Here’s a great day trip for Villagers to take this time of year when the heat starts to get a bit much for some to go outside for long.
Just 79 miles from The Villages lies the biggest casino in all of Florida, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa.
It sits on The Tampa Reservation, which is one of six Seminole Indian reservations governed by the Federally recognized Seminole Tribe of Florida.
At around 190,000 square feet, the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa is the fourth largest casino in the United States, and the sixth largest in the world. Pretty remarkable considering its location!
If you like to gamble, having this outstanding casino located just an hour and 20 minutes away from The Villages makes day trips or even longer getaways easy to accomplish.
But like most of today’s modern casinos like you see in Vegas and other places, in addition to the slots and gaming tables, the Seminole Hard Rock Casino is also home to a number of great restaurants, an impressive pool and spa, a regular slate of world-class entertainment, a AAA Four Diamond hotel, and plenty of displays containing various pieces of rock and roll history.
Let’s dive-in and take a closer look.
With over 4,500 machines, slot players will feel right at home at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino.
Slots is my wife’s game because she likes to make the fun last a few hours, unlike myself who will throw $100 down at the blackjack table and come crawling back to her 20 minutes later asking for more money.
The casino has all of the latest and greatest slot machines like Wheel of Fortune Slots (my wife’s fave), The Hangover Slots, Vegas Hits Roadtrip, and Carnival in Rio.
There are also classic slot machines like Double Diamond, Wild Cherry, and Five Times Pay.
If table games are your specialty, there are plenty to be found throughout the casino floor.
You will find everything from the classic Blackjack and Let It Ride games to more unique games like Casino War, Pai Gow Poker, and Mississippi Stud.
Kind of reminds me of the scene from National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation where Clark (played by Chevy Chase) goes to the Cheapo Casino to try and win back all his money:
But this is a far more classy place, and there is also a high limit room if that’s more your style.
For the poker players out there, there’s a 50-table poker room where you will find the popular Texas Hold’em, as well as Omaha Hi-Lo and Seven-Card Stud. The poker room also hosts regular tournaments and World Poker Tour events.
Money Gone, Let’s Eat!
Nothing makes me hungrier than losing a bunch of money.
I need some good food to cheer me up, and one of my favorite things about visiting places like this is the array of food and dining options available.
The fanciest restaurant at the casino is called Council Oak Steaks & Seafood. The Zagat-rated restaurant specializes in high-end dining staples including dry-aged steaks, Alaskan King Crab Legs, and live Maine Lobster.
As you might have guessed, there’s also a Hard Rock Cafe, which serves the same kind of food and features the same great Rock and Roll memorabilia you’ve seen at their nearly 200 locations worldwide.
Other options include the Rock ’N Raw sushi bar, the Noodle Bar, and The Green Room, which specializes in southern favorites.
Another neat option is Fresh Harvest, which features seven live-action kitchens built into one dining experience.
Entertainment and Amenities
The entertainment calendar here is filled with great comedy and musical acts. No matter when you visit the casino, you’re sure to find something or someone worth listening too. While a lot of the weeknights and slower times feature some lesser-known acts, there are also quite a few national acts that play here regularly.
If you feel like being pampered, there is a full service spa. “The Rock Spa” has a full menu of services available to relax away your thoughts of just how much you lost or to get all gussied up before dinner.
Pool and Cabanas
There’s also a beautiful outdoor pool for guests staying at the hotel.
Most high-end pools these days have cabanas that you can rent by the day or half-day, and they have those here but in keeping with the Seminole theme the cabanas here are modeled after Seminole “chickee” huts. Of course they contain all the modern amenities you’d need for a day by the pool including a refrigerator, TV, water and plenty of snacks.
As I mentioned earlier, the hotel here is a AAA Four Diamond hotel. In addition to a lineup of Deluxe, Spa, and Luxury rooms, the Hard Rock also features a series of suites named after famous music world venues. The Savoy, Fillmore, Apollo and Roxy Suites will knock your socks off.
Prices vary greatly depending on when you go, so be sure to do your research ahead of time and plan accordingly.
The first option of course is to drive yourself.
As I said before, the Seminole Hard Rock is only about 80 minutes from The Villages, and this is your best bet if you’ll be staying overnight.
The quickest way to get there is to hop on I-75 South. Here’s a link to directions courtesy of Google Maps but it’s a pretty easy drive.
Or, instead of making the drive down to Tampa on your own, there is a shuttle bus that will take care of getting down to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino for you.
Lamers has convenient pick-up locations near The Villages and you can check their pick-up and drop-off schedule here.
The Only Drawback
The only thing we don’t like, and its an issue in just about every casino we’ve ever been in, is that smoking is permitted. If you’re playing slots or table games it comes with the territory and its just something you’ll have to deal with.
If you’re not gambling there will likely be times you have to walk through the casino to get to where you’re going.
Just try to hold your breath and make haste.
In any case, it’s a neat place to check out. Even if you aren’t a big gambler, there is still enough to see and do here to keep you busy for days.