Escape the hustle and bustle!  Castaway for the day on Cayo Costa Island.

Escape the hustle and bustle! Castaway for the day on Cayo Costa Island.

If you’re looking for a hideaway from the excitement of Southwest Florida for the day, Cayo Costa Island State Park is the perfect oasis. This barrier island, accessible by boat or ferry, is tucked away near Punta Gorda and North Fort Myers, making it the ideal private retreat. This remarkable Gulf Coast location, renowned for the white sand beaches and shelling, is a seclusive and relaxing getaway.

Getting to Cayo Costa Island

Cayo Costa Island lies at the entrance of Charlotte Harbor, nestled between North Captiva Island and Boca Grande, and is reached by boat or ferry. If you don’t have a boat to visit this breathtaking island, Captiva Cruises, the official state park concessionaire, has you covered! The ferry accommodates all kinds of family fun, offering private cruises for special events and conveniently running from several locations including: Captiva Island, Punta Gorda, Boca Grande, and Pine Island.

Cayo Costa State Park Features

The ferry docks at the State Park and from there it is a short walk (a free tram service is also offered) to the captivating white sand beaches and shelling. Booking your trip in advance is encouraged and can be done by phone (239) 472-5100 or on the Cayo Costa Ferry website.

When you get to the island, you will certainly see some aquatic life, as the beaches are a sea turtle nesting area from May-September. These nests are marked with wooden sticks, so be sure to get some pictures, but not to disturb the nests, as they are protected by law.

What To Do On Cayo Costa Island

Once you dock on the island, you will see 9 miles of sparkling and immaculate white sand beach, untouched and ready to be explored. This island features sand dunes and peaceful pine forests with tranquil oak-palm hammocks tucked in with the mangroves. If you’re looking for the perfect picnic spot, the island is full of grassy spots hidden under the shade of palms or pine trees.

Cayo Costa Island has gems tucked all over and is considered to be one of the best beaches for shells in the world, so if you want a unique and memorable souvenir, look no further. The island  ends in over six miles of trails, which are perfect to enjoy fishing, biking, birdwatching or snorkeling.

If you want more time on this tranquil island, you can rent a cabin with bunk beds or bring your own camping gear for the full island experience and enjoy your fresh catch on the grills at the campsites.

Castaway For The Day!
Castaway For The Day!

McCarthy’s Marina in Captiva is your last stop on your way to Cayo Costa Island, so be sure to have picked up all of your essentials before you become a castaway for the day!

Original article here

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

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

Rainy Day Fun Near Riviera Dunes Marina

Rainy Day Fun Near Riviera Dunes Marina

Rainy Day Fun Near Riviera Dunes Marina

Rainy Day Fun Near Riviera Dunes Marina

Just because the sun is on vacation for a day or so doesn’t mean the fun stops near Riviera Dunes Marina! There are plenty of activities that you and your family will enjoy when in Palmetto and nearby Sarasota . . . even when it’s a rainy day! From museums to the local family skating center, a rainy day in Palmetto will certainly be well spent.

Head to the museum.

From classics cars to sharks, the museums here will provide much fun, rain or shine. At the Ringling estate, visit the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art for nonstop rainy day fun! Here you can view 21 galleries chock-full of Renaissance and Baroque art as well as American contemporary art. In addition, head to the Circus Museum on the property, which is included in your art museum admission, to view authentic costumes and other neat treasures from “The Greatest Show on Earth.” At the Sarasota Classic Car Museum, feast your eyes on rare and classic cars. See Paul McCartney’s Mini Cooper and even a car resembling the famous DeLorean from “Back to the Future.” For marine fun without getting wet, the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is home to a sea turtles, manatees and a 135,000-gallon shark tank!

Create your own art.

There are several spots to exercise your creativity, especially when the weather isn’t cooperating. Once you peruse the gift shop and the lovely art by local artists at the Artful Giraffe gallery, head to their pottery studio where you can mold and paint your own works of art. The studio will glaze and fire your pottery, then you can take it home! At Arts A Blaze in Lakewood Ranch, try your hand at pottery making, glass painting and infusing, pallet painting and more! This walk-in studio has it all, no matter your age or skillset.

Release some energy.

Even though it’s wet out, there is plenty of rainy day fun to be had! From roller skating to speed skating, show off your skills and even get some exercise in at Astro Skate Family Fun Center in Bradenton. If you’re still working on your skating skills, the center also offers skating lessons. The fun doesn’t stop when you tire of skating! There are also dance rooms, inflatables, an arcade and so much more.

Next: 4 Top Spots to Visit in Bradenton

5 Theaters to Visit in the Sarasota Area

5 Theaters to Visit in the Sarasota Area

5 Theaters to Visit in the Sarasota Area Riviera Dunes Marina.jpg

5 Theaters to Visit in the Sarasota Area

Whether you have a love for theatre or are just looking for an exciting thing to do when taking a pause from the water, there are a variety of theaters here! Take a break from the sun this summer by seeing exciting productions at one of the many theaters we have here in the Sarasota area.

Asolo Repertory Theater

Every season, Asolo Repertory Theater presents up to 15 extraordinary productions ranging from classical to contemporary.

Upcoming shows:

  • Beatsville, through May 27
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, June 7–July 1

Dog Days Theatre

Visit Dog Days Theatre in its inaugural season this summer! Dog Days Theatre will produce modern plays featuring professional actors from the Sarasota area and the country as well as students from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training.

Upcoming plays:

  • Relatively Speaking
  • Double Indemnity 

Florida Studio Theatre

Known for its hip and contemporary productions, Florida Studio Theatre is actually a campus of multiple, intimate theaters. Each of the theaters are small, but they create the perfect setting for you to fully immerse yourself in the productions. 

Upcoming plays:

Mainstage

  • Burt & Me, May 31–June 18 at 
  • The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, July 5–Aug. 6
  • Doublewide, Aug. 2–20 

Summer Cabaret

  • The Jersey Tenors, June 13–July 16
  • The Blue Eyed Bettys, July 18–Aug. 20
  • Roar! The Music of the 1920’s and Beyond, Aug. 22–Sept. 24

Winter Mainstage

  • Rich Girl, through May 26 

Winter Cabaret

  • Older Than Dirt, through June 4

FST Improv

  • 17 Improv Festival, July 13–15

Children’s Theatre

  • Just For Laughs, June and July

McCurdy’s Comedy Theater

For the stand-up comedian lovers, this downtown spot is for you! See topnotch performances in a state-of-the-art facility featuring nationally renowned acts. You can also enjoy great food and drinks in the showroom before or after the show. 

Upcoming shows:

  • Dwight Slade, May 19–21
  • Following Jesus with a Rock n Roll Heart, May 23 and June 20
  • Ken Miller, May 24–28
  • Rob Little, May 31–June 4
  • La Hardy, June 7–11
  • And so much more! 

Players Centre for Performing Arts

Watch educational and enriching theatrical performances at the Players Centre. Though The Players Centre categorizes themselves as a non-professional community theatre, there is a variety of exceptional actors from students to those with lengthy resumes. 

Upcoming shows:

  • Beau Jest, June 14–25
  • The Marvelous Wonderettes, July 12–23
  • Arsenic and Old Lace, Aug. 9–20
  • Mammoth Bones, Aug. 22–27

Next: 7 Things We Love About Sarasota, FL

5 Unique Things to Do on the Water in Sarasota, FL

5 Unique Things to Do on the Water in Sarasota, FL

5 Unique Things to Do on the Water in Sarasota, FL Riviera Dunes Marina

5 Unique Things to Do on the Water in Sarasota, FL

In beautiful Sarasota, FL, it’s easy to spend the whole afternoon on the boat cruising the glistening waters while simply enjoying the views. Though, there are also the days you may be looking for new activities and ways to enjoy our area by boat. Here are five unique things to do on the water in Sarasota, FL that include more than fishing and cruising—though those activities are just fine with us!

Go snorkeling in seagrass.

Snorkeling in seagrass is a beautiful and exciting way to spend your day on the water in Sarasota, FL. See if you spy spotted seatrout, pinfish or sea turtles having their lunch. Then, you may see majestic ospreys and pelicans while hovering over the water. Whatever neat creature you are lucky to spot, snorkeling is a special way to spend your afternoon in Sarasota.

Explore the many sandbars nearby.

Take your adventures out to the sandbars during low tide where you can see the water from a new perspective. Pull up your boat, park your beach chairs, and hang in the “middle” of the ocean. Sandbars are also a great place for your furry friends to exercise their legs since it’s particularly shallow.

Take a luxury home tour.

Be amazed at the grandiose homes that are on the water in Sarasota, FL. From gorgeous architecture to ornate guesthouses and boat docks, the homes are always a spectacle to see! Waterfront homes also take it up a notch in terms of lawn art. See a life-sized statue of Michael Jordan or original masterpieces grazing in the yard.

Have a waterfront picnic.

Sure, picnics on land are just fine, but when you’re on the water in Sarasota, there are ever-changing backdrops for you to enjoy while dining. Cling your forks to the sunset or sunrise, or you may even get front row seats to a dolphin show!

Locate the area’s spoil islands.

Spend the afternoon looking for secret spoil islands! Spoil islands were created when the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway was being completed. These dredged areas, or spoil islands, now create an environment for visitors to anchor their boats, swim and explore their surroundings. The spoil islands were formed in all shapes and sizes, so there’s always a new one to explore. On spoil islands, you’ll also see an assortment of interesting creatures from raccoons to salamanders.

Next: Things to Do on the Water Near Palmetto, FL

Things to Do on the Water Near Palmetto, FL

Things to Do on the Water Near Palmetto, FL

Things to Do on the Water Near Palmetto, FL Riviera Dunes Marina

Things to Do on the Water Near Palmetto, FL

There’s always an adventure awaiting you on the water near Palmetto, FL. Whether you’re parasailing with the breeze at your back or on an exciting tour in search of dolphins, the things to do on the water near Palmetto, FL are practically endless.

From tranquil to thrilling, here are some of the best water activities you should try when you’re visiting Palmetto, FL.

Stand-up Paddleboarding

Are you looking for a full-body workout? Then try paddleboarding. Step onto a board, then use your balance and strength as you begin paddling at your own pace. Depending on the rental company, you can take your paddling up a notch and go on eco tours! 

Kayaking

Since the Palmetto area has a wealth of beautiful parks, there are optimal opportunities for you and your family to enjoy an afternoon of kayaking. Choose to go on a solo trip, or go with a group, as you explore the winding Manatee River.

Parasailing

Float above the Gulf waters as you enjoy the thrill of parasailing! Grab a friend—or two—and get ready for a unique day of fun on the water near Palmetto, FL! Who knows, you might even see turtles, dolphins and various types of fish while parasailing. You can also choose to stay dry and land on the boat deck or get dipped in the water when you need to cool off. The best part is that no prior skills are necessary!

Dolphin Tours

Now that we’re on the subject of dolphin spotting, there are plenty of opportunities to see these lovely creatures when you’re near Palmetto, FL. On a tour, the captain will take you to where the dolphins are likely to dwell. In addition, some tours will even narrate throughout the tour so that you can learn more about the area’s waterways. Often times, there are also sunset tours, which make for an even more unique, one-of-a-kind experience!

Boating

Of course we can’t talk about having fun on the water and leave out the beloved activity of boating! If you don’t have your own boat, you can rent a boat, which will vary in shapes and sizes to accommodate you and your family. Bring your fishing poles, a picnic lunch, and you’ll be set for an exciting afternoon aboard your boat!

Next: 5 Kid-Friendly Things to Do Near Palmetto, FL