De Soto National Memorial – Bradenton

Bradenton – The De Soto National Memorial was created in 1948 to commemorate the 1539 expedition of Spanish conquistador Hernando De Soto. This memorial also reminds us of the impact he made on southeast American Indian societies. Open all year long, the Park offers many different outdoor activities. You’ll also find educational opportunities to learn about the controversial history of the area.

Map of De Soto Memorial
De Soto National Memorial Map

Canoe and Boat

The park is located in Bradenton on a 26 acre plot of land. This is where the Manatee River meets Tampa Bay. De Soto National Memorial offers fabulous kayak and canoeing along the 3000 feet of shoreline. Launch your kayak, canoe or paddle board from the northwest shore of the park. You could also leave from Riverview Point Preserve located just south of De Soto Memorial. Paddle north across the river to explore Emerson Point Nature preserve, or head west through shallow grass flats to Anna Maria Island. De Soto Memorial does not offer a boat launch, however, does offer a temporary anchorage area in the small cove east of De Soto Point.

De Soto National Memorial trails and beaches

The nature trails at De Soto Memorial offer different Florida ecosystems including Mangrove wetlands. Walking trails have signage explaining both the natural history of the area along with information about the 1539 expedition. Pets are welcome on the trails, however bicycles are not.

There are several areas for enjoying the beach at the Memorial with areas located west and south of De Soto Point. Beach goers are urged to swim with caution as there are no lifeguard stations. The beaches south of De Soto Point are more popular as they don’t experience the strong currents sometimes found on the western beaches.

A picnic shelter can be found near the parking lot on a first come first serve basis. Grills and alcohol are not permitted in the park or picnic area.

Seasonal Events

The Memorial offers seasonal events great for the entire family.

December through April the parks living history area “Camp Uzita” is open. The Camp is an example of a 16th century Native village. It’s complete with living history reenactments and educational information.

In the winter the park offers several special events including a Halloween themed event called “Desoween”. This is for adults and kids 7 years and older. In December luminaries light the trials for one night. Also, information is available describing how people from the 16th century celebrated the winter. February brings a music festival to the park. March offers a five centuries of history event. Additionally, April brings a live reenactment of the Landing of the De Soto expedition.

May through October the park offers Ranger led kayak tours. learn how early settlers utilized the bay and estuary along with an explanation of Florida’s unique ecological systems.

In June and July a kids Junior Ranger program is also available. This teaches kids 6-10 about the history, ecology and conservation of the park.

De Soto National Memorial
De Soto National Memorial. Photo Credit: De Soto National Memorial Facebook Page.

Park Information

The visitor center is open daily 9am-5pm, and the parking lot also closes at 5pm. However, the park is open dawn to dusk. Any cars left in the parking lot after 5pm will remain locked in the lot until the next morning. Cars are subject to ticketing. New Years day, Thanksgiving and Christmas the park closes. Entrance into the park is always free, but donations are welcome. Groups may visit the park registering ahead of time. For additional information about the park call 941-792-0458 or visit online.

De Soto National Memorial:
8300 De Soto Memorial Hwy
Bradenton, Florida 34209

Bradenton vacation rentals.

If you are looking for the perfect vacation rental while visiting the area Island Real Estate has almost 300 homes to choose from!

vacation rental
Click on the image to view Bradenton vacation rental Perico Bay Club 1279 Edgewater Circle.

 

Walt Disney World Park Guide | Lake Buena Vista, FL

Disney World Park Guide

Disney World Park Guide | Theme Parks in the Orlando, FL area!

So you’re in Florida. What are you going to do now? “I’m going to Disney World!” should be the clear response (of course after choosing Island Real Estate for your accommodations!). Visiting Disney World is a great Orlando day trip option for visitors staying on Anna Maria Island.

Located in Lake Buena Vista, FL, Disney World has six theme parks to choose from each with a differing theme.

Walt Disney World Parks

  • Looking to bring your fairy tale dreams to life? Then we suggest the Magic Kingdom Park!  Magic Park is perfect for toddlers.
  • Interested in getting a taste of the world without having to spend a fortune in flights? Check out Epcot!  Epcot is the most sophisticated park and we suggest High School teenagers.
  • Bring the movie magic to life with the Hollywood Studios Park!  Toddlers will work at this park but there are rides toddlers are too small to ride.
  • Get in touch with nature while touring Animal Kingdom. A great zoo as well as Disney theme park.  Only a few rides toddlers cannot ride.
  • Make a splash at either the Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon water parks!  Fabulous for the whole family.
  • Or visit Downtown Disney for shopping, entertainment, concerts and clubs!  Definitely adult related however lego land and two theme based restaurants can make this fun for the whole family.

There are many options to choose from if you wish to get the Disney experience. At the time of this posting ticket prices range from $53 to $95 for a single day ticket. There are also better offers for group purchases and multi-day or multi-park options.  Are you a Florida resident?  If so many passes provide discounts for Florida residents.

Walt Disney World
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 934-7639

St. Armand’s Circle

Located in Sarasota, St. Armand’s Circle is an incredible place to go for shopping and eating. Boutique stores and delicious restaurants encompass a beautiful park lined with statues. Stores carry artwork and other nick-knacks from around the world which makes for some very interesting window shopping.
Continue reading St. Armand’s Circle

Anna Maria Island Concerts in the Park

Enjoy arts, crafts, local food, and live music from 5pm – 10pm at Anna Maria Island Concerts in the Park on Friday October 26th at the Holmes Beach City Field. Concerts in the park will benefit Camelot Community Care a Manatee County therapeutic foster home for children.  Update:  while there are many events in the Holmes Beach field the Anna Maria Island Concerts in the Park are no longer being held on a regular basis as of 2015.

Evening Entertainment Includes

• DJ/MC Chris Grumely from 5pm – 10pm
• Open Jam Session with local musicians from 5pm – 7pm
• Shotgun Justice 7:30pm – 10pm

Holmes Beach City Field
5801 Marina Drive
Holmes Beach
For more information call: 941-748-2162.

Anna Maria Island Concerts in the Park
Concerts in the Park in Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island October 26th 2012 from 5pm-10pm.

Nature Parks Near Anna Maria Island – Manatee County

There are many nature parks near Anna Maria Island. Most visitors to Anna Maria Island know about Robinson’s Preserve located just a few minutes to the East of Holmes Beach. It has fabulous nature trails, a sky high tower that overlooks the park as well as the Tampa Bay.  But, all are not aware there are lots of other Parks and Nature Preserves in Manatee county. Additionally, there is even Leffis Key right on south island! Sure some other parks are a few more than minutes to the East of Robinson Preserve but everyone likes choices, right?

Below is a list of Manatee County nature parks that the Manatee County Natural Resource department overseas.  A big plus is the County is renovating to new parks just off Anna Maria Island that we can all Walk or Bicycle to!  Opening in late 2012/2013 stay tuned for more information.  Happy Hiking, Roller Blading, Bicycling, or nature viewing!

If you visit one of these parks please provide your comments on what you love about the park! View the map below to get an idea of where Manatee Parks and Preserves are located.

Nature Parks Near Anna Maria Island

Robinson Preserve
1704 99th Street, NW
Bradenton, FL 34209
(941) 745-3723
Open 7 days a week and hours vary on season

De Soto National Memorial – near Robinson Preserve and north of Riverview Pointe Preserve.
8300 De Soto Memorial Hwy
Bradenton, Florida 34209
941-792-0458
Open daily from dawn to dusk. Parking lot closes at 5pm.

Riverview Pointe Preserve – Only 5 minutes beyond Robinson Preserve
8250 DeSoto Memorial Highway
Bradenton, FL 34209
(941) 745-3723
Open 7 days a week and hours vary on season

Jiggs Landing
6106 63rd Street East
Bradenton, FL 34203
(941) 745-3723
Open 7 days a week and hours vary on season

Emerson Point Preserve
5801 17th Street West
Palmetto, Fl 34221
(941) 721-6885
Open 7 days a week and hours vary on season

Rye Preserve
905 Rye Wilderness Trail
Parrish, FL 34219
(941) 776-0900
Open 7 days a week and hours vary on season

Duette Preserve and Headwaters at Duette
2649 Rawls Road
Duette, FL 34251
(941) 776-2295
Open 7 days a week and hours vary on season

Leffis Key at Coquina Bay Walk – located at the south end of Anna Maria Island in Bradenton Beach.
2351 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Anna Maria Island, FL 34217

 

New to Open Parks in 2012/2013

Neal Preserve
12301 Manatee Avenue, West
Bradenton, Fl 34209
Currently being renovated.  You could bicycle here from Anna Maria Island!

Perico Preserve
11700 Manatee Avenue West
Bradenton, FL 34209
This is just off Anna Maria Island!  You could bicycle here when it opens!

Find great wildlife viewing at parks close to Anna Maria Island
There are many great places for nature viewing off Anna Maria Island in Manatee County.

G.T. Bray Public Pool and Splash Park minutes from Anna Maria

G.T. Bray Recreation Center is a fantastic place to cool off anytime of the year if you are staying on Anna Maria Island or in Western Bradenton, Fl.  The G.T. Bray Public pool and splash park is large with plenty of facilities for the fitness enthusiast.  GT Bray is just 15 minutes from Anna Maria Island, Holmes Beach.  Drive along State Route 64, Manatee Avenue.  See the link below for a map.

G.T. Bray Recreation Center –
5502 33rd Avenue Drive West, Bradenton, Fl 34209
(941) 742-5923

Splash Park
Outdoor Splash Park – GT Bray

SWIMMING – AQUATIC PARK
G.T. Bray has a 50 (6) lane Meter Pool, 18 X 18 yard dive pool equipped with a 1 and 3 meter diving board, 12 foot three flume water slide, a 2 foot wading-kiddie pool and a 4,000 square foot Splash water park.  So there is tons of water activities to do for the entire family.  Summer hours are extended as compared to other seasons and the Summer is considered Mid-June to Mid August.  The Pool park is open Monday through Saturday from around 11 AM to 5 PM.  Access to the recreation facility is not free but inexpensive.  As of Summer 2012 the fee ranges from $4.00 to $6.00 depending on age for a daily pass.  The pass provides access to all their facilities for the day.  Gymnasium, fitness center, teen/game room, racquetball and hard tennis courts.  GT Bray offers monthly rates and normally in the Summer offers a quarterly reduce rate.  The rate ranges from $35 to $80 for a month.  Here are some frequently asked questions that hopefully help with your potential visit to the aquatic center.  By the way, planning a party between April and September?  You can rent part of the GT Bray aquatic center on weekends!

Bradenton, Florida Area information and things to do

Activities and Things to do in Bradenton

Bradenton, FL Area Information and Activities

Bradenton, FL

Looking for something to do in the Bradenton area during your Anna Maria Island vacation? We have compiled a list of the Bradenton area attractions for your convenience!

Kick it old school and catch a movie at the Ruskin Drive In Theater from the comfort of your own car!

We have a Chipotle about 20 minutes off Anna Maria Island.  Chipotle is a great Tex Mex restaurant.

Looking to catch up on some recreational bowling? AMF Bowling Center will cater to your needs.

With how pricy catching a movie at the theater can be nowadays, the Desoto Dollar Movie Theater is a great option for those that are budget conscious!

Sit down dining is plentiful off Anna Maria Island just in Bradenton.  We have a Bone Fish, Applebee’s, Outback, as well as several local owned restaurants.

Give the kids some entertainment at Bradenton’s Chuckie Cheeses Restaurant.

Ace’s Bar has Great Live Music and you can find yourself easily dancing the night away.

Bradenton Activities

Palma Sola Botanical Gardens has beautiful views and a relaxing atmosphere. Get in touch with nature!

Beautiful Lakewood Ranch has many sights, shopping, golf and other activities!

Robinson Preserve – Outdoor Park has many hiking, biking and other trails that are great for getting the family together and active!

Ice Cream for Ice Cream at Sweet Berries
 yum!

Ellenton Shopping Mall is a great place to pick up souvenirs for those unfortunate souls that couldn’t travel with you!

Anna Maria Island Pavilion Rentals

The most Northern and generally quietest Pavilion area is located in Anna Maria City and named Anna Maria Bay Front Park. The Anna Maria Island Pavilion rentals include 13 tables which seat 104, 1 double grill, 2 small grills, restroom facilities are nearby. This is a perfect gathering place for a large reunion, inexpensive wedding reception, or a mom’s group gathering spot.

Want a vacation rental close to Anna Maria Bay Front park.  Island Real Estate has many vacation rentals to choose from.  Shoreline Terrace is just a few homes from the Anna Maria Island Pavilion Rentals.  It’s a 3 bedroom home directly on Tampa Bay.  A Sassy Seahorse is also very close to Bay Front Park.  It’s a two bedroom bedroom private pool Anna Maria City Vacation Rental.

Sarasota bay

Family Fun, Playgrounds and parks on Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island – There are several family fun activities across the island perfect for keeping the kids entertained. No matter which of the three cities you are visiting on Island, you wont have to travel far to find a play place.

Anna Maria Island has a phenomenal skate park in Holmes Beach for the child that skateboards or roller blades. The bigger kids and teenagers are the perfect age to tear it up at the skate park. Located directly next to the skate park is a nice little playground set for the little ones, and a shuffleboard court for the grown ups. If you are lucky, catch a glimpse of Anna Maria Island’s beloved pirate ship parade float Skully wag, often parked just by the skate park.

The most Northern and generally quietest playground is located in Anna Maria City at 310 North Bay Boulevard and named Anna Maria Bay Front Park. This park is gorgeously located directly on the bay side beach, so you can enjoy swimming and playing on the play ground equipment. After visiting Bay Front Park, head over to nearby Rod N Reel pier for lunch!

If you are looking for a playground right on the Gulf of Mexico, look no more. There is a fabulous playground in Holmes Beach at the Manatee Public beach. Manatee public beach offers concessions, volley ball nets, picnic areas, bathroom/changing area and tourist information.

In Bradenton Beach head over to Herb Dolan park located on the corner of Avenue A and 25th Street directly on Anna Maria Sound. This park offers a playground, basketball courts and a large field for baseball. This park is tucked into a Bradenton Beach neighborhood, and is often not crowded.

On the very southern end of the Island find Coquina beach with tons of activities including a fun Pirate ship shaped play ground, paved walking/bike paths, concessions and bathrooms.

Public Beach Holmes Beach
Manatee Public Beach

Highlands Hammock State Park – the "real" Florida

If you need a break from the beach take a ride to the “real” Florida. The Highlands Hammock State Park is centrally located in the middle of Florida, near Sebring. This park is one of Florida’s first state parks and known for its beautiful old-growth hammock and cypress swamps. A 3.1 mile loop drive gives a first impression. In addition there are nine different nature trails that take visitors through lush, jungle-like foliage. There are habitats like the pine flatwoods, hardwood swamp, marshes, scrub vegetation and lots of wildlife to discover. White-tailed deer, raccoons, bobcats, tortoises, herons, anhingas, ibis and of course alligators are among the animals living in the state park. The most popular hiking trail is the Cypress Swamp Trail that takes you on a 30 minute walk on an elevated boardwalk. The swamp borders a blackwater stream in the lowest elevation and numerous key points include the variety of plants, birds and other wildlife.
A large picnic area, 159 campsites, horse trails, playground, restaurant and the Civilian Conversation Corps Museum are other features of the park.  During my visit I took the tram ride that leaves daily at 1 pm if there are at least 5 passengers present. For $5 this is possibly the best value you can get in any state park. Our park ranger Nick provided us with a wealth of information while touring the remote areas on this 60 minute ride. I guess it is even more interesting as we were very lucky to see all kinds of wildlife including a wild boar. Take a look at the pictures!

Contact Information:
Highlands Hammock State Park
5931 Hammock Road
Sebring, Fl 33872
http://www.stateparks.com/highlands_hammock.html

For other great activities or suggestions for your leisure time please visit our Island Real Estate blog.