graphicOutdoor lovers revel in the activity feast Avon Park spreads out for visitors and residents alike, particularly since the mean annual temperature registers a comfortable 75.5 degrees. For starters, the Air Force has opened 80,000 acres of its 110,000-acre bombing range to the public. Here, 32 miles of hiking/nature trails beckon, with turkey, wild hogs, quail, deer, alligators and armadillo darting across explorers’ paths. It’s enough to attract 30,000 hikers per year to the four separate trails. Some choose to use the primitive camping facilities as well.

Highlands Hammock State Park houses its share of fascinating wildlife as well, but the theme of this 8,135-acre tract is more family recreation, with an off-road bike trail, Cypress "Catwalk," and an 11 mile horse trail, all of which provide visitors several ways to view wildlife in its natural habitat.

graphicThe entire Avon Park area supports more than 30 lakes, so wonderful fishing opportunities abound for the patient. Boating opportunities beckon those who enjoy captaining canoes to speedboats. Tennis courts, racquetball courts and skateboard ramps dot the landscape for those on the go, as do our 11 golf courses for those who like a bit more challenge on their walk!

The Avon Park Chamber of Commerce sponsors a host of festivals and special events throughout the calendar year. Among the annual favorites: "Springtime on the Mall" Arts & Crafts Festival held at the end of March and the Annual Christmas Parade, featuring more than 150 entries each year. Such events typically draw 15,000 attendees to the city, an excellent opportunity for area vendors to meet the public.

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graphicThanks to South Florida Community College’s 1,500-seat auditorium, SFCC’s "Artist Series" hosts top acts year-round. In the past year alone Broadway musicals, professional ballet performances and well-known musical names have enthralled their central Florida audiences here. We’d hardly overlook the excellent jazz, chorale and acappella performances the college’s music department hosts, either.

Seniors (defined as those over age 55) may indulge in a weekly enrichment series each winter. These "classes" feature headline performers as well as arts groups from area schools, churches and civic groups.Step into the Avon Park Public Library and you’ve tapped into an extensive four-county resource system of books, audiotapes, videotapes, and a genealogy reference collection and computer access. For additional sources, check out the Learning Resource Center on South Florida Community College’s campus, which houses 41,000 books, 100 journals and 14 national computer databases.

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graphicQuiet, well located and … affordable? According to figures at the Avon Park Board of Realtors, this common bargain hunter’s dream describes our city perfectly. Seventy-seven percent of the homes sold in 1997 fell in the $46,000 to $75,000 price range, making the ranch and two-story versions alike excellent winter properties for those looking to escape America’s harsher weather climates. (To round out the equation, 26 percent of sales fell in the $25,000 to $45,000 range; 7 percent in the $76,000 to $100,000 category.) The median home price is $50,808.

Of course, apartment complexes, condominiums and trailer parks offer a variety of options to all residents. Officials estimate the city has approximately 8,676 dwelling units totaled.

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graphicAvon Park’s population supports five public schools: three elementary, one middle and one high school. Two private schools – Walker Memorial Jr. Academy and Community Christian Academy – provide residents with a choice. Currently, our elementaries support 2080 students, while 730 attend the middle school and 863 fill the high school halls. Such small class sizes translate to individual attention and opportunities to shine in the academic setting.

graphicHigher education plays a strong role in our community’s fabric. South Florida Community College, a fully accredited two-year public community college, influences many of our residents to complete an associate degree in science, obtain vocational certifications or get a running start on a liberal arts degree. Warner Southern College and Webber College, both four-year independent colleges, are within an hour’s driving distance as further encouragement on this path.

The Ridge Area ARC Sheltered Employment Program assists individuals age 16 and older with disabilities in joining the work force and living independently. Individuals train on the Ridge Industries plant floor to improve work skills, behaviors, productivity and work training. All persons receive pay based on their productivity.

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