Where to Eat, Shop & Play in Sarasota, FL

Where to Eat, Shop & Play in Sarasota, FL

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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

Learn About Bonito Fishing in Sarasota

Learn About Bonito Fishing in Sarasota

Learn About Bonito Fishing in Sarasota

Learn About Bonito Fishing in Sarasota

Do you know about the bonito fish? Let’s learn about this feisty game fish that you may encounter this winter.

The bonito fish is a game fish that is known to frequent the Sarasota area. You may hear these fish referred to as ‘bonita’ or even ‘bonehead.’ Bonito fish, named for their aesthetically pleasing exterior, are speedy and powerful game fish. Their speed and power often causes spools to empty very quickly since they put up quite a fight when you’ve hooked them.

Bonito often travel in schools and will remain in our waters much longer after most pelagics have migrated. You’ll find that seabirds easily spot them when an underwater commotion arises while they’re feeding on small baitfish.

Wondering how to catch them? You’ll be successful with small jigs, spoons and flies, which are often used by sportsmen. Try going to nearshore reefs and catching them by way of bottom fishing; you’ll be surprised when they’re suddenly hooked with a light tackle. The force of the bonito will quickly clue you in that you’ve caught this spirited species.

Though the bonito fish are cousins of the tuna, you’ll want to save these as bait for shark instead of for the dinner table.

Where to Fish Now

The Tampa Bay and Bradenton Area is currently brimming with flounder, large mackerels, black sea bass, grouper, pompano and bluefish.

Sarasota is where you’ll find trout, snook, ladyfish, sea trout and redfish, and bluefish are present as well.

When you’re in the Venice and Nokomis Beach area, expect grouper, snapper, speckled trout and more snook.

The Lemon Bay and Englewood area is bountiful with sea trout, snook, redfish, barracuda and cobia.

There’s much to catch this winter. Happy Fishing!

Learn more about snook here.

 

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

Free Fun in Sarasota and Bradenton

Free Fun in Sarasota and Bradenton

Free Fun in Sarasota and Bradenton

Free Fun in Sarasota and
Bradenton

Whether you’re vacationing here in Sarasota and Bradenton or a local to the area, knowing where to find free fun activities is always beneficial. Here are 10 free fun activities you’ll enjoy in the Sarasota and Bradenton area.

1. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon at Bayfront Park in Sarasota. In addition to the breeze you’ll encounter from the Sarasota Bay, the whole family will enjoy fishing, a play fountain and a fitness walking area. Bring a picnic, and settle in for a serene afternoon at the park.

2. Groove with the drum circles on the beach. Did you know that drum circles regularly gather on Siesta Key Beach and Nokomis Beach? On Sunday evenings at Siesta Key and on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Nokomis, sit back and enjoy this unique show. 

3. Brush up on your skills at North Port Skate Park. If you have a skateboard, bike or inline skates, you won’t want to miss our local skate park complete with jumps, rails, ramps and bowls.

4. Dive into the Florida Maritime Museum. The past comes alive in this 1912 Schoolhouse, where you can learn about those who lived in Cortez, a historic fishing village. The museum’s hours are Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

5. Picnic along the beaches of “old Florida.” Guarded by tall pine trees, a trip to Coquina Beach is like stepping back in time. Picture-esque and serene, it’s the perfect place for a simple picnic or grilling out; just bring your supplies in a cooler, and you’re set to dine in a piece of paradise.

6. Channel your inner artist in Bradenton. In the Village of the Arts, immerse yourself in this creative community during their monthly Artwalk. Hosted on the first Friday evening and Saturday afternoon of each month, enjoy live music, galleries and other free fun surprises.

7. Take your pups to the only pet-friendly beach in the county. At Brohard Paw Park in Venice, your pup can freely roam the beach. You’ll be happy to know there are also dog-friendly drinking fountains and showers as well as leash posts. The park’s hours are 7 a.m. to dusk, daily.

8. Search for prehistoric sharks’ teeth. Did you know that Venice is known as the “shark’s tooth capital of the world”? Local or not, visitors flood to Caspersen Beach for these fossilized treasures on its shores.

9. Live music on Lakewood Ranch Main Street. Groove to the tunes of live music at Music on Main, held on the first Friday of every month from 6–9 p.m. From 60s to Motown, your ears will always be in for a surprise! Don’t forget your lawn chairs and leashed furry friends.

10. Get outside and bike through nature. Both scenic and rural, bikers will enjoy the Legacy Trail full of foliage and pastureland, as well as local neighborhoods. From its beginning at Sarasota to Venice, it’s about a 10-mile adventure.

Next: Fall Events Near Bradenton

The Best Freshwater Fishing in Bradenton

The Best Freshwater Fishing in Bradenton

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The Best Freshwater Fishing in Bradenton

Wondering where the best freshwater fishing can be found in the Bradenton and Sarasota areas? The secret’s out! Benderson Park Lake is just the spot.

Located off of I-75 and Cattlemen Road in the 600-acre Benderson Park, the lake has been kept a secret by local fisherman and other outdoorsmen.

At Benderson Park Lake, anglers will be in heaven as they’ll discover plenty of bluegill, shellcracker, speckled perch, catfish, largemouth black bass and many other treasured species.

The most lively area of the lake is the eastern side of the lake, where you’ll find that catfish, specifically, like to dwell. The best lures to use for these are Rattle Traps Tiny Trap and beetlespin lures. Fly casters will have good luck using nymphs, wooly buggers, sponge spiders and panfish poppers.

Along with the plentiful freshwater fishing, guests will benefit from the park’s fishing pier, picnic areas, bathrooms and a launching facility when on-site. You are also welcome to bring your non-motorized boats along for the fun!

Hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. from now through the winter season. Keep in mind that a Florida freshwater license is required for all participating anglers.

If you have additional questions, call the park at 941-861-5000.

For other freshwater fishing opportunities, it has been reported that there are mackerel, speckled trout and snook in the Tampa Bay area. Other fisherman have found that there are also bluefish and mangrove snapper in the Tampa Bay and Bradenton areas.

In Sarasota, sea trout, jack crevalle, bluegill, shellcracker and channel catfish are very prominent in this area.

When you find yourself in the Venice or Nokomis Beach areas, snook and trout are doing plenty well there.

One thing’s for certain; it’s a good time to cast a line in and around Bradenton!

Next: Snook Harvest Season has Began

The 16th Annual Bayfest on Anna Maria Island

The 16th Annual Bayfest on Anna Maria Island

The 16th Annual Bayfest on Anna Maria Island Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

The 16th Annual Bayfest on Anna Maria Island

Do you have plans for the weekend? Why not head to Bayfest, one of our area’s best music, crafts and food festivals of the season!

Now that the weather is channeling the crisper, fall temperatures (at least for now), there’s no other place you’ll want to be this Saturday, Oct. 15 than at Bayfest. You don’t want to miss this exciting, annual celebration on our beautiful Anna Maria Island. Now in its 16th year, Bayfest is back to bring you performances, delectable vendors, crafts and even a car show!

Important details you’ll want to know before attending:

  • Date and Time: Saturday, Oct. 15, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Location: 401 Pine Avenue, Anna Maria Island. This street will be closed for the duration of the festival.
  • Price: Free

Who to Hear

Featuring emcee Mike Sales, you’ll also get the treat of hearing from Bradenton’s favorite ensembles. Check out the schedule below.

  • 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. — KoKo Ray & The Keepers
  • 1–3 p.m. — Whiskey Blind
  • 3:30–5 p.m. — the Billy Rice Band
  • 5:30–7:30 p.m. — soulRcoaster
  • 8–10 p.m. — The Karen and Jimmy Band

What to Eat

From pizza to kettle corn and subs, there will be a great variety of food offerings to try this weekend. Here are a few restaurants that will be there, among others:

Coastal Crab, Feast Restaurant, Corky’s Hot Dogs, Joey’s Italian Ice, Hahn’s Kettle Corn, Tropi-coco Sarasota-Bradenton, T&L Bar-B-Q, Waterfront Restaurant, Village Idiot Pizzeria, Anna Maria Island Privateers, Joey D’s, Riverside Rollin Smoke, Subs N Grubz and Ellas

Where to Park

In addition to public parking on Manatee Beach, Cross Pointe Fellowship Church will have parking available as well. Once you park at the church, take a free trolley to Pine Avenue, where Bayfest will be held. You’ll find there are several other trolley stops along the way to take you to the festival. The trolley stops running at 10:30 p.m.

More Fun to Expect

  • Car show with 100+ classic and muscle cars
  • Kids zone with games, a bounce house and more exciting surprises
  • Arts and craft vendors
Your Hurricane Matthew Checklist

Your Hurricane Matthew Checklist

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Your Hurricane Matthew Checklist

Hurricane Matthew is well on its way, and you don’t want to waste another moment before heading to the store or locating essential items in your home.

Many of the local grocery stores have restocked their shelves with extra food, water and other supplies that you’ll need once the storm hits Palmetto.

Here’s a helpful checklist to assist you when preparing for Hurricane Matthew.

Food Items

Bottled Water: It’s recommended that you have about 20 gallons for a family of four.

Food: You’ll of course want to get lots of nonperishable canned and dry food items. Consider around 20 cans of chicken, tuna, chili and soup. Peanut butter, bread, cookies, crackers and pet food are other important food items to pick up from the store.

Important Items to Locate

  • first aid kit
  • can opener
  • medications for your family members and pets
  • flashlights or battery-operated lanterns
  • toiletries
  • batteries (make sure you have a variety of sizes for your flashlights)
  • plastic cutlery and paper bowls and plates
  • trash bags
  • gallon-sized freezer bags to keep items dry
  • important documents (insurance, Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, etc.)

Other Important To-Dos

  • Fuel your cars.
  • Obtain extra fuel for generators.
  • Withdraw cash.
  • Refill medications.
  • Locate the evacuation route and local storm shelters, and go over the escape route with your family members.
  • Depending on its size, store your boat at a marina or in a boatyard.
  • Clear as many items as you can from your yard or patio.

While there are certainly other items you may need to add to this Hurricane Matthew preparation checklist, we hope this will get you off to a good start. Stay safe!

Next: Fall Events Near Bradenton