The Villages Florida day trips and one tank trips described here on Florida Backroads Travel are all within 100 miles ofthe community.  

The Villages is located in the central part of the state, not far south of Ocala.

We calculate that most cars can go at least 250 miles on one tank of gas, and smaller compact cars can do even better than that.

These round trips can be made from The Villages with gallons to spare for wandering around a bit on the back roads. 

Unfortunately, however, most of these trips are not within golf cart range:)

These day trips and things to do are all within 100 miles of The Villages.  The map below shows you some of the major towns and places within this radius.

Bronson is a small town northeast of Gainesville that is notable for the gravesite of the great rock and roll icon, Bo Diddley.

Cassadaga is a spiritualist community near DeLand where you can get your fortune told by one of the resident mediums or spiritualists.

Citrus Tower is an old Florida attraction in Clermont where you can take an elevator to the top and see where all the citrus groves used to be.

Cross Creek is between Gainesville and Ocala and was the home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling, Cross Creek, South Moon Under and other classics.  Her home is now a state park that you can visit.

Crystal River attracts manatees in the colder weather.  There are numerous business set up to allow people to see the manatees and even swim with them.

Daytona Beach has hard sand beaches that you can drive your car on, the International Speedway, and many other attractions.

DeLand is the home of Stetson University and has a fine downtown with many murals, good shopping and dining places.

Eustis is on the lake of the same name and has a nice downtown with parks, shopping and restaurants.

Evinston is near Cross Creek south of Gainesville and is home to the old Wood & Swink general store on the National Register of Historic Places.

Flagler Beachfront Winery is in Flagler Beach, north of Daytona.  Watch wine being made and enjoy tasting it while soaking up the ocean breeze.

Gainesville is the home of the University of Florida and its many art galleries, museums, a vibrant downtown area with good shopping and dining.  This can be one of the best of The Villages Florida day trips.

Gatorland is one of the oldest Florida tourist attractions.  It is between Orlando and Kissimmee and has some of the neatest alligators in Florida.

Ginnie Springs is a park with great opportunities for swimming, camping, canoeing and enjoying nature.

Hutchinson Farm Winery is a small family owned vineyard and winery south of Apopka.  Nice selection of red, white and blended wines.  Tastings, tours.

High Springs is a typical little Florida town with a fixed up downtown that has several neat antique shops and at least one very good restaurant.

Lakeland has a beautiful downtown and Florida Southern College has the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings in the world.

Lakeridge Winery near Clermont is one of Florida's largest wineries.  You will enjoy watching the wine making process and sampling their wares.

Leu Gardens in Orlando is one of the country's foremost botanical gardens.  If it grows in Florida, it is probably here.  Self guided tours or formal tours.

Marineland is on Highway A1A just south of St. Augustine.  Founded in 1938, it was once the most popular tourist attraction in Florida.

Micanopy is a small Old Florida place with some nice antique shops and restaurants.

McIntosh is near Micanopy and is a fine example of Old Florida homes.  It's just fun to wander around the quiet streets.

Mill Creek Farm is a retirement home for horses.  Admission is a couple of carrots.

Mount Dora has a New England look.  It is on the east end of Lake Dora and has many fine shopping, dining and lodging opportunities.  Only 45 minutes from Orlando.  It is one of the favorites of the Villages Florida day trips.  Here is a list of restaurants in the Mount Dora area.

New Smyrna Beach has some of the nicest sandy beaches in Florida and a bit of history that influenced St. Augustine.

Ocala is in the heart of Florida's thoroughbred horse raising and training country with plenty of rolling hills and lush oak forests.

Orlando is where the big tourist attractions are like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld, but it also has plenty of other quieter places to visit.

Orlando Tree Tour is a self guided tour of some of the oldest and largest trees in Florida.  You will see many magnificent oaks.

Princess Place Preserve is an old hunting lodge near Palm Coast.  It is open to the public and is a nice glimpse into the Old Florida of yesteryear.  Free.

St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States.  Much to do and even more to see.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm has more than just the famous reptile it is named for.  Crocodiles, birds and a host of other animals.  It's on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tangled Oaks Vineyard is a family owned winery between Palatka and Gainesville on State Road 100.  Tours and tastings, nice wines.

Tavares is known as the seaplane city.  People fly in for events and weekends;  it is on the west end of Lake Dora not far from Mount Dora and Eustis.

Webster flea markets are the biggest in Florida, but only open on Mondays.

Weeki Wachee Springs is one of the oldest Florida tourist attractions;  you will enjoy the shows with the beautiful young mermaids performing in the clear spring waters.

Whispering Oaks Winery offers tours and entertainment;  they specialize in blueberry wine and are only a few miles west of The Villages.

Winter Park is just north of Orlando.  In addition to a wonderful boat tour of the chain of lakes, it has some of the finest shopping and dining in the state.

There are interesting back road maps you can use to explore this part of Florida from your base in The Villages.  Here they are:


AuthorJames Gerdes

Bob Barnes, For FLORIDA TODAY3:24 p.m. EDT July 4, 2016

Bob Barnes is a West Melbourne resident and co-founder and executive director of The Children's Hunger Project.

"This land is your land. This land is my land/From California to the New York islands/From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters/This land was made for you and me." -- From "This Land is Your Land," by Woody Guthrie

You may have been to the Louvre in Paris. The Smithsonian Institution in D.C. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

What a sheltered life you have led. I've been to the Devil's Rope Museum, a tribute to barbed wire, in McLean, Texas. Folks, you can't make this stuff up. It's for real and it's fabulous. Moreover, when you lower your elevated nose a bit, you'll see that this museum, and dozens like it, will stick in your heart like nothing you have ever experienced.

Forget your existing "bucket list" of trips. If you do not know how great America is and how great Americans are, then travel Route 66, the 2,448-mile (give or take a mile or so) "ribbon of highway" between northeast Illinois and southwest California.

Yes, at 75, I finally did what I said I would do over 50 years ago and that was to drive old Route 66, decommissioned as a federal highway in 1985. My only regret is that I did not do it way-back-then and many times since. It was well worth the wait and every bit as enjoyable as I thought it would be ... "magical" would be an understatement.

I learned this: In spite of newspaper headlines and pronouncements to the contrary, know this Fourth of July that the United States of America is alive and well. "Flyover country" people are who made, and still make, this country great. And although I had not anticipated it, the trip reaffirmed my already existing "America is the greatest" attitude. I was at home each stop along the way.

In full disclosure, I "cheated" a bit by driving first to Oklahoma City and picking up Route 66 there instead of in Chicago. In addition, I turned around at Gallup, New Mexico, as I wanted to have time for a side trip to Roswell, New Mexico — you know. The place where "they" landed. Are they out there? I am sworn to silence about Area 51.

More tidbits gleaned along the way:

    Known to me before only as my jumping off point, Oklahoma City, I realized, is a jewel when it comes to museums and other cultural offerings for locals. Who knew? Very impressive. On my next trip, I'll allow a number of days there to enjoy everything from the National Cowboy Museum to a museum dedicated to early women aviators like Amelia Earhart, and women in the space program. "Regular" museums and cultural opportunities abound in addition to the Old West themes.

    In the Texas Panhandle, Vega is one of those "must" stops. With 884 people, the oldest hardware store on Route 66, an excellent culture museum plus the restored Magnolia gasoline station, it is considered by some the "real" midway point on Route 66. I'll let others argue that point. All I know is that the stop was quite enjoyable and the people there loved letting me know they are proud of where they live.

    Visible some 20 miles away, the third-largest cross in America (seventh-largest in the world) is found in Groom, Texas. At 19 stories, it's a sight to behold no matter your faith.

    Near an Amarillo, Texas, tourist trap, I met two young ladies on motorcycles. They posed for pictures with me, as did three women on bikes who were traveling with three men and had stopped at the MidPoint Cafe, a mom-and-pop restaurant in Adrian, Texas (also touted as Route 66's midpoint). I have no shame or fear: I asked, could I get a picture with you? The three women, who were French, were on a cross-country tour. It was a joy to meet people from other countries who were enjoying my homeland.

    New Mexico boasts stunning beauty and culture to augment the road trip. Tucumcari is worth a stop as they have their own historical museum and the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum. Continuing west: the Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa. Car enthusiasts will love the dozens of cars on display, ones popular when they (and I) were younger. You can't miss it: a yellow hot rod positioned atop a 20-foot pole is their landmark. I decided to hold off on visiting Santa Fe until my next trip, as I was anxious to explore Albuquerque. After all, there I had the opportunity to drive the longest Main Street in the country.

    The 66 Diner near the University of New Mexico has so-so food but is worth the stop to enjoy the '40s and '50s architecture and furnishings. The area has so much to offer, including the New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum. Into skateboards, telephones, rattlesnakes, meteorites or hot air balloons? There's a museum there to your liking.

I read Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" when I was a teenager and it created a buzz of excitement in my mind. I read the book again recently — obviously, with a lifetime of experiences behind me instead of teenage wanderlust. Although it's a classic and still popular almost 60 years after it was published, for me, the book about road trips, partying, music and drugs doesn't represent the true values of America. Kerouac rejected, but so many Americans embraced, the idea of that white picket fence, mortgage, new refrigerator and a steady job. Those Americans, those proud to live in "flyover country," are an integral part of what we as a nation are today.

Near Amarillo, Texas, the proprietor of a convenience store shook my hand and thank me for stopping by — and I had dropped in only to use the restroom.

On the recommendation of manager Dot at the Roger Miller (he of the hit song "King of the Road" fame) Museum in Erick, Oklahoma, I stopped for a bite at the Main Street Cafe and Bakery. I sat at a table next to two cowboys who looked straight out of central casting for "Gunsmoke." Before I was even seated, they looked up, said "Howdy" and went back to their conversation. That short greeting, and the friendliness of the store manager, are metaphors for everything good about America: Those people were genuinely glad to acknowledge a stranger.

Fact is, I suspect there are never any strangers along Route 66. In spite of what you might read or hear, we are still the land of enchantment; the country desired by people all over the world. We seem to be the only ones who ignore the good while constantly berating ourselves for the bad.

And as I review this epic road trip in my mind, it's electrifying to realize the level of pride Americans have in their towns along those fabled highway ribbons. I came away from each stop with enthusiasm for where I had just been and a greater love of and for America ... with regards to Woody Guthrie yet again, this land truly was "made for you and me."

Rockin' on Route 66

It's been photographed, heralded in song and written about for almost 100 years. It's the topic of an exciting oral history project about the women and girls who worked and lived along Route 66, from architects to waitresses. A stretch of it in Missouri will be the first public U.S. roadway to go solar, with panels that can turn solar rays into clean, renewable energy. It's Route 66, and it's an important part of American travel and pop culture history. offers a carload of history and tidbits on the famous roadway, aka Will Rogers Highway and The Mother Road, the latter of which writer John Steinbeck coined for Route 66 in "The Grapes of Wrath."

    Current maps don't include old Route 66: The last stretch of the old road disappeared from "official” maps in 1985.

    Route 66 was commissioned Nov. 11, 1926, picking up as many as possible bits and pieces of existing road.

    Route 66 was officially decommissioned as a federal highway in 1985. Use of the road had waned as interstates boomed and the public demanded for better transportation as the old road deteriorated after World War II.

    According to most sources, Route 66 is 2,448 miles long. That's a rough estimate as the road has had many different alignments.

    Route 66 crosses eight states and three time zones, running through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Don't-miss sites are found here. Interstate 40 runs parallel to Route 66 in several sections of the roadway.

    Because of a change in alignment of Route 66 in 1937, there is an intersection where Route 66 crosses itself at Central Avenue and 4th Street in downtown Albuquerque -- so you can stand on the corner of Route 66 and Route 66.     

   Entertainer and songwriter Bobby Troup wrote the tune "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" in 1946. Nat King Cole scored a hit with it that year but it's been recorded by many musicians, including the Rolling Stones and Depeche Mode. Another song inspired by sights along Route 66 is Bruce Springsteen's "Cadillac Ranch," named for an art installation in Amarillo, Texas.

AuthorJames Gerdes

First 1000 miles (actually 1160) on the 2016 Can Am Spyder F3 Limited - Hal Mette


Ok, to give this magnificent machine a fair evaluation for ryding two up, I added the top of the line passenger backrest from BRP.   The backrest is really something.   It is not only adjustable backwards and forward, but also has a lumbar support adjustment as well.   Its support area is about double that of the driver backrest.  It wraps around the passenger so provides stability when going around curves, and relieves the pressure on your handgrips and footpads that you would otherwise feel.   I had an aggressive friend take me for a test ryde as the passenger.  I told him not to be gentle with me.   (that was probably a mistake).   At any rate after slamming through the curves and hills at serious speed I am convinced that this configuration would be adequate for this to be the sole Spyder in a two up ryding family.   To further test I took my wife for a less than gentle ryde as well.   Her response pretty straightforward.  She said " it is infinitely better than the backseat with passenger backrest of our 2015 F3S, and infinitely better than the 2016 F3 Limited without the backrest. The airshock provides a smooth ryde over some reasonably rough roads and has not required any air additions or had problems of any kind.   In short this machine is a multifaceted HOME RUN.


This machine continues to impress the daylights out of me.  I did an Iron Butt Saddlesore 1000 mile ryde this past week bringing the 4 week mileage up sharply.

Clearly the machine is very durable when given this intensive start up test. 

This was the first F3T to complete an Iron Butt Ryde but there was another one present at the meet, indicating our growing acceptance in the long distance biker community.

I find the stock seat more comfortable for the driver than my RT Limited for long distance ryding.   The high speed highway ryde is smooth and the creative windshield design of vents and reverse curve, provides adequate wind protection at speeds of atleast 80mph.  I have ridden in light rain and the windshield was sufficient to protect along with the airflow, but I have not had the opportunity to ryde in downpour just yet.  Of course the handling is tighter and more responsive than any other Spyder that BRP has built to date.

At first I was concerned about the size of the rear saddlebags and wondered if they would be sufficient.  This week I packed full gear, clothing, tablet computer etc and went on a 4 day trip and came home with some clean unused clothing.   As it turns out, when you pack clothing in a soft side container such as a laundry bag, the the rear saddlebags hold about twice the clothing that I anticipated. The F3T will easily hold enough for a week long trip.

I can hardly believe how much I enjoy having a glove box again.  That was a small but great addition to this unit.


I currently see two areas for potential improvement.   

The very minor one is to allow a channel from the glove box so that a usb cable can travel out of the box while plugged in and still allow you to close the box watertight.  This would come in handy if you need to charge your SENA or other comm system and or your smart phone while continuing to use them instead of locking them away in the glove box.

The more significant improvement potential is with the seat comfort for the passenger.  I test rode as passenger and had 4 other folks do it as well.   All our assessments were the same.   The new shock provides for much better ryde quality, but unfortunately the seat is approximately 2 to 3 inches too short so each of us felt our tailbone hit on the rear edge of the seat causing pain during the ryde.

I still think if you test ryde the F3T you will want to buy one NOW


Yes I rode the new F3 1160 miles in one week after ryding my 2015 F3S 26000 miles in 11 months. I offer the following observations to compare the two rydes.

Performance - I was worried that the extra weight in the rear end would hamper the performance of the 2016. Not only can I not detect any difference in acceleration but the new shock system stabilizes the rear end so that it doesn’t fishtail as much if you are starting off like a rocket. The net result of more efficient traction may result in a better 1/4 miles time. Also that same shock makes the passenger ride much more similar to the RT.

Windshield - The vents and reverse curve on the stock windshield for 2016 F3 are nothing short of a brilliant design. The windshield allows you to look over it and yet still provides almost as much protection from wind as the RT gets. When I rode the 2015 F3 with the best available OEM windshield the buffeting was still unmerciful at highway speeds. That is no longer an issue. I would not even consider replacing this stock windshield. One caveat - I have not ridden the bike in heavy rain yet - but I will take it out the moment I get some nasty weather and update this post

Mirrors- The rearview mirrors are much more effective than the 2015 and you will not need extenders or relocators to insure your safety. The mirrors provide a much larger and more appropriate field of vision to your rear.

Sound System - The sound system built into the dash is awesome! At 50% volume I can hear my music from the speakers clearly at highway speed. I contrast this to the RT where at 100% volume that music sound was still garbled.  Speaker placement is ideal.

Storage - The addition of the rear saddlebags and the dash glovebox are much appreciated. The glove box is surprisingly deep and holds quite a bit.. I use the USB hookup there to power my IPod and to recharge my SENA (on long trip), and iPhone. It is actually more convenient than the power hookup in the trunk of the RT  The saddlebags don’t look terribly large at first blush, but I packed my rain gear and back up gloves in one side and enough clothes for a several day trip in the other side, leaving the Frunk free to protect my helmet during stops. Overall I feel the the increased storage is still shy of the RT but adequate for most circumstances.

Overall my guess is that if you test ryde the 2016 Can Am Spyder F3T, you will want to buy one!

AuthorJames Gerdes
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