55 & Over Central Florida News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from buying & selling tips, design ideas, educational info, as well as market trends and community happenings. All blogs are intended to help you with the real estate transaction process or learn about the local market.  Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

March 23, 2021

American See Major Home Equity Gains

Americans See Major Home Equity Gains [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights

  • Today’s home price appreciation is driving equity higher throughout the country.
  • If your needs are changing and you’re ready for a new home, your equity may be a great asset to power your next move.
  • Now is a great time to put your equity toward a down payment on the home of your dreams.
Posted in Market Updates
March 23, 2021

42 Unique & Awesome Things to do in Central Florida (Beyond Disney)

Fun, fun, fun!! You can spend weeks exploring all the things to do in Central Florida for families beyond just Universal and Walt Disney World. In fact, there is so much to do that you might want to add a few days to your next Disney trip venturing a bit west into POLK COUNTY and the heart of Central Florida.

things to do in central florida

However, be warned, there are so many unique things to do in Central Florida that you may just want to plan a trip without even visiting Mickey at all. 

Top-Rated Things To Do in Central Florida 

Safari Wilderness

For a wildlife experience like no other, take a trip to Safari Wilderness in Lakeland.  Safari Wilderness is much different from your typical safari excursion, a.k.a., Disney’s Savannah in Animal Kingdom, and you’ll be glad it is!  Located on 260 pristine acres and surrounded by 870 square miles of watershed,  we immediately felt transported out of Central Florida and into Kenya itself. 

They limit the number of visitors at one time, so you can enjoy the dozens of breads of exotic animals that roam the area with no lines or waiting, and no distracting crowds. 

There are a number of options available to explore the park, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling.  We went with the customized safari vehicle, complete with a driver/very knowledgeable guide.  If you want to get really up close and personal, you can tour the area on an ATV or kayak, also with a guide.  To take it to the next level, ask about the camelback adventure and go Ishtar-style.

There are so many animals to observe, and yes, feed, right up close.  We saw zebras, water buffalo, elands, warthogs, and red lechwe’s to name a few, and every animal just seems to clean and happy to be roaming this expansive and natural area.  It was so nice to see.

But the highlight of our visit was the ring-tailed lemur feeding.  When we heard we’d be feeding actual lemurs,  we just assumed we’d pass a few morsels through a cage.  Oh, no.  We got right in there with these adorable little creatures and fed them hand to hand. 

They are cuter than you could ever imagine, softly grabbing ahold of your fingers like a human infant and drawing your hand up to them to take a bite.  This was a completely unforgettable experience for our family that you will not want to miss.  

The Safari Wilderness Ranch is accredited by the Zoological Association of America and rated by Fodor’s International Travel Guide as one of the “Top 10 Safaris in the USA.”



The Legoland Florida Resort and Water Park in Winter Haven, is the perfect addition to Central Florida family vacation. It’s our favorite of all the Florida theme parks, with roller coasters, shows and a new 10th Birthday Celebration coming in 2021.

bok tower garden

Bok Tower Gardens

The Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden at Bok Tower Gardens is a must visit for families. The new section of this National Historic Landmark provides a unique hands-on exploration of the gardens. 

Of course, don’t miss walking the grounds and seeing the 200-ft tall tower. It was built in 1929 on the highest elevation in peninsular Florida. Inside it houses a collection of carillon bells that ring beautifully on the hour every day. Pro tip: Bring some change for the fish food – the kids will love feeding the koi swimming around the tower.

Westgate River Ranch

Westgate River Ranch is an authentic kid-friendly guest ranch where families can experience the Old Florida cowboy lifestyle as a day visitor or overnight guest. Here you can go horseback riding, take swamp buggy rides, and watch the longest running championship rodeo in the USA.

One of our most memorable Florida stays was in the glamping tents here. Next time, I’d love to splurge on a teepee stay!

Frank Lloyd Wright Tours
Florida Southern Campus has not yet re-opened so we could not visit. This photo is courtesy of the college.

Frank Lloyd Wright Tours

A creative treasure that many do not know about is the Frank Lloyd Wright Tours on the Florida Southern College campus in Lakeland, Fl. There are four tours, ranging in price from $7 to $55, each provides an interesting and educational look at the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. We strongly advise you to make reservations online to ensure your spot on the tour.

grape hammock
Courtesy of Grape Hammock

Exploring Central Florida in the Outdoors

Circle B Bar Reserve

Circle B Bar Reserve is a treasured central Florida environmental area providing numerous family recreational opportunities from bicycling trails to bird watching and fishing. The kids will love the Polk County Nature Discovery Center.

Hollis Garden

Hollis Garden is a free 1.2 acre botanical garden with over 10,000 different plant species.. The patterned flower beds and ornamental fountains are a beautiful sight to see.

Ridge Island Groves

While in Central Florida we suggest touring the citrus groves and pick your own berries at Ridge Island Groves. Try your hand at hydroponic gardening with a take home do-it-yourself kit available at the gift shop. Take a tour of the groves and pick your own fruit to enjoy the homegrown taste of Florida.

Eco Tours

Sightsee through the waterways of Central Florida with an Eco Tour from TMC Guide Services.

Airboat Tour

Take an airboat tour along the shoreline of Lake Kissimmee with Floridian captains from the family-owned marina at Grape Hammock Fish Camp. In addition to the boat tours, Grape Hammock is a top-rated Fish Camp in the state, and the perfect place to see the Old Florida.


Canoe or kayak through the serene environment that surrounds the Peace River Paddling Trail.

Lake Kissimmee State Park

Lake Kissimmee State Park has over 13 miles of trails to hike, opportunities for boating, canoeing and fishing. The park offers living history demonstrations.

Lake Morton Bird Sanctuary

Lake Mirror Park is known for its promenade and glassy appearance. This is a great place to take a morning or afternoon walk, feed the ducks then play in Barnett Family Park to let the kids run off some energy. If you have little ones, Sunflower Preschool Playground provides shaded play designed for children under 5.

Waldo Wright’s Flying Service

Fly high in the sky  in Central Florida with Waldo Wright’s Flying Service. Enjoy seeing Central Florida from a new perspective in a biplane, stearman or a seaplane. No age limits, and prices are very affordable.

Natural Growers Grove House

Kids will love the free orange juice samples while everyone takes in the history of Florida’s official fruit at Florida’s Natural Growers Grove House.

Lake Hollingsworth

Lake Hollingsworth is an urban lake and focal point of Lakeland, Fl. The home of to the annual Orange Cup Regatta provides a walking trail, wonderful bird sightings and is home to some historic landmarks.

You can enjoy a self-guided walking tour of the outdoor Public Art found throughout Munn Park, Lemon Street Promenade, Curtis Peterson State Building and around Lake Mirror.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Balloons & Beyond will provide the adventure of a lifetime with a sunrise hot air balloon flight over Central Florida.

Top Places to Hike in Central Florida

Lakeland Highlands Scrub

Down a quiet dirt road you will find the Lakeland Highlands Scrub that offers two short and easy multi-use loop trails.


SUMICA is located in Lake Wales offering nine miles of nature views among pine flatwoods, oak hammock and marsh habitats.

Crooked Lake Sandhill


Crooked Lake Sandhill is one of the best examples of a sandhill ecosystem remaining in Polk County. This 25-acre land is home to four rare animals: sand skinks, scrub lizards, eastern indigo snakes and gopher tortoises.

Tiger Creek Preserve

On the Eastern edge of Lake Wales Ridge, known as one of the “ancient islands,” is Tiger Creek Preserve. Hiking through this diverse biological hotspot will get you up close with many endangered plants and animals.

Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve

The Hampton Tract of Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve provides approximately 30 miles of wet hiking trials.

Colt Creek State Park

Colt Creek State Park covers over 5,000 acres in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve with more than 12 miles of marked trails. The park is home to the American Bald Eagle, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bobcat, feral hogs and Sherman’s fox squirrel.florida air museum

Courtesy of the Florida Air Museum

Must-Visit Museums and More

The Florida Air Museum

Discover the world of aerospace at The Florida Air Museum. At Florida’s official aviation museum the family will experience unique educational experiences with flight that include displayed aircrafts and flight simulators.

Polk Museum of Art

Admission is always free at the Polk Museum of Art (free family workshops)

Bartow Air Base Museum

Bartow Air Base Museum is a free museum that showcases memorabilia from WWII.

Explorations V Children’s Museum

You’ll find hands-on exhibits covering three floors. The museum focuses on using the five senses to explore and learn.

Fantasy of Flight Collection Museum

This gem is the home of the World’s Greatest Aircraft Collection. Guests get up close with vintage aircraft like the 1945 Grumman Duck.

Historic Dundee Depot Museum

Climb aboard a 1968 red caboose at the Historic Dundee Depot Museum.

Homeland Heritage Park

See 19th-century pioneer life at Homeland Heritage Park. This park is home to unique structures like an 1800s farmhouse, school and church.

Webb’s Citrus Candy Factory

Webb’s Citrus Candy Factory provides a free fun family experience touring the candy factory and tasting their famous goat’s milk fudge.

Davidson of Dundee

Davidson of Dundee gives free tours to watch candies, chocolates, marmalades and jellies being made. Plus free samples!

Silvermoon Drive-In Theater

Silvermoon Drive-In Theater is open seven nights a week, giving your family a unique way to take a break from attractions while enjoying a first-run movie.

 3 Must-Explore Day Trips

Kelly Park/Rock Springs

Our friends introduced us to Kelly Rock Springs, and our tubing adventure here was one for the books – so fun! Start at Rock Springs Bar and Grill just a few minutes away to rent a tube if you don’t have one.

Pay to get in the park, and then enjoy the free-flowing natural spring, which stays at 68 degrees year round. The water is the clearest I’ve ever seen…and it’s easy to make the loop again and again, taking a break for a picnic on the greenway at the end of the run.

Wekiwa Springs State Park

With emerald springs feeding the Wekiwa River and lush tropical hammocks, this unique park just minutes from downtown Orlando is perfect for observing abundant wildlife or cooling off on a summer day. The blue waters of Wekiwa Springs have made it the county’s longest-running tourist attraction, only about 15 minutes from Winter Park, FL.

Silver Springs State Park

Another of Florida’s gorgeous springs, here you can enjoy a glass bottom boat tour, kayak the 5-mile Sliver River, explore the museum, and so much more!

Posted in Local
Feb. 1, 2021

Move It, Move It: Van Lines Relocate People to Fla

JANUARY 29, 2021

By Erica Plemmons

Florida Realtors economist: The state has attracted new residents for years, and updated migration data by moving van lines show, once again, that in 2020 more people headed south in order to call Florida “home.”

ORLANDO, Fla – Sunshine, beaches, no state income tax – what’s not to love about Florida? Those assets have been attracting new residents for years. Updated migration data provided by moving van lines show 2020 is no exception (even with a pandemic) for an increase in the number of people declaring Florida “home.”

Van lines give strong indications of movement between states. As Eily Cummings, director of corporate communications at United Van Lines shares, “Each year, our United Van Lines study provides critical insights into broader migration patterns and Americans’ moving motivations.” United Van Lines is the largest mover of household goods in the country, but adding context from other major moving companies offers a fuller picture.

Along with United Van Lines, Allied Van Lines, Atlas Van Lines, and North American Moving Service rate states as “inbound,” “outbound,” or “balanced” based on the percent of total shipments moving in each direction.

An “inbound” state is one in which 55% or more of the moves are going into it. Conversely, “outbound” means 55% or more are going out of the state. Florida ranks as “inbound” from three of the four, with Atlas Van Lines calling it “balanced.” Technically, Florida had more shipments in than out for all four: 57.4%, 54.5%, 57.0%, and 59.6% inbound for Allied, Atlas, North American and United, respectively.

As the third most populous state, Florida ranks high when analyzing counts of both inbound and outbound shipments. Although both directions can produce real estate transactions, net gains indicate an attractive destination and growing economy. And that’s Florida! The Sunshine State ranked fourth for Atlas and first for United. 

Florida tops both volume lists from Allied Van Lines, which divides moves into corporate and consumer. After Texas, California and Illinois, the state took fourth place for its corporate shipments. Even more encouraging, Florida retained its title as the top destination state in 2020, which it’s held for the past seven years.

Moving van companies attract specific types of relocators. For DIY movers, U-Haul data sheds some light on where they’re going.  Since 2016, Florida has ranked in the top two for U-Haul, though it only took the top spot last year.

And location, location, location matters. Even within Florida, some areas shine brighter than others. U-Haul listed five Florida cities in its top 25 growth cities, with the top three spots all taken by Florida: North Port (1), Kissimmee (2), Port St. Lucie (3), Ocala (6), Melbourne (23). Kissimmee, Port St. Lucie and Ocala also made the top 25 in 2019.

Any way you slice the data, Florida is a hot spot for migration. Consider ways you can interact with movers coming from out-of-state, especially as remote work continues into the new year. Coming soon, we’ll take a closer look at some demographic breakdowns found in the United Van Lines data that could help with your marketing efforts.

Erica Plemmons is an economist and Director of Housing Statistics

© 2021 Florida Realtors®

Posted in Educating
Feb. 1, 2021

Where to Retire? WalletHub Ranks FL #1

JANUARY 29, 2021

By Kerry Smith

To determine the best state for retirement, WalletHub weighed 45 variables, such as affordability, quality of life and healthcare – and Fla. was, and is, No. 1.

ORLANDO, Fla. – For many people, a Florida retirement means warm year-round weather and no shoveling snow. But retirement living is a big decision. It’s not paradise if you run out of money. A state with good healthcare might have a high cost of living and high taxes. A state with affordable housing may have limited access to hospitals.

To determine which U.S. state was best overall for retirees, WalletHub weighed 45 variables, including affordability, quality of life and healthcare. Florida wasn’t the No. 1 state in many categories, but the study determined that Florida, overall, was the No. 1 U.S. state for retirees considering a move.

According to WalletHub, cost is a major concern for many retirees, and “Even in the most affordable areas of the U.S., most retirees cannot rely on Social Security or pension checks alone to cover all of their living expenses.”

But safety and healthcare also weigh heavily in relocation decisions.

WalletHub’s advice: “If retirement is still a big question mark for you because of finances, consider relocating to a state that lets you keep more money in your pocket without requiring a drastic lifestyle change.”

To determine the best places to retire, WalletHub compared the 50 U.S. states based on those 45 key indicators and came up with a score for retirement-friendliness.

In the analysis, No. 1 Florida had a total score of 61.09 compared to second-place Colorado. For affordability, Florida ranked fourth; for quality of life it ranked sixth; for healthcare, it raked 28th.

Colorado had a 60.94 overall score, but it ranked 13th in affordability and 16th in quality of life. It beat Florida only under healthcare at fifth.

New York and New Jersey hugged the bottom positions, with scores of 41.86 and 37.41, respectively. New York ranked 49th in affordability, 17th in quality of life, and 27th in healthcare. No. 50 New Jersey ranked 50th in affordability, 35th in quality of life, and 33rd in healthcare.

Source: WalletHub

For more information on the study, visit WalletHub’s website.

Posted in Market Updates
July 31, 2018

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates