4 Top Light Displays Near Riviera Dunes Marina

4 Top Light Displays Near Riviera Dunes Marina

4 Top Light Displays Near Riviera Dunes Marina

4 Top Light Displays Near Riviera Dunes Marina

The holiday season is still in full force, which also means there are amazing light displays all across our area! Here are the best places to view holiday light displays near Riviera Dunes Marina.

Colonial Gables

Located at the corner of Bee Ridge and Woodmont Drive in Sarasota, the neighborhood of Colonial Gables comes alive with an assortment of magical light displays every year to spread the Christmas cheer! Grab a hot cocoa at the nearby Bee Ridge Starbucks for you to enjoy as you drive through the dreamy illuminated arches.

Enander’s Winter Wonderland

Since 1987, the Enander family has decked out their home and yard with festive lights and become a local holiday spectacle! With over 250,000 lights and over 400 illuminated figurines, visitors can take a walking tour of their property, which covers over 2 acres! Join in on the fun every night until Jan. 8, from 6–10 p.m. Their home is located at 2281 Mission Valley Boulevard in Nokomis, and there is no admission fee. Join in and get in the Christmas spirit!

Lights in Bloom at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Beginning Dec. 21 until Dec. 30, head to Selby Gardens where you can see the beloved local light displays, “Lights In Bloom.” As you stroll through the Selby Gardens, see illuminated flowers, radiating butterflies and even Santa himself. This is also a perfect outing for kids as there are arts and crafts activities and games! Then, don’t miss the live entertainment by SoulRCoaster each night. Cash bar and other refreshments will be on site, and The Selby House Cafe will make their full menu available as well.

Sarasota Holiday Tour of Christmas Lights

Every year, Sarasota Holiday Tour of Christmas Lights is a must-see event during the holidays. Hop aboard the SRQ Trolley, and you’ll be taken on a tour of the best Christmas lights in the area, all to a festive soundtrack as well. From the gingerbread house to sparkling arches, this annual event is a local favorite. Tours continue through Dec. 31. Tour times are 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Next: Fun Free Activities for Holiday Break Near Bradenton

Fun Free Activities for Holiday Break Near Bradenton

Fun Free Activities for Holiday Break Near Bradenton

Fun Free Activities for Holiday Break Near Bradenton Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

Fun Free Activities for Holiday Break Near Bradenton

With Christmas nearly a week away, it’s likely that your loved ones will be visiting for the holiday festivities. This of course means there will be more kids to keep occupied while on holiday break.

Here are some free activities near Bradenton to keep the kiddos at bay during holiday break:

Holidays on Main

Now through Dec. 23, there is much to see and do on Main Street at Lakewood Ranch! Some highlights include breakfast with Santa, this Saturday, the 16th and lunch with Santa on Sunday, the 17th. Next Thursday, Dec. 21, the fun kicks off at 5 p.m. for carriage rides, strolling carolers and Santa Strolls. You can even join in on the 5K Jingle Run on Dec. 22.  

Bradenton’s Riverwalk

While you’re probably familiar with Bradenton’s Riverwalk, the holidays are a great opportunity to show your family around this fun local destination. The kids can play volleyball, use the skate park and head to the family fun zone or splash pad. There is also an impressive collection of public art and a great view of the Manatee River to enjoy while on holiday break.

Village of the Arts

You and your loved ones can certainly spend a whole day strolling the Village of the Arts! From specialty shops and bakeries to art galleries and live artwork, you’ll be mesmerized by the colorful streets. Then, return in the New Year for their monthly artwalk with live music, food and more!

Robinson Nature Preserve

Simmer down from holiday break festivities and head to Robinson Nature Preserve. With 487 acres of wooded bliss, this nature area is a local hot spot for bird lovers, trail walkers and bikers. You can even make an afternoon out of your visit and bring your own picnic and sit under the covered pavilion to replenish after the day’s hike. Of course, there’s an area for the little ones, too! Robinson Nature Preserve has a playground for the kiddos to stretch their legs.

Local beaches

Our local beaches are always a great pastime to take your loved ones during holiday break. This might be their only time of year that they get to visit the beach! Beaches like Anna Maria Beach and Manatee Beach are great places to start. Manatee Beach is also equipped with plenty of picnic tables, showers and concessions.

Next: 6 Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton, FL

6 Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton, FL

6 Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton, FL

6 Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton, FL Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

6 Free Holiday Events Near Bradenton, FL

Holiday season is in full swing! From dazzling parades to photo moments with Santa, there’s an abundance of free holiday events that you and your family will not want to miss. All the yuletide fun kicks off this weekend!

Here are six free holiday events near Bradenton, FL!

Jingle Paws Jubilee

Dec. 3, Noon–5 p.m.

Phillippi Estate Park, Sarasota

Even the furry family members get to join in on this holiday season! This Sunday, head to Phillippi Estate Park for the annual Jingle Paws Jubilee. At the jubilee, you can get your holiday shopping done as there are many exciting pet vendors as well as dogs and cats available for adoption! Then, don’t miss the Holiday Costume Parade & Contest, live DJ music, delicious food vendors, raffle prizes, demonstrations and more!

Holidays Around the Ranch

Dec. 8, 6–9 p.m.

Lakewood Main Street

Entering by a horse-drawn carriage, Santa Claus himself will make a grand appearance at Lakewood Main Street for the annual Holidays Around the Ranch. Grab some hot cocoa or eggnog as you peruse the vendors or join the carolers for a round of seasonal favorites. Kids will also enjoy the outdoor snow slide!

Poinsettia Parade and Tree Lighting & Poinsettia Festival

Dec. 9, Parade 5 p.m., Lighting and Festival 6:30–9:30 p.m.

North Port

The Poinsettia Parade is one of the free holiday events that you do not want to miss! Beginning at Sylvania Avenue, decorated vehicles and groups will join in in the Poinsettia Parade, led by North Port Fire Rescue. Of course, what’s a holiday event without St. Nick himself? Santa will of course make an appearance. Once the parade comes to a close as the tree lighting and festival kicks off! With live entertainment by Stone Krow and local school choirs, there will also be family-friendly events including face paintings and a giant slide as well as food and holiday vendors on site. Kids can meet Santa at City Hall, too! 

Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade

Dec. 9, 6–9 p.m.

Manatee River

Bradenton boat lovers will love the annual holiday boat parade! Volunteers from our local community join in every year to deck out their boats and ride along Manatee River for all to see. Spectators can best view the holiday boat parade from the Green Bridge Fishing Pier, Bradenton Riverwalk or Pier 22, where the judging takes place for best decorated boat!

2nd Annual Holiday Classic Movie on the Riverwalk

Dec. 15, 6–9 p.m.

Bradenton Riverwalk

Bring your lawn chairs or blankets, and don’t miss the beloved Christmas comedy, “Elf,” on Bradenton Riverwalk. Your whole family can join in to enjoy popcorn and other refreshments while you sit back and enjoy this holiday favorite. There will also be face painting fun, photo opportunities and music before the movie begins.

Main Street Live Street Party

Dec. 31, 6 p.m.–midnight

Old Main Street, Bradenton

End 2017 with a bang at the Main Street Live Street Party! Downtown Bradenton’s annual New Year’s Eve block party is back this year with folk-rock band Have Fun, Will Travel headlining the event. The street closes as vendors and local food trucks fill the streets for this fun final night of the year.

Next: Don’t Miss these 4 Breweries near Sarasota

Three Popular Birding Spots Near Riviera Dunes Marina

Three Popular Birding Spots Near Riviera Dunes Marina

Three Popular Birding Spots Near Riviera Dunes Marina

Three Popular Birding Spots Near Riviera Dunes Marina

Did you know that our area is known for fabulous birding? That’s right! Our waterways, beaches, islands, estuaries and marshes make the perfect breeding grounds and habitats for local birds. From egrets to osprey and herons to pelicans, the variety of bird species here is quite broad! Here are a few of the most popular birding spots you must visit whenever you’re near Riviera Dunes Marina.

Service Club Park

Located at the the north end of Brohard Park, you’ll find several fascinating birds here. In the boardwalk area, you’ll see our state’s scrub-jays as well as wrens, ground-doves and savannah sparrows, which can be spotted more often during the winter. Head to the shore, and you’ll spot plovers, sanderlings and willet. There are also a variety of gulls you will be sure to see here: Ring-bellied, lesser black-backed and laughing gull are a few species.

Brohard and Caspersen Beaches

Located just south of Venice, about 45 minutes from Riviera Dunes Marina, you’ll stumble upon Brohard Beach and Caspersen Beach, two great birding spots in our area. When you scan the water, be on the lookout for northern gannets. These are typically white with long beaks that curve slightly at the end. During the winter months, it’s more likely that you will see common loons and red-breasted mergansers, which is a diving duck with a long and thin bill. Here’s a fun fact: The fastest duck, a a red-breasted merganser, was recorded flying at 100 mph!

Palmer Point Park

While this Sarasota park is known for its secluded, private beach areas, you will be excited to learn that it’s another great local birding spot! From egrets to gulls and herons to black skimmers, there’s over a dozen of different species you’ll find here. When you look above, you might even spot ospreys or bald eagles waterside or spending some time in the trees.

Next: 3 Shelling Hot Spots Near Palmetto, FL

5 Sportfish You’ll Find in Sarasota

5 Sportfish You’ll Find in Sarasota

5 Sportfish You’ll Find in Sarasota Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

5 Sportfish You’ll Find in Sarasota

When you’re not enjoying a leisurely ride through the waters of Sarasota and the surrounding areas, there are plenty of opportunities for you to go sportfishing here! Here are five of the predominant sportish you will find in our area. 


With its lighter brown to darker brown body and whiter underside, flounder is a popular sportfish you’ll discover here. You’ll know you’ve found flounder when you see both of its eyes on the left side of its body. You can find these on sandy bottoms inshore on channel edges. However, males are typically found offshore. Live shrimp, sand fleas and pinfish are great bait to use for flounder. Look in City Island Flats, Big Pass and Tony Saprito Pier to start.

Red Drum

Known for their copper-bronze bodies, large scales and spotted tails, red drum are another popular sportfish to you’ll see during your afternoon on Sarasota waters. Look to City Island Flats, San Remo Basin and Roberts Bay to begin your search. Like flounder, red drum also have an appetite for live shrimp, and you can use soft-bodied jigs or small silver spoons to increase your chance of a catch. During winter months, red drum are found in grass beds or near oyster bars.


You can easily spot a sheepshead when you see its silver body with vertical, black stripes. When you’re looking for sheepshead, you’ll have the most luck inshore near oyster bars, seawalls and near bridges and docks. Specifically, head to Ringling Causeway, San Remo Basin and the docks in Roberts Bay in Siesta Key. Sheepshead feed on live shrimp, sand fleas and fiddle crabs.


With a sloping forehead and larger lower jaw, much like an underbite, snook are one of the Florida sportfish that make our state the Fishing Capital of the World. From canals and tidal creeks to tidal pass, snook can continue to be harvested until December 1. You’ll have your best luck in the cooler months at Phillippi Creek and at New Pass Bridge when the weather is warmer. They are most likely to be caught with pinfish, shrimp or sardines as your bait.

Spotted Seatrout

Also within the drum family, spotted seatrout have a lighter underbelly with a dark gray or greenish top with round spots. Spotted seatrout are found both inshore and nearshore within seagrass beds as well as deeper waters and over oyster bars. Some local spots to find these sportfish are in Bird Key flats, City Island Flats and South Lido Park. Make sure to bring your live shrimp and pigfish for your best chances at catching this popular sportfish.

Next: No Boat, No Problem! 4 Local Fishing Holes

The 2017 Siesta Key Crystal Classic is This Weekend!

The 2017 Siesta Key Crystal Classic is This Weekend!

The 2017 Siesta Key Crystal Classic is This Weekend! Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

The 2017 Siesta Key Crystal Classic is This Weekend!

It’s that time of the year! Make sure to clear your schedules because the 8th Annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic is back again this weekend and ready to wow you with amazing sand masterpieces!

Every year, professional sand sculptors from around the world come to Sarasota to participate in this international sandsculpting festival. Luckily, for us, the event is in our own stomping grounds, and we don’t have to travel too far to be a part of this exciting and unique annual event.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2017 Siesta Key Crystal Classic:

This year, artists hail from Canada, Czech Republic, Amsterdam, Lithuania, Singapore and various states in the U.S.

Kicking off this Friday, you can view and vote for the masterpieces crafted by master sand sculptors. For four days, there will be live music, a party tent and dining tent as well as shopping vendors. Looking to learn more about sandsculpting? There will be demonstrations and lessons for you to learn! Kids will also enjoy the Learning Curve, an art and science lab where they can expand their knowledge about Siesta Key’s own white quartz sand as well as other sand varieties from around the country.  Lastly, there will be fun competitions including a 10-minute quick sand competition and other amateur contests for your entertainment! See the full schedule here

On Sunday, the winner will be announced in an awards ceremony. Then, voting for the People’s Choice Award ends on Monday at 5 p.m., and the winner will be announced via the event’s Facebook page and website on Tuesday, the 14th. 

When: Friday, Nov. 10–Monday, Nov. 13


  • Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
  • Sunday and Monday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.


Admission prices are based on a daily basis.

  • Adults $10
  • Children ages 5–17 $5
  • Seniors ages 65+ and Active and Retired Military $8

To avoid the crowds when parking, hop aboard the Siesta Key Breeze Free Trolley Service!

Next: Don’t Miss these 4 Breweries near Sarasota

3 Shelling Hot Spots Near Palmetto, FL

3 Shelling Hot Spots Near Palmetto, FL

3 Shelling Hot Spots Near Palmetto, FL Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

3 Shelling Hot Spots Near Palmetto, FL

If you’re looking for shelling hot spots near Palmetto, you don’t have to go far! There are plenty of locals’ spots that you will want to visit when you’re ready to add to your collection. While veteran beachcombers might know about these spots, you never know what treasures you will discover upon your return!

Keep in mind that you’ll have your most successful shelling when either the water is at low tide or after a storm, when there are plenty of gems washing ashore. 

Here are the three best shelling hot spots when you’re in the Palmetto area.

Manatee Public Beach

If you head to the end of Manatee Public Beach, you can park there for free! After combing the beaches, this is also a great area to shop for souvenirs, visit gift shops and even grab lunch or dinner at the variety of cafes there. And if you prefer to clean up before heading home, there are public showers to do so!

Coquina Public Beach

Head to South Gulf Drive, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find abundant treasures awaiting for you! Here you will find shark’s teeth! When you work up an appetite from all of your shelling, head to the concession stand for some light refreshments.

Egmont Key

Tucked away in Tampa Bay, beachcombers must travel by ferry to this area, which is home to pristine beaches and of course excellent shelling opportunities. Because this state park is so secluded, it’s best to pack plenty of drinking water and extra food as there are no stores on site. Once you’re done shelling, that doesn’t mean the fun stops! Continue to enjoy the great outdoors as you can go fishing, swimming and even wildlife watching.

Next: 4 Events for Fall Fun in the Palmetto Area

4 Dog Parks Near Riviera Dunes Marina

4 Dog Parks Near Riviera Dunes Marina

Dog Parks Near Riviera Dunes Marina

4 Dog Parks Near Riviera Dunes Marina

There’s no shortage of dog parks near Riviera Dunes Marina when your furry friends need to stretch their legs! Here’s a round-up of nearby dog parks in Palmetto, Sarasota and Bradenton that will ensure your pups are not only welcome, but exercised!

1. Dog Leg Canine Park

7550 69th Street East, Palmetto

Your pups will be VIP (Very Important Pups) for the day while at Dog Leg Canine Park in Palmetto. From sunrise to sunset, dogs can visit the fenced-in park, which sits on 3 acres at Buffalo Creek Park. Your pups are free to roam without their leashes . . . within the park, of course. Amenities include their own water fountain, complimentary waste bags, a separate enclosed area for small or enderly pups and a covered shelter. Keep in mind that there is maintenance on the park grounds Thursdays, 7–10 a.m. and on the last Friday of the month from 2 p.m. to dusk.

2. De Soto National Memorial Park

8300 Desoto Memorial Hwy, Bradenton

Popular for fishing, boating, bird watching and many more outdoor activities, your furry family members are welcome to join in on the fun as well! As long as they are on a handheld leash, pups are free to accompany you in the park. Then, make sure you return in March for their annual Dog Days at De Soto event where there is live music, food and demonstrations with dog experts!

3. Happy Tails Canine Park

51st Street, Bradenton

Located at G.T. Bray Park, Happy Tails Canine Park is another one of the great dog parks near Riviera Dunes Marina where your pets can roam freely! The fenced-in, 3-acre park offers a safe environment for your furry family members to play and socialize with other pups—leash-free. Then, don’t worry about bringing a water bowl or waste bags as these are complimentary to park visitors. Similar to Dog Leg Canine Park, there are also maintenance hours every Thursday 7–10 a.m. and the last Friday of each month beginning at 2 p.m.  

4. Arlington Paw Park

2650 Waldemere St., Sarasota

What used to be a baseball field is now a dog park for your pups! If you’re hesitant to bring your smaller pups around those that are five times its size, then this park is for you! The Arlington Paw Park is divided into two sides—large dogs and small dogs that weigh under 20 pounds. The gates to each side are separate and double-gated. While there is not a covered shelter and very limited seating, your dogs will have access to complimentary drinking water on each side.

Next: 8 Tips for Boating with Your Pups

6 Family-Friendly Halloween Activities Near Bradenton

6 Family-Friendly Halloween Activities Near Bradenton

Family-Friendly Halloween Activities Near Bradenton Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

6 Family-Friendly Halloween Activities Near Bradenton

With just two weeks away from Halloween, there are plenty of ways to have family fun without the fright! From parades to ghost walks and where to trick or treat with the kiddos, keep reading to find the best non-spooky spots for the remaining weeks of this hair-raising season.

Here are six family-friendly halloween activities near Bradenton and surrounding areas.

Bradenton Beach Ghost Tours

  • From Bridge Street
  • Ongoing, Tuesday–Saturday, 8 p.m.
  • $10–$15

Hear about the history of Bradenton Beach, shipwrecks and mysterious ghost stories, some of which are based on eyewitness accounts! The walking tour duration is 90 minutes beginning at 8 p.m. on Bridge Street. Tours are held every Tuesday–Saturday. Tickets must be purchased in advance online or via phone at 941-704-0621.

Night of Fun, Fish & Fright

  • Mote Marine Aquarium
  • Oct 20, 6–8:30 p.m.
  • $10–$14

This weekend, head to Mote Marine Aquarium for an evening of frightful, family-friendly Halloween activities! Discover shark teeth within Coffin Creek, view their exciting underwater pumpkin carving, Mad Science experiments and so much more spooktacular fun!

Boo Fest

  • Lakewood Main Street
  • Oct. 27, 6–9 p.m.
  • Parking: $5

Join in for this exciting annual event held on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch! Kids can trick or treat from local merchants, traverse their Spooktacular Maze and be amazed at the creations of a ghostly balloon artist. Entertainment includes a costume contest, local dancers and eerie music to set the tone for this haunting evening.

Selby Spooktacular

  • Selby Gardens
  • Oct. 29, 10 a.m.–12 p.m.
  • $10–$20

Kick off Halloween weekend with an afternoon of wholesome, family fun! With trick-or-treating, pumpkin decorating, seed planting and even a mad scientist experiment, you don’t want to miss out on all the fun at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Stick around for lunch at the cafe as well as frozen goodies by B’s Cool Treat’s.

Children’s Halloween Parade!

  • West Venice Avenue
  • Oct. 31, 4–7 p.m.
  • Free

Parents, bring the kiddos for the annual Halloween Parade down West Venice Avenue! In true Venice fashion, “Old Betsy,” the city’s antique fire truck, will be leading the parade of hundreds of children showing off their costumes. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Following the parade, kids are welcome to trick or treat along Venice Avenue.

22nd Annual Halloween Safe Walk

  • Dearborn Street
  • Oct 31, 5–7 p.m.
  • Free

For family-friendly Halloween activities, look to Dearborn Street in Englewood, which will be closed for your little ones to safely trick or treat. When you’ve fulfilled your kids’ sweet tooths, don’t miss the live music, costume contest and many more exciting treats!

Next: 4 Events for Fall Fun in the Palmetto Area

No Boat, No Problem! 4 Local Fishing Holes

No Boat, No Problem! 4 Local Fishing Holes

No Boat, No problem! 4 Local Fishing Holes

No Boat, No Problem! 4 Local Fishing Holes

Who says you need a boat to visit some of the best local fishing holes in our area? While we are certainly boat lovers around here at Riviera Dunes Marina, sometimes it’s nice to walk up to a local pier or park along the shores or banks to drop a line and wait for the next big catch!

Here are four local fishing holes for when you’re going boatless:

South Lido Park

Located on Big Pass shore, South Lido Park offers fun, fishing and more for the entire family. With ample parking, South Lido Park is also more secluded offering extra opportunities for fishing and quiet moments for you to relax. You will also discover pavilions, grills for picnicking and restrooms on-site.

Point of Rocks

While there is less public parking at Point of Rocks in Sarasota, there are ample opportunities to cast a line . . . you just have to arrive a little earlier. Then, when you’ve had your fill of an afternoon of fishing, you can enjoy some snorkeling among lovely coral if the weather permits.

Bay Island Park

This Sarasota hidden gem is a local favorite! Bay Island Park offers scenic views and … you guessed it, plenty of recreational fishing opportunities. In addition, there are hiking trails, a fishing pier, a playground and picnic and bathroom facilities.

Twin Lakes Park

Freshwater, bank fishing is at its finest at Twin Lakes Park, a 123-acre park brimming with catfish, bream and bass! What’s also unique about this park is that it doubles as a training site for minor and major league baseball teams! So, join in on the fun, cast a line and have a picnic at the pavilion, then you might catch some great baseball, too!

As you can see, great fishing in our area doesn’t have to be synonymous with being a boat owner! If you decide to go boatless, why not keep your boat safe and secure here at Riviera Dunes Marina? Here’s a full list of the luxury services we offer to our customers.

Next: The Best Freshwater Fishing in Bradenton