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Lakewood Ranch: A Mom’s Guide to the Best Sarasota Neighborhoods

Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Ask someone from outside the sunshine state and they’ve likely never heard of it. Even ask someone on the east coast of Florida and they’ve maybe still never heard of it. But, this is changing. Lakewood Ranch is an up and coming gem. In fact, Lakewood Ranch is the number 3 BEST-SELLING master-planned community in the entire United States.

Mic Drop.

Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk about what makes Lakewood Ranch (or LWR as the cool kids call it) so amazing for families.

Enjoying one of the many parks LWR has to offer

What is Your Favorite Part About Raising Your Kids in Lakewood Ranch?

Simply put, it takes a village. Social media is not always a super positive outlet, but for connecting families in this area, it’s a home run hit. There are a plethora of opportunities to join groups and meet other moms, kids and families. I personally have found an unbelievable group of ladies to help me navigate this thing called motherhood, which is something I’ve never thought I would find.

Mom’s night out!

What are Local Attractions to do Near Lakewood Ranch?

On any given day, you can find something to do, and get there in a matter of minutes. Parks are in abundance and in a variety of settings! There is something for everyone — some have splash pads, some have swings and slides, some have basketball courts, soccer fields and even skate rinks. If you’re looking for more organized outdoor fun, our “downtown” houses a putt-putt course. If it’s raining, or nearing the temperature of the sun, there is an abundance of indoor activities. Check out Jumpin Fun trampoline park, or take the kids to Arts A Blaze for some craft time! And if you fancy a beach day, world-renowned sandy stretches are a short 30-minute drive.

Proud of the U.S.A. during a parade on LWR Main Street

What Schools Do Your Kids Go To?

My boys have thrived at both full-time and part-time establishments. For a part-time, church-based preschool, we have loved Little Ranchers at Lakewood Ranch Baptist Church. They are nurturing, engaging and the boys loved all the activities and crafts. Little Ranchers almost always has a wait list, so make sure you call soon! When my job situation changed and I found myself working full-time, we fell in love with Love Comes First. This family-owned, small daycare has the education and commitment level that matches the big names (like Goddard or Primrose) but has the personal touch of a reliable in-home center. The ladies at LCF love my boys like they are their own and we couldn’t be happier.

For elementary through high school education, there are fantastic and highly rated public and private schools. Learn more about them here.

What are some of your favorite local places to shop in Lakewood Ranch?

Crowder’s Gifts & Gadgets

Looking for a unique gift for your mom, sister, best friend or neighbor? Look no further. This boutique-style store carries handbags, jewelry, gadgets and accessories sure to be a hit for any event. Bonus points, it is attached to ACE Hardware, so you can let the boys and hubby shop for their stuff, while you get time for you!

Publix 

Where shopping is a pleasure. Enough said. With a Publix on seemingly every corner, you never have to travel far to get groceries. Employees go out of their way to greet every customer and ensure you get what you need. Plus, weekly BOGO deals make you feel like you win the lottery every time you shop!

What are some of your favorite restaurants in Lakewood Ranch?

Station 400

A local favorite. Station 400 is open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week and their food is to die for! The kids will love eating chocolate chip pancakes while they watch the old-fashioned choo-choo train chugging along as it makes its way around the restaurant. And you? Well, you can enjoy the peace and quiet as your kids are inhaling food and entranced by the locomotive. You can also choose between an array of unique menu items. My personal favorite (on a healthy day) is the vanilla bean and lavender yogurt parfait. If I want to splurge, truffle eggs benedict or cinnamon roll pancakes are a must.

Fast N Fresh

When I’m on the road, at work, or just need a quick bite to eat between errands, Fast N Fresh is my absolute favorite. Just as the name suggests, the menu items are both quick to make (order online and have food ready in 15 minutes!) and the ingredients are fresh. You can choose from a variety of wraps/sandwiches, salads or grain bowls or create your own culinary masterpiece! Side note, their spicy Thai peanut dressing is liquid gold.

What are specific Neighborhoods in this area that you would recommend?

Home construction in LWR is at a seemingly all-time high. Community after community is popping up. Historically, Greenbrook, Summerfield and the Country Club were the popular hotspots for families moving to the area. But now, families have a smorgasbord of new opportunities. Central Park, Edgewater, Mallory Park, Indigo, Bridgewater, Esplanade, Harmony, Rosedale, The Concession, Lakewood National, and Country Club East are all making their debut. But don’t leave out other top contenders like River Club and Panther Ridge. No matter what type of lifestyle you are looking for or what amenities are important to you, there is a neighborhood for you!

What are you looking for in a neighborhood?

Want larger lots, no gates, more privacy and unique homes? Check out Panther Ridge or River Club.

Want family-friendly neighborhoods with local parks, lower fees, and no gate to deal with? Greenbrook or Summerfield may be for you!

Looking for golf course living? The Concession, Esplanade, Lakewood National, Country Club, or Country Club East could be your next home.

What about family-friendly communities with great amenities, but without the golf course? You may love Central Park, Harmony, Mallory Park, Indigo, Edgewater or Bridgewater.

Is this an exhaustive list? Absolutely not! Real estate in LWR is exploding.

Why would you recommend Lakewood Ranch as a Best Neighborhood in Sarasota?

Obviously, living in LWR puts anything you need at your fingertips. Quite literally, everything is within reach, from coffee to gas, groceries to schools, activities to restaurants. But that’s not really what makes Lakewood Ranch the best. Honestly, it goes back to the very beginning of my article. It takes a village. No matter what neighborhood you choose to live in within our community, you will find yourself surrounded by support and instant friends. The power of friendship and community support is part of something bigger than convenience. It is what helps turn your house into a forever home.

There’s always something for the kids to do in LWR

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