Charlottesville Virginia – Check It Out!

Rotunda – The University of Virginia

When one makes a trip to spend a few days in an area you have never visited and discovers it’s an attractive area, sometimes it turns in to a “Let’s move here” idea. I could see how that could happen in Charlottesville Virgina after spending 3 days there this week.

Rotunda – The University of Virginia

When one makes a trip to spend a few days in an area you have never visited and discovers it’s an attractive area, sometimes it turns in to a “Let’s move here” idea. I could see how that could happen in Charlottesville Virgina after spending 3 days there this week.

We just wanted a getaway and picked Charlottesville off the map. Having never been there, we did a little research and found it’s a good place to visit and to live.

Charlottesville Trip Report

Day one we flew to Richmond Va and took our rental car for an easy drive over to Charlottesville via I-64. Takes a little over an hour with stop an a visitors center on the way.

Seeing one of the big attractions is visit to Thomas Jefferson home (Monticello) we exited I-64 and followed the signs. We first came upon historic Michie Tavern cir 1784 which offered a buffet lunch which we were about ready for and then a tour of the tavern by ladies in period dress. We went ahead and got the Presidential tour package which includes Monticello, Michie Tavern, James Monroe home and James Madison’s home at Montpelier. After eating we took the Michie Tavern tour with a nice lady as guide. This got us in the right frame of mind for the next stop.

So about 2pm we arrvied at Monticello which is right up the road from Michie Tavern. This is a popular place and lots of people were coming in from the parking lots. We stopped by the ticket office and immediately got on the bus for the next tour of the home. The bus takes you up to the top of the hill to Monticello. Their is a guided tour of several rooms of the home and it has a lot of the items owned by Mr. Jefferson and other period pieces to look just like it did when he lived there. Thomas Jefferson worked on Monticello for 30 years and made it his unique home. Afterwards we joined a tour of the grounds and made a day of it. I think Monticello was the highlight of our trip.

Day two we take the short drive down to the University of Virginia to find the Rotunda designed by Thomas Jefferson. We park at The Corner, a popular place for students, and just follow them up the hill, over looking grounds framed by historic buildings. Every hour there is a tour by a student guide starting at the Rotunda. We visited several rooms inside the Rotunda and hear about it’s amazing history, then go out in to the academic village for more of the tour. After wards we stop by a student hangout at The Corner for a coke.

Next it’s a short drive to the downtown mall, which is an area several blocks long with the main street closed to auto traffic. Side walk cafes all around and we try on out for a delicious lunch. For the afternoon, we drive out to tour the farm of James Monroe which was part of the Presidential homes ticket.

Day three we drive out to Montpelier James Madison’s huge home and farm. It is a about 15 miles north of Charlottesville, right off the path to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which we would be visiting that afternoon. We pass many farms on the way. This property has been restored by the National Trust, and they have done an excellent first class job. There is a large visitors center where we watch a short movie about James Monroe, the father of the US Constitution. Next we tour the large home and walk the grounds.

It getting around noon so we head East to the Shenandoah Park. Ticket is $15 but since I am 62, I am offered the Senior Pass for $10 and it is good the rest of your life. What a deal! We get on the Blue Ridge Parkway and about 9 miles along stop at the Big Meadows Lodge for a nice lunch in their dining room. We enjoyed he views and head back to Charlottesville where we dine that evening at the Boat House, the best new restaurant of the year.

It was an amazing trip and to see so many things in such a short period of time! Charlottesville is a college town with history and everything you would want, without the traffic of a large city. If you have never visited Charlottesville you need to. You just might want to move there.

Best Places to Live in Florida

Best small towns and places to live or retire to in Florida

Florida Retirement

Best Places to Live in Florida

Florida, known as the Sunshine State, has been attracting people almost every year since World War II due to its warm weather, world-class entertainment, beautiful beaches and recreation areas, and proximity to both North and South America as well as the Caribbean.  Although many people think of Miami or Orlando when considering moving to Florida, there are many smaller communities that are attractive and still close to those major areas.  In this article, we’ll explore why these Florida retirement communities should be considered for anyone wanting to move to a small town in Florida.

1. Naples, FL – with the first people moving to what is now know as Naples, FL arriving in the 1860’s, Naples has always been noted for it’s mild climate and plethora of fish and other game.  Socialites have always called this place home back to the time of Thomas Edison and Greta Garbo.

Why would someone want to live in an area known for celebrities? With one quarter of the population older than 65, this area is very retiree friendly as well as having beautiful beaches.  With many cultural amenities like museums and parks, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor amenities to enjoy as well. Some museums to check out include the Collier County Museum, highlighting local history through the centuries, and the Von Liebig Art Center, which showcases art after 1950 and in the local style.  Parks to enjoy include the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary , which was the first national preserve in the US Parks System and is great for birdwatching, canoeing, and kayaking, and Fakahatchee Strand State Park which is full of endangered species including the Florida Panther.  It also has a 2,000 foot boardwalk to look at the natural setting.  If you’re daring, you can even get a guide tour of the swamp!

Overall, Naples is full of shopping as well.  Fifth Avenue South is the heart of this shopping.  There are lots of little cafes and restaurants in this area.  Whether you like natural stuff like parks or shopping,

2.  Clearwater, FL– named one of the “Ten Best Beaches From Maine to Hawaii” by USA Today, Clearwater, FL is one of the nation’s top vacation destinations.  However, with a great climate and white sand beaches, it’s also an ideal place to relocate due to a laid back lifestyle.

Located just west of Tampa, FL, Clearwater has 28 miles of beaches and is a stereotypical beach town with small roads, people hauling coolers, and lots of boats.  However, it has a diverse economy with manufacturing, education, and tourism making it an easy place for people to find jobs.  Being close to St. Petersburg International and Tampa International Airports also makes traveling and having friends visit easy as well.

With marinas, beaches, and an aquarium, Clearwater’s location on the beach means there’s lots of water sports and fishing.  As home to the biggest fishing boat fleet on the Gulf Coast of Florida, there are many opportunities to go deep-sea fishing, dolphin watching, and just leisurely sailing the clear waters.

3. Winter Park, FL– this little community is located just north of downtown Orlando and is probably one of the first “wealthy” areas of Orlando.  There is a lot of history here with professionals from Orlando’s early years residing here.

Home to Rollins College, Winter Park is a small community that has kept its roots as a vacation resort to the rich in times past to now becoming a bedroom community of Orlando.  In many parts of this small town, you can walk by various shops with a farmers market every Sunday just west of the main park north of Rollins College.

Although a bit pricey for homes due to the highly-educated and highly-paid workforce, Winter Park makes up for it in cute brick paved streets and low speed limits which makes it quiet for people living here.

Winter Park is a great community to consider living in for those who want a tight knit, classy town that has all the amenities of a small town while being a few minutes from downtown entertainment and work space.

Overall, living in Florida has its pros and cons.  Even though it’s extremely hot in the summer months, the proximity to the beach, mild temperature outside of the summer months, and slow pace of life make Florida a great relocation destination for those who want a simple life that doesn’t involve winter weather.  Naples, Clearwater, and Winter Park are all communities that a person should consider when looking at Florida 55+ homes for sale.

Copyright SmallTownRetirement.com

Best Small Towns to Live in North Carolina

North Carolina has a lot of natural beauty that makes it a great place to consider for people wanting to live in a small town

Best Small Towns to Live in North Carolina

With a temperate climate in the east due to the Atlantic Ocean and a mountainous climate in the western areas with temperatures rarely rising above 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, North Carolina has a lot of natural beauty that makes it a great place to consider for people wanting to live in a small town.  With technology, banking, health care, and agriculture making up a good portion of the economy, North Carolina has gone through rapid changes in demographics and living arrangements.  Most people now live in the major urban areas like Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, and Greensboro.  However, there are still many small towns that are attractive to live in that don’t give up bigger city amenities just to have peace and quiet.  Three of the best small towns to live in are listed below.

Apex NC

Apex- located just outside of the Lake Jordan Recreation Area, which has beautiful campgrounds, abundant fishing, hiking trails, and picnic areas, Apex is on the national register of historic places due to its history as a turn-of-the-century railroad town.

With Raleigh and big city benefits only 20 minutes away, Apex can be one of the best places to retire in North Carolina providing all the benefits of a small town (around 25,000 residents) with the cute streets and shops, with the proximity of a big city with shows, universities, and high quality medical care.

With a government focused on keeping the small town feel alive in the rapidly-growing Research Park Triangle area, Apex is a good choice for people wanting to live in a small town without feeling isolated.

Asheville- as the biggest “small town” in this article with a population of approximately 68,000 people, Asheville has recently been given lots of press as both a retirement and relocation destination.  With a great climate and lots to do for everyone, Asheville is one of the best small towns to live in.

Asheville NC

Known for whitewater rafting, Asheville is full of natural beauty. During the fall, the forests that surround Asheville brighten up with color as the leaves change. In town, there are ample opportunities for sidewalk dining in cafes and in the summertime, there are multiple farmers markets to enjoy fresh produce and food goods.

Historically, Asheville has been home to the rich and famous as a health resort in the late 19th century.  Home to the Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home, Asheville also has many historic museums that showcase this area’s large history as a resort to the rich, politicians (6 presidents have stayed at the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa), and famous.

Asheville is a great area for people who want history, natural beauty, along with modern amenities that only a world class “small town” can provide.

Kannapolis North Carolina

Kannapolis- with a storybook downtown area and lots of natural green areas preserved to prevent urban sprawl, Kannapolis is a rapidly evolving small town that has amenities that anyone wants and needs.

Located a half hour away from Charlotte, this area has become a biotechnology hub while retaining its historic charm.  In the last decade, millions have been spent to increase the livability and economic sustainability of this town.

This town has obviously charmed some powerful people since the Chicago White Sox have located a minor league team here with a brand new stadium to boot.

Kannapolis is known as a racing hub since the famous NASCAR Earnhardt family is from there.  Steeped in racing history, there’s a NASCAR museum and a tribute to the late Dale Earnhardt Sr located in town.

Economically speaking, in 2005, the North Carolina Research Campus, a brand new technology park cosponsored by the owner of Dole Food, Duke University, and The University of North Carolina system, was announced.  This will surely bring technology companies flocking to Kannapolis for its high quality of life and proximity to Charlotte. With high tech companies in town, this area will surely attract more cultural exhibits and classes making it one of the best small towns for retirement.

Overall, North Carolina has changed tremendously in the 20th century with most people now living in urban/suburban areas as opposed to rural areas.  With this change, many small towns have been pushed to the side with population and job losses.  Apex, Asheville, and Kannapolis have bucked this trend with new economic opportunities while still keeping their cozy feel.  For anyone considering a North Carolina small town to retire in Apex, Asheville, and Kannapolis are all solid choices.

See more at 55+ communities in NC and at Small Towns in North Carolina (NC)