3 Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Vacation Near Our Marina

3 Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Vacation Near Our Marina

3 Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Vacation Near Our Marina Riviera Dunes Marina

3 Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Vacation Near Our Marina

Whether you’re on spring break or visiting our lovely beaches for your annual vacation, you don’t have to break the bank. By now, you know that traveling expenses and food in and of themselves can take up the majority of your budget leaving you with the decision to exceed it or stay within your means. Staying within your budget doesn’t have to be boring! Here are plenty of fun things you can do here that are either free or affordable to make this a budget-friendly vacation for you and your family.

1. Head to the beach.

Visiting our local beaches should come as no surprise for spending your budget-friendly vacation here. Head to Longboat Key, Lido Key or Siesta Key in Sarasota or to the Coquina, Holmes or Bradenton beaches near our marina. Once your have all of your beach essentials, from your chairs to your towels and toys, pack your picnic for a no-sweat lunch and to get the most out of your beach day. Then, take a container with you because you’re sure to find all sorts of lovely shells you’ll want to take home. The best of all? Walk along the shore during sunset for breathtaking views—at no cost.

2. There’s plenty of indoor fun, too!

When you need to recover from a sunburn, the fun doesn’t stop when you head indoors. Hone in on your bowling skills at the local AMF in Bradenton where you can participate in bowling tournaments and have lunch in the food court. The kids can also play in the game room! Parkway 8 Cinema is another fabulous indoor option that’s especially great for your budget-friendly vacation. Set in an old-style theater, all of the movies will cost you no more than $2.50, and there are also affordable snacks at the concession stand. Make sure to bring cash since the theater is cash-only.

3. Choose your own adventure at the local parks and nature reserves.

The De Soto National Memorial is a must-see while here in Bradenton, and admission is also free. Surrounded by 26 acres, there are a variety of activities you can enjoy when visiting the park. From December through April, Camp Uzita has live history demonstrations every Thursday–Sunday. There’s also an on-site theater where you can view “Hernando de Soto in America” and learn more about the Hernando de Soto expedition. Other nearby nature areas include Emerson Point Reserve, Felts Audubon Preserve and Robinson Nature Preserve, where you can traverse the grounds via bike or foot! Some of the nature areas also offer launch areas for you to take out your kayak or paddle board.

Next: 6 Secret Islands to Visit Near Palmetto, FL

Spring Break: Family-Friendly Activities  near Riviera Dunes Marina

Spring Break: Family-Friendly Activities near Riviera Dunes Marina

Spring Break: Family-Friendly Activities near Riviera Dunes Marina

Spring Break: Family-Friendly Activities near Riviera Dunes Marina

With spring break just around the corner, it’s time to start planning your trip to the Bradenton, Sarasota and Palmetto areas! In addition to our area’s pristine beaches, you’ll quickly discover that our area accommodates all ages. Family-friendly activities abound near Riviera Dunes Marina, from fishing trips to nature obstacle courses and much more. Here’s a snapshot of some fabulous activities that are perfect for your family this spring break.

Spend a day in the trees.

If your family loves being outside, but they want to take a break from the beach, everyone will enjoy a day in the trees as they traverse unique obstacle courses at TreeUmph! Adventure Course! If you’re new to ziplining, TreeUmph! has guides that not only monitor you to ensure you are safe, but they also train you to best navigate the courses. Of course, you are always clicked in with their belay systems to keep you secure during your adventure. Zipline among the trees or sit back and watch your loved ones for one unforgettable experience during your vacation! 

Cast a line.

If you don’t already know, the folks here love to spend a day fishing! You can choose from a shorter excursion at one of our local piers, or you can seek out a local fishing charter where a captain takes you out for a longer fishing trip. Depending on the day, you might catch red grouper, flounder or king mackerel, among several other species. Do you love deep sea fishing? There are trips here just for you! There are even special sunset fishing trips, too. The best thing about local fishing charters is that they are often customizable. You could take a private charter to accommodate a small group of people or join in on a trip with a few dozen other people. 

Tour our area in a new, unique way!

Perhaps you visit the Gulf Coast for spring break every year, but you’re looking to get a fresh taste of our region this year. There are food tours that take you through Downtown Sarasota as you sample our area’s best in fine dining, global fare and more delightful delicacies! Eco tours are another unique way to tour the area. Whether your vessel is a bike or a kayak, there’s always something new to discover about our area’s natural history.

Have a beach day.

Of course, it’s not a visit to the Bradenton area without a day spent at the beach during your spring break vacation. From lounging on the beach to playing a round of frisbee, to shelling and looking for unique birds, our many beaches are a great way to relax and spend time with your loved ones.

Next: Unique Ways to Tour Bradenton and Sarasota

Valentine’s Day Activities in the Bradenton Area

Valentine’s Day Activities in the Bradenton Area

Valentine’s Day Activities in the Bradenton Area Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

Valentine’s Day Activities in the Bradenton Area

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s time to start planning this special day with your special someone (or with your best gals for your own Galentine’s Day).

From local wineries to the beach, Bradenton and the surrounding areas make it easy for you to mix it up this Valentine’s Day. Here are a few unique ways to spend this holiday with your special someone.

Visit a winery.

There are plenty of local wineries that you can visit to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Besides their fabulous red, white and rose wines, Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery is also known for being a “green” winery because all of their bottles are recycled. While they are not open on Valentine’s Day, this makes visiting a winery a perfect excuse for extending this celebration of love well into the weekend. Fiorelli Winery boasts Old World dry whites and dry reds—all of which are Italian-inspired. Fiorelli Winery is open on Valentine’s Day until 5 p.m. However, if you are interested in going on a vineyard tour, these are only available on the weekend.

Catch a beach sunset.

Just because watching a beach sunset for Valentine’s Day is completely free doesn’t mean that it’s any less special! Make the evening more special by packing a picnic with dinner, blanket and beverages as you sit back and relax under the moonlight.

Take it to the ice!

To mix things up, head to a local ice skating rink, such as Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex. Located in nearby Ellenton, their 115,000-square-foot ice and sports complex is open to the public daily and welcomes all levels. Listen to music while you skate with your sweetie in the arena for a truly unforgettable Valentine’s Day.

Head to the Riverwalk.

The best part about Bradenton’s Riverwalk is that there is truly something for everyone here. From the skate park to the fishing pier, the 1.5-mile park is complete with public art, places to shop and delicious restaurants for you to enjoy a hearty meal. Stroll the boardwalk for its array of activities, or simply enjoy a walk after your sunset picnic on the beach.

Next: Unique Ways to Tour Bradenton and Sarasota

Tips for Wintertime Fishing in the Palmetto Area

Tips for Wintertime Fishing in the Palmetto Area

Tips for Wintertime Fishing in the Palmetto Area Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

Tips for Wintertime Fishing in the Palmetto Area

Don’t let the recent colder weather discourage you from your wintertime fishing adventures! You might not think that fish will be biting when it’s cold out, but certain fish, such as sheepshead, black drum and redfish, actually thrive in the cooler temperatures. Here are a few tips for fishing during colder weather:

Dress appropriately.

First, make sure you have proper gear when wintertime fishing in Palmetto and the surrounding areas. The winter months can bring some rain, which can cause more spraying than usual when you’re on your boat. Pack your raincoat and bring your rubber boots so that you’re guaranteed to stay warm during your excursion.

Keep an eye on the cold fronts.

Wintertime fishing also brings the cold fronts to the Palmetto area. Be patient and wait for the cold fronts and accompanying stormy weather and windy weather to pass through. After a few days, the water becomes more calm and warm. This is the best time to get out on the water since the fish are very active! While monitoring the cold fronts, you can also check a barometer for water pressure levels. Increasing pressure levels also make for a great time to fish during the winter months. When the water pressure is decreasing or stagnant, you won’t have the best luck fishing.

Know where to look.

Due to the colder weather, fish like to gather in deep holes or shallow flats where the water temperature is warmer. Sheepshead, in particular, prefer to congregate around reefs, piers and docks, while you’ll have more luck finding black drum in private canals.

Bring the right bait.

Live shrimp are known for attracting the most fish during colder temperatures. To entice the fish to come out of their warm water nooks, clip the tails of your shrimp to release a stronger scent in the water. Artificial bait can work as well, just make sure you are being patient when reeling in as any abrupt movement might scare them off.

Next: 7 Tips for Staying Safe in Winter Weather

Unique Ways to Tour Bradenton and Sarasota

Unique Ways to Tour Bradenton and Sarasota

Unique Ways to Tour Bradenton and Sarasota Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

Unique Ways to Tour Bradenton and Sarasota

While our area is brimming with beautiful beaches and other entertaining spots, there are even more unconventional and fun ways to explore the area to truly get a taste of the local culture. Whether you’re a lover of food, natural history or sightseeing among our fabulous waterways, there are several unique ways to tour Bradenton and Sarasota. The great thing about these tours is that even if you are a local or have vacationed here several times, you can explore the area in a new way and discover hidden gems along the way. Here are a few unique ways to tour our beautiful area!

Food Tours

There is an abundance of tasty food tours here to make your experience here a palatable one. If you’re available for lunch, try the International Flavors of Sarasota Tour where you get to venture around Downtown Sarasota to taste the local food spots that offer global fare! Then, the St. Armands Stroll & Taste Tour is also offered during lunch and takes you downtown to experience the area’s fine cuisine offerings, all while learning about our area’s rich history. Lastly, imbibe with Happy Tours as you learn more about Florida’s Prohibition-era history and sample specially selected spirits and light nosh to accompany them.

Eco and Adventure Tours

When you’re on the hunt for unique ways to tour the Bradenton and Sarasota, and you’re craving a day of adventure, look no further than the local eco tours! From backwoods bike trails to kayaking, hiking and biking tours among the mangrove tunnels, discovering the area’s natural history is a breeze with the many local tours available to you. Some places that offer nature tours are Around the Bend Nature Tours, ((ecko)) Eco Tours, Biotica Eco Tours and so many more. The area’s eco tours are also very customizable. You can choose among full-day and half-day tours, low–medium gear tours, birding tours and the list goes on.

Sailing Tours

When you just can’t get enough of the glistening Florida Gulf Coast waters (We don’t blame you!), there are tours for you, too! Kathleen D Sailing Catamarans offers dolphin watch tours, sunset sails and adventure sailing tours, which include sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, shelling and even lunch! Depending on your schedule and interest, the duration of their tours can be 2 hours to half a day. Tours take off from Downtown Sarasota and also offer complimentary bottled water and parking for your convenience. All you have to do is bring your own picnic, sit back and enjoy the ride!

Next: 3 Best Bike Trails Near Our Marina

New Year’s Eve 2017: Top Local Events and Parties

New Year’s Eve 2017: Top Local Events and Parties

New Year’s Eve 2017: Top Local Events and Parties

New Year’s Eve 2017: Top Local Events and Parties

Now that you’ve–hopefully–recovered from your turkey-and-sugar-induced comas, it’s time to start gearing up for the end of 2017! From fireworks on the bay to the Pineapple Drop, there are several New Year’s Eve celebrations and events that you will not want to miss! Here’s a round-up of the best things to do on the last evening of the year:

The Annual Pineapple Drop

Head to Downtown Sarasota for their annual New Year’s Eve bash, the Pineapple Drop. Starting at 6 p.m., Main Street opens up for one of the most anticipated parties of the year. Local restaurants will have special dining deals, and you can even grab a cold one at the many beer stations downtown. Live music kicks off at 9 p.m., then at midnight, the awaited Pineapple Drop goes down at the corner of Main Street and Lemon Avenue.

New Year’s Eve Dance Party

Show off your moves at the dance party hosted at The Municipal Auditorium in Sarasota! Featuring live music by Reverend Barry and the Funk, your all-inclusive tickets will not only get you endless champagne, gourmet catered food, valet and access to an open bar, but you’ll get to see a spectacular light show! Don’t miss this New Year’s Eve dance party! Tickets are $140 until Dec. 30 and $160 on the day of the event.

7th Annual Fireworks on the Bay

What’s a New Year’s Eve celebration without fireworks on the bay? Now in its 7th year, Marina Jack hosts a dazzling way to end the year with their fireworks show and live music to benefit the Suncoast Charities for Children. The best spots to view the fireworks are Downtown Sarasota as well as Bayfront Park and Island Park. While you can surely bring your lawn chairs and blankets to view the show for free, you can also purchase dinner and entertainment packages if you wish. View a full list of the entertainment packages here

Next: Fun Free Activities for Holiday Break Near Bradenton

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.

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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