Lakewood Ranch is a bit of a marvel. Located just a few minutes from Sarasota, this master-planned community has just about everything you need, whether you’re visiting for a few days, staying for the season, or laying down roots in a more permanent fashion.
If you’ve never been to Lakewood Ranch, we invite you to visit. It’s easy to access from just about anywhere in Florida. You’ll find it off Interstate 75; a trip that won’t take more than 20 or 30 minutes from Sarasota or Bradenton. You can be here from Tampa in about an hour.
We’re going to tell you a little bit about this community, and then we’re going to offer 3 reasons to visit. There are actually dozens of good reasons to come and spend some time in Lakewood Ranch, but we’ll focus on three of the best reasons. You can discover the rest on your own. Exploring is half the fun.
What is Lakewood Ranch, Florida?
Lakewood Ranch is large enough to be its own small city. The community encompasses about 50 square miles, and there are a number of residential communities inside of Lakewood Ranch. Some of them are dedicated to people 55 years of age and older. Others are multi-generational, the neighborhoods filled with families and professionals and groups of friends living together.
There’s more than just housing. Lakewood Ranch also has shopping, dining, arts, entertainment, nature, recreation, tennis, and golf. It’s one of Southwest Florida’s fastest growing communities.
What’s so cool about Lakewood Ranch is that by living here or even staying here for a while, you have everything you need right inside the community. But it’s also easy enough to step outside and enjoy some fun in downtown Sarasota. You can get to the beach quickly or up to Tampa for a Lightning hockey game.
Now that you know where “The Ranch” is and what it offers, let’s look closely at the top three reasons to visit.
1. Lakewood Ranch Offers Abundant Outdoor Recreation
Do you happen to enjoy a game of golf?
If so, Lakewood Ranch is a great place to explore. You can tee off at Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club, which has three championship courses and a golf academy. Practice facilities are available and there are two award-winning clubhouses in which to relax and deconstruct your game. Membership is open to everyone.
There’s also the Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch, where players of all levels will enjoy being challenged at the upscale, 18-hole championship golf course, which is open to the public. Playing here, you’ll find multiple elevated teeing areas, and each hole features sand and water. The Arnold Palmer design includes generous landing areas.
The River Club is another popular golf course located within Lakewood Ranch. It’s a four-star facility rated by Golf Digest as a “Place to Play.” The 18-hole course was designed by Ron Garl, and it’s perfect for both experienced and novice golfers. Take some time to browse the pro shop and use the driving range. You can even sign up for golf lessons.
Even if you’re not a golfer, Lakewood Ranch has a number of other outdoor adventures waiting for you. There’s even a polo club if that’s your thing.
Many of the communities within The Ranch have shuffleboard, pickleball, and tennis courts. You can usually find a game of bocce and maybe even a volleyball game.
If hiking and nature are more your things, this is a great place to enjoy fresh air, outdoor exercise, and all the wildlife that can be found in this part of Florida. At Lakewood Ranch, you’ll find walking paths and biking trails. There are boardwalks lifting you through wildlife habitats, over lakes, and through dramatic oak hammocks. As developers conceptualized Lakewood Ranch, they allocated approximately 40 percent of the entire community’s acreage to open space and recreation. You’ll find 150 miles of multi-use trails and bike lanes.
Here are some of the spots we love in Lakewood Ranch:
- Heron’s Nest Nature Park. With 12 acres of land and a couple of sparkling lakes, this is a great place for fishing, boating, and walking.
- Greenbrook Park. There are biking and hiking trails as well as a baseball diamond and a soccer field.
- Lakewood Ranch Park. Tons of amenities here, including a playground, tennis courts, batting cages, picnic tables, sports fields, and racquetball.
There’s a handful of community parks too, including Roger Hill Community Park, Bob Gardner Community Park, and Summerfield Community Park. Look for deer, river otters, sandhill cranes, and hundreds of bird species.
2. Arts & Culture at Lakewood Ranch
Maybe you’re a bit of an artist yourself and you’re always looking for inspiration. Or, perhaps you’re more of an arts consumer, and you’re hoping to be entertained and moved. All of that happens in Lakewood Ranch.
Local events are hosted year-round, which showcase and celebrate local musicians, artists, and filmmakers. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the performing arts and the community is close to professional theaters, including the symphony and the ballet.
Whether you like local art or traveling exhibits that let you peek into the wider world, you’ll find plenty of ways to feed your creative cravings.
All of the local residential communities keep their own social calendars that include performances, music, and movies. There’s also plenty to find in and around Lakewood Ranch, notably:
- Manatee Performing Arts Center
This theater is community-based, and dedicated to reaching audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Not only can you see a live performance, you can also enroll in a class. Sometimes, there are dinner shows scheduled. Some of the recent performances have included Sinatra! The Musical and The Marvelous Martha by Jane Plitt, which honors the movement for suffrage.
- The Players Centre for Performing Arts.
Another local community theater located in nearby Sarasota, The Players Centre for Performing Arts is a fantastic place to take an acting class, attend a workshop on speaking, or watch a professional performance. Local performing artists from this group perform at Waterside in Lakewood Ranch all the time.
- Village of the Arts
Just minutes from Lakewood Ranch is one of Bradenton’s most vibrant and artsy neighborhoods. Village of the Arts is visually engaging – there are dozens of colorful historic cottages. You’ll find delightful restaurants, unique shops that are locally owned, and art galleries. On the first Friday of every month, there’s an art walk. You won’t want to miss it.
- Ringling Museum
Perhaps one of the most astonishing museums in Southwest Florida is the Ringling Museum, and it’s only minutes from Lakewood Ranch. One-of-a-kind exhibitions from around the world are featured in this sprawling museum, and you can spend hours strolling through the open sculpture courtyard. There’s a butterfly garden and more works of art than you can imagine.
3. Main Street at Lakewood Ranch
Sometimes, it’s not about doing. It’s just about being.
That’s the vibe when you get to know the locals around Lakewood Ranch. They’re happy to be living where they live. They’re excited to see neighbors and attend community events. Everything is local in this community, and there’s a strong sense of pride in every neighborhood and in the entire Lakewood Ranch ecosystem.
Perhaps one of the best reasons to come and spend some time here is the Main Street lifestyle that’s so hard to find in a lot of cities and towns these days.
On Lakewood Ranch’s Main Street, you’ll find some trendy and fun boutiques you probably can’t find anywhere else. There are some highly acclaimed restaurants that locals love. You can sit outside and linger over a coffee, have a cocktail or two at happy hour, or get together with your favorite friends and family members for a meal.
Main Street includes a miniature golf course, a cinema playing the latest movies, and plenty of outdoor staging to accommodate concerts, festivals, food trucks, farmers markets, and more.
If you want to get to know what Lakewood Ranch is really like, bring yourself to Main Street and spend some time exploring.
When you want to visit Lakewood Ranch, you’ll need a place to stay.
There are a few local hotels in the area, but why not make it a personal experience?
Rent yourself a home or a condo or a cottage in Lakewood Ranch and get an idea of what it would be like to live here and blend in with the community. You can have all the space and privacy you need while you explore everything there is to do in and around Lakewood Ranch. You could unpack, unwind, and then head to the pool for some sun or the clubhouse to see if there’s a fitness class or a cooking demonstration on the social calendar.
We’d love to help you find the place that allows you to fully enjoy Lakewood Ranch and everything it has to offer. Why not talk to us about what you’re looking for, and we’ll see what we can set up? When you book with us directly, you save money. Contact our team at Anchor Down Vacation Rentals.