Robinson Preserve, something for everybody in the month of February

Bradenton – Just over the Manatee bridge leaving Anna Maria Island is one of the areas most popular nature preserves attracting visitors year round. Coming up are two reasons among many to enjoy Robinson Preserve while on vacation.

Robinson Wagon Tour

On Saturday, February 7th from 8-10am, a tour guide while cart you around Robinson Preserve while explaining the preserve’s history, wildlife, flora and fauna. The tour is suitable for all ages and seats are on a first come, first served basis.

Valentine’s Date at Robinson

Start your Valentine’s celebration early on Tuesday, February 10th from 6-8pm  with a master naturalist and two chef’s. Melissa, the master naturalist, and chef’s Brian and Aedan will take you and your partner on a date at Robinson Preserve. You’ll enjoy a sunset from the observation tower where you get learn what really happens iwth the birds and the bees. You’ll also discuss the courting strategies of the preserve’s wildlife. You’ll finish the night up with a delicious desert over a campfire. The night is recommended for ages 16 and up. To reserve call 941-748-4501, ext. 6039.

Directions: Take SR 64 (Manatee Avenue) east from Anna Maria Island to 75th Street West. Turn north on 75th Street West and drive to 17th Avenue Northwest. Turn left and continue to the end of the street. Robinson Preserve is located on the corner of 17th Avenue Northwest and 99th Street West

Address: 1704 99th Street Northwest, Bradenton, FL 34209

Phone:(941) 748-4501 ext. 4602

January events at Robinson Preserve

Bradenton – The weather is beautiful and although you don’t need a reason to be outdoors, there is always something in the area that helps you figure out what to do once you get out of the house. Robinson Preserve is hosting a series of free events this week to give you a taste of the beautiful Manatee County sights and sounds.

Robinson Preserve Nature PReserveOn Thursday January 15th from 10am-11am experience a Tai-Chi and Qigong class. Suitable for beginners and experts, it will include an exploration of both styles of martial arts. Reservations are required. Call 941-742-5757 ext. 6.

Enjoy a Master Gardener tour on Sunday January 18th from 9am-11am with Master Gardener Sam Starrett.

The annual Robinson Preserve Race at Couch to 5K takes place on Tuesday January 20th from 5pm-6pm. The walk and run program starts out slow and is good for runners of all experience levels 13 and up. Reservations are required. Call 941-748-4501 ext. 6044.

The Preserve Ambassadors for Robinson Preserve are joining on Wednesday January 21st from 2pm-4pm. They will be hosting a course designed to help volunteers learn more about Manatee County’s preserve system. The first course focuses on Robinson Preserve’s history, habitats and wildlife. All participants will receive a certificate of completion and pin for this course. Reservations are required. Call 941-748-4501 ext. 6039.


TreeUmph Adventure Courses

Bradenton – Don’t miss out on trying TREEUMPH Adventure Courses just off the island in Bradenton. Enjoy a day of outdoor play in the trees at Southwest Florida’s only elevated adventure course. Bring the family, get together with friends or grab a group from the office for an adrenaline-pumping activity that has something fun for everyone ages 7 and older.

>>> Ages 7 to 9 challenge themselves on our child only course – about a 1.5 hour experience.
>>> Ages 12 and over experience 5 adventure courses and our giant zip line – typically a 3 to 4 hour excursion!
>>> Ages 9 to 11 experience 3 of the 5 courses and our giant zip line – a 2 to 3 hour tour!

Plan. Play. TreeUmph! Book your reservation, come prepared, then swing into action on wobbly bridges, hanging nets, bungee swings, swinging logs, foot bridges, Tarzan ropes, ZIP lines and more. Book your adventure now!


Treeumph adventure courses

Robinson Preserve Weekend

Bradenton – This is what’s going on at Robinson Preserve weekend December 20th. Located just off of Anna Maria Island in Bradenton, Robinson Preserve is one of the areas best spots to hike, kayak and enjoy nature.

The Salt Marsh Explorers are going out Saturday December 20th and they would like you to join. From 1pm – 2pm, the Salt Marsh Explorers will be hiking and taking in the local wildlife. They’ll be equipped with their new WCIND-funded backpacks that are stuffed full of tools and activities to get you fully outfitted for the hike. Call 941-748-4501 ext 6039 to register and find out more.

Then on Sunday December 21st from 9am – 11am Master Gardener Sam Starrett will take walkers on a relaxing stroll stroll to see Robinson’s resident plants undergoing a colorful transformation. Call the Master Gardener office for reservations at 941-722-4524.

Take a trip off island to Bradenton, and enjoy a fun weekend outdoors at Robinson Preserve. There is always something to see when you visit the great and wild outdoors public space!


Robinson Preserve Weekend
View of Robinson Preserve. Image from the Robinson Preserve Facebook Page.

Anna Maria Island Thanksgiving 2014 Restaurants Open

Anna Maria Island – Visiting during Anna Maria Island Thanksgiving 2014, but don’t feel like cooking a big meal? Here is the list of restaurants that will be open so you can take it easy.

Anna Maria Island Thanksgiving 2014 Restaurants

The list below is mostly Anna Maria Island restaurants, but Longboat Key, Bradenton, Sarasota and Saint Armands Circle as well. You’ll find a great selection of places to dine with both fine dining and casual options.

Anna Maria Island Thanksgiving 2014
Thanksgiving 2014 Restaurants, what’s open

It’s a good idea to make reservations at the restaurant of your choice to ensure you have a place to gather.

Have a happy holiday, and enjoy a tropical Thanksgiving on Anna Maria Island!

Manatee Performing Arts Center (lovingly known as Manatee Players)

Bradenton – Three musicals about Jesus and a show about a whorehouse are coming to Bradenton. Those shows, and nine others, are part of the Manatee Players 2014-15 season.  It’s the company’s second full season at the Manatee Performing Arts Center that was recently renovated.

The season includes seven shows in the larger Stone Hall and six in the Bradenton Kiwanis Studio Theater. The company’s first season of presenting shows in two theaters proved to be a big success, and audiences have responded to the more varied offering made possible by the intimate Bradenton Kiwanis Studio Theater.

The Stone Hall shows (all musicals) are:

  1.  “Disney’s Tarzan” (Aug. 7-24),
  2. “Dames at Sea” (Sept. 11-28), “
  3. “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” (Oct. 23-Nov. 9),
  4. “Meet Me in St. Louis” (Dec. 4-21),
  5. “Brigadoon” (Jan. 8-25),
  6. “Into the Woods” (Feb. 12-March 1, 2015)
  7.  “Jesus Christ Superstar” (March 19-April 5, 2015).

The Kiwanis Studio Theater shows mix plays and musicals:

  1. “Morning’s at Seven” (Sept. 11-28),
  2. “Godspell” (Oct. 31-Nov. 17),
  3. “Amahl and the Night Visitors” (Dec. 4-21),
  4. “The Foursome” (Jan. 15-Feb. 1, 2015),
  5. “Agnes of God” (Feb. 19-March 8, 2015)
  6. “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” (April 9-26, 2015).

Most shows are classics, or at least well-known to theatergoers, but a few aren’t so familiar. “Tarzan” is of course based on the 1999 animated film, which features music by Phil Collins. It ran for a little more than a year on Broadway in 2006-07. The same company that created the flying effects for this season’s production of “Peter Pan” for Manatee Players will be back for this show.  “Morning’s at Seven” is 1939 drama about four aging sisters. Its three Broadway runs have not been hugely successful, but it’s popular with regional theaters.  “The Foursome” is a Norm Foster comedy about four buddies who play golf.

They picked “Godspell,” the 1970s Stephen Schwartz musical, to balance out “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”.  They don’t expect any community objection to “Whorehouse,” which despite its title, is a light and splashy musical, but by staging “Godspell,” which is based on the Gospel of St. Matthew, at the same time, they are offering something for families.

“Amahl and the Night Visitors,” gives Manatee Players a chance to explore opera.   “Amahl” will be the first opera Manatee Players has done in decades.  Historically, about 60 years ago, operettas were a regular part of their schedule.

The Manatee Performing Arts Center is at 502 Third Ave. W. in Bradenton. For information about the season or any of the shows, call 941-749-1111 or go to

Fishing, Boat Tours, Charter Tours Anna Maria Island!

Charter Tours Anna Maria Island are fun! There’s no better place to spend a day out fishing and/or boating than the crystal clear Gulf of Mexico!

Charter Tours Anna Maria Island

Grouper, Snapper, Sharks, Trigger Fish, Spanish Mackerel and many other species are found off Anna Maria Island depending on the season. The surrounding water around Anna Maria Island is a small boat fishers’ playground where you’ll find snook as well as red fish.

There are charter guides where you’ll be sure to catch a glimpse of a dolphin or a manatee!  They will bring you around to the shallow parts of the waters to pick up shells, starfish and sand dollars!   Some charters offer sunset sails, Egmont Key Expeditions, full moon sails, private charters, dolphin watching, etc.  Some charters will also include some of the same amenities of home: A/C, head, galley, and soft drinks, along with rods, bait, ice, tackle, license, permits and instructions for new beginners, and will even clean your fish for you.

Here are just some, of many, places that offer fishing, boating & charters:

AMICharters Salt Water Adventures
Captain Scott
(941) 348-2035

Anna Maria Island Fishing Charters
P.O. Box 329 Anna Maria, FL 34216
(941) 778-4498

Captain Mike’s Charters
Kingfish Boat Ramp 752 Manatee Ave W. Holmes Beach, FL 34217
(941) 778-1404

Cortez Kat Party Boat Fishing Charters
12507 Cortez R.West, Cortez.
Bradenton, FL 34215
(888) 844-4140

Galati Charter Fishing
900 South Bay Blvd Anna Maria, FL 34216
(941) 778-0755

Kathleen D. Charters
1000 1st Ave. W. Bradenton, FL 34205
(941) 870-4349

Rod and Reel Pier
875 North Shore Dr. Anna Maria, FL 34216
(941) 778-1885

Stray Dog Charters
12507 Cortez Road, West

The Spectacular Desoto Parade


Bradenton – One of the largest parades in the South that attracts over 200,000 people every year, is Bradenton’s famous Desoto Parade. To give a little background, In the early 1500’s, Conquistador, Hernando De Soto, and his army of soldiers walked the grounds of Bradenton, making local and national history. In the first few months of every year over 150 beautifully lighted and decorated floats are driven through the streets of the city. If you’re staying with us during this time, it is a highly suggested event to take part in with the entire family. Definitely come out to enjoy some tailgating, music, candy, beads, and various merchant carts on this exciting evening.

However, IMPORTANT  to note, if you do plan on coming I highly suggest getting there at least an hour early to set up some chairs and get situated (This event gets EXTREMELY crowded and busy, so make sure to keep an eye on your children). This is a very fun parade, which is patrolled the entire time with an abundance of police officers and deputies to keep everyone safe, so don’t hesitate on bringing you’re entire family/friends to this entertaining time.

For more info head to the Desoto Parade website! And keep an eye on our Event Calendar for more information!

Bradenton Marauders baseball, a taste of the big leagues.

Bradenton Marauders, Minor League BaseballBradenton – The Bradenton Marauders are an outstanding affiliate baseball team of the Pittsburgh Pirates, they are also one of the only two minor league affiliates owned and operated by a major league club. If you talk to the locals, you’ll know how big of a deal this team is to Bradenton.

The Marauders might as well be classified as a major league team in this area because with the press and turn outs they get at their games, its quite impressive. Over the years and new players, the team has only gotten better and better making their baseball games a fun way to spend the afternoon or evening. Plus the Marauders are always hosting fun events! You even get to interact with the players, which is pretty cool if you ask me. While you’re here definitely take the family to one of their games just in town and have fun at the McKechnie Field.

Have some drinks and food, and just enjoying the all American sport of baseball. Click HERE for the Marauders Team Schedule.

Derek’s Rustic Coastal Cuisine

Derekf’s Rustic, Coastal Cuisine is a new Bradenton, Florida  restaurant that I urge everyone to try!  It is located on State Road 64 (Manatee Avenue) about 6 miles from Anna Maria Island.  I have been driving by for months now, so I decided it was time to try it out and boy was I rewarded.

The chef/owner Derek Barnes has shaped his menu around rustic, coastal cuisine highlighting fresh seafood while offering his dinners something that is fresh, fun and casual.  Derek’s is perfect for the power lunch crowd, casual lunches, those special evenings, business dinners, private parties and also for families of all ages.

Here is just a little background on Chef Derek Barnes.

A semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Best Chef South award, Derek worked with Emeril Lagasse in the kitchen of Emeril’s in New Orleans before opening his own restaurant on the Gulfcoast in Sarasota.  Derek’s gift for creating distinctive, mouthwatering dishes has earned him Florida Trend’s Golden Spoon award, the “Most Innovative Chef” title in the Best of SRQ Magazine, and inclusion in the exclusive Zagat America’s “Top Restaurants” listing.

In case you were wondering Derek’s also offers a private room for business lunches/dinners, small sporting events, birthday parties, anniversaries or for that intimate gathering… say rehearsal dinner.  I was able to peek in the room since there wasn’t a party going on, and it looks to be a good size and comfortable!

My fiance and I aren’t food snobs by any means, but we do like well-prepared delicious dishes when we go to any restaurant, and Derek’s is both!

We wanted to sample a little of everything, so we started with the fried green tomatoes appetizer.  I am a Florida native and this was a staple in my house growing up, so the bar was set pretty high to see if this could stack up to my mother’s cooking.  Don’t tell mama, but these were way better because they paired it with a Dijon mustard remoulade.  My mama just gave us ketchup!

Prime Burger at Derek's Coastal Cuisine in Bradenton
The delicious Prime Burger at Derek’s Culinary Casual!

Next came the main course, and we both ordered the same thing which is pretty common when we go out.  We ordered their Prime Burger, but we added a little of that Dijon mustard remoulade I mentioned earlier.  I think Derek’s should bottle that remoulade, and sell it because I would love to have that in my house!  This burger comes with a side of extra crispy shoestring fries which happen to be a personal favorite of mine.   You probably guessed, but I also dipped those fries in that remoulade also.

I have to confess something… whenever I go out to dinner I am never able to finish an entire meal because I get full quickly.  I love this place because the portions are just the right size for me, so I don’t feel I am being wasteful for eating too little or feel sick for eating too much.  Plus we were then able to order dessert.  We had ordered the S’mores Cup which was the perfect size for sharing.  The melted dark chocolate hiding under the marshmallow was melted to perfection, and not too sweet. 

Derek’s doesn’t have a full bar which is OK by me because with a nice meal beer or wine is the perfect compliment.  I can only drink sweet white wine which doesn’t leave me with too many

Florida Cracker from Cigar City Brewing at Derek's Culinary Casual in Bradenton
Florida Cracker from Cigar City Brewing

choices, so I usually pick a Riesling or a Moscato.  They have the most delicious Moscato I have ever had, but you are not able to buy it anywhere as the distributor only goes to restaurants!  Looks like I will just have to go back soon if I want more.  My fiancé had a locally brewed beer called Florida Cracker.  I will admit he is a bit of a beer snob, so it must’ve been good because he went to the store to get some for the house.

The pricing is right in line with say Bonefish or Outback, but the food quality and presentation is definitely superior.  Stop in and see for yourself, and maybe we will run in to each other!

Rustic, Coastal, Cuisine

5516 Manatee Avenue West
Bradenton, FL 34209

Lunch:  Monday – Friday 11:30 – 2:00

Dinner:  Monday – Saturday 5:00 – 10:00