherwood Forest?

I can think of many reasons guests return to Sherwood Forest. The location, the activities, their friends and even the staff. We have formed quite the family here and when our guests return it’s like seeing a long lost relative finally coming back home. When you treat your guests like they belong, that’s what gives them a reason to come back. When our long term guests come in and mention they don’t want to check out yet, that’s a sign you’ve locked them in for another fun filled stay next time around.

Do you have any last words or thoughts for your guests?

Sherwood Forest is a breath of fresh air. We enjoy nothing but providing guests with the best experience they can get while creating memories of their own. Our location offers so many amazing dining options and you can easily stay entertained by all the local attractions and activities. If you are looking for a getaway from your normal everyday routine, come visit us even for a weekend. Give yourself the opportunity to visit old friends, make new friends and join the Sherwood tribe.

 

Tropical Palms RV in Kissimmee: A peaceful getaway in the heart of Central Florida

A Quiet Hideaway

Feel the warmth of the Florida sun at Tropical Palms RV Resort in Kissimmee, FL. It’s the perfect central Florida hideaway.

“We truly are a hidden gem,” said park GM Karla Hettinger. “We have 69 acres of prime central Florida real estate that’s minutes away from dozens and dozens of theme parks. You can bring your RV here or stay in one of our private cottages. At the end of the day you come back to this quiet hideaway with your own private space. Guests love to relax and unwind by playing shuffleboard, mini golf, bocce ball, and horseshoes.”

Hettinger said about 40% of the guests at Tropical Palms are from Canada. “Canadians are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” she said. “Many of them started coming here years ago with their RV. When they decided the drive was too much, they purchased one of our Sandcastles, which is what we call the privately-owned cottages,” she explained. “They keep coming back here because of the experience of community. The staff and other guests become like family, and they can’t wait to come down and see them again.”

The events and activities at Tropical Palms were designed with all ages in mind. “We made sure that everything we offer here can be enjoyed by a variety of people.”

Places to Go… Things to Do

When you’re ready to extend your adventures beyond the resort, you are a short drive away from the excitement of Disney World, Universal Theme Parks, Sea World, Kennedy Space Centre and Busch Gardens!

Disney World: This world-renowned theme park offers hours and hours of exploration. There are the rides; however, Disney World is so much more than that. Choose from a huge assortment of exhibits, pavilions and experiences, including an American Adventure Life Show and the Gallery of the Arts and History of Morocco. The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros, is a gentle boat ride through the Mexican pavilion. There’s this and so much more to see and do in Disney World. You are sure to see characters from your childhood as you explore the park and delight in the laughter that surrounds you.

Universal Theme Parks: With so many exhilarating attractions to choose from, you’ll want to plan enough time to experience it all! For reggae lovers, the Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom exhibit is a must see. The Blue Man Group is another super exciting experience you don’t want to miss. This comedy, theatre, concert and dance party mash up delivers an incredible multi-sensory experience. Be sure to take in this dynamic show that has captivated millions of people worldwide!

Sea World: Take advantage of the opportunity to experience and learn about our planet’s fascinating ocean creatures. The shark encounter offers guests the chance to view these ancient predators as the fascinating and intelligent creatures they are. Stingray Lagoon gives visitors the chance to get up close and personal with these peaceful water dwellers. You may just get soft high-five if you dare to place your hand gently on the surface of the water!

Kennedy Space Center: The Kennedy Space Center is a must visit for anyone who has ever stared up at the stars and wondered what it would be like to be out there. The space center is organized into Mission Zones. The attractions and tours offered by the Space Center are grouped by chronological era. You’ll learn about the fascinating history of space travel, from the dawn of space exploration to current missions.

Busch Gardens: This park was recently recognized as being one of the best theme parks in the world. What you might not know is there are some incredible culinary experiences at Busch Gardens! If your taste buds tingle at the thought of barbecue, be sure to check out the Zambia Smokehouse. If dinner with a view is more your speed, visit the Serengeti Overlook Restaurant. For something completely different, indulge in a bacon pretzel fury at Twisted Tails Pretzels.

Meanwhile… Back at the Park

Once you’ve had all the excitement you can handle, head back to Tropical Palms. You can relax outside your RV and soak up some sun, or take part in one of the several programs they offer. Try your luck at candy bar Bingo, appreciation parties, block parties,

bean bag pizza parties, casino night, ice cream socials, yard sails, wine and paint nights, the trop-Olympics and dancing the night away to live music.

When the last tale has been told, the final song sung, it’s time to head to bed so you can start all over again the next day.

South Florida – Explore Fort Lauderdale & Miami at Your Leisure

Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Pompano Beach: RV Style

The Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Pompano Beach areas are filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of a tropical paradise. Beaches, parks, harbours, groves, keys and everglades beckon you to come explore. Exotic foods, a vibrant night life, shopping, theatre and the arts, and outdoor adventure are just a few of the attractions that await you. There are so many places to stay and things to do, you may have a hard time deciding.

Miami at Your Own Pace

You don’t have to stay in the city, you can enjoy a more laid back South Florida lifestyle and visit the attractions at your leisure. Imagine relaxing under a shady palm tree, while the breeze rustles through the leaves. Bite into a fresh mango or enjoy a delicious avocado from nearby growers. Miami Everglades RV Resort is a mere 32 mi (52 km) from the bustling city of Miami. The resort’s close proximity to Miami makes it an easy commute to all the excitement that Miami has to offer.

While in Miami, be sure to immerse yourself in Miami’s Cuban culture by exploring Little Havana. Treat yourself to local mouth-watering flavours such as cumin-rich black beans and strong Cuban coffee. After shaking your taste buds up, challenge a local to a rousing game of dominoes or chess in Maximo Gomez Park (called Domino Park by locals). On the last Friday of every month, Little Havana invites locals and visitors alike to discover Viernes Culturales, or Cultural Fridays. This monthly celebration showcases the neighbourhood’s unique cultural art scene.

The Design District near Miami’s downtown includes at least a dozen fine-art galleries and many world class eateries such as Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink. The taste bud tickling menu includes the incredible artistic desserts of star pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith.

South of downtown, Coconut Grove houses trendy boutiques that provide fun and unique shopping opportunities. Every February, Coconut Grove welcomes more than 150,000 visitors for the annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival. It’s known as one of the most exciting and popular outdoor festivals in the United States. While in Miami, be sure to visit Dolphin World for the opportunity to swim with, pet, hold, play, and kiss the majestic, intelligent, and humorous dolphins.

Discover Fort Lauderdale Your Way

A short 35-minute drive up the I-95 Express and you are in Fort Lauderdale. Known as, The Venice of America, this fabulous city is a sun seeker’s paradise. Check in to the Sunshine Holiday Ft. Lauderdale RV Resort and then explore to your hearts’ content. It’s a short 15-minute drive to the center of Fort Lauderdale. Take a stroll down the red brick road of the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk. Make your way to the arts and entertainment district of this historic city. Within this unique district, you’ll find such treasures as the Broward Centre for the Performing Arts, a world-class entertainment venue that offers exciting performances from the best of Broadway, to internationally-renowned classical music, to comedy.

On Sunday evenings, the Stranahan House and Water Taxi offers a spine-tingling River Ghost Tour, including a Stranahan House visit and New River boat ride. The new Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, a historic 1920 plantation-style waterfront home, features whimsical art and fascinating architecture. Wander around and imagine what it was like to live in Fort Lauderdale a century ago.

For a truly unique experience, climb aboard a gondola and view the city from an entirely different perspective. Sit back and relax while you leisurely float by and gaze upon some of the most luxurious homes and gardens of South Florida  While you’re near the water, take in a narrated 90-minute amphibious vehicle Duck Tour of Las Olas Boulevard. If scenic cruises are more your speed, be sure to take in a Jungle Queen riverboat cruise. This cruise takes you to a lush tropical isle where you can watch an alligator show and discover exotic birds, lemurs, and monkeys.

Kick Back in Pompano Beach

Should you prefer a resort closer to the ocean, head up to Breezy Hill RV Resort in beautiful Pompano Beach, 25 minutes north of Fort Lauderdale. You’ll find yourself 3 km (2 mi) from beautiful Atlantic coast beaches. This resort is the perfect place to set up camp while you explore a surplus of fine dining and excellent shopping opportunities.

Pompano Beach has a holiday boat parade in December, a seafood festival in April, and a fishing rodeo in May.

This beautiful city is known for its exceptional boating and fishing opportunities along the 1,000-foot municipal fishing pier. Pompano Beach is also known for its magnificent snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. Swim from shore to the natural coral reefs and snorkel the day away. Pompano Beach is the Wreck Capital of Florida. Divers will love the warm Gulf Stream current flowing parallel to the shoreline. The conditions here are perfect for drift diving with several ship wrecks and miles of colorful reefs to explore.

There is so much to see and do in South Florida. Be sure and check with the RV Park and Visitor Centres for more great information on places to go and things to do. Wherever you decide to stay, and whatever you decide to do, you’ll not soon forget your time spent in South Florida.
Have you visited South Florida before? Please share what other exciting things there are to do in the area!

Meet Silvia From Orlando RV Resort in Clermont, Florida

Profile

  • Name: Silvia Wingfield
  • In position since: April 2017, since 2009 with Encore RV resorts
  • Title: Resort Manager
  • Work Location: Thousand Trails Orlando
  • Previous parks you’ve worked at: Lake Magic RV Resort & Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort
  •  Favorite hobbies or sport(s): Reading and spending time with my two boys. My favorite sport is basketball. I played back in middle school and my oldest son is on a school team. Go Celtics!!

LM = Lake Magic     TTO =Thousand Trails Orlando

What brought you to TT Orlando?I have recently been promoted to Resort Manager at Thousand Trails Orlando after managing Lake Magic RV Resort since November 2012. What brought me to TTO was the opportunity to continue to grow within this wonderful company that I have been a part of since 2009.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a Resort Manager? – The most rewarding aspect of being a manager is the people; the residents and guests that I meet and the relationships that I build with them. Talking to them and getting to know them personally. Hearing their life stories and connecting with them about experiences and family. All of this goes for the staff as well. I spend 8 plus hours of my day working at the property and the friendships and connections make the long days easier.

What’s the most challenging aspect of being a Resort Manager? How do you overcome these challenges? The most challenging aspect is not being able to make everyone happy. I struggle with this because I truly want all of our guest to get what they want but I have learned over the years that making EVERYONE happy is not realistic or possible. I try to overcome this challenge by finding a happy medium from what the guest wants and what I can actually offer. For example: a guest is assigned a site that they do not like due to location but we are in the middle of season and our resort is full and I cannot move them to another site. I will try to make a connection with them in other ways. I will personally invite them to a resident social event and/or offer them a breakfast or lunch voucher. They still might not be happy with the location of their site but they appreciate the personal touch of knowing that I care enough to do a little something special for them, which ultimately makes me feel good.

Can you share something you’ve learned from your guests? – What I have learned from my guests is to enjoy life, to savor every moment because it goes by quickly. I have learned that friendship and being neighborly is valuable. RV’ers are unique because they are always willing to help anyone who needs it.

What’s special about the RV resorts you’ve managed?  Lake Magic is special because of its beauty. The resort is clean and well manicured with tall palms tree throughout the resort that constantly remind you that you’re in sunny Florida. All of our sites have 50 amp service with full hookups and most of our pads are paved. The sites are large with plenty of space in-between from site to site. The location is premier and most importantly the guests are friendly!

Thousand Trails Orlando  is special because it is a property that offers choices for all the different RV lifestyles. The park offers clean, paved sites, as well as a more woody area for the RV’ers that really like to feel like they are “roughing” it. TTO is in a great location that is off the highway but tucked in far enough away from the hustle and bustle to make you feel like you’re truly camping.

Can you use 3 words to describe your RV resort to someone who is considering visiting Orlando? 

  1. Friendly
  2. Filled with Activities (in Season)
  3. Great location

What area attractions or entertainment do you recommend guests experience while at TT Orlando or Lake Magic?

  1. Walt Disney World- It is only 6 miles from LM and 11 from TTO
  2. Southern Hill Farms – during blueberry picking season this is the best place to pick your own blueberries!
  3. Airboat Ride – a fun way to spend the day and tour the Central FL Everglades

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Why?At LM, I am most proud of our Annual Poker Run. I started this my first year as manager at LM and the first year we had maybe 50 participants but this past season we had 176 participants!!! The Poker Run consists of eight stations (1 for each section of the resort). We have eight hosts and the hosts are residents that set up stations with goodies, snacks and drinks for all of the participants to stop at. The participants stop by the stations, mingle, eat, drink and draw a card. At the end the 5 players with the best hand get prizes.

What’s your favorite funny story to tell from Lake Magic?In 2015 at LM, I was trying different new activities during season to keep the residents entertained. (They were all nice enough to try any crazy fun idea came up with). One of the games we tried that season was a play on the “Newlywed Game”. We called it the “Oldie Wed Game”. Three couples took turns answering different questions about their partners and we had a blast. It was fun because of their answers, but also because they were fearless and willing to try whatever out of the box idea I came up with.

Can you share your favorite memory at Lake Magic? – My favorite memory is of one of our end of season going away parties. We put together a Carnival event around our Clubhouse and pool area with carnival games, pool games, raffle prizes and carnival food! We fed the guests corndogs and thought they were going to complain because it was simple food but they loved it!

Can you recall a time when the guests at your property surprised you? (LM) Yes, 2 years ago for my birthday they called me up to the clubhouse and surprised me with a cake and singing. I felt special that they cared enough to take time out of their day to share it with me.

Can you tell us about some of the friendships that have developed between guests at Lake Magic? One of the most meaningful friendships that I have developed is with a resident who now works for me. This person volunteered for many years and finally decided to commit to working for me. They are a great asset to me because they provide insight to what the other guests want and they have become someone I can depend on and trust.

RV communities look out for each other. Can you share an example of how Lake Magic exemplifies the idea of community?There are 5 sister properties (Sherwood Forest, Clerbrook Golf & RV Resort, Winter Garden, Thousand Trails Orlando and Lake Magic) in my area and we all are very close to one another. Anytime that one of us is full and needs to accommodate a guest, we call on each other for availability to help the guest. We also get together for friendly tournaments between properties. This allows our guest to meet each other and visit a sister property.

Have you visited Thousand Trails Orlando RV Resort or Lake Magic RV Resort? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Canada 150: See How We Celebrated!

2017 marked the 150th anniversary of Canada! Encore RV Resorts celebrated Canada 150 by throwing several appreciation days across the Sunbelt to celebrate this major milestone!

All of our Canadian guests and US friends were invited to join us for a fun-filled day of activities, including bocce ball, petanque, shuffleboard tournaments, dancing, jam sessions and so much more.

Check out the recap video and let us know what you think!

The Ultimate Roadmap for Your 30 Days in Florida!

So, you have 30 days to explore Florida; lucky you! But it’s a big state, with lots of activities, sights and resorts to choose from, so where do you start? Check out our roadmap below, which takes you through the top must-see areas of Florida. But, before you book your accommodations and activities, we encourage you to take the season into account. Rates are often higher at peak tourist times, not to mention there are more crowds and limited availability.

Days 1 – 5: Crystal River – Homosassa Region

Where to Stay

Crystal Isles RV Resort offers the best of Florida’s scenic West Coast including beaches,
golf courses and fishing in nearby rivers and streams. But book early, because Crystal Isles boasts waterfront sites that are in high demand.

With plenty of restaurants and nearby shopping, plus fishing, golf and beaches there’s lots to do during your time here. Depending on the time of year you visit we suggest making time for…

 

Manatees

Did you know that Crystal River hosts a year-round population of Manatees? Although you can see them any time of the year, the best time is January – March. During the winter season the manatees crowd around the warm water springs that are unique to the Crystal River area. Also, the visibility is better during the winter months because the water is clearer. Plan to visit mid-week (when it’s less busy), and book your viewing in the morning, when the manatees are more active. River Ventures and Plantation are a few of the region’s top manatee tour operators.

Scalloping

Scalloping is a popular activity in Crystal River during the summer and early fall. The scalloping season generally runs from mid June to the end of September. With some basic snorkeling equipment, you can dive for scallops and enjoy the sights of fish, plants and coral that inhabit the Gulf of Mexico’s coast. Again, check out River Ventures and Plantation, which offer scalloping tours along with a number of other local operators.

Days 6-8: Tampa

Tampa is only 2 hours from Crystal Bay, and offers so many attractions, it’s a definite must-stop on your trip south. Top tourist spots include Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium, The Tampa Museum of Art, Adventure Island Water Park, and Big Cat Rescue.     

Where to Stay

There are a number of RV resorts and Parks in the Tampa area to choose from like Topics RV Resort in Spring Hill, although golfers may prefer the Silver Dollar Golf, Trap Club & RV Resort in Odessa.

Days 9-13: Fort Myers

Fort Myers is one of the top stops in Florida, and it’s only a 2.5-hour drive from Tampa. With lots to do here, you’ll want to give yourself time to explore the area.

Where to Stay

The Fort Myers Beach RV Resort provides the friendly, fun atmosphere of a close-knit RV community, while also giving you the opportunity to explore the barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva. Located just three miles from Fort Myers Beach and pier, you may be tempted to spend your week on the beach, but there’s lots more to do in the Fort Myers area, including:

Golf

There are too many top-notch golf courses in Fort Myers to choose from, so if you like to golf this is the place to be. You could also consider staying at Clerbrook Golf & RV Resort, which boasts its own exceptional, 18-hole golf course.  Check out this article from Golf Advisor, which lists some of the top ranked golf courses of the area.

Edison and Ford Winter Estates

Whether you’re into history, architecture, or are just curious, plan to spend time visiting the winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. You’ll be amazed at what you learn and see.

J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge

If you like wildlife, then this is a must do on your trip to Fort Myers. On Sanibel Island you can take a tram tour where you’ll have the opportunity to see birds, dolphins, manatees and alligators in their natural habitat at this wildlife refuge.

Days 14 – 20: The Florida Keys

It’s quite a trip south to the Florida Keys, but it’s worth the 5-hour drive from Fort Myers to stay in this tropical paradise. If you visit during lobster season make sure to try some fresh lobster, or consider experiencing the thrill of hauling in lobster traps on a fishing charter.

Where to Stay

Fiesta Key RV Resort & Marina is a spacious 28-acre resort located on its own island in the Florida Keys. Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina is located on the 75-acre island of Ohio Key, and has an adjoining marina that offers unprecedented water access to a tropical island environment that’s perfect for fishing, swimming or relaxing on the water. Stay at one, or both resorts and enjoy a tropical paradise adventure that includes days of swimming, beaches, fishing, and snorkeling, all from the comfort of your RV.

Although it’s tempting to stay on the beach during your time in the Florida Keys, there’s lots of sights to visit should you get tired of sitting around relaxing. If you’d prefer to explore, consider visiting:

Day 21: Miami

From the Florida Keys, you can make your way north to the Orlando area, which is a 7.5-hour drive, but we suggest breaking that up with a stop in Miami, which is just 3.5 hours from the Florida Keys area. Miami is known for it’s shopping and world-class restaurants, so it’s the perfect place to enjoy lunch or an early dinner before traveling to your resort in Orlando.

Days 21 – 25: Orlando

There’s lots to do and see in Orlando, but Disney is one of the most famous attractions. From Universal Studios to Epcot, there are lots of amusement parks in this area and you could easily spend a day or week (or more) exploring them, but there are also lots of great golf courses, restaurants and shopping areas nearby, so give yourself time to fully explore the Orlando area.

Where to Stay

Clermont, Kissimmee and Winter Gardens are all close to Orlando, and offer a wide range of RV parks to choose from, including Orlando RV Resort,  Winter Gardens RV Resort, Tropical Palms RV Resort, Lake Magic RV Resort, and Sherwood Forest RV Resort.

Days 26 – 30: Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach is only a 1.5-hour drive from the Orlando area, and it’s a great place to end your Florida adventure. This beach, which has been called the “world’s best beach” since the 1920’s hosts an abundance of shopping, dining and golf options.

If you love speed and cars, then make sure you schedule a visit to the Daytona International Speedway, which hosts the Daytona 500 and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Where to Stay

There are a number of excellent RV resorts in the Daytona Beach area, including Sunshine Holiday Daytona RV Resort (which is just minutes away from the Daytona Speedway), and Rose Bay RV Resort which is located next to Daytona’s famous white, sandy beaches, and is well-known for it’s amazing fishing.

Whether you choose to follow this itinerary, or create one of your own, if you’re looking for tips about where and when to visit Florida, give our customer service team a call at 1-877-570-2267. They know all the ins-and-outs of the Florida area and can give you the insider information that will make your trip extra-special.

Did you find this road trip plan helpful? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know in the comments below!

Why Ontario’s Snowbirds Flock to Florida RV Resorts

Every year hundreds of thousands of Canadians winter on the southern side of the border. They’ll go to Texas, Arizona, California, or even fly to Hawaii. But Florida remains the most popular destination, with half a million Canadians spending at least a month in the sunshine state each year.

Florida’s the closest snowbird destination to Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. Daytona Beach is practically a straight shot south from Toronto, but, with so many Canadians making Florida their winter home, you’re right to assume the draw is more than just climate and convenience.

So recent retirees take note! Here’s why the Florida lifestyle appeals to so many Ontarians.

Better Health

A survey of Florida’s snowbirds suggests that they’re more satisfied with their health than their non-migratory peers. There are a few reasons why this might be. In Florida, Canadian snowbirds are:

  •         Safe from winter hazards
  •         Able to lead more active lifestyles
  •         Less likely to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Safety: As you get older the risks associated with common winter hazards like ice become greater. Leaving ice and snow behind let’s snowbirds avoid these risks, and leave the potential long term consequences of a fall behind.

Active Lifestyles: The risk of falls stop many retirees from participating in winter sports, which makes maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle more challenging during the winter months. In Florida snowbirds can continue enjoying their favourite warm weather pastimes (like golf and fishing) all year round.

RV resorts catering to snowbirds encourage active lifestyles by providing exercise facilities and pools. More importantly, RV resorts provide a community where guests can meet to play volleyball, shuffleboard, or enjoy any number of activities.

Even a simple walk along the beach is beneficial to Canadian snowbirds. Walking in sand requires more energy than walking along a hard surface, is easier on your joints, and is a relaxing way to spend a morning or afternoon.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Those suffering from SAD experience depression during the shorter months of the year. It’s believed this depression is the result of a lack of sunlight. So Florida’s perennial sunshine can provide a significant boost to mental health.

Community

For most Canadian snowbirds an RV is a second home, which is why many visit the same RV resort year after year – it becomes like a second family. In fact, many larger RV communities appear and disappear with the season —hence the name “snowbirds”.

These strong relationships, built on shared interests and circumstances, are one of the most compelling reasons for snowbirds to visit Florida every year. It’s great to look forward to playing a round at your favourite Golf and RV Resort, but it’s even better when you know some of your closest friends will be there waiting for you.

Keeping Ties to Home

With the healthy lifestyle, idyllic weather, like-minded people, and plethora activities it’s fair to ask: why don’t these Ontarians just move down to Florida permanently? In fact, there are lots of reasons to maintain your primary residence in Canada.

The main reason is family. Even though it’s tempting to move south after retiring, many snowbirds keep their Canadian residences so they can continue to have a close relationship with their extended families. Sometimes families will even travel down to visit snowbirds during the winter months.

Another serious concern for Canadian snowbirds is healthcare. By limiting their stay in the United States snowbirds are able to benefit from Canada’s universal healthcare system. However, this works best for routine healthcare. Most snowbirds invest in health insurance coverage during their stay in the United States in case anything should happen while wintering down south.

Adventure!

Snowbirds, especially those with RVs love having the freedom to explore and try new things. Florida has opportunities to pursue classic pastimes like relaxing on the beach and working on your golf game. But it also has the rugged beauty of the everglades and culturally rich metropolitan areas, like Miami.

In Florida snowbirds grow to become a part of a larger community, a community that encourages good health and good times. So, no matter how big or small your adventure, whether it’s exploring on the open road, or trying a new game, Florida’s RV resorts are a perfect starting point.

Let us know if we missed any other reasons in the comments below!

Meet Barb From Southern Palms RV Resort in Eustis, Florida

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Profile:

  • Name:  Barb Stanze
  • In position since: September 2012 at Southern Palms,  with Encore RV Resorts for 21 years
  • Title:  General Manager
  •  Work Location:  Southern Palms RV Resort in Eustis, Florida
  •  Favorite Activities: Traveling to new places and spending time with my family and grandkids.
  1. How does a typical day at Southern Palms look like?  What is your favorite moment of the day?  Southern Palms is a special mix of long term guests that have been coming for years to our property and short term guests visiting our area for the first time.  The mornings are filled with our long term guests stopping in to say hello and handle whatever business they have that day.  The afternoons are filled with our new arrival check ins.   I really enjoy the check in period of the day,  between 1pm-3pm when our guests start to roll in and we hear their stories about traveling to our location.
  1. You are working, while people at the resort are enjoying their vacation. How do you handle that?   It makes me feel very satisfied that I have provided an environment for our guests to enjoy their vacations and to see them having a good time at the resort is a real pleasure for me.  I try to make time to visit with our guests IMG_3390during a portion of my day to see how they are doing and ensure they are having a good time.
  1. When people ask you what the best experiences are in the surrounding areas, what would you recommend?  By far, the most popular area to visit is historic Mt Dora, which is about 10 minutes from our property.  We  recommend this area to spend a day and have lunch.  Eustis is a great area for walking along the water, as there is a long boardwalk to utilize.  Bird watching is popular along this area.  We have a weekly Farmers Market right next door and we encourage guests to walk over to this on Thursday to see what the local vendors are selling and get fresh local produce!  Disney attractions are only 45 minutes away,  so we have many people visit that are going to these attractions but did not want to fight the crowded conditions of a big city.  You can get to either coast for a day trip to the beach from our location.  Pack up a lunch and see the beautiful sandy beaches .
  1. What’s your favorite story to tell about your time at Southern Palms?  Southern Palms is an older Airstream campground that was originally owned by the City of Eustis.  I have photos of this era, dating back to the 1960s!  I enjoy sharing the history of the property with our guests.
  1. What’s your best accomplishment so far at the resort?  We have developed the IMG_3359largest rally destination at Southern Palms in Florida for the Encore portfolio.  Since we have over 950 sites, we are able to designate a section specifically for this business.  We have numerous rallies booked during the winter season and guests enjoy having their own clubhouse designated to their groups to use.  We host large regional rallies as well, successfully securing Good Sam State rally, Giant Rec World regional rally and National African-American RV Association (NAARVA) regional rally over the past few years.
  1. If had to describe your RV park to someone who thinks about coming to Southern Palms, what would you say?  This location has so much to offer and yet it is very laid back and relaxing!  Central Florida is convenient to both the East and West coasts and to the Disney attractions as well.  On site, we offer numerous activities for our guests to enjoy during their stay.  There is always something going on at our main clubhouse and we host dances every Saturday night during the winter busy season.  Staying in Central Florida is much more economical that the coastal areas which gives our guests more spending money to enjoy their IMG_3429vacations!
  1. What brought you to Southern Palms?  My husband and I have lived in Florida for 35 years.  We moved to the North Carolina area where I managed a  property for several years however we missed Florida so we decided to return when Southern Palms had a management opportunity open.
  1. Any last words for your current and future guests?  Southern Palms is wonderful RV resort and has so much to offer!  Since it is a large property, there is a site type for everyone, from the large RV coaches to the small pop campers.  The surrounding  area offers many festivals, art shows, flea markets, farmers markets and historical venues.  There is always something to look forward to!  The staff at Southern Palms is top notch and ready to serve you.  We are a friendly, laid back group and our goal is to offer the best customer experience possible to our guests!  Please check us out…  you won’t be disappointed!!

Let us know if you’re interested in visiting Southern Palms RV Resort in the comments section!

Recreation, Relaxation & So Much More At Orlando RV Resort

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When you’re looking for a place where you can park your RV at any time of year, look no further than Orlando RV Resort in Clermont, FL. Located on 255 acres in the heart of Florida’s orange grove country, nature is just a step away.

Walk to the Lake

Imagine waking up, grabbing your favourite beverage and walking down to Hancock Lake, a 60-acre spring-fed lake with white sandy beaches. Bring a book, your sunscreen or your fishing rod. It’s your time, enjoy it! You can even rent a boat to take out for the day. All this without leaving the RV resort.

Lakes, Lakes and More Lakes!

There’s no shortage of lakes in the area around Orlando RV Resort. A mere 10 minutes up US Hwy. 27 is Lake Louisa State Park. Here you’ll find stunning landscapes, rolling DSC_0102 (1)hills and beautiful lakes, all on 4,500 acres. The largest of the 13 lakes located here is Lake Louisa. Others include Hammond Lake and Dixie Lake. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day relaxing, canoeing, kayaking and fishing.

Laughter and Entertainment

Twenty minutes north on US Hwy. 27 (just past Lake Louisa State Park) is the Clermont Performing Arts Center. There are several shows throughout the year here, from musicals to comedy. They offer top-notch entertainment from around the world in their Main Stage which seats 1,200 people. The Black Box Theatre, part of the Center, is a cozy, 250-seat venue where you can catch some great comedy acts. It’s a great place to grab a cocktail and get away for an entertaining night out.

Foodie Heaven

There are over 20 great restaurants within a half hour drive of Orlando RV Resort. Most are within 15 minutes. For those times when you don’t want to eat in, head out and explore a variety of ethnic foods from Indian to African to Italian or Chinese. There are some great table service and buffet style American restaurants all within a few minutes of the Orlando RV Resort.

Theme Parks Galore

DSC_0043There are so many theme parks nearby, you may not have time to visit them all. Take your pick from Disney Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Epcot, Sea World, Ripley’s Believe it or Not and Universal. They are all nearby and will provide you with plenty of ways to amuse yourself and your guests.

Get Your Greens

The weather here was made for golfing all year long. There are over 20 courses nearby, both easy 9-hole and more challenging 18-hole courses. Pro shops and golf pros are here to help you perfect your swing and sink that perfect putt.

Golf on courses with rolling hills and lush backdrops. Many courses have their own lakes! These  well-manicured courses were created by renowned designers such as Larry Lord, Greg Norman, Rees Jones, Steve Weisser and Gary Koch, to name just a few.

Park It

Just because there are hundreds of things to do in the area, doesn’t mean you have to get out and do them all. You can have a great time without ever leaving the park. There’s tennis courts, bocce ball, volleyball and a swimming pool here. Putter around playing mini-DSC_0048golf or hop on a bike and explore the trails in and around the park. There’s a full fitness center, and after your work out, spend some time relaxing in the spa.

There are several park activities as well, designed for short term and long terms guests of all ages. There are creative arts and crafts; square, line, round and ballroom dancing; weekly potlucks and dances and live entertainment.

No RV. . . No Problem

There’s lots of room here to park your RV; however, if you’d rather leave the RV at home, there are several other options available. There are large one bedroom models with slides that sleep four and have a side patio. The park model has a queen size bed and sleeps four people, while the Elite park model sleeps six comfortably (4 adults, 2 children). All come complete with linens, towels, dishes and are fully furnished.

However you decide to stay here, you can count on having a great time at Orlando RV Resort.

Leave a comment and let us know if you’re interested in visiting Orlando RV Resort!