March 27, 2018 | Active Adult Travelogue

Live “The Good Life” on your terms, with ample freedom and opportunity to explore and connect at Arlington Ridge and Harmony.

Orlando is a magical city, full of wonder and excitement. Not a day goes by that you do not find a new, sense-provoking place for your wandering feet to stumble upon. If you love a life of action, where every day and night is a frenzy of fun, offset by moments of rejuvenating bliss, the “City Beautiful” is your premier destination.

Residents (55+) of Arlington Ridge and Harmony enjoy living environments that are neither crowded nor congested, but still close to everything good about Orlando and the Floridian lifestyle. Each gated community with its exciting 18-hole championship golf course is fringed by beautiful greenwood. Hearty palms, elms, and pine trees tower throughout Arlington Ridge, and denizens stroll the tropical gardens and broad green spaces. Harmony sits upon a large-scale, eco-friendly development with 7,700 acres set aside for conservation, making it one of Florida’s largest “green” communities, with dense woodlands, sparkling lakes, undeveloped shorelines, and vast greenbelts. The groves can teem with wildlife, from deer and foxes to smaller critters like squirrels, armadillos, and rabbits, while the lakes invite various waterfowl, such as geese, ducks, and cranes, to nest and fish. Truly, our residents appreciate the peace and quiet these natural settings produce, thus turning Arlington Ridge and Harmony into charming, tranquil retreats from the buzz and fast pace of Orlando’s cityscape.

The “Sunshine State” has a bright appeal, boasting an average 233 sunny days a year; yet it has also been dubbed the “Lightning Capital of the U.S.” due to its dazzling flash-bang show of electricity across Central Florida skies during summer thunderstorms. The range between Tampa and Orlando is aptly named “Lightning Alley” for seeing as many as 50 strikes per square mile in a year; however, as soon as the dark, thunderous clouds roll in, they just as quickly roll out again, and the sun smiles once more as if nothing happened. Orlando has a humid subtropical climate with long, hot summers and short, cool winters that encourage year-round outdoor activity and exploration. The rainy months of May to October drop an annual 51 inches of rain, and then the dry season beats out the humidity from November to April. Ever wonder why migratory birds fly south to spend winter in Florida? It is because the average temperature from December through February ranges from a high of low 70s to a low around 50 degrees, very pleasant for people and animals spending their Christmas in Orlando.

Orlando is a place of action, a magical, multifaceted center of unbridled entertainment and adrenaline-pumped fantasy that transcends the flourishing tourist scene. The “Theme Park Capital of the World” is home to Walt Disney World with its four major parks – the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios; Universal Studios with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; and SeaWorld with Discovery Cove. Indeed, there are several family-fun attractions of the like that trade in fantasy for all ages; but the “City Beautiful” has so much more to offer beyond these isolated worlds of constructed merriment. Watch a rocket launch at the Kennedy Space Center, or submerge yourself in the world’s most tragic maiden voyage at Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. View over 400 animal skeletons at the Museum of Osteology, or go on a sweet, interactive journey at the Chocolate Kingdom that ends with your own customized chocolate bar. Take pictures with lifelike celebrity figures at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and the world’s greatest oddities at Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Sports fans love the action of an Orlando Magic basketball game, while the Orlando City Soccer Club has a passionate following in MLS matches. Unwind at a luxury spa like the Ritz-Carlton, which treats you to its signature “zero gravity” massage and homegrown treatments sourced from resident honey bees and local orchards. Stride through the Mall at Millenia, rife with world-renowned luxury brands, or get more bang for your buck at the locally-owned boutiques strewn along Park Avenue, Winter Park. Enhance your Park Avenue experience with a visit to The Wine Room, where you can sample over 156 hand-selected wines from around the world by way of the Room’s Enomatic wine dispensing machines, or visit one of the many other area wineries. Flavorful experiences abound in the Orlando foodie scene, from the curry ramen at Domu to the savory BBQ (with Caribbean, Latin, and Asian culinary spins) at Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa. Fine dining culminates at Victoria & Albert’s, serving modern American cuisine with exquisite global products like Italian truffles, Japanese beef, and North Florida oysters. Exotic entertainment is in full swing at Mango’s Tropical Café, with live Samba, Cuban Conga, and other Latin dance routines, or you can chill out at the city’s premium ice attraction, the minus5° Ice Bar – a winter wonderland of floor-to-ceiling ice architecture and décor.

Tampa Bay – a 78- and 106-mile drive west of Arlington Ridge and Harmony, respectively – is the hip, urban heart of Florida’s Gulf coast, credited with a warm hospitality and ever-evolving, open-air lifestyle that draws you in to discover the city’s rich history, exciting culture, and incredible attractions. Thrilling rides, live entertainment, and majestic animals make for an unforgettable adventure at Busch Gardens, host to a Bay-favorite springtime event, the Food & Wine Festival, where you can sample new cuisines, like duck tacos, lobster ravioli, and cabernet-filled chocolates, beside a generous selection of wines, craft brews, and cocktails, and listen to big-name music artists perform live concerts. Swim with sharks at the Florida Aquarium, and venture out with the Aquarium’s dive experts to explore significant shipwrecks and dazzling sea life in the Gulf of Mexico. Take a day to explore Ybor City, the Bay’s historic Latin quarter and most celebrated neighborhood, host to a cultural melting pot of Spanish, Cuban, and Italian influences that remain from its heyday as the “Cigar Capital of the World.” Stroll Ybor’s 7th Avenue to engage your senses with the fresh roasted coffee and hand-rolled signature cigar aromas, as you observe the early 20th-century architecture that houses eclectic shops and trendy restaurants. Dine at Florida’s oldest restaurant – Columbia has been serving authentic Cuban sandwiches and other delights for over 100 years; then after dinner, see Ybor turn into a nighttime party spot catered by several nightclubs, improv comedy venues, and the Tampa Bay Brewing Company.

Central Florida offers a variety of outdoor activities and adventures to get you away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Gorgeous lakes surrounding Orlando and its neighboring counties offer ample opportunities for boating and watercraft recreation, as well as parasailing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, flyboarding, tubing, and other watersports. Additionally, Central Floridian lakes are home to some of the best bass fishing in the nation, so cast a lure at one of the Harris Chain of Lakes’ numerous tournaments to see if you can catch the “big one.” Swim with gentle manatees at Crystal River or venture to Wild Florida for hands-on encounters with sloths, lemurs, porcupines, and other exotic animals before you glide across the swamps in an airboat to witness the peculiar tenderness of gators during mating and hatching season. Horseback Riding Adventures with Forever Florida give you a glimpse into the life of a cowboy, as you trail ride over 4,700 acres of unspoiled wilderness, tend to a working ranch, drive cattle, eat a campfire dinner, and sleep under the stars. Soar over spectacular Orlando sites in a hot air balloon and stroll through the groves at Showcase of Citrus, a 2,500-acre fruit lover’s paradise with over 50 varieties of citrus ripe for the picking. Experience the tranquility and overwhelming beauty of Bok Tower Gardens; this 700-acre landscape comprises citrus groves, woodland gardens, conservation lands, and endangered flora, all surrounding the 205-foot Singing Tower, from where a 60-bell carillon plays hauntingly beautiful music. Beach lovers can chase the sun, watching it set on the west coast sands of Clearwater, and then drive east to see it rise again over the blue waters at Vero Beach, also called the Treasure Coast for the lucky combers who find Spanish galleons from 1618 and 1715 treasure fleet wrecks. Surf’s up at Cocoa Beach, or you can charter a boat with Ocean Obsession out of Port Canaveral for a day of deep sea fishing that reels in red snappers, groupers, kingfish, mahi-mahi, and even sharks.

Orlando is a golfer’s paradise! Whether you are a beginner looking to tee off for the first time or a seasoned player hoping to sharpen your game, this premier golf destination has over 170 courses to enhance your play experience. One of the most popular courses on the PGA Tour is the Bay Hill Club and Lodge; this breathtaking 270-acre course was designed by golf legend, Arnold Palmer, to challenge your skill set with breeze-fueled, boldly-bunkered holes and short par 5s to drivable 4s around the Butler Chain of Lakes. Bay Hill is only open to club members and guests staying at the Lodge, but the chance to play this 27-hole championship course is worth a weekend stay. A “must play” for any serious golfer is the 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus signature-designed golf at the Grand Cypress Golf Club. The beautiful 27-hole North/South/East Course is a test of accuracy rather than strength and distance, as the North-South Eighteen pose a high-risk-great-reward layout, with sharply-ledged fairways, tall shaggy mounds, and plateau greens suspended over water, while the woodsier East Nine offer less bunkering. Nicklaus’ also pays homage to the famed Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland with his 18-hole New Course; the Scottish links masterpiece features double greens, gorse mounds, burns, and 12-foot deep pot bunkers. Australian pro golfer, Greg Norman, designed two dramatically different 18-hole championship courses at ChampionsGate. The National Course is a traditional American, parkland-style layout, with secluded woodlands, lush fairways, tough water hazards, clever doglegs, and 80 sculpted bunkers, while the coastal links-style International Course is reminiscent of Norman’s rustic “down under” homeland, complete with sprawling greens, wind-swept dunes, scruffy roughs, and deep pot bunkers around scenic natural wetlands. Check out these and other “must play” premier golf courses in Orlando, your real golf country, host to some of the world’s most prestigious tournaments. Not a pro yet? No worries! Orlando has over 20 golf academies with dedicated instructors who can help you develop a pro skill set that translates into positive measurable results.

Arlington Ridge delivers exceptional value to the casual active adult lifestyle by way of its enriching amenities and activities. The stunning 18-hole championship Gary Koch designed golf course features well-placed hazards, elevated greens, and dogleg approaches to test your skills in a high-reward layout. Full-time instructors on staff at the Golf Clubhouse and pro-shop are available for group and private lessons, and after finishing a game, you can head over to the Chesapeake Bay Grill and Village Tavern for a refreshing brew and meal. Arlington’s Town Square is the community’s social and recreational hub. Residents pursue good health at the Spa and Fitness Center, which has a fully-equipped workout room; a fitness room for aerobics, cycling, and Zumba; heated pools; his and her locker rooms, with showers and saunas; and spa treatment rooms. The Arts and Crafts Center offers formal classes in watercolor painting, pottery, scrapbooking, holiday crafts, and other creative interests, providing facilities that include a ceramics kiln, potter’s wheel, commercial clean-up sinks, worktables, and plenty of shelving for project display. Watch a movie at the community cinema or play Bridge with neighbors in the card room of the Activities Center. Sink the eight ball in a friendly game at O’Hara’s Billiards Parlor, adjacent to the Village Tavern. The Resident Library has hundreds of best-seller, romance, how-to, and self-improvement books to check out, and if you need a venue for a swank affair, Fairfax Hall can accommodate up to 400 people for large dinners, theatrical performances, private parties, and other special events. Outdoorsy individuals play a few rounds on the tennis and pickleball courts, or they walk or bike the trails of the neighboring Palatlakaha Environmental and Agricultural Reserve to enjoy the beautiful weather and local wildlife.

The Florida and Palm Series of Arlington Ridge present stylish, low-maintenance stucco homes with bright, open floorplans that emphasize simplicity with a focus on comfortable, convenient living. Spacious rooms, high ceilings, and a seamless fluidity between high-traffic areas, like the gourmet kitchen, formal dining room, and generous great room, create flexibility for entertaining guests. Optional enclosed lanais of varying dimensions allow you to enjoy nature without the swelter of a summer day, and the Amelia and Inverness floorplans of the Palm Series offer the inclusion of a pool bath for aquatic relaxation. Each floorplan – Hawthorne (1,679 sq.ft), Boca Raton (1,853 sq.ft), Amelia (2,245 sq.ft), and Inverness (2,842 sq.ft) – poses plenty of room for extended family – homes feature three to four bedrooms, and the desire for private space(s) is satisfied with the availability of optional office, den, and flex spaces. Luxury features are included with every new home to enhance the value and functionality of your residence; these features include, but are not limited to, stainless steel appliances, walk-in closets, Roman bathtubs, and silestone countertops. These often single-level residences can become two-story abodes with the addition of an optional second-floor bonus room, which you may convert into a private workspace or storage space.

Harmony residents discover the restorative qualities of a community centered on social and recreational opportunities. The Johnny Miller signature design 18-hole golf course incorporates existing wetlands, broad meadows, towering pines, and natural ponds into its 7,428-yard layout to make a stunning, yet challenging play experience. Golf lessons and clinics are available for beginners and serious golfers who want to achieve personal goals, while the Clubhouse accommodates players and non-sporting residents alike with its pro-shop, Champions Grill, and grand banquet hall, available to book for special events. Harmony’s community “Main Street” is the Town Square, where residents can shop, dine, and meet their neighbors in a beautiful, socially-stimulating environment. The Square’s Marketplace features a fresh produce market, D’Oro Pizza, Evolution Hair and Spa, and family physician office alongside the Harmony Golf Preserve, Harmony Swim Club, and amphitheater. Harmony appreciates the serenity found amidst its nature preserves and pristine lakes. Community-owned boats, kayaks, and canoes can be taken out on Buck Lake for small fishing excursions, and though Cat Lake permits no aquatic recreation, it has quaint picnic areas near its shoreline. 12.5 miles of walking and biking trails through the preserves give denizens access to unparalleled tranquility amongst the trees and meadows, while Lakeshore Park provides ample play with the grandkids on the covered playground, splash pad, soccer field, sand volleyball yard, and basketball and shuffleboard courts. Walk your four-legged friend at the designated dog park, complete with an efficient dog wash station. Grow your favorite fruits and vegetables at the community garden, or come together with friends and neighbors at one of the daily activities or events published in Harmony’s community calendar.

The Florida, Palm, and Sanctuary Series at Harmony showcase luxurious Florida ranch style homes with open floorplans that focus on practicality and flexibility of space. There is a seamless flow through the home, from one spacious room to the next and from the inside to the outside, that facilitates the entertaining of large parties and turns daily routines into shared experiences; indeed, you can be cooking dinner in the upscale kitchen, but still engage with friends, as they play Pictionary in the family room. The covered lanai provides a cozy spot to sip coffee and enjoy the scenic forestry, lake, or golf course views almost every home is entitled to. These one-story residences can have two to four bedroom, two to three bath layouts, offering ample room for extended family visiting over the holidays, while optional flex spaces and second-story bonus rooms still give you the liberty to work or relax in an undisturbed corner of the home. Add-on amenities and quality features that add value to your new home include, but are not limited to, stainless steel appliances, walk-in closets, large showers, and dual vanities.

Life in Arlington Ridge and Harmony promises to be one grand adventure for anyone who is ready to pursue their dream for the best of their lives. If you are ready to chase the sun in a paradise state that offers endless opportunities to learn, explore, connect, and just have fun, set your sights on Orlando. The “City Beautiful” is waiting for you!

Additional Sources

Florida Theme Parks by Visit Florida

Things You Have to Do at Least Once in Central Florida by Orlando Sentinel

10 Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks by Donna Heiderstadt

50 Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks by Jayleen Nazario

11 Best Things to Do in Tampa by U.S. News

The 10 Best Beaches Near Orlando by Laura Lee

Orlando Golf Courses

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