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Old 03-19-2013, 10:22 AM
Location: Northern Virginia
251 posts, read 848,102 times
Reputation: 130


We're headed down to Bradenton for the last week of March with our two kids, 5 and 3. We've never been to the area.
Aside from the beach, Busch Gardens Tampa, the manatee museum, and the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, are there any places you would recommend? Any events going on that the whole family would enjoy?

I would also love some laid-back restaurant recommendations-my husband and I like fresh local seafood, we avoid chains/fast food and such, but we need places that also would be good for kids. Any advice?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 03-20-2013, 02:00 PM
Location: Sarasota/ Bradenton - University Pkwy area
3,912 posts, read 5,863,942 times
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There are a number of things to do in the Sarasota - Bradenton area that are family friendly.

Bradenton area:

South FL Museum/ Bishop Planetarium and Parker Manatee Aquarium - great planetarium and of course, Snooty the manatee

new Riverwalk Park in downtown Bradenton - piers, walks, skateboard park, concerts every Friday evening

Manatee Village Historical Park -- 1880's view of life in Bradenton at that time. Features homes, country store, church, hands on kids area. Free. Open 9 - 4:30 M-F and 2nd & 4th Saturdays each month. 1404 Manatee Ave E.

McKechnie Field - Pittsburgh Pirates spring training games.

Desoto National Memorial Park -- hiking trails, historic sites, landing spot of explorer Hernando de Soto.

J P Igloo -- 2 ice skate rinks, fitness center, video game room. In Ellenton next to the outlet mall.

Mixon Fruit Farms -- orange grove that hosts lots of weekend events, tram tours of the groves. 2525 27th St E.

FL Railroad Museum -- located in Parrish, east of Bradenton. Open weekends. Railroad museum and working steam engines, scenic train rides.

Cortez fishing village -- walking tours of the historic fishing village, up close view of fishing boats.

Gamble Plantation -- 1844 built anti bellum mansion, located in Ellenton, just north of Bradenton. Tours Thurs - Mon, starting at 9:30 am. Tickets required.

Lake Manatee State Park -- east of Bradenton. Picnic areas, swimming area, camp grounds, fishing dock.


Sarasota Jungle Gardens on Myrtle, off of US41. Walking paths, reptile and bird shows, special events at holidays.

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium -- on city island, great little aquarium, see sharks, sea turtles, a manatee and they have a touch tank of sea creatures as well.

G. Wiz Science Museum -- hands on for kids. Located at the bay front on Blvd of the Arts.

Siesta Key Drum Circle -- every Sunday, just before sunset. Group gathers just south of the main pavilion at Siesta Key Beach.

Oscar Scherer State Park -- just south of Sarasota, on US41. Miles of walking trails, picnic grounds, kayak rentals, airboat tours to see the gaters.

Special Events

There aren't a lot of special events the last weekend of March as it is Easter weekend. Most are egg hunts at various locations -- Siesta Key beach, Laurel Park in Nokomis, Centennial Park in Venice.

Anna Maria Island will be hosting a Heritage Festival Day on March 30th, at Pine Ave, 11 am - 5 pm with arts & crafts, kids activities, food and music.

One of the most scenic places to celebrate an Easter sunrise service takes place that Sunday at 6:30 am at the Siesta Key Beach.

Places to Eat

There are so many good, local restaurants in Bradenton, Anna Maria Island, Sarasota and Siesta Key that it would take too long to list them all. Many are family friendly, informal and fun places to eat.

But you did ask about sea food. Anna Maria Island has quite a few good restaurants.

The Sandbar is one to check out, both for food and live music and the view can't be beat. Other restaurant suggestions while you're visiting: Peach's on Bay Drive in Holmes Beach, Rotten Ralph's on So. Bay Blvd, Banana Cabana on Gulf Drive in Bton Beach, Sharkey's & Blue Marlin Grill in Bton Beach, Hurricane Hank's in Holmes Beach, Bridge Tender Inn in Bton Beach on Bridge street and Slim's Place in Anna Maria for their fabulous lobster mac & cheese.

While you're on AMI, you can take the free trolley to travel up and down the island, or rent bicycles. You can also find kayak tours, fishing tours, dolphin tours and ride horses along Palma Sola (although that may not last much longer unless the various horse owners start doing a better job of cleaning up behind their horses....) Oh, I almost forgot, another great day trip is the boat trip to Egmont Key state park in Tampa Bay from Anna Maria.

Anna Maria Oyster Bar is another popular local spot for sea food, they have restaurants in Bradenton and Sarasota.

We recently discovered Jason's Deli, in the little shopping center on University Parkway at Honore. Fab, fresh made sandwiches at reasonable prices, home made soups, organic veggies and free ice cream. Word of advice, get the smaller portion meat sandwiches - the larger ones are so big you can barely hold them in your hands.

Siesta Key Oyster Bar on Ocean Blvd is a beachy type restaurant, very popular with locals and tourists. The sea foods fab but also their burgers.

St. Armand's Circle has a number of good restaurants, including the Columbia and Tommy Bahama, but while still informal they are more upscale.

The Phillippi Creek Village Restaurant & Oyster Bar is very popular in Sarasota, located on US41 south of The Landings shopping center. www.creekseafood.com They have one of the better grouper sandwiches around.

Demetrios, also on south US41, is a popular pizza and pasta place since the 1970's. Another is Papa Nick's on Fruitville Road, east of Beneva. www.ilovepapanicks.com

If you want a good steak dinner and fried green tomatoes, I recommend Lee Roy Selmon's in the Sarasota outlet mall shopping center on University Parkway just west of I75. Ymmmm.
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:26 AM
Location: Where the sun always shines..
1,939 posts, read 5,905,409 times
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Head to Bayfront park too...more in Sarasota but awesome splash pad for the kids if it's warm enough...and a nice playground on the bay with awesome boats...
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