Many entertainment and cultural activities are available within a 50 mile radius of Sun City Center. Not only is the annual entertainment series featuring celebrated talent from stage and screen at the Kings Point Auditorium and the Sun City Center Community Hall, there are locally produced theater presentations, art festivals, concerts, museums, and professional sports within commuting distance of the community.
At Tampa Bays Performing Arts Center, Clearwaters Ruth Eckerd Hall,
St. Petersburgs Suncoast Dome and the Mahaffey Theatre at the Bayfront Center, Sarasotas Asolo Performing Arts Center, and at both the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa, there are a variety of entertainment and cultural events scheduled throughout the year, including art shows, concerts, operas, plays and lectures. Feature events attract world renowned performers, lavishly staged Broadway productions, and internationally acclaimed symphony orchestras, big bands, and ballet companies. Also in the vicinity of Sun City Center, many dinner theaters offer productions ranging from the dramatic to comedy and musicals.
The area features museums to every taste; "hands-on" exhibits at Tampa Bays Museum of Science and Industry, antiques and paintings by the masters and contemporary art at the Tampa Museum, the Plant Museum, St. Petersburgs Salvador Dali Museum, South Florida Museum, Bishop Planetarium, Parker Manatee Aquarium, and Sarasotas Ringling Art Museum.
Sarasota is well known for its Ringling Museum, offering circus history, plus upscale shopping, fine restaurants, and many more attractions at St. Armands Key. Both Sarasota and St. Petersburg offer some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, all along the Gulf of Mexico.
Given the location of Sun City Center, along central Floridas west coast and gulf beaches combined with arts in emerging metropolitan areas and the easy proximity to statewide attractions, the community is an obvious draw for the active retiree. Manmade fishing lakes were added to existing property and streams serving as the first on-site recreational facilities for Sun City Center.
Today, it is estimated that one-third of Sun City Center residents are golfers. A throng of golf cart traffic on community streets make their way to over 126 holes of golf available within the communitys boundaries. Sun City Center is also home to the famed Ben Sutton School Golf for Seniors, which draws students from around the world.
However, Sun City Center is much more than simply a golfing community. Tennis, softball, swimming, volleyball, tai chi, yoga, horseshoes, bingo, shuffleboard, aerobics, bowling, table tennis, lawn bowling and more have all found a faithful following. The Sun City Center Community Association offers three swimming pools: an outdoor, indoor, and heated indoor walking pool; a state of the art fitness center, tennis courts, four lawn bowling greens, softball fields, shuffleboard courts, horseshoe pits, and a whirlpool/hot tub. In addition, other recreational, entertainment and social programs are available to the residents of each community located within the Greater Sun City Center area, some restricted to those facilities and members.
From Sun City Centers annual art show to its residents showings at local fairs and craft exhibitions, a wealth of talent can be found among the communitys population. There is room for Japanese bunka, knitting, weaving, needlepoint, lapidary, pottery, ceramics, woodworking, sewing, shell crafting, stained glass, china and fabric painting. Traditional fine arts classes like oils, watercolor and charcoal are available to all members, as well as chorales, big bands, piano, photography, high drama, comedy and creative writing. While various dance clubs focus on ballroom techniques, tap, Hawaiian/ Polynesian, square and round dancing is also found here.
Residents may enjoy well known celebrities gracing the stage of the Kings Point Theater or Community Association Banquet Facilities. Locally, the Pelican Players provide drama/comedy for the stage with theater groups in the Bay Area also producing first-rate plays.
Located four miles south of Sun City Center at US 301 and Lightfoot Road (813-671-5005) is the Little Manatee State Recreation Area; 1,638 acres of real Florida with 30 campsites, picnic tables and shelters with grills, canoe launching areas, fishing, horseback riding trails and a 6.5 mile hiking trail.
Other points of recreational interest, all within 15 minutes of Sun City Center are:
E.G. Simmons County Park located at 19th Street NW, Ruskin (813-671-7655) with sandy bayside beaches, swimming, fishing piers, picnic pavilions with grills and boat ramps. Fifty camping sites with electric, shuffleboard, screened picnic shelters with grills are available on a first come, first served basis. Tampa Electric Company Manatee/Tidal Flats Walk, located at the Big Bend Power Plant (813-228-4289) where wild manatees are attracted to the warm waters adjacent to the power plant, and a boardwalk meanders through the tidal flats. An environmental education center features films on manatees and the generation of electric power; visitors will also find a gift shop, snacks; and picnic shelter.
Little Manatee River Canoe Outpost, just three miles south of State Road 674 (813-634-2228) offers scenic canoe trips of the Little Manatee River and guided tours of the Cockroach Bay estuary.
Ostrich Farm located on US 301 in Riverview (813) 931-0092 is a working ostrich farm offering daily tours and features a slide show, petting zoo, gift shop and picnic area.
With an average annual temperature of 72 degrees, residents enjoy both participation in sports, as well as spectator sports. While there are no lack of spectator sports in Sun City Center, those who prefer sports action on a larger scale have plenty to choose from in the Bay Area.
In March and April, baseball fans may watch the exhibition games of several major league teams. Tampa Bay and central Florida are home to a number of spring training camps, including those of the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays, and the New York Yankees. Tampas own major league baseball team, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, train at Lang Field in St. Petersburg and play regular season games at Tropicana Field, also in St. Petersburg.
As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter another year of gridiron competition, visitors and residents get a chance to see the NFLs toughest teams and brightest stars in power-packed action.
The areas NHL hockey team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, play at the Ice Palace in downtown Tampa.
Florida Downs in Oldsmar sponsors thoroughbred horse racing January through March, and from January to June greyhound racing at Tampa Greyhound Racing and Derby Lanes in St. Petersburg attracts thousands of pari-mutuel bettors.
With these and many more recreational possibilities, there is little doubt as to what keeps Sun City Centers residents so active.
Fairs and festivals are a year round celebration in Sun City Center and the surrounding Bay area.
In February, Tampa hosts The Gasparilla Parade and Pirate Invasion, a weekend filled with pirate boat and street parades, a sidewalk art show, the Gasparilla Classic Run and more. Also in February, the Florida State Fair features top name entertainers, live stock exhibits, educational displays, and of course, a colorful midway of games and thrill rides. The 275 acre Florida State Fairgrounds is located at the intersection of I-75 and US 301 and offers year round shows from arts and crafts, antiques, flower shows and many other interesting specialty shows.
Late February/early March brings the Strawberry Festival to nearby Plant City. This nationally known festival features country music celebrities, arts and crafts exhibits, livestock shows, and strawberry culinary delights.
Throughout the spring, neighboring communities hold local festivals such as Ruskins annual Manatee Arts Festival which attracts professional artists and art lovers alike, the Riverview Jamboree, complete with carnival rides, a chili cooking contest, arts and crafts; the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce hosts the Trade Fair, showcasing local business to the public with promotional items, door prizes and drawings.
October brings Octoberfest to Sun City Center, a celebration also hosted by the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce which showcases the talents of the town, including live music, arts, crafts, a decorated golf cart parade, and much more. In Riverview, local businesses come together to create Safe Street, a celebration with storefront facades for the trick or treat crowd, passing out candy to celebrate Halloween.
Held in November, the Ruskin Seafood and Arts Festival draws fans from all over. In addition to a wide variety of seafood and other foods, festival-goers enjoy arts and crafts exhibits and music.
And for the holiday season, the Apollo Beach Yacht Club Boat Parade on Tampa Bay and the lighted boat parade on the Alafia River in Riverview bring many evening spectators to the beaches in early December.
Sun City Center residents challenge themselves to constantly learn and grow. In addition to the many special interest clubs and organizations, if a resident wants to return to the classroom, over two dozen Spring and Fall classes are offered at the local United Community Church College.
Within commuting distance is The University of South Florida, not only Tampa Bay Areas largest university, but also ranked 18th in the nation with an enrollment that topped 36,000 students. With 9 four year higher education facilities and 10 two year schools, Hillsborough County has emerged as an important educational center in Florida. The Hillsborough County School System is the 12th largest in the US and the third largest school system in Florida.
The Sun City Center Library is 3,200 square feet housing 13,000 volumes, boasting the second largest collection of large print books in the county. Residents of the greater Sun City Center area may enjoy a variety of books, audio tapes, paperbacks, videos, magazines, and puzzles. The combined mix of paid staff and volunteers operate the community facility which enjoys a $100,000 budget from the Community Association, as well as interloan with the Hillsborough County Library System. Other monies for operation are derived from an annual fund drive, book sales, donations, and gifts from individuals, business and area clubs.
Kings Point has a private library for its residents with a host of hardback and paperback books including large print and best sellers, magazines and puzzles. This library is funded by the Condominium Association.
A 10 minute drive from Sun City Center takes you to the Ruskin branch of the Hillsborough County Library, located at One Dickman Drive, S.E. (813-671-7638). This library houses over 54,000 volumes with on-line access to other county library materials and Suncoast Freenet. Special collections include large print editions, books on tape, best sellers, 1,000 educational video cassettes, childrens picture books, books specializing in the Spanish language, as well as magazines, newspapers, and paperback editions.
A proposed South Regional Hillsborough County Library may soon also be located in the Greater Sun City Center area; if approved, this library is predicted to be the largest in Tampa Bay area.
Local news is emphasized by two weekly publications The Sun City Center, Observer News and The Sun. The Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times can be home delivered in the area. Other out of town newspapers are available at newsstands.
Weather buffs enjoy 24 hour broadcasts on the VHF band on a frequency of 162.55 MHz. From its offices in nearby Ruskin, the National Weather Service, equipped with a Doppler radar system, provides warnings of hazardous weather conditions for a 15 county area and adjacent coastal areas.
And for those seeking news and information via television, Sun City Centers TV viewers receive eight television channels; cable subscribers may receive over 50.
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