Siesta Beach Ranked No. 1 in the U.S.

Siesta Beach Ranked No. 1 in the U.S.

Siesta Beach Ranked No. 1 in the U.S. Riviera Dunes Marina

Siesta Beach Ranked No. 1 in the U.S.

TripAdvisor just released their 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards and ranked our local beach No. 1 in the U.S.! Our own Siesta Beach, located just 20 minutes from Sarasota is ranked as the No. 1 beach in the country. It’s no surprise to us as Siesta Beach is a lovely destination year-round! 

Runners up in the top five spots include Ka’anapali Beach in Hawaii and Florida’s Saint Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach and the beach at Panama City.

In addition to ranking No. 1 in the U.S., Siesta Beach also ranks No. 5 best beach in the whole world!

With its white sand and nature areas nearby, Siesta Beach is a fantastic place to visit. Perfect for large families or as an intimate getaway for couples, this acclaimed beach does not disappoint. 

If you haven’t visited Siesta Beach yet, here are some perks you’ll get to enjoy:

Cool beaches: Because the sand is comprised of 99 percent pure quartz, you don’t have to worry about burning your feet (this is especially important to note for the little ones) even on the hottest summer days.

Volleyball: The beach is equipped with its own volleyball court. Just bring a ball, and let the games begin!

Safety: Lifeguards are always on duty, so you can rest assured that you and your loved ones will be safe when treading the waters. 

Pavilion: Perfect for toting your own picnic, settle under the pavilion where you can take a break from the sun and fuel up for the remainder of your afternoon at the beach. 

Beach-friendly wheelchairs: Offered year-round, travel from the parking lot to the shore with ease via their complimentary beach-friendly wheelchairs. You can find these at the concession area.

ADA beach access mats: The ADA beach access mats make it a breeze for those in wheelchairs or pedestrians with strollers or beach carts to travel the shore more easily. 

Looking for more beautiful beaches near us? Read about 6 secret islands to visit near Palmetto, FL!

Family-Friendly Winter Festivals in Central Florida

Family-Friendly Winter Festivals in Central Florida

Family-Friendly Winter Festivals in Central Florida Riviera Dunes Marina

Family-Friendly Winter Festivals in Central Florida

Don’t miss all of the wonderful family-friendly winter festivals right here in Central Florida! See a circus performance, embrace Italian culture and food, and join thousands at our local fishing village for their annual extravaganza!

Circus Sarasota Winter Performance

When: Through Sunday, March 5

  • Weeknights: 7 p.m.
  • Wednesdays & Saturdays: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Sundays: 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Where: The Ulla Searing Big Top, Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota

What: Join Circus Sarasota as they commemorate 20 years with their winter performance! This special show will feature circus legend Nik Wallenda as well as other international circus stars performing amazing acts that will surely dazzle you and the whole family! Make sure to purchase tickets ahead of time as they are known to sell out! More info here.

Admission: $15–$55

The 35th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival

When: Friday and Saturday, Feb. 18–19

  • 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily.

Where: Cortez Fishing Village

Parking: G. T. Bray Park, Bradenton

What: Don’t miss the 35th Annual Cortez Commericial Fishing Festival honoring this year’s theme, “Fishing For Our Future.” What began as a small festival with 500 attendants is now a festival that attracts thousands of guests each February. This beloved local festival is perfect for the whole family! Enjoy nautical-themed arts and crafts, children’s activities, delectable seafood, beverages and so much more. Hear live music from Shanty Singers, Jason Haran, Karen and Jimmy Band, Eric Von and many other great artists. Be sure to snag a commemorative t-shirt as a souvenir! More info here.

Admission: Adults—$4. Children ages 12 and under—free.

29th Annual Venice Italian Festival and Carnival

When: Thursday Feb. 23–Sunday, Feb. 26

  • Thursday and Friday: 4 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: Noon

Where: Venice Airport

What: The 29th Annual Venice Italian Festival and Carnival is a delicious and delightful four-day festival held in the Venice and Nokomis area. Nosh on authentic Italian cuisine paired with beer, wine and an assortment of other beverages. Then make sure you stick around for doo-wop, swing, classic rock and many more performances for a chance to let loose! The kids will enjoy carnival rides, games, face paintings, caricature artists and their own kid zone! More info here.

Admission: Free.

  • Parking: $5.
  • Prices vary for carnival rides.

Next: Why You Should Vacation to Palmetto, FL this Winter

3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta

3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta

3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta Riviera Dunes Marina

3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta

Attention, thrill-seekers: Prepare to be amazed at boats racing more than 120 mph! Witness daring events like this and so much more when you join in for the 3rd Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta just a few weeks away on Feb. 4.

If you haven’t been to the Bradenton Area River Regatta previously, you’re in for a real treat! The schedule is still not concrete, but there are many exciting surprises in store for all of the Bradenton and Palmetto locals.

Head to the Manatee River for thrilling events including the Powerboat Super League Formula 2 events and the XHydro Cross Jet Skis and Disc Connect K9 show. You’ll also get to hear from the Nashville Yacht Club, Tampa’s own Soul Circus Cowboys and the ZBTB, the No. 1 Zac Brown tribute band, as the headliner. One thing’s for certain, the Powerboat Super Leagues will return for another spectacular performance that you do not want to miss. Other exciting events include extreme sports stunt shows, a family fun zone, a 5K river race and so much more!

Of course, don’t leave the kiddos at home! All ages will enjoy an art activity at the art center, activities at the South Florida Museum, the Little Anglers Fishing Tournament and more.

This free, family fun premiere event will also feature a variety of food vendors for you to refuel throughout the day. Then, make sure you stick around for the fireworks show and awards ceremony in Bradenton.

The Bradenton Area River Regatta will be held rain or shine. New this year will be the two Sarasota trolleys that will transport guest from Bradenton to Palmetto throughout the day.

Stay tuned as more details will be released. Visit BradentonAreaRegatta.com for the latest information.

Next: Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Anglers, Download this App and Help Track Invasive Fish

Anglers, Download this App and Help Track Invasive Fish

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Anglers, Download this App and Help Track Invasive Fish

Florida recently partnered with the Swedish app, Fishbrain. Fishbrain allows fishermen to connect and share the best fishing spots, tide changes and any other fishing-related news that interest anglers.

Though, the partnership between the state and the app stems from Florida’s interest in locating invasive fish using the app’s data. With approximately 250,000 Floridians using the app already, the data will assist the state and wildlife officials to track down freshwater exotic fish.

Local fisherman, if you’re interested in joining the state in their research for invasive fish or simply connecting with fellow anglers, here’s how the free app works.  You can follow another angler, a type of fishing or fish species as well as view other helpful tidbits of information including the local weather report. Users can view and post photos as well as leave comments. The map feature also provides accurate locations of where fish are being caught, which is where you can help, local anglers!

In the state’s pilot project, they’ll be using the data taken from the mapping feature to track 15 species of fish. Fish include tilapia, bullseye snakehead and catfish, among others. As anglers log their catches in the app, this information is then delivered to wildlife officials. While anglers can choose whether or not to share their locations, as some fear the best fishing spots will become less of a secret, the state is hoping this will not deter them from assisting them in the project.

Fishbrain is free, but you also have the option to upgrade to the premium version, which includes special features like the fishing forecast and a species tracking map. The premium version costs $5.99 per month or $60 for an annual subscription.

Next: Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Top 5 Places to Spend New Year’s Eve Near Bradenton

Top 5 Places to Spend New Year’s Eve Near Bradenton

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Top 5 Places to Spend New Year’s Eve Near Bradenton

Still looking for the most exciting place to spend New Year’s Eve that’s near Bradenton? We’ve got you covered here at Riviera Dunes Marina. Let’s ring in the New Year near Bradenton at one of these fabulous parties.

1. The Seafood Shack Marina Bar & Grill in Cortez

Head to the Neptune Room at The Seafood Shack Marina Bar & Grill for a New Year’s Eve party with country music performances and more! The Eric Von Band will be bringing the tunes. Opening for country music stars including Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert, Eric Von is also a native of Cortez. Other features of the party include cash bars, drink specials and a special menu.

  • Price: $15 (includes cover, fees and taxes).
  • Time: 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Band begins at 9 p.m.
  • Where: The Seafood Shack Marina Bar & Grill, Cortez.

2. Fishermen’s Village

For a family-friendly environment, head to Fisherman’s Village! Enjoy music and dancing with Gator DJ in Center Court as well as with singer and guitarist Michael Hirst. Visit with Pamela, the radio host of “Tropical Tarot & Beyond” for a tarot reading. Get festive with hair glitter designs from Brian and Lori. Then, the kids will enjoy magic shows, balloon art, face paintings by MaryRose, a photo booth and so much more.

  • Price: Free parking and admission.
  • Time: 5 p.m. to midnight; Michael Hirst at 7:30 p.m. to midnight.
  • Where: Fishermen’s Village, Punta Gorda.

3. Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town

New Year’s Eve is your last chance to galavant around Christmas Town at Busch Gardens. Though nearly an hour from Bradenton, Christmas town is the perfect place to end the year with a bang! Marvel at the two million festive lights and decorations and enjoy holiday entertainment that’s fit for all ages! Visit with Rudolph and Santa and hear live performances featuring holiday classics!

  • Price: $92.99 and up.
  • Time: 9:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Where: Busch Gardens, Tampa.

4. Sarasota Pineapple Drop

If you’re in Downtown Sarasota, head to their annual New Year’s Eve party, the Sarasota Pineapple Drop! Hear live music from Big Night Out on the Mattison’s Stage, beginning at 8 p.m. Jah Movement Reggae Band will be on the east stage near Evie’s at 8 p.m. Then, hear DJs on the Lemon Avenue stage. There’s also plenty of kids entertainment including carnival rides and games beginning at 1:30 p.m.! At midnight, head to the intersection of Lemon Avenue and Main Street for the Pineapple Drop countdown into 2017!

  • Price: Free admission.
  • Time: 1 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
  • Where: Downtown Sarasota.

5. Main Street Live in Downtown Bradenton

Our area’s most popular street party, you won’t want to miss Main Street Live for hours of live music. Bands include The Dram from 6–10 p.m. and Have Gun, Will Travel playing from 10 p.m.–midnight. You’ll also get to the opportunity to peruse a variety of vendors for a festive end to 2016!

  • Price: Free.
  • Time: 6 p.m. to midnight.
  • Where: Old Main Street, Bradenton.

Next: Your Guide to the 3 Best Boat and Water Tours in Palmetto, FL

Where to Eat, Shop & Play in Sarasota, FL

Where to Eat, Shop & Play in Sarasota, FL

where-to-eat-shop-play-in-sarasota-fl

Where to Eat, Shop & Play in Sarasota, FL

Just a short drive away from Riviera Dunes Marina is Downtown Sarasota with many places to eat, shop and play! From galleries to Vietnamese cuisine, here’s a list of fabulous recommendations when you’re thinking about taking a day trip to Sarasota.

Where to Eat

Downtown Sarasota offers a splendid variety of cuisine, from Vietnamese to seafood. Enjoy a mouthwatering seafood stew or more casual bites at Marina Jack. Accompanied by live music, it’s a fun place to spend some time even after dinner’s well over.

Pho Cali Vietnamese Noodle House is perfect for chillier days when you want to be comforted by a bowl of one of their homemade, signature noodle soups. They also have authentic dishes including rice vermicelli bowls and boba tea for an after-meal treat.

For Latino cuisine, you won’t want to miss Selva, a modern spot where you can lounge and enjoy exquisite tapas, a variety of ceviche and other sensational bites.

Where to Shop

Sarasota is known for its exciting and unique shopping experience! Have you been looking for one-of-a-kind glassware and fine linens for your next dinner party? Look no further than Malbi Décor offering an assortment of Italian items for your home.

For artisanal gifts, Artisans’ World Marketplace is the best spot in town. Products hail from Africa to Asia, so you’ll be sure to find a rare treasure.

The latest fashion trends can be discovered with just one visit to RUE SRQ, where Natalie Rue Morgan offers a carefully curated selection of items including handbags, cocktail rings and much more.

Where to Play

Live music lovers will enjoy The Gator Club! Depending on the evening you visit, you’ll hear Top 40 hits to reggae tunes or rhythm and blues. There’s even something for the whiskey aficionados! In their bar, discover 180 whiskey varieties.

Adorers of art will want to visit Art Center Sarasota, which is home to three galleries with many juried exhibitions. There are also youth programs and classes on Saturday if you and your family are looking for a fun weekend activity. Historic Burns Square is also chockfull of galleries, boutiques and shops.

Get out in nature at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens to see rare orchids among more than 20,000 plant varieties. The young ones will enjoy their own rainforest garden as well, so it’s certainly perfect for the whole family!

If you’re in the Bradenton area, make sure you check out our list of Top Things to Do in Bradenton, FL

Next: Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

Where to Fish During Our Florida Winter

Where to Fish During Our Florida Winter

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Where to Fish During Our Florida Winter

The colder weather may be upon us, but that doesn’t mean that the fishing pauses during winter! Snook, big jack crevalle, redfish and other species are plentiful at this time of year—you just have to know where to go.

Stick to the brackish areas of our area. That means the rivers, creeks and bayous are where you’ll find prime gamefish during a Florida winter. You might be wondering, ‘What’s so significant about the brackish portions of our local waters?’ The deeper, more guarded areas of these bodies of water offer more protection and warmth for gamefish, which is why they gather here during our Florida winter.

Other than the plentiful fishing, brackish waters offer many other positives for anglers. The guarded bodies of water are ideal for using small watercrafts, such as kayaks and jon boats, for angling as well as those that are shorebound. Another benefit is that artificial lures tend to do well in these murkier waters since there is more shoreline cover. 

Fly fishers, especially, can benefit from winter fishing in Florida. The local creeks offer a splendid opportunity for them to attract trout that are heading north.

Wondering where the best winter fishing in Florida is? From the Bradenton area to Sarasota, here’s where fishermen have been having luck: 

In the Tampa Bay and Bradenton area, kingfish, mangrove snapper and tarpon are plentiful. It’s been reported that trout, redfish and snook are frequenting the local bays as well. In Sarasota, you’ll be catching bluefish, snook, specks, mackerel and more. Then, if you head further south to the Venice and Nokomis areas, red grouper and snapper are currently being caught with whole squid as bait.

Next: Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

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Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton

With Thanksgiving almost here, it’s time to start planning for the wondrous holiday events, and there is much to see and do in and around Bradenton!

Marvel at trails of lights and parades or participate in reindeer games or toy drives. Free holiday events near Bradenton are plentiful, and you do not want to miss out on all the fun this season!

Here’s a list of free holiday events near Bradenton that we’re most excited about:

Nov. 26: Free Outdoor Movie and Tree Lighting

6–10 p.m., Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach

Head to Bridge Street for an evening of live music from the Sweet Adelines, a free showing of the 1966 cartoon “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and popcorn and refreshments. All you need to bring is a chair and blanket! 

Dec. 2: 38th Annual Holiday Night on St. Armands

6–9 p.m., St. Armands Circle Park, Sarasota

Usher in the holiday season with a Christmas Carol Sing-a-long, special performances and the arrival of Saint Nick himself! Capture a photo with Santa, then enjoy the many store promotions in the shopping center.

Dec. 2–3: A Village Christmas Artwalk Weekend

Friday 6–9:30 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.–4 p.m., Village of the Arts, Bradenton

Village of the Arts will host a special, holiday-themed art walk during their monthly event. While admiring the holiday decorations, peruse unique art in galleries and studios, enjoy live music and food and much more!

Dec. 3: Palmetto’s Christmas in the Park

3–8 p.m., Manatee County Agricultural Museum & Palmetto Historical Park

Join in in Palmetto’s annual Christmas event! This year’s theme is ‘A Country Christmas.’ Chockfull of reindeer games, kids’ crafts and entertainment, Santa will also be arriving at 4 p.m.! And no need to worry about dinner! Food vendors will offer BBQ, lemonade and much more delicious goodies.

Dec. 10: Anna Maria Island Privateers Annual Christmas Parade

10 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Bay Front Park to Coquina Beach

You won’t want to miss the annual Christmas Parade hosted by the Anna Maria Island Privateers. Come and see their private ships as they sail from Bay Front Park to Coquina Beach. Then, Santa will hop aboard their Flagship “Skullywag” for a great photo opportunity.

Dec. 10: Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade

6:30–7:30 p.m., Riverhouse Reef & Grill

Follow the illuminated and decorated boats in the annual holiday boat parade! At dusk, you can enjoy the parade from the Green Bridge Fishing Pier and Riverhouse Reef & Grill as well as the Riverwalk in Bradenton. Boats will also compete for cash prizes!

Dec. 17: 2nd Annual Marty’s Toy Drive

9–11 a.m., Pirate City, 1701 27th St. E., Bradenton

Get into the holiday spirit by joining Bradenton Marauders for their 2nd annual toy drive! Please bring new, unwrapped toys, which will be given to Salvation Army to distribute to those in need. Donators will receive a complimentary breakfast, a promo item and entry into a raffle for four tickets to a 2017 Spring Training game!

Next: Free Fun in Sarasota and Bradenton

Attention Boaters: Watch Out for Florida Manatees!

Attention Boaters: Watch Out for Florida Manatees!

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Attention Boaters: Watch Out for Florida Manatees!

November is Manatee Awareness Month as Florida manatees begin to migrate to our waters to leave the cooler, winter waters. This week, many manatee protection zones went into effect as they travel south.

Manatee numbers are currently flourishing, but this means it’s even more important to look out for them. It’s been reported that there have been 91 manatee fatalities caused from boats this year.

In order to survive the winter weather, Florida manatees migrate to our rivers, bays and coastal waters. This is why it is especially important for boaters to keep a watchful eye out for these aquatic mammals when out on the waters this month.

Though large in size, adult manatees can actually be difficult to spot. To spot them easier, you can wear polarized sunglasses and look out for traces of their presence, such as “footprints” they leave on the water’s surface.

When in manatee protection zones, follow the speed rules in these areas that are known to have more manatees. Boaters can also drive slower, in general, and try to stay in deeper waters to avoid these friendly creatures. Areas such as sea grass beds and other shallow areas will want to be avoided as manatees are known to dwell here as well as lagoons and estuaries.

It’s also important to be mindful to not leave any lines, hooks or any other debris behind in the waters. These could entangle or be ingested by manatees and other wildlife should they encounter these hazardous items.

You can view the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) seasonal rules for manatee migration season as well as the areas designated as manatee protection zones at MyFWC.com/Manatee.

Next: 5 Seafood Gems to Harvest From Your Palmetto Boat

Deck Boats Still Trending with Boaters

Deck Boats Still Trending with Boaters

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Deck Boats Still Trending with Boaters

Offering the quintessential balance of functionality and style, deck boats remain favorable among the boating community.

In 2015, the National Marine Manufacturers Association found that deck boat sales had increased by 11.3 percent, and the numbers are expected to continue to climb by the end of the year.

Boaters tend to favor deck boats for their plentiful seating capacity, which is perfect for families and friends. In addition, there’s a generous amount of room for all of the gear that accommodates an afternoon on the water without overcrowding the deck space. It’s no wonder that deck boats are still trending with boaters!

You may mistake deck boats for bowriders, but when you get up close, you’ll notice these are much more spacious, sporty and chic. Some are even equipped with full windshields so you can enjoy the ride during every season.

In addition to the extra space, deck boats have become favorable among boaters because of how user-friendly they are when it comes to the towing process versus a pontoon. They’re also easier to stow due to their lower profile. In turn, these features attract the more novice of boaters as well.  

Though the most common agreement reached among deck boat customers is the comfort that they provide along with more options for seating and entertaining as well as other amenities, such as a Porta Potti.

With all of the accommodations that deck boats have to offer, the open layout is never compromised. And that’s what is keeping the number of deck boat admirers increasing. The versatility that decks boats offer from a nice sunset cruise to an afternoon zipping across the lake are what keep families impressed as well. Manufacturers will continue improving deck boats’ features to appeal to the interests of their customers, such as technological upgrades and for performance and comfort.

Next: How to Winterize Your Palmetto Boat