It’s a little after 6 a.m. when my Lakewood Ranch neighborhood starts buzzing to life. Coffee in hand, I wave to the couple jogging down the sidewalk. A few early birds are working in their gardens, wrestling weeds and trying to beat the heat. And the moms are pushing strollers to the playground.
My daughter and I join them for a run through the splash pad. When she’s thoroughly soaked, I towel her off, and we swing by the dog park before heading home. (She loves petting the puppies between Frisbee throws.) The day ends as sweetly as it began, watching the sunset with my husband and a glass of red.
What Life Is Like in Lakewood Ranch
You might have heard of Lakewood Ranch. It’s the little—but growing—Southwest Florida city people around the country are flocking to, and not just to escape the cold or retire. They want to raise their kids here.
Lakewood Ranch is a completely self-contained community that feels a lot like a real-life Pleasantville. The homes look different from neighborhood to neighborhood, but most are a mix of Spanish and contemporary. Some are cozy ranchers, and others are grand villas with lush, tropical gardens. But you don’t have to be anywhere close to rich to live on these blocks.
Our area might be young, but it’s growing fast. The older, more established villages, like Summerfield and Greenbrook, have plenty of charm. And the newer gated communities (Esplanade, Mallory Park, Arbor Grande, Country Club East) come with all the amenities. Golf courses, tennis courts, fitness centers, pools, clubs … the list goes on.
Things to Do in Lakewood Ranch
The best part is, once you move in, you don’t ever have to leave. Everything is truly at your fingertips—dozens of shops, restaurants, parks, lakes, playgrounds, and lots more. Some parents can even walk their kids to school.
And there’s always something to do. It’s practically impossible to be bored here, even in the off-season (June–September).
My daughter loves Music on Main, the once-a-month community event hosted on the town’s main drag. This is Lakewood Ranch’s choice get-together for families, and they go all out. Even on the steamiest days of summer, the bounce houses are full and little ones are elbow deep in kinetic sand at the crafts table. Some people bring lawn chairs and a picnic. But you can also buy burgers, sandwiches, BBQ, tacos, beer, and wine.
The Lakewood Ranch Farmers Market opens every Wednesday from December to April on the grounds of the Sarasota Polo Club. You can get pretty much anything here. Some of the standouts include handmade ravioli, empanadas, farm-raised duck eggs, fresh-pressed juice, local honey, gourmet pizza, and wine. Inside the pavilion are craft vendors who sell everything from jewelry to pottery to essential oils. There’s live music and a playground where kids can run wild. There’s also a free yoga class at sunset.
Neighbors Make the Difference
What I love most about Lakewood Ranch are the people. Everyone knows how special our community is, and they’re completely devoted to keeping it that way. Whether that means starting a shared garden, serving on a board or committee, or organizing the last-of-the-month margarita mixers at the park, Lakewood Ranch residents are always giving back.
People really are happy here. They’ve come from all over—for endlessly sunny days, for Halloweens that rival Christmas, for a better life!
Carrie Nathans is a mom, wife, writer, and editor who moved to Lakewood Ranch in 2015.
She created the blog LakewoodRanchmom.com to help families new to the area find their way.