The Villages is a sunny retirement community near Florida’s beautiful Gulf coast. In the summer, bring the kids to the Summer Art Festival and attend the Splash Celebration where you can buy farm-fresh produce to take back to your vacation rentals. Enjoy the country clubs and golf courses spread along Miller Boulevard or visit the many parks and hiking and biking trails If you’ve brought your dog along, explore one of the dog parks and enjoy the Florida scenery. The Villages vacation rentals are largely one-story ranch homes with two-car garages, manicured lawns and big windows. Check out these 10 vacation rental locations great for a visit to The Villages.

1. Weirsdale

Found near Weir Lake, this community is the home of the Orange Blossom Opry and the Grand Oaks Carriage Museum, which showcases horse-drawn conveyances from the old days. Shop at the aptly named Kentucky Bill’s Store of Many Items and buy just-picked oranges from Reeds Groves. Restaurants to visit include Eaton’s Beach Sandbar & Grill, which specializes in Cajun and American fare.

2. Wildwood

A bit over six miles south of The Villages, Wildwood is the home of Lake Okahumpka Park, a lovely park with oak trees draped with Spanish Moss and a nice-sized lake stocked with fish. It’s a great place for picnics, beach volleyball, and Frisbee golf. It has a famous Russell Stover chocolate store on Industrial Drive. The Cotillion Southern Cafe serves American cuisine, and Chef’s of Napoli III serves Italian fare.

3. Fruitland Park

The evocatively named Fruitland Park has Lake Griffith State Park, which offers guided kayak tours of the Dead River Marsh. There are also walking paths, playgrounds, a boat launch, and picnic areas. Vacation rentals are lovely cottages with small but pretty front yards and garages to stow your rental equipment.

4. Leesburg

If you or members of your family member are fascinated by old farm equipment, Leesburg offers Paquette’s Historical Farmall Tractor Museum. This museum not only has old tractors, but a barrel wagon ride for the kids, and a resident buffalo. For nature lovers, visit the wading birds at Venetian Gardens Park and Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area.

5. Marion Oaks

Be sure to come to Marion Oaks in the spring to attend their April celebration. There’s a talent show, gleaming, vintage cars, an abundance of ethnic foods, and, of course, a parade. You and your family can also use the sports fields, which are lighted at night. For tea, a nice cup of joe, and some finger foods head to Cafe Wall Street. Visit No. 1 New York Pizza for Italian.

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6. Ocklawaha

Ocklawaha is on the other side of Lake Weir from Weirsdale and offers cozy vacation rentals. Some are built right on the lake. Rent boats to go out on the water, and visit the Carney Island Recreation & Conservation Area, or the Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area. If you’re missing your goat milk, pick up a quart or two at the Windmill Acres Farm & Goat Milk Dairy.

7. Belleview

A little under 12 miles north of The Villages, Belleview is famous for its irresistible thrift stores and flea markets, including Grumpy Jerry’s Flea Market and The Markets of Marion. Head to the Belleview Sportsplex for its playing courts and fields as well as its playground and picnic areas. Take the family to Off the Hook Bar and Grill for its Peruvian and other South American cuisine or the Mojo Grill for Cajun, Creole and Cuban specialties.

8. Lake Panasoffkee

Airboat rides are the big attraction at Lake Panasoffkee, which takes you and the kids around the waters. Bring your rented mountain bikes to the Half Moon WMA, and make sure to visit the Wet Zone, a thrilling water park. Sample the buffet at the Harbor Lights Restaurant, or chow down on American and seafood dishes at Catfish Johnny’s.

9. Sumterville

This town is the place to find the Shady Brook Golf & RV Resort, which not only has golf but nature trails and a rec hall. The on-site restaurant serves good burgers, and there’s even a laundromat. Sparkman’s Fruit Shop is renowned for its fresh, juicy fruit, and locals rave about the fresh squeezed orange juice.

10. Eustis

Set among many bodies of water and offering a variety of water sports such as fishing, canoeing, swimming, and kayaking, Eustis is about 30 miles southeast of The Villages. Visit the Trout Lake Nature Center or the Hidden Waters Preserve, and ride your bikes down the Cassia Trailhead. Attend a play at the Historic State Theatre and pop into the Lake Eustis Museum of Art to view the work of local artists.

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