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Fun Things to Do

Robinson Preserve Tower, Bradenton, FL

Robinson Preserve features boardwalks, a 40 foot tall observation tower, and a visitor’s center. Explore a native salt marsh habitat.  There’s Camping, Canoeing, City/County Park, Fishing, Hiking/Nature Trails, Nature Interpretive Center, Swimming, Snorkeling, Natural Wildlife Viewing, Kayaking, Bicycle Trails, Nature Preserve, Protected Species Habitat, Birding, Arts and Culture, Nature Experience, and Water Recreation.  Free parking, Interpretive Displays, Guided Tours, Pets on Leash, and Customized tours are available with advance reservations.

Learn more here

Snooty the Manatee.  South Florida Museum

The South Florida Museum is comprised of three distinct venues:  The Bishop Planetarium, The Museum and the Parker Manatee Aquarium.

Parker Manatee Aquarium is the home for rescued manatees. The Aquarium, holds nearly 60,000 gallons of water. The pool offers both deep and shallow water, allowing the manatees to maintain natural feeding behaviors. An exhibit area within the facility helps to educate the public and provides above and below water viewing.

The Bishop Planetarium is a multipurpose, “state of the art” domed theater, boasting one of the most advanced all-digital projection systems in the world combining unidirectional stadium style seating, high def DVD, TV, and a digital 25,000 watt surround sound system.  Visitors can explore the universe through live star talks and virtual journeys to the far reaches of the cosmos.

The South Florida Museum interprets the region through its extensive collections of anthropological artifacts, paleontological specimens and objects of cultural interest. 

Learn more here.

Deep Sea fishing off Anna Maria Island

Fishing and Florida go hand in hand whether it be sale for freshwater, fishing from a boat, the beach, piers or bridges, enthusiasts have the opportunity reel in black drum, snook, redfish, trout, Spanish mackerel, shark, grooper, amberjack and tarpon or at least have a good story to tell. There are several piers on Anna Maria Island where one can fish for free, just get a license first! Charter day trip cruises are also available.

Learn more here.

Selby Gardens, Sarasota, FL

Selby Gardens. This 9.5-acre lush bayfront gem in Sarasota is an open-air and under-glass museum of more than 20,000 colorful plants, many collected in the wild on over 150 scientific expeditions to tropical rain forests by Selby Gardens research staff. Seven greenhouses are the heart of botanical research and plant identification, for which Selby Gardens is internationally recognized.
 
Learn more here.

Dolphin at Mote Marine Lab, Sarasota, FL

Mote Marine Lab. Explore the secrets of the sea with touch pools, shark, dolphin, manatee and sea turtle exhibits and over 100 other species of marine life. Viewable-working labs and high-tech interactive exhibits showcase the world-renowned research of Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota. 

Learn more here.

Parasailing off Anna Maria Island

Parasailing off Bradenton Beach, gently floating high above the clear, blue water of the Gulf of Mexico, you'll see dolphins, turtles, rays, fish and stunning views of Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and Lido Key. Parasailing could be the most exciting thing you do all year! One, two or three can fly together side by side. You'll have a dry take off from the back deck of the boat and return to the back deck, so you never get wet unless you want your feet dipped in the water as you return to the deck. Anyone can parasail!

Learn more here.

Palma Sola Botanical Park, Bradenton, FL

Palma Sola Botanical Park provides the community with a unique opportunity to enjoy educational programs, passive recreation and public events in the midst of 10 acres of natural beauty. The Park is located in the Old Palma Sola section of northwest Bradenton. The site is an unusually warm microclimate and a protected parcel of land, it is notably frost-free. Because of these environmental conditions, the Park showcases collections of rare palms, fruits, and flowering trees. Other subtropical plants can be safely grown in our protective environment. The Park contains lush tranquil gardens and three lakes for enjoyment.

Learn  more here.

Gallery at Village of the Arts, Bradenton, FL

The Village of the Arts is a vibrant community of artists living and working together in Bradenton, Florida. With over forty artists, the Village is Florida’s largest art community. On the first Friday night of each month and all day Saturday ArtWalks fill the streets with art lovers looking for affordable fine art, jewelry, ceramics, designer wear and collectibles of all kinds. You'll also find inviting bookstores, gourmet cafes and many special events free to the public.

Learn more here.

Cà d’Zan Ringling Bros. Mansion, Sarasota, Fl

A tour of Cà d’Zan The Ringlings' dazzling palatial mansion provided a view of the splendor and romance of Italy. Described as “the last of the Gilded Age mansions” to be built in America.   Cà d’Zan has 56 incredible rooms filled with art and original furnishings built on Sarasota Bay by John and Mable Ringling of Ringling Bros. Circus fame. The Museum of Art was built by John Ringling to house his personal collection of masterpieces; which today, features paintings and sculptures by the great Old Masters.

Learn more here.

Manatee Village Historical Park, Bradenton, FL

The Manatee Village Historical Park, a national historic site, is located in East Bradenton and is open to the public free of charge.  Tour renovated historic buildings, courthouse, old church, museum and one room school house.  Tour guides available in the winter.

Learn more here.

Riverwalk, Bradenton, FL

The new Bradenton Riverwalk that extends 1.5 miles along the Manatee River between the Green Bridge and Manatee Hospital and features day boat dock, an amphitheater, botanical walk, family fun zone, skate park, fishing pier, kayak and canoe launch, splash pad for the kids and young at heart, beach volleyball courts, great lawn, pavilion and event area, tidal discovery zone and outdoor “living rooms” where visitors can sit back and relax on lounge throughout the shaded outdoor living rooms.

Learn more here.

Mckechnie Field, Pittsburg Pirates, Bradenton, FL

For the past 38 years the Pittsburgh Pirates been spring training in Bradenton and play games at Lecom Park.  Though there has been baseball played at Lecom Park since 1923, it's actually one of the newer stadiums in Florida spring training, as the facility was completely rebuilt in 1993 Lecom Park is a charming ballpark shoehorned into a Bradenton neighborhood, where it has stood on the same ground since opening in 1923.  The words that come to mind to describe Lecom are cozy, classic and intimate. Its distinct look and location make it a throwback to a bygone era, when Spring Training wasn’t the big business that it is today.

Learn more here.

Bradenton Marauders, McKechnie Field, Bradenton, FL

In 2010 the new Bradenton Marauders high Single-A baseball team owned by the Pittsburgh Pirates started playing at Lecom Park.  The 140 game schedule, including 70 at home games bring crowds throughout the summer and most will be night games at the newly lighted field.  The young players on the new minor league team begin their first season with hopes for a winning year.  The ballpark experience itself is very welcoming for fans, thanks in large part to the Bradenton Boosters. This volunteer club of local residents not only raises funds for ballpark improvements, they operate Lecom Field on game day! The pleasantness of their personal touch is evident for anyone attending a game in Bradenton.

Learn more here. 

Emerson Point Preserve, Palmetto, FL

Emerson Point Preserve is located at the tip of Snead Island in western Palmetto. At Emerson Point, visitors can take in the 365 acres of Florida's wildlife and native plant communities while exploring both prehistoric and historic sites. Trails and boardwalks are aligned so that the natural habitat and cultural resources are protected. There are two picnic shelters available for small groups and a large ten table picnic shelter available for rental by reservation. A canoe and kayak launch allows access to the tidal canals and Terra Ceia Bay.

Learn more here.

Cortez Village, FL

See the commercial fishing village of Cortez by car or foot.  Walk along one of the public docks and see pelicans, herons and other water birds.  See the fishing boats unloading their catch or preparing for a trip and pick up fresh seafood in one of the markets on the water.  Take a cruise with one of the ecology tours or see the Florida Maritime Museum and restored 1912 Cortez Schoolhouse.  Visit the Taylor Boat works Museum where many of the wooden boats that fished the waters around Cortez were built. Have a great meal at Star Fish and be sure to try the grouper sandwich or fried mullet. Sit on the deck and watch the fishing boats come in or listen to live music at Cortez Kitchen.

Learn more here.

DeSoto National Memorial, Bradenton, FL

Spaniard Hernando de Soto splashed ashore at this 26 acre DeSoto National Memorial in 1539 intent on capturing the riches of La Florida. A film depicting the De Soto Expeditions four year journey is shown daily in the Visitor Center theatre.  Nature Trails wind along the shoreline and through several ecosystems and have interpretive signs that tell the story of the Expedition and the history of the area at this Northwest Bradenton park.  Forty-five minute guided Trail Walks are offered by Park Rangers.  The Cove is a popular temporary anchorage for small boats. Canoes and kayaks may be launched from park beaches. Enjoy fishing and picnicking   The Visitor Center includes displays of historic armor, weapons, and related period items and helmets and armor are available to try on.

Learn more here.

The Disney Wilderness Preserve

At The Disney Wilderness Preserve, visitors can hike, bird watch, and enjoy old Florida’s natural beauty. See the bald eagle, red-cockaded woodpecker, wood stork, sandhill crane, northern harrier and crested caracara. The preserve is also home to the southeastern big-eared bat, Sherman’s fox squirrel, eastern indigo snake and gopher tortoise. The Florida panther has even been documented crossing the site!  There is a cypress swamp, freshwater marsh, scrub, flatwoods and oak hammocks and a rejuvenated longleaf pine forest.  Key flowers include the fall-flowering ixia, Catesby’s lily and terrestrial orchids. There is no fee to visit, although donations are appreciated.  

Learn more here.

Historic Spanish Point, Osprey, FL

Historic Spanish Point.  DISCOVER a fascinating 30-acre historical, archaeological and environmental museum.  Experience prehistory by stepping inside “A Window to the Past,” an archaeology exhibition about the gulf coast region’s earliest people.  Explore Florida’s pioneer life by touring a home built in 1901 and reflect on the early 1900s in Sarasota as you stroll through formal gardens.

Learn more here.

Crowley Museum

Crowley Museum and Nature Center where Southwest Florida History and Nature meet.  One of the main attractions is its half mile long, scenic, wooden boardwalk. This trail has been the main hiking path that winds through portions of the pine flatwoods, oak hammock and over the Maple Branch Swamp and Tatum Sawgrass Marsh. The boardwalk guides you to the two-story, Selby Tower overlooking the marsh and the Myakka River.  There is also a museum of pioneer history, pioneer cabin, blacksmith shop, working sugar cane mill and the restored Tatum House.

Learn more here.

Lake George State forest

Lake George State Forest offers many recreation opportunities. Bluffton Recreation Area is located on the St. Johns River and offers fishing, picnicking and hiking on a 3/4-mile interpretive nature trail. While there is no boat ramp available, canoes, kayaks and small jon boats may be launched from the bank. Fishing is also available at Jenkins Pond.  The forest is open to visitors during daylight hours. Hikers, bicyclists and equestrians are welcome on roads, designated trails and permanent fire lines. Primitive campsites are available at the River Road Campground.  Wildlife that make their home on the
forest include the bald eagle, sandhill crane, white-tailed deer,
wild turkey and bobcat

Learn more here.

Florida Railroad Museum Engine

The Florida Railroad Museum offers a unique museum experience. Here you "Ride the Exhibits!"  Hop aboard one of the original, refurbished passenger cars for a 90 minute ride on a real steam engine pulled train.  The Museum operates weekend excursions year-round from the Train Station in Parrish about 20 minutes from Bradenton. Charter the caboose for small, private parties or receive hands on training in the operation of the locomotive and then take the controls for an hour for the experience of a lifetime!

Learn more here.

Marina Jack's diner cruise boat

Marina Jack II! luxurious dinner boat in downtown Sarasota. Take a relaxing cruise through the inter-coastal waters and the Gulf of Mexico and enjoy delicious dining and outstanding views. Indoor space is air conditioned and the open air outside deck will provide you with the best way to enjoy the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Each day you can choose from a lunch or dinner buffet. While dining, enjoy playful dolphins, warm sunshine and relaxing Gulf of Mexico breezes.

Learn more here.

Gamble Plantation Historic State Park Mansion, Bradenton, FL

Gamble Plantation Historic State Park. This antebellum mansion was home to Major Robert Gamble and headquarters of an extensive sugar plantation. It is the only surviving plantation house in South Florida. Today, the mansion, on 16 acres, is furnished in the style of a successful mid-19th century plantation. Guided tours of the house are given six times a day, Thursday through Monday and there is a covered pavilion with picnic tables on the grounds.

Learn more here.

Red Barn Flea Market, Bradenton, FL

The Red Barn is Bradenton's one-stop flea barn destination for the whole family. Search every conceivable kind of great stuff in air conditioned comfort! Explore an unbelievable variety in over 600 booths and specialty shops. Park free on 15 acres of space around the market.  Stroll paved lanes to find your deals. Then head outside for even more…practically anything you can think of! It’s a fun day of discovering what you need and then negotiating the price!  Get a deal!

Learn more here. 

Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise

Come away with Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise in Clearwater Beach just an hour north of Bradenton. Board the authentic looking 70 foot Pirate boat in Clearwater Beach harbor and chart a course with the cool reggae island & steel band music playing throughout the rigging of the Pirates Ransom. Get lost in the pirate antics of treasure hunts, face painting, water gun games, stories and dancing for all as you cruise out into the Gulf of Mexico while searching for dolphins.  The spirited pirates are individually selected and are chosen for their enthusiastic personalities and politeness, and their knowledgeable seamanship capabilities. Be ready for the very loud boom of the ships cannon as it fires at an imaginary foe.  Snacks and drinks are served on board.

Learn more here.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Sarasota Jungle Gardens features 10 acres of lush tropical vegetation, winding jungle trails and entertaining, educational bird and reptile shows plus the many of the animals that you will see. Your visit isn’t complete without feeding “free roaming” American Flamingos! When was the last time you had a Flamingo eating out of the palm of your hand?

Learn  more here.

Sarasota Bay Explorers

Sarasota Bay Explorers work with Mote Marine Lab to provide interactive marine science boat trips. There are several types of eco-tours including the Sea Life Encounter Cruise through Sarasota and Roberts Bays. See manatees, dolphins, puffer fish, sea horses, stone crabs, and cow fish.  Take a guided Kayak Tour with a naturalist/biologist who leads you through shaded "tunnels" in a mangrove forest or cruise in a covered boat with a marine biologist for a revealing walk where you will experience different ecosystems.  Reboard the boat and beach it on a sandbar, find live shells, sea stars, many varieties of fish, crabs, sand dollars, and even sea horses.

Learn more here.

Big Cat Habitat, Sarasota, FL

The Big Cat Habitat is a nonprofit sanctuary with the goal of rescuing exotic cats and other native wildlife. There are 3 large indoor/outdoor housing complexes with adjoining exercise habitats. Watch training demonstrations using the unique style of gentle handling, praise and treats that encourage the natural behaviors of big cats on cue.  Demonstrations are exciting to watch and see the animals in a close encounter of the unusual kind! See and learn about exotic and endangered Siberian Tigers, Royal Bengal Tigers, African Lions, and rare White Tigers.

Learn more here.

Dakin Dairy Farm, Bradenton, FL

Dakin Dairy Farms, a half hour east of Bradenton in Myakka City, provides a fun opportunity to visit a real, working farm!  Watch cows being milked, tour the milk plant to see the process of pasteurization and milk bottling.  Take a hayride, get lost in the maze, ride the cow train, visit the animal barn and hen house, racing pigs, crawl through hay tunnels, roast marshmallows and hot dogs at the campfire and maybe, if you’re lucky, see a calf being born!  Top it off with local homemade ice cream and honey from local bees.  Kids can dig around and look for fossil shells & sharks teeth.  Great family fun!

Learn more here.

Palmetto Historical Park, Palmetto, FL

Several historic structures have been moved to the Palmetto Historical Park and are free for the public to tour, including The Carnegie Library built in 1914 and the Cottage Museum built about 1910. Six of the families who lived here have contributed furnishings to the museum. The Heritage Station Post Office built in 1880 was Palmetto's first free-standing post office and The Schoolhouse opened in 1935. The Heritage Chapel, The Manatee County Agricultural Museum and The Cypress House Military Museum are also available for touring. The museum now houses a growing collection of military artifacts, as well as tape-recorded interviews with local WWII veterans.

Learn more here.

Coquina Baywalk at Leffis Key, Bradenton Beach, FL

Coquina Baywalk at Leffis Key is across the street from Coquina Beach at the far south end of Anna Maria Island.  The trails offer panoramic views of the bay from observation decks tucked away in the mangroves.  Climb to the top of a hill for a sweeping view of the bay and ocean.  The footpaths and boardwalks lead visitors through 30- acres of carefully restored wetlands.  See great blue, green and night herons, white egrets, green. tricolored herons, brown and white pelicans and ospreys.  Sea life abounds with horseshoe crabs, whelks, fiddler crabs, ragged sea hares, blue crabs, conchs, many species of small fish and even dolphin!

Learn more here.

G.T. Bray Park, Bradenton, FL

Bradenton’s 140 acre G.T. Bray Park is Manatee County's gem of a recreational center.  The facility features an impressive list of activities:   lighted basketball and racquetball courts, lighted softball field and regulation soccer fields, football fields, picnic tables, pavilions, an amphitheater, dog park, indoor fitness center, charcoal grills, horseshoe courts, playgrounds, bike and nature trails, health and fitness classes, child care, day camp, teen programs, horseshoe courts, swimming pools, shuffleboard, rest rooms and a skate park and even a lacrosse league and much more!  Memberships are available.

Learn more here.

The John & Mabel Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

The John & Mabel Ringling Museum of Art was built to house their personal collection of masterpieces. The American, European, and Asian masterworks available here make the Museum of Art an awe-inducing experience. It is a palace of treasures including Rubens, Velázquez, van Dyck, Titian, El Greco, Tintoretto, Veronese, Gainsborough and more.  The Courtyard of the Museum features a cast of David by Michelangelo, the Fountain of Tortoises, and the Oceanus Fountain.

Learn more here.

Rosa Fiorelli Winery

Visit Rosa Fiorelli Winery an Award Winning Winery and Vineyard right here in Bradenton!  Learn about the art of growing grapes and making wine in the winery, taste Florida's finest locally produced wines, or just spend some time experiencing something unique and new wandering through the vineyards and then touring the wine making facility.  You can pick fresh grapes, either bronze or black Muscadine grapes in early August to September.   Wine tasting and Italian luncheon choices are available.

Learn more here. 

Bradenton Farmers Market

The Farmers Market on tree-lined Main Street in Bradenton is an outdoor market open every Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. from October through May.  Shop for fresh food and produce, arts and crafts, plants, jewelry; enjoy live music and view events and demonstrations.  Find fresh off-the-boat seafood, local produce brought in from the farm, fresh gourmet bread and flavored olive oil.  Grab a hot dog or bratwurst, perhaps some BBQ, and take home real Wisconsin cheese.

Learn more here.

The Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez, FL

The Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez is a modern museum housed in a historic 1912 Schoolhouse in the Cortez Nature Preserve. Exhibits focus on the maritime heritage of Florida’s Gulf Coast. See the boat shop where historic vessels are restored and recreated. View a collection tools, apparel, equipment, traditional watercraft, and other historically significant material relating to the maritime culture, and history, of Cortez a working commercial fishing village.  Tour the boat shop, school house and waterfront store.

Learn more here.

Jiggs Landing, Bradenton, FL

Jigg's Landing on the east side of Bradenton offers fishing and canoeing in the Ever's Reservoir and Braden River. The landmark former fish camp has undergone extensive renovations recreating the rental cabins and boat launch of the past.  A new canoe/kayak launch provides paddlers access to the entire Braden River.  The recreational features include a wooden boardwalk the length of the preserve allowing one to see the entire Evers Reservoir.  Enjoy picnic and wildlife viewing in the restored native ecosystems with interpretive signage and a playground, food, bait, bicycle and drink concessions.

Learn more here.

Lake Manatee State Park

Lake Manatee State Park is on the south shore of Lake Manatee 15 miles east of Bradenton.  It’s a great place to launch your boat, canoe or kayak. The 2,400 acre lake offers excellent freshwater fishing, from your boat or the fishing dock.Catch bass, perch, bluegill and catfish.  Swimming is permitted and showers with changing facilities are nearby. A large picnic area is near the lake with a pavilion that may be reserved. Campers can enjoy a 60 site camping area with water and electricity. Also available are horseshoe pits and a sand volleyball court.  Wildlife viewing includes bobcat, deer, quail, gopher tortoises and a variety of birds.

Learn more here.

Little Manatee River State Park, FL

Enjoy the real Florida at Little Manatee River State Park about 40 miles northeast of Bradenton.  Bring your horses and stay overnight at one of 30 camp sites or four equestrian sites with stalls.  There are full showers in the restrooms and RV camping is available with hook ups as well as primitive camp sites giving campers privacy to enjoy a peaceful camp fire.  Paddle the Little Manatee River for fishing, birding and watching wildlife, or hike the loop trail along the river and through the pines. Canoes are available for rent.  Picnic tables and pavilions are available along the river and pets are allowed.

Learn more here.

Historic home

The Historic Haile Homestead is unique in the Nation for its "Talking Walls." For a reason lost to time, the Haile family wrote on the walls of their home - over 12,500 words in almost every room and closet! Come visit us this weekend and see this gem of history, frozen in time - let the walls speak to you of joys and sorrows of more than a century ago. In 1854 Thomas Evans and Serena Chesnut Haile moved their family from Camden, South Carolina to Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida. Their 6,200 sq ft home was built by 56 enslaved laborers. 

Learn more here.

Myakka River State Park, FL

Myakka River State Park is one of Florida's oldest and largest state parks. The Scenic Myakka River flows through 57 square miles of wetlands, prairies and woodlands. Myakka is popular for hiking, fishing, camping, and wildlife observation.

Learn more here.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Clearwater Beach, FL

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium, about an hour north of Bradenton, is the home for Winter, the dolphin star of the feature movie Dolphin Tale, and features a dolphin show, otter presentations, and an interactive stingray exhibit, to name a few of the delightfully entertaining presentations.  They are also a working animal hospital that rescues and rehabs sea creatures unfit to survive on their own in the wild.  Visit the shallow stingray pool, where you can dip your hand in the water and pet the stingrays. Don't worry; the stingers have all been removed.  A perfect family outing destination!

Learn more here

Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa, FL

Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park is today ranked the number-one family-friendly zoo in the U.S. (Child magazine) and is about 50 miles or one hour north of Bradenton.  Natural outdoor exhibits for more than 2,000 animals from Florida and similar habitats include a Native Florida Wildlife Center and manatee hospital, Asian Gardens, Primate World, Free-Flight Aviaries, Wallaroo Station children's zoo, and Safari Africa. The Zoo also features rides, shows and hands-on interactive exhibits designed to give you a WILD experience.

Learn more here.

Busch Gardens, Tampa, FL

Busch Gardens is the bay area’s No. 1 tourist destination, where wildlife and wild rides come together in exciting shows, a first-class zoo with more than 2,500 exotic and endangered animals and enough thrilling roller coasters to keep you coming back!  Rides include the Cheetah Hunt, Gwazi, Sand Serpent and Congo River Rapids.  See the animals in Jambo Juction, Edge of Africa, Jungala and more!  Busch Gardens in Tampa is about an hours drive north of Bradenton.

Learn more here. 

Disney World, Orlando, FL

Disney World is one of 4 Theme Parks in Walt Disney World Resort, providing exciting entertainment, classic attractions, and all the loved Disney Characters.  From the front of Cinderella Castle, pathways spread out across the park and lead to 7 mythical lands.  See how fantasy becomes reality when you learn to be a pirate, match wits with funny monsters and conquer mountains. Make dreams come true for kids and wanna be kids!

Learn more here. 

Universal Theme Park, Orlando, FL

Universal Orlando theme park is a teriffic location for action and thrills featuring two theme parks in Orlando about a 2 hour drive from Bradenton. At both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure there’s unforgettable experiences for everybody! You can have the ultimate adventure, enjoy fun with your kids, rejuvenate yourself, have a romantic dinner, challenge yourself on incredible theme park rides, and relax by the pool in a beautiful Florida setting.

Learn more here.

Tampabay Bucaneers football team

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the areas NFL Pro Football team and Home to several Super Bowl playoffs!  Raymond James Field where the Bucs play their home games is about an hour north of Bradenton in Tampa.

Learn more here.

Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays is the areas Major League Baseball which plays at Tropicana Field's 1.1 million square foot indoor, fully air conditioned stadium.  In 2006, more than $10 million was spent on improvements. The renovations included new lighting, new fixtures, new wall treatments, a new premium seating club, changes to the press box, and much more. In addition, interactive baseball-themed areas were added throughout the ballpark for families to enjoy a new kind of fan experience.

Learn more here.

Museum of Science and Industry, Tampa, FL

The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), is about an hour north of Bradenton. It's a fascinating “hands-on” museum for all ages.  Pedal a bicycle balanced on a 1-inch steel cable 30 feet above the ground, see one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered and feel the impact of 74 mph hurricane winds.  Visit the IMAX® Dome Theatre, or go to the Planetarium which features a state-of-the-art star projector. Visit the Children's Science Center is for children twelve and under and is based learning and skill building.  Plan to spend an exciting day exploring and discovering!

Learn more here

Kennedy Space Center Complex

At Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Bradenton, you get the unique chance to tour NASA’s launch and landing facilities, experience interactive simulators and see huge rockets including the real Space Shuttle Atlantis, which is on permanent display. In two giant IMAX theaters, the dream of spaceflight comes alive with thundering sound, a five-story screen and effects. Rarely seen film shot during actual missions will make you feel like you’re floating alongside them. Expect all this and more from a day or two at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Learn more here.

Edison Museum, Ft. Myers, FL

The Edison-Ford Museum, the winter home of Thomas A. Edison and adjacent home of Henry Ford, is beautifully situated along the Caloosahatchee River about an hour and a half south of Bradenton in Ft. Myers. The inventive genius of Edison and Ford are evident throughout these 17-acres of riverfront estates which can be toured.  See Edison’s Laboratory filled with the original apparatus and equipment used to conduct his rubber research, as well as the cot where Edison took "catnaps" while working in the laboratory.  Here Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone combined their efforts, talents and finances in search of a natural source for rubber.

Learn more here.

Amalie Arena

The Amalie Arena is located along the Garrison Seaport District in Tampa. It’s the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The arena features state-of-the-art technology and innovative design.  In addition to NHL hockey, the Amalie Arena hosts more than 150 events annually, including concerts, family events, ice shows, the circus and other indoor sports.

Learn more here.

Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium is ranked as a "Top-5 Kid-Friendly Aquarium" by Parents Magazine and is home to more than 20,000 aquatic plants and marine animals from around the world.  See river otters, alligators, stingrays and sharks! Then, participate in guest-dive programs like 'Swim with the Fishes' or 'Dive with the Sharks'.  Continue the journey to the 2-acre outdoor, water adventure park at Explore A Shore where water cannons are plentiful and children can explore a two-story, water-logged pirate ship.  Go on a 90-minute Wild Dolphin Ecotour aboard The Florida Aquarium's Bay Spirit II, a 72-foot-long catamaran and bring a pair of binoculars!

Learn more here.

Pinellas Pioneer Settlement, FL

The Pinellas Pioneer Settlement is in St. Petersburg just a half hour north of Bradenton.  The Settlement is a living history museum located next to Boyd Hill Nature Preserve where visitors can observe and take part in the skills, crafts and social customs of late 19th century life in west central Florida.  Visit the Brantley Building built in 1888 and the  Endicott House built in1898, a blacksmith, sugar cane shed, saw mill and pole barn. These buildings have been the backdrop of music festivals, Civil War reenactments, antique shows and other period themed events.

Learn more here.

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is located 30 minutes north of Bradenton along the shores of Lake Maggiore in St. Petersburg. The 245-acre award-winning park features a bird of prey aviary, over three miles of boardwalks and trails, five unique ecosystems including pine flat woods, hardwood hammocks, willow marsh, sand pine scrub and lake shore and it is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.  The Preserve offers Interpretive programming on a variety of natural history and environmental topics plus guided tours, overnight camping, picnic areas a playground and gift shop.

Learn more here. 

Science Center of Pinellas County, FL

The Science and Technology Education Innovation Center is just 45 minutes north of Bradenton.  Here you’ll find live American Alligators, The Spirit of Columbia Theater & Planetarium, an Observatory with a powerful 16-inch telescope, a Marine Touch Tank, which includes over ten species of marine life plus a replica of 16th Century Native American Village where you can learn about 16th Century Florida natives, where early people lived, worked and socialized.  The Center appeals to kids and adults!

Learn more here.

Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa, FL The Glazer Children’s Museum is in Tampa, just an hour from Bradenton, is not your parent’s museum!  Kidding around here can grow your mind!  Kids can imagine themselves landing a jet at Tampa’s airport, navigating a ship in Port Tampa, racing to put out a fire or going shopping for groceries in a kid size super market, making pizza or producing their own film on a small stage.  Creativity and challenge are integrated throughout the 12 themed areas and 170-plus exhibits in the 53,000 Sq. Ft., $19.2 million, five-story museum.

Learn more here.
Weedon Islan Preserve, St. Petersburg, FL

Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center in St. Petersburg features free hiking trails that take hikers through pine flatwoods and maritime hammocks and picnic areas which allow hikers to rest under the shade of huge  oak trees. There are also free paddling trails including a 4-mile loop which wanders through mangroves, between islands of the Preserve, and along the edge of Tampa Bay. You’ll see wading birds like the reddish egret, white ibis and roseate spoonbills.  Frequently dolphins, manatees, sharks, and schools of mullet are spotted. Paddlers to the Preserve can rent a canoe or kayak from Sweetwater Kayaks.  You just supply the paddling power!

Learn more here.

Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg, FL

Sunken Gardens is St. Petersburg's oldest living museum located just 40 minutes north of Bradenton.  This 100 year old garden is home to some of the oldest tropical plants.  Relax as you walk through winding paths, rich with exotic plants from around the world. Discover cascading waterfalls, lush gardens with more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers and while you’re there see many varieties of  butterflies.  Sunken Gardens provides garden tours, horticultural programs, special events, field trips, weddings and private rentals.

Learn more here.

Florida Holocaust Museum

The Florida Holocaust Museum honors the memory of millions of innocent people who died or suffered in the Holocaust. It is home to a permanent exhibition, which uses original artifacts, historical photographs and documents with a special emphasis on the personal stories of local survivors. It also houses Woodcarvings by Dr. Herbert Savel of French children who were victims of the Holocaust. There are two temporary exhibition galleries located on the second floor.

Learn more here.

Egmmont Key State Park, FL

Egmont Key State Park is a wildlife and personal refuge, a place to collect shells or relax along secluded, pristine beaches. It is accessible only by boat and is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay, southwest of Fort DeSoto Beach and can be seen from Anna Maria Island.  The Key includes a lighthouse that has stood since 1858. During the 19th century, the island served as a camp for captured Seminoles at the end of the Third Seminole War and was later occupied by the Union Navy during the Civil War. In 1898, as the Spanish - American War threatened, Fort Dade was built on the island and remained active until 1923. After touring the historic sites and trails, visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, wildlife viewing, and picnicking.

Learn more here.
Ferry Tickets are sold here.

Anna Maria Island Historical Museum, FL

Visit the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum, built in 1920 as an icehouse, features displays of life on this barrier island from 1890 to 1950. See the famous old island jail, “no doors, no windows, no roof, no bars” and tour Belle Haven Cottage, a carefully restored 1920 cracker house with period furnishings and antiques. Outside the cottage, enjoy the “mangrove walk,” a natural Florida garden landscaped with tropical trees and plants.

Learn more here. 

Great Expectations Children's Museum

At the Great Explorations Children’s Museum kids learn about the world and have hours of fun in colorful, interactive exhibits!  There's a well equiped fire station to explore. In the healthy living area discover how healthy habits keep minds and bodies fit. Climb into a giant tree house, play in the child-sized interactive supermarket.  Step inside a pizza restaurant where children take pizza orders, create pizzas with soft sculpture ingredients, and serve guests at cafe tables.  Children learn listening strategies, memory and concentration as well as some characteristics of economics and finances in the real world, including basic math skills.  There’s also an animation station, raceway, robot lab and many other interactive, educational activities!

Learn more here.

Epcot Theme Park, Orlando, FL

Epcot, one of 4 Theme Parks at Walt Disney World Resort, is divided into Future World and World Showcase areas.  Future World is full of outstanding attractions all of which center on technological advancements, innovation and amazement.  World Showcase is a collection of shops, attractions and restaurants that represent the culture and cuisine of 11 countries.  There's also plenty of kid entertainment, too, like meet and greet Disney Character locations. Imagination and creativity are encouraged.   Enjoy the rides, live entertainment and exotic food selections at Epcot.

Learn more here.

Disney Animal Kingdom.  Orlando, FL. Lion

Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park, is full of attractions, adventures and entertainment and is the largest animal themed park in the world.   There are more than 1,700 animals from 250 different species spread across 500 acres of tropical landscape divided into 7 themed areas.  Within each area, encounter real animals. Get close enough to pet some of them!  There’s also live and wild entertainment including elaborate parades and animal shows.  Try American, African and Asian-inspired cuisines for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Learn more here.

Dinosaur World

Meet 150 life size dinosaurs at Dinosaur World an hour north of Bradenton.  Kids love viewing and learning about a variety of well known and unusual species, which are displayed outdoors with explanatory signs.  It may sound strange to say a dinosaur is loveable, but there is something about Triceratops that especially appeals to children maybe it is the large but not threatening, somewhat appealing look of the dinosaur itself but Tyrannosaurus Rex is probably the most popular dinosaur at Dinosaur World.  A highlight of the park is the Fossil Dig. Here, children from 3-12 can sift through sand in a paleontological setting and search for authentic fossils and keep as many as 3 fossils as a reminder of their trip. Bring along your leashed pet and your own food to enjoy in the picnic areas!

Learn more here.

Gatorland, Orlando, FL

Gatorland, located in Orlando about 2 hours from Bradenton has been creating vacation memories for visitors for over 50 years and is known as the Alligator capitol of the world.  It is a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve, which combines "Old Florida" charm with exciting exhibits, entertainment and family-fun with thousands of alligators and crocodiles.  Climb the observation tower, see a breeding marsh and stroll the boardwalk.  Watch reptile shows, birds in the aviary, play in the petting zoo, take a swamp walk and learn from the educational programs.  Visitors enter the park though a gaping alligator mouth!

Learn more here.

Titanic Experience, Orlando, FL

Titanic The Experience located in Orlando, about 2 hours from Bradenton allows visitors to stroll through full-scale recreations of Titanic’s most famous rooms, including her grand staircase, boilers, first class parlor suite, and promenade deck, where you can walk out and actually feel the chill of the cold Atlantic air as you look at the stars.  There are guided tours by actors in period costumes portraying Titanic notables, over 200 historical treasures in the interactive museum, a full size recreation of her grand staircase and verandah café an immersive dive area, the Captains bridge and an 8-foot replica of Titanic as she appears on the bottom of the Atlantic today. You don’t just watch the Titanic, you experience it!

Learn more here.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Just 2 hours north of Bradenton is the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park where you can see Manatees, Whooping cranes, Red wolves, and a Florida panther up close. Begin your visit with a free pontoon boat ride down Pepper Creek to the wildlife park where you’ll see the Fish Bowl, a floating underwater observatory which provides a below-the-surface view of manatees and fish in the perfectly clear spring water. Manatee, wildlife and alligator programs are presented throughout the day.  The elevated boardwalk trail provides a great view of wildlife, including a cougar, bears, bobcats, otters, deer, alligators and a wide variety of wading bird.,

Learn more here.

Fantasy of Flight

At Fantasy of Flight about an hour and a half east of Bradenton, airplane enthusiasts can see a priceless collection of over 40 rare vintage aircraft many of which are restored to original flying condition.  Visitors can board the Short Sunderland, the last airworthy flying boat and get close to the only B-26 Marauder still flying in the world in the authentic 1940’s airport village.  Climb aboard B-17 Flying Fortress and experience an insider view of what it takes to restore priceless aircraft to flyable condition.  Enjoy a hands-on, interactive area which explains the basics of flight from designing and testing paper airplane creations to piloting a state of the art hang glider simulator.  Take a tram tour of the grounds including the private airfield and visit a real working maintenance hangar where the collection is repaired.

Learn more here.

Anna Maria Island Fishing Pier

Anna Maria Island offers three fishing piers. The 710 foot long Anna Maria City Pier is an historic wooden fishing pier that hosts fishing and dining.  Due to damage from hurricane Irma the pier is closed until 2019.  The Rod and Reel Pier extends 350' into Tampa Bay where in 1979 a 17 ft, 1,386 pound Hammerhead Shark was caught. Try your luck for Tarpon, Snook, Red fish, Trout or Flounder. Catch dinner here too!  The Bradenton Beach Bridge Street Pier and restaurant is on the bay side of the Island, and is a good spot to fish for grouper, flounder, mullet, bluefish and ladyfish. Bait and tackle are also available.  All three piers feature restaurants with great views!.

Learn more here.

Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier

The Sunshine Skyway Fishing Piers on both the north and south side of the bridge are a fun, affordable family fishing destination for all skill levels.  Since the original span of the Skyway Bridge was built over Tampa Bay fishermen have been catching Tarpon, Sharks, Kingfish, Grouper, Mackerel, Cobia, Sea Bass and Snapper.  When the middle of the bridge was demolished, the rubble was carefully placed to form artificial reefs along both piers which attract a wide variety of fish.  The bait shops are always open and also sell snacks. Pack your chairs, umbrella picnic and fishing equipment. You don't need a fishing license.

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Anclote Key State Park

The four islands of Anclote Key State Park are located 3 miles off the coast of Tarpon Springs 57 miles north of Bradenton.  The 403-acre park is home to at least 43 species of birds and an 1887 lighthouse that keeps watch on the southern end of the island which is accessible only by private boat or ferry service. Catch the Ferry in Tarpon Springs.  Visitors can swim and sunbathe on the fine white beach sand, look for shells and sea turtles, fire up a grill and enjoy a picnic, or pitch a tent and enjoy a night of primitive camping under the stars. There are no provisions on the island, so bring your own food and water.

Learn more here.

Tampabay History Center

The Tampa Bay History Center located an hour north of Bradenton is a 60,000-square-foot History Center in Tampa’s Channelside District that will take you on a journey through 12,000 years of captivating stories. Learn about the first native inhabitants, pioneers, Spanish conquistadors, railroad tycoons and sports legends. Wander through a 1920s-era cigar store, row up the Hillsborough River, ride along with a cattle drive and learn about the early exploration of Florida in a realistic theater presentation.  The History Center on the waterfront features a striking atrium, interactive exhibits, map gallery, theaters, research center, an unusual Museum Store and the renowned Columbia Cafe.

Learn more here.

Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin, FL

Honeymoon Island got its name in 1939 when a New York developer built 50 palm - thatched bungalows for honeymooners. Today, you can drive across Dunedin Causeway to enjoy the Gulf beaches, mangrove swamps, and tidal flats. Nature lovers will find osprey nests, a wide variety of shorebirds, and virgin slash pine forests.  The park has several nature trails and bird observation areas. You can swim, fish, and snorkel or picnic while enjoying the beautiful scenery. Shelling is particularly good here, as the Gulf currents deposit an incredible variety of seashells on the shore. Showers are available and the park´s concession has a gift shop and snack bar.

Learn more here.

Gasparilla Island light house

Gasparilla Island State Park is separated from the mainland by Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound and is part of a chain of Gulf Coast barrier islands. The centerpiece of Gasparilla is the restored Boca Grande Lighthouse built in 1890. Swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and nature study are popular activities. Shelling is particularly good in the winter months. Two picnic areas offer pavilions for shade and scenic views of the surrounding water. The lighthouse is open to the public but check the website for season, time and day restrictions.

Learn more here.

Oscar Sherer State Park, FL

Oscar Scherer State Park is one of the best places to see Florida scrub-jays, a threatened species found only in Florida. The park protects scrubby and pine flatwoods that were once widespread throughout Sarasota County. Fifteen miles of trails through these beautiful natural areas provide opportunities for hiking, bicycling, and wildlife viewing. Canoeists and kayakers can paddle along South Creek and canoe and kayak rentals are available.  Fishermen can fish along the shores of Lake Osprey, which is also the park´s swimming destination. Picnic areas along South Creek are equipped with grills; pavilions can be reserved for a fee. The park has full-facility campsites and a youth/group campground.

Learn more here.

Madira Bickel Mound Archaeological Site, FL

The Madira Bickel Mound State Archaeological Site is an ancient Native American site was the first in Florida to be designated as such. Karl and Madira Bickel donated the mound and surrounding property to the state in 1948. The flat-topped ceremonial mound-composed of sand, shell, and village debris-measures 100 by 170 feet at the base and is 20 feet in height. Archaeological excavations have disclosed at least three periods of Native American cultures, the earliest dating back 2,000 years. Picnic tables are available. Plans for the future include a nature trail and a kiosk with historical information.

Learn more here.

Ringling Bros. Circus Museum, Sarasota, FL

The Ringling Circus Museum in Sarasota features circus artifacts, including parade and baggage wagons, costumes, props, posters, and sideshow banners.  It tells the story of the Ringlings, their circus, and its relationship to Sarasota, which was once the home of the winter quarters of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show.  See the Wisconsin railcar on which John and Mable Ringling toured the country on business with the circus.  Completed in 1905, this luxurious car gives visitors an impression of how the Ringlings traveled during the golden age of rail.  Also see the world’s largest miniature circus.  It gives visitors a sense of the scale and complexity of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Shows.

Learn more here.

Alafia River State Park, FL

Alafia River State Park is where some of the most challenging off-road bicycling trails in Florida can be found.  The unique topography of the land offers some of Florida's most radical elevation changes on 17 miles of bike trails.  Alafia also offers equestrians and hikers the opportunity to explore 20 miles of hiking and horse trails. Theres's an abundance of wildlife found along the trails. The south prong of the Alafia River and the lakes scattered throughout the park provide ample opportunities for canoeing and fishing. There's also picnic pavilions, a playground, horseshoe pit and volleyball court. For overnight stays, the park has a full-facility campground for both primitive and RV camping, as well as equestrian friendly campsites.

Learn more here.

The Holy Land Experience

The Holy Land Experience brings together the sights and sounds of the world of the Bible in a unique and interactive way in a living, biblical museum.  Pass through the gates of the walled city, and be immersed in ancient Jerusalem. The exhibits and structures capture the architecture, style, and settings that existed in the Holy Land. It's theatrical and it’s historical with presentations by Biblical Archaeologists as they describe the significance of The Garden Tomb, Qumran Dead Sea Caves, Great Temple and Plaza, Jerusalem Model, and Wilderness Tabernacle are all painstakingly detailed, both inside and out.  There is free parking.

Learn more here.

Highlands Hammock State Park

At Highlands Hammock State Park many visitors enjoy bicycling the scenic 3-mile loop drive or hiking along the park´s nine trails. An elevated boardwalk crosses an old-growth cypress swamp. Picnicking is another popular activity as are ranger-guided tours of the park. Highlands Hammock offers a full-facility campground, as well as a youth/group tent campground.  A recreation hall is available for rental, as are several picnic pavilions. A museum showcasing the history of the park is open 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Learn more here.

People at Play, Sarasota, FL

Join the crew at People at Play as an “Operator,” “Foreman” or “Superintendent”! How many pieces of construction equipment you would like to operate? This rural theme park is only open to one person at a time.  Here, visitors climb behind the controls of a real construction site excavator and start digging.  After classroom work and a hands-on lesson, participants can dig holes, trenches and then fill them back in.  Think you’re really good? Prove it on the obstacle course.  Everybody leaves with his or her own hardhat.  How’s THAT for a unique experience close by in Sarasota!

Learn more here.

Key West Express Yacht

Like Key West, but don't like the long drive?  Cut the drive in half when traveling from Fort Myers Beach, just 2 hours south of Bradenton.  The Key West Express departs each morning from Fort Myers beach and drops passengers off in Key West in time for lunch.  The high-speed ferry returns for the mainland around dinnertime, giving passengers 5-6 hours on the island.  Some pack overnight bags and then spend the night on Key West before returning at a later date.  The modern ferry features flat screen TV's, cocktails, snack bar, sundeck and comfortable chairs.

Learn more here.

Don Pedro Island State Park

Don Pedro Island State Park is part of a chain of barrier islands extending along Florida's Gulf Coast. It is accessible only by private boat or ferry. Boaters can tie up at the dock on the mangrove-lined bay side of the island.  You might see West Indian manatees, gopher tortoises, bald eagles and American oystercatchers. With one mile of white sand beach, enjoy sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling and shelling on Don Pedro's Gulf side. Boat and surf fishing are available and hikers can explore trails of the Park's land base portion on the Cape Haze Peninsula. The 100-acre land base also offers a fishing dock, nature trails and a picnic shelter.

Learn more here.

Guru Ballooning

Orlando Balloon Rides has grown to be one of the world's largest operators of commercial hot air balloons. Are you ready for the experience of a lifetime? View Florida as you've never seen before!   The action begins at sunrise. Hot air balloons are inflated giving you the opportunity to become involved.  Sit back and observe and take pictures as the gentle giant comes alive.  Then it’s up, up and away! Enjoy breathtaking views while floating in the sky and sending greetings to earthbound Orlando folks below. 

Learn more here.

Boggy Creek Air Boat Rides

Boggy Creek Airboat Rides. Did you hear that?  What is it?  After the sun goes down, natural Florida comes to life in a symphony of sounds from you can only hear outside the city limits.  This gator hunt is easy, since their eyes glow red at night when light shines their way.  Passengers go out with an experienced captain who shuts off the fan powered engine for a look at Mother Nature few ever see by day.  On daytime trips see exotic birds, turtles and the Florida alligator wallowing in their natural environment. Then soar atop the swamp water at speeds reaching 45mph. You’ll feel like you’re flying through the wetlands as you enjoy the best Everglades experience in Central Florida.

Learn more here.

Canoe Escape

Canoe Escape specializes in getting lost on the water. The excursion company will drop you off and pick you up after canoeing through Hillsborough County.  There are 16,000 acres and you're not alone on this 13 mile track down the Hillsborough River.  Gators out number people here. Canoe Escape offers tours lasting from two hours in length to six hours. Enjoy the thousands of white ibis in the fall, the sightings of deer, wild hog, and turkey in the winter, the proliferation of songbirds in spring, and cooling shade on a summer's day.  So pack a cooler but if you don't have the courage to float next to gators, several of the Water Management District park lands feature boardwalks with lookout locations.

Learn more here.

Cedar Keys, FL. National Wildlife Refuge

Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge is a group of coastal islands just off the village of Cedar Key, Florida. The Refuge consists of 13 islands totaling 762 acres. Wading birds, shorebirds, fishes, manatees, bald eagles and crabs are found here. An historic lighthouse sits atop Seahorse Key. Most public use at Cedar Keys is focused on Atsena Otie Key. Here visitors will find a pier, time line information, bathroom, and a walking trail to a 19th century cemetery. While you’re there visit the quaint village art galleries in Cedar Key.

Learn more here.

Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow Springs, a little over two hours from Bradenton, near Ocala is Florida's fourth largest spring and is popular for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at the headsprings. A picnic area at the spring includes tables, grills, and pavilions. For large gatherings, private pavilions can be reserved. Tubers can launch at the Tube Entrance on SW 180th Avenue Road. The Campground Entrance with a full-facility campground is about nine miles from the day use area.

Learn more here.

Kingfisher Fleet, Punta Gorda, FL

The King Fisher Fleet gives folks on the west coast one of the best views of the setting sun.  The sunset cruises leaving from Punta Gorda give floaters a look at the waterfront and a front row seat to the setting sun.  Captains have their vessels back to the dock before dark.  King Fisher Fleet, located at Fishermen's Village Marina in Punta Gorda, offers sightseeing cruises to the out-islands, eco-tours, full and half day cruises, sunset cruises and harbor tours will keep your camera clicking at dolphins and other wildlife.  Fishermen will enjoy deep sea charter fishing in the Gulf of Mexico or with back bay fishing in the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve.

Learn more here.

Dry Tortugas National Park

If you are planning a trip to Key West you might add a trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, almost 70 miles west of Key West . The 100-square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands.  Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known the world over as the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson, picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life, and the vast assortment of bird life that frequent the area.   Yankee Freedom Ferry and Key West Seaplane Adventures will provide transportation for a fee.

Learn more here

Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Float your cares away at Ichetucknee Springs State Park from the end of May until early September.  Floaters have a choice where they enter the spring-fed river.  At the end of the line, a bus takes visitors back to their cars.  Be ready, the water bubbling up from the Florida aquifer is chilly.  In addition to tubing, visitors can enjoy picnicking, snorkeling, canoeing, swimming, hiking, and wildlife viewing. October through March scuba diving is available in the Blue Hole only (you must be cave certified). White-tailed deer, raccoons, wild turkeys, wood ducks and great blue herons can be seen from the river. Tubes plus snorkeling and diving equipment can be rented from private vendors outside the park.

Learn more here.

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park, FL

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park is where a bowl-shaped cavity 120 feet deep leads down to a miniature rain forest. Small streams trickle down the steep slopes of the limestone sinkhole, disappearing through crevices in the ground. Lush vegetation thrives in the shade of the walls even in dry summers. A significant geological formation, Devil's Millhopper is a National Natural Landmark that has been visited by the curious since the early 1880s. Researchers have learned a great deal about Florida's natural history by studying fossil shark teeth, marine shells and the fossilized remains of extinct land animals found in the sink. Visitors can enjoy picnicking and learn more about this sinkhole through interpretive displays.

Learn more here.

Gatorama, FL

Steeped in old Florida charm, Gatorama is one of the few remaining original Florida roadside attractions. A two hour drive from Bradenton brings you to thousands of snaggle-tooth 'gators and crocs of the swampy southern lowlands call Gatorama home along with Allen and Patty Register and their son Benjamin. Teetering on the edge of civilization the Register's are fifth and sixth generation Florida Crackers who love sharing their piece of the Everglades with the thousands of visitors that make the trek down to their corner of the Glades.

Learn more here.

Uncle Donald's Farm

Uncle Donald’s Farm, about 2 hours northeast of Bradenton is where you can you milk a goat, pet a bristly pig, touch a chicken, or feed a cow. This family owned farm encourages visitors to pet and feed a variety of animals and see wildlife up close. Hand feed beef cattle, watch for llamas and ostriches on the hayride.  The poultry patch includes many "heritage" breeds of chickens, including Jersey Giants, New Hampshire and lots of fancy bantams. It is like the county fair, only this display is open all year.  The wildlife display is currently home to panthers, deer, birds of prey, tortoises and exotic animals. The old red barn even has a baby alligator on display. After all, it is Florida.

Learn more here.

Swiming with horses, Palma Sola Causeway, Bradenton, FL

Go swimming with a horse right here in Bradenton on the Palma Sola Causeway. Climb aboard the horse. Ride bareback down the beach. Feel the wind in your hair. Riding down the beach is another experience in a league of its own. No saddles are used (salt water would eat away at the leather, and make it pretty slippery).  You will have an opportunity to ride on a horse that is actually swimming! Plus, you can learn how to HorseSurf and HorseSki. You might even have a few wild dolphins swim by you!

Learn more here.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park

Visitors to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park can walk back in time to 1930s farm life where Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lived and worked in the tiny community of Cross Creek. Her cracker style home and farm, where she lived for 25 years and wrote her Pulitzer prize-winning novel The Yearling, has been restored and is preserved as it was when she lived here.  In 2007, the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings house and farm yard was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Visitors may tour the house with a ranger in period costume from October through July. Picnic facilities and a playground are located in the adjacent county park.

Learn more here.

Orange orchard

Ridge Island Groves, about an hour and a half from Bradenton near Haines City is where, for a small fee, you can ride into an orange grove and pick your own oranges!  A personal tour on an off-road golf cart comes with an empty bag that is to be used when picking your own produce and then hauling it home.  The family-owned orange grove and packing house is a popular winter destination in the heart of Florida. The ugly oranges that are pulled from the production line are squeezed and then turned into fresh Florida orange juice. It's a process that's wide open and available for free at Ridge Island Groves.  After visiting with the cattle and picking oranges, few can leave without sampling the soft serve ice cream made from real Florida oranges!  

Learn more here.

Long and Scott Farm maze

Farm hayride and corn maze. The Long and Scott Farms a couple of hours northeast of Bradenton is where hay rides, pumpkin patches and sweet corn reign supreme.  Each fall, there's corn as far as the eye can see, it’s a maze adventure park! Each year, the public is welcome to get lost in the fields of maize. For hours at a time, visitors round corners, content to just get lost on 7 acres.  If you ask for help getting out you’ll get it. If you don't ask, no help. Some people don't ask and they walk for three and a half hours before they get out of the maze!  For little kids, there is a smaller maze and besides the maze, kids of all ages enjoy the 40-foot-tall tunnel slide and a hayride!

Learn more here.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is home to mermaids, manatees, and other protected wildlife. Mermaids perform to music, using air hoses to stay under water, providing shows for visitors in the theater where they view them from inside a 400-seat theater, with thick glass separating them from the depths of the spring. The water park called Buccaneer Bay offers fun for the entire family with a white sand beach, flume rides and a lazy river ride plus a kiddy pool, water slide and picnic pavilions.

Learn more here.

SeaWorld Orlando, FL

At SeaWorld Orlando duck into a lush, tropical atmosphere, relax on pristine beaches, float along a tropical river or snorkel in crystal clear waters packed with fabulous rays or exotic fish.  See coral reefs and secluded grottos.  Experience tropical birds feeding from your hand, then experience the high point of your day as you befriend a delightful dolphin who welcomes you to share a swim in a tranquil lagoon.  Enjoy Discovery Cove at your own pace and with lots of personal space.

Learn more here.

Legoland, Winter Haven, FL

The LEGOLAND Water Park in Winter Haven features a wave pool, Build-A-Raft lazy river, tube slides, body slides and an interactive water-play structure. Thrill seekers climb to the tallest point of the water park attraction and choose from one of three unique slides, then speed down a 60-foot drop and “splash out” into the water below. Families can imagine, design and build a unique LEGO vessel and set afloat on a maiden voyage around the 1000-foot-long lazy river, set amongst playful LEGO Friends, flowering vegetation and palm trees.

Learn more here.

Tarpon Springs, FL

The sponge Industry helped build a Greek Community In Tarpon Springs that is now famous not only for sponges, but for authentic Greek restaurants and bakeries, sponge diving, sightseeing cruises,  lots of shopping, art galleries an aquarium, hand rolled cigars, and live entertainment. Take a boat ride and watch a diver go overboard and return with a sponge, then enjoy great, authentic Greek cuisine and delicious baked pastries!

Learn more here. 

Bok Tower and Gardens

Bok Tower and Gardens is located about 2 hours northeast of Bradenton. See stunning landscape gardens, a majestic singing carillon tower and a haven for birds, plants and wildlife.  In 1921 Edward Bok commissioned world-renowned masters to create a stunning landscape garden, a majestic singing carillon tower and a haven for birds, plants and wildlife. In all the natural beauty of the Gardens, Bok believed something was missing. Remembering the glorious sound of carillons in his native Netherlands, he decided to build a beautiful Singing Tower as the focal point of the Gardens which would be crowned by a large carillon.  Concerts from the 60 bell carillon at 1 and 3 p.m. fill the Gardens daily.

Learn more here.

Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards, FL

Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards is located in Clermont, Florida on a 127-acre estate in gently rolling countryside 25 miles west of downtown Orlando. This area was once the center of the State's grape industry. Each August big kids, little kids, everybody qualifies to stomp grapes.  It’s fun and free. You stomp your heart out. Two minutes. Whoever stomps the most gets a T-shirt. More than 110,000 people are expected to visit the winery annually, enjoying its extensive tasting room, festivals and gift shop. Complimentary Winery tours and wine tasting are offered 7 days a week and there are monthly special events.

Learn more here.

Hydro Harvest Farms, FL

Hydro Harvest Farms is a U-Pick Hydroponic farm in Ruskin Fl. about 20 miles Northeast of Bradenton. The farm is open every day and they have fresh picked food, local foods, honey, eggs and home canned goodies. The kids love to pick!  There is a picnic area so bring lunch and the kids and have some GOOD fun. Open everyday (summer hours may vary). In October the biggest pumpkin patch in the area will be ready for the pumpkin hunters.  The kids can haul them to the barn in a wagon and out to the car.  Real hay bale and real cornstalks are available for your Halloween decor. Check the calendar for seasonal events.

Learn more here.

Sarasota Ski-A-Rees, Sarasota, FL

On Sarasota Bay, you'll find a free water pageant on many Sunday afternoons.  (Check the schedule.) "I equate this with a circus performance," says Sherri Brunner with the Sarasota Ski-A-Rees.  Welcome to the "big top" of show skiing! The Ski-A-Rees perform on the water and on water skis. "It's a show team," said Brunner. "We preform water ski shows for the community." Folks flock to the free shows to witness great jumps, pyramids and even barefoot skiing. For those who remember the water ski shows at Cypress Gardens and SeaWorld, the Ski-A-Rees are on the same caliber.

Learn more here.

Giraffe Ranch, Dade City, FL

Giraffe Ranch an hour and a quarter northeast of Bradenton offers safari expeditions led by experienced driver-guides in  4-WD safari tour vehicles. You’ll be safe and comfortable as you see and learn about native and exotic animals and their habitats. Go on a camelback expedition, feed a giraffe, pet a camel, and get right up to rhino and pygmy hippos. The animals, both exotic and domestic, are from Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas.  Giraffe Ranch is not a zoo or theme park. It is a hands-on real working game farm and wildlife preserve where animals have room to roam.  There are two tours per day at 11 AM and 2 PM. Tours are strictly limited in size and reservations are required.

Learn more here.

Craigcat Tours, Mt. Dora, FL

Catboat Tours, 2 hours northeast of Bradenton, takes you on a fun-filled tour across Lake Dora and through 2,000 year-old cypress tree lined jungle waterway.  The Dora Canal has been called "The Most Beautiful Mile in the World." Scenes from the movie ’The African Queen’ with Humphrey Bogart, were filmed in the Dora Canal.  The tour is fully narrated and guided. See the sights of the Mt. Dora shoreline and then cruise at high speed across Lake Dora to the Dora Canal on very small and very fast two passenger catamarans.  Drive your own boat and prepare to have fun getting wet!

Learn more here.

Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland, FL

Detroit Tigers Spring Training Ballpark in Lakeland, is an hour northeast of Bradenton. The Detroit Tigers began coming to Lakeland for Spring Training in 1934 and have been coming back each year ever since.  The 2013 spring season also marks the club's 48th consecutive season of exhibition play at Joker Marchant Stadium in Tiger Town and is also the regular season home of its minor league farm team in the Class A Florida State League, the Lakeland Flying Tigers.  The stadium has a current capacity of 8,000 seats not including an estimated 1,000 lawn seats out on the berm.  Plan to come out and watch a game in the Spring of 2014.

Learn more here.

Spook Hill, FL

Spook Hill has gained worldwide notoriety as one of the most confounding potentially haunted locations in existence. Visitors come from around the world to park their cars at the bottom of Spook Hill and experience the mysterious force that seems to defy gravity and push the car right up to the top of the hill. Visit Spook Hill, park your car at the white line, put it in neutral, and see the results for yourself!  Some believe Native American spirits haunt the Polk County hillside. Others say aliens are to blame and some consider it to be the Area 51 of Central Florida.  Here, everyone has an idea of what's hiding under Spook Hill.  Whatever the phenomena, it’s free to experience and just an hour and a half from Bradenton.

Learn more here.

St. Johns River Cruises, FL

Snowcat Ridge, a snow park currently under construction in Dade City, plans to open its slopes this year. Snowcat Ridge will feature a 60-foot-tall, 400-foot-long snow tubing hill. It will also have a snow dome, where visitors can play with real snow and even make snowmen. Inside the dome, there will be a child-sized version of the park’s snow hill for younger visitors. At an area of the park called Alpine Village, visitors will find an outdoor seasonal holiday market featuring goods from local artisans. Visitors will also be able to grab food and hot cocoa while relaxing near a bonfire. In the evenings, there will be a light show on the snow hill and inside the snow dome.

Learn more here.

Silver Springs State Park Monkeys, FL

A visit to Silver Springs State Park, a couple of hours from Bradenton, provides an opportunity to see free-ranging rhesus macaques.  That’s right; these moneys have been living in the wild in this park for over 80 years!  The monkeys had been brought to the area to enliven the set of the movie Tarzan Finds a Son! which was filmed at Silver Springs in March 1939.  They still live in the wild in this park that has more than 10 distinct natural communities, dozens of springs and miles of trails.  Visitors can canoe down the crystal clear river, hike or bike along one of the nature trails, or watch for the wide variety of birds and wildlife. The picnic area has three pavilions with grills.  Most of the monkeys live in the park area.  The park has a full facility campground and 10 luxury cabins and is home to a pioneer cracker village, Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center.

Learn more about park here.  Learn about monkeys here.

Green Swamp, FL

The Green Swamp is just 1.5 Hours northeast of Bradenton. 98% of the area is open for public access, and is an ideal place to experience natural Florida.  Activities available in the preserve include hunting, fishing, horseback riding, camping, hiking, canoeing and bicycling. The secluded rivers and waterways are a paradise for those who love to fish for large mouth bass, while hunters search for wild turkey and white-tailed deer.  Footpaths and trails for hiking abound in the Preserve. They range from short trails perfect for day hikes, to longer, extended loops and linked networks more suitable for overnight back country hikes. Trails for bicycling and horseback riding are available on 42 miles of service roads. Canoeing through the Green Swamp on the Withlacoochee River offers a true wilderness experience. River campsites are accessible with permit.

Learn more here.

Devils Den, FL

Devil's Den, 2 ½ hours north of Bradenton, is an underground spring inside a dry cave in central Florida with crystal clear water that is always 72 degrees, ancient rock formations with stalactites, fossil beds, and much more.  Snorkelers and divers climb down a stone stairway that leads to wooden steps. From there, they make their way to a platform from which a wet adventure begins.  Light pours in from the hole in the surface of the earth above and some electric lights.  An underground spring feeds through this dry cave. Rock formations line the walls, while fossil beds hide under the water that's 45 feet deep.  Devil's Den gets its name from how steam rises from the hole in the winter. Camping and R.V. sites are available. Note, Devil’s Den is no longer open to swimmers. Those entering the water must be SCUBA certified, taking part in a lesson or training exercise or a snorkeler. Gear is available for rent.

Learn more here.

SUN ’n FUN Air Museum

The SUN ’n FUN complex is open year-round and is home to the Florida Air Museum. Here visitors can get their hands on a 727. You can touch it, feel it, see it and dream of being a pilot! The aircraft museum is on the campus of the Central Florida Aerospace Academy and plays host to the nation’s second largest air show each April.  People of all ages will learn why a plane operates the way it does, and actually do it with your hands on it. You’ll get a lesson on how airplanes fly, thanks to a miniature wind tunnel.  Meanwhile, models of Howard Hughes greatest projects are also on display.

Learn more here.

J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park. FL

The J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park is tucked away in Pasco County, an hour and a quarter from Bradenton, well away from the responsibilities of daily life.  Bring your bike, horse or legs to the park featuring 1,800 acres of natural Florida.  If you're lucky, you might spot deer, wild pigs and giant squirrels.  There are separate primitive camping areas, backcountry camping and campsites for cars and primitive cabins, 10 miles of marked equestrian trails, 27 miles of marked hiking trails (some paved), limited freshwater fishing, a large playground, volleyball courts, athletic field, fire pits for bonfires and picnic facilities.  Those are just some of the features of this back-to-nature park.

Learn more here.

The President's Fall of Fame, Claremont, FL

The President's Hall of Fame is filled from floor to ceiling with artifacts from the 44 men who lived at the White House and their first ladies.  Several replicas of first lady dresses are on display.  Some sit on models that look like the first ladies who wore them.  There are china patterns representing each President and even old White House phones with safety stickers. The labels warn that not all phone connections are safe and secure.   There is an enormous model of the White House, from the Red Room to the Green Room, and even the Press Room, the detail work is amazing.  The grandfather clock on the wall looks just like the original.  Even the print on the chairs matches the fabrics on the seat in Washington, DC right now. As for the photos on the desk in the miniature oval office, they are replicas of what you’ll find on President Obama’s desk.  Speaking of the President, visitors can also stand next to a life-size replica of President Obama, with a resemblance that is uncanny.

Learn more here.

O’Brien Family Farms, FL

Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, located at 1001 North Boulevard. This 25-acre park features relaxing water views, dynamic public art, sports fields/courts, picnic areas, dog park, bocce ball and a large rowing center. Little visitors can enjoy the new playground and splash pad. In addition, this park will serve as one of the city’s premium event spaces, able to accommodate up to 16,000 people in a single lawn. From recreation to leisure, Riverfront Park has something for everyone!

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Westgate River Ranch , FL

At Westgate River Ranch two hours east of Bradenton you an experience one of the last untouched pieces of Florida wilderness at an authentic dude ranch where guests can return to the days of “Old Florida” when the state was home to cowboys and cattle ranchers. The Ranch, which lies on 1,700 acres overlooking the scenic Kissimmee River, features horseback riding, an award-winning Saturday night rodeo, various cowboy, water and team-building activities and a Saturday night rodeo, complete with trick riding, bull riding, calf roping and barrel racing in the1,200 seat Rodeo Arena plus a rock climbing wall, zip line, mechanical bull and bungee trampoline, as well as a 10-unit “glamping” site.

Learn more here.

The Chassahowitzka River Campground and Recreation Area, FL

The Chassahowitzka River Campground and Recreation Area, almost 2 hours north of Bradenton is open year-round.  Since the spring is 72 degrees year-round, the water may be warmer than the air on the day you visit.  The campground offers camping, boating, picnicking, fishing, and canoeing.  For the fisherman, the river is home to the coveted largemouth bass. Saltwater angling in the famous Gulf of Mexico is a short boat ride away.  So bring your boat, or rent one on site, but be sure to bring your camera! Also available, bath house, boat ramp, full hook-ups, horseshoe pit, laundry facilities, pets are allowed on a leash, primitive tent area, shuffleboard courts and a general store.

Learn more here.

Hunsader Farms, FL

Hunsader Farms got its start in 1967 and has added many events and activities since then.  Homegrown vegetables are picked daily so they are always fresh.  When it is u-pick season you can go right out into the field and pick them yourself.  There is also a big playground surrounded by a petting zoo.  Kids can enjoy the slides, swinging, digging in the big sandbox and riding on the circle path around the mini barn.  The petting zoo consists of a deer, emus, bunnies, fainting goats, pigs, geese, sheep, roosters, dairy goats, a donkey, a pony, a llama, a peacock and chickens.  Animal feed is available so you can hand feed them yourself.  Watch for seasonal events!

Learn more here.

Royal Lipizzan Stallions

See the famous Royal Lipizzan Stallions in Myakka City, just thirty miles east of Bradenton.  Founded in the 16th century for the exclusive use of the Hapsburg Royal family of Austria, the Royal Lipizzans are unquestionably the rarest, most aristocratic breed of horses in the world. Only a few hundred exist at any one time. The Lipizzans' celebrated escape from the Russian advance during World War II was recounted in the Walt Disney movie, "Miracle of the White Stallions". Now you can see the fabulous flying white Lipizzans perform the rare and beautiful Airs Above the Ground as seen in the movie.  The home practice season starts December 19th and shows are Thursdays and Fridays at 3pm, Saturdays at 10am.

Learn more here.

Silver Springs State Park, FL

Silver Springs State Park has dozens of springs and miles of trails and is located a couple of hours northeast of Bradenton.  Visitors can canoe down the crystal clear river, hike or bike along one of the nature trails while watching for a variety of birds and wildlife.  There are three pavilions in the picnic area with grills. For overnight stays, the park has a full facility campground and 10 luxury cabins.  There is also a primitive campground for use by organized groups like scouts, church groups, etc.  The park is home to a pioneer cracker village and the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center which is open to the public on weekends and holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00. p.m.

Learn more here.

Potts Preserve Park

Potts Preserve Park is the type of park where you can escape and leave your cares behind. First, it's a hike to get to the park outside of Inverness about two hours north of Bradenton. Second, in order to enter, you have to leave your car outside the entrance and pass through a small gate to get inside.  The land is protected from development in order to preserve the West Coast's drinking water supply.  You'll discover 30 miles of hiking, canoeing, camping (sites have picnic tables, fire rings and/or grills) separate sites are available for equestrian, group, primitive and backcountry camping, kayaking and birding.  Equestrian use includes 12 miles of marked woods roads.  Fishing and frogging allowed throughout year along river.

Learn more here.

Audubon Center for Birds of Prey

Audubon Center for Birds of Prey is one of Central Florida's best kept secrets a couple of hours northeast of Bradenton.  If you want to experience real Florida, the Center provides an opportunity to view up close and personal Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Kites, Owls and Falcons; some of nature's top predators.  Take a walk to the Center's gazebo for a short break and to view the Center's Magic of Flight barn, which houses birds currently under rehabilitation. Additional exhibits highlight conservation in Florida, climate change, and Eagle Eyes on the Environment, a behind the scenes look into rehabilitation. Educational activities include on site and off site programs, special events, volunteer opportunities and Eagle Eyes on the Environment programs.

Learn more here.

Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour, Orlando, FL

Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour is located about 2 hours northeast of Bradenton. Located on Lake Osceola less than 10 minutes from downtown Orlando, the boat tour offers hour-long, guided cruises through three of the seven lakes and two, narrow man made cannals on the tranquil Winter Park chain. On any given tour, participants may observe large cranes swooping waterside to snag a large fish or a lazy alligator languishing on a nearby bank. An occasional water skier or racing shell full of crew members Every tour guarantees plenty of swaying palms, towering cypress trees, lush ferns and a variety of flourishing sub-tropical flowers. Breathtaking views of opulent private homes and exquisite estates sprawling along the shores are also a key feature of the scenic cruise.

Learn more here.

Yacht StarShip Dining Cruise, Clearwater Beach, FL

Yacht StarShip Dining Cruise departing from Clearwater Beach marina is just an hour and a quarter drive North from Bradenton.  The 2.5-3 hour gourmet dining cruise is a 3-diamond rated Dining Yacht by AAA, and ranks in the top 28% of all restaurants. The dinner dance cruise offers dining, live entertainment, and dancing with some of the best, ever-changing, waterfront views in Tampa Bay. From brilliant sunsets to starlit evenings it's dinner with a view! Dinner includes a choice of 10 entrees from a full, restaurant-style menu featuring continental cuisine prepared fresh on board. There is a full cash bar.

Learn more here. 

Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy, Sarasota, FL

At the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy enjoy a whimsical moment as you view a variety of paintings, sculpture and mixed media artwork located in nearby Sarasota. Most of the artists are American, in addition to Korean, Peruvian, Haitian and Canadian. The current exhibit represents a diverse collection of quality art from classic to light-hearted and fun. Walk through the museum gardens covered with Florida oaks. View the wide variety of tropical plants and flowers including black bamboo and orchids. Don’t miss the bathysphere prototype, the flying pigs, the spinning ballerina, the stainless steel rocket ship "Creative Spirit", the granite pumpkin and snow man, and most of all, the Family Grouping and other whimsical sculptures nestled within flocks of flamingos.

Learn more here.

Sanibel Island, FL

Sanibel Island has everything one could wish for, excellent restaurants, accommodations, golfing, tennis, fishing, boating, shopping, bike paths, canoes, theatrical productions, the renowned J.N. "Ding Darling" National Wildlife Refuge & Bird Sanctuary and the  Point Ybel Lighthouse. Sanibel Island is known for its shelling beaches and the "Sanibel Stoop". Since the island lies east and west, different than most islands which lie north and south, this direction allows Sanibel Island to catch abundant sea shells that the Gulf of Mexico brings to its shores. Enjoy the soft white sand on expansive beaches, coconut palms, tropical foliage and beautiful clear blue water.
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Captiva Island

Captiva Island, sister to larger Sanibel Island, is just over a small bridge to the north of Sanibel. Turner Beach is a great place for catching prize fish and for finding the colorful shells that these islands are famous for. The beach stretches 5 miles to the northern tip of Captiva Island. Captiva Drive is a scenic drive past giant cactus, colorful bougainvillea and other tropical flowers along a stretch of sea and sand ending at "downtown" Captiva, which is more of a village than a town. Enjoying a sub-tropical climate and being able to be outdoors in the sunshine all year around allows so many activities to choose from; fishing, golf, boating, kayaking, canoeing, tennis, swimming and bike riding. Go boating down the waterways and view dolphins, blue herons, raccoons and other species of colorful birds. Then dine outdoors at one of the eclectic restaurants.

Learn more here.

The "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico. The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. It is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations. The best months to visit for birding are December through March. The best time to view wildlife is during low tide when the birds are feeding on the exposed mud flats. Visitors may tour the Wildlife Drive on a one-way car tour. Most of the trails are open to bicycles. Along the trail, visitors often spot wildlife such as alligators, night herons, and white ibis. Open Saturday through Thursday.

Learn more here.

Captiva Kayak, Captiva, FL

At Adventure Sea Kayak on Captiva Island you can explore the barrier islands of from sea level and it’s a unique adventure for the entire family. Get direct access to the pristine estuary, rich in Florida habitat. The scenic, shallow bay waters provide a beautiful backdrop for both novice and experienced paddlers. Paddle to bays, beaches, bayous and mangrove trails or choose a back bay ecology tour with experienced guides through historic Buck Key Island. Create an adventure paddling on your own to the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge.

Learn more here.  

Southwest Florida Museum of History, Ft. Myers, FL

The Southwest Florida Museum of History in Ft. Myers is located in the former Atlantic Coastline Railroad depot, the Museum is home to the history of Southwest Florida. Paleo Indians, the Calusa, the Seminoles, Spanish explorers, and early settlers are just a few of the people you will meet as you view the exhibits. An authentic replica of a pioneer "cracker" house, a 1926 La France fire pumper, and a 1929 private Pullman rail car are also part of the tour. The museum also houses an extensive artifacts collection detailing early civilization, the Fort, the first settlers, the cattlemen, turn of the century, the military and agriculture, boating and fishing industries in Fort Myers. 

Learn more here.

Ft. Myers Beach, FL

Ft. Myers Beach gained a reputation as the World’s Safest Beach because of no undertow and shallow water. A little less than two hours south of Bradenton people can walk the entire 7-mile length of the island along its sandy shores.  The north end of the Island has plenty of beachy shops and resort entertainment for the youthful crowd while the middle and southern part of the Island is more family oriented.  There are many hotels and small motels directly on the beach all along the Island. Over 1.8 million people visit here each year and many come to dine on “pink gold” shrimp and celebrate the blessing of the fleet with a weeklong Shrimp Festival, usually held in March.

Learn more here.

Murder Mystery Dinner Train, Ft. Myers, FL

On the Murder Mystery Dinner Train in Ft. Myers your journey includes an elegant 5 course dinner, comical show & nostalgic train ride. Join the fun unraveling a comical mystery before your eyes. It is up to you to decide just who the killer is and why they would do such a dastardly deed. Write down all the clues you discover. A prize is awarded to the one super sleuth in each dining car. Favorite drinks are available as you enjoy white table cloth dining in a dining car on a real moving train! All Murder Mystery Dinner Trains depart at 6:30 pm.

Learn more here.

Imaginarium Science Center, Ft Myers, FL

At The IMAG History & Science Center in Ft. Myers the little ones will enjjoy hands-on exhibits including the hurricane experience, dino discovery a chance to build your own coaster, IMAG TV studio, Tiny Town, Sea-to-See Touch Tanks, and more. Meet amazing animals during a Live Animal Encounter. Conduct fun experiments that you can actually eat! Become a kitchen chemist and learn how ice cream is made, why bread rises and how to churn butter. Conduct explosive experiments, and explore rockin' reactions as you learn to control the amazing power of chemistry! Take home recipes included so that you can use your science lab (kitchen) at home! 

Learn more here.

Everglades Day Safari near Ft. Myers, FL

The Everglades Day Safari near Ft. Myers is an adventure that includes a well-educated, highly-trained, naturalist guide, a nature walk under the canopy of towering bald cypresstrees, a boat cruise into the Ten Thousand Islands mangrove forest in Everglades National Park, a lunch with alligator appetizers, a wildlife drive through the pine savannahs and cypress forests of Big Cypress National Preserve, and a fun airboat ride through saw grass prairies and pond apple forests. 

Learn more here.

Castle Golf, Ft. Myers, FL

At Castle Golf your adventure begins when you enter the Castle gates where you'll be surrounded by waterfalls, water fountains and lush tropical plants. The knights of Castle Golf stand guard over this challenging 18 hole miniature golf course.  Soon you'll be crossing draw bridges, walking through the enchanted forest and storming the Castle. You'll hardly realize that the local wildlife has been watching you waiting to be fed! Even the most serious player will find it difficult to unlock the mysteries of the 18 holes at Castle Golf, but if you get lucky be sure to ask about the mystery hole that day...you might win a free round of golf! 

Learn more here.

Manatee Park, Ft. Myers, FL

Manatee Park in Ft. Myers is where, during the cool winter months when the temperature of the Gulf of Mexico and rivers drops below 68 degrees F, the endangered Florida manatee seeks refuge from the cold waters by swimming into the Florida Power and Light warm water discharge canal. This non-captive manatee sanctuary provides a winter haven for these warm-blooded native mammals.  Since opening in 1996, Manatee Park has a wide variety of plants and animals that can be seen while walking through the native plant habitats and beautiful butterfly garden. The ADA-accessible walkways and paths allow all visitors to tour the park.

Learn more here.

Six Mile Cypress Slough, Ft. Myers, FL

The Six Mile Cypress Slough (pronounced “slew”) is a 2,500 acre wetland in Fort Myers. This ecosystem is home to a diverse population of plants and animals, including some considered to be endangered. The Slough also serves as a   corridor for wildlife by providing a safe route of travel.  There is a fully accessible, 1.2 mile long boardwalk trail, an interpretive center, shelters, observation decks, a photo blind, guided walks, picnic areas, restrooms and water. There is a parking fee of $1 an hour or a maximum of $5.00 per stay which is used for maintenance and programming for the preserve.

Learn more here.

Lovers Key State Park, FL

For years, Lovers Key just south of Ft. Myers Beach was accessible only by boat and it was said that only lovers traveled to the island to enjoy its remote and solitary beach. Today, it is one of four barrier islands that make up this state park. A haven for wildlife, the islands and their waters are home to West Indian manatees, bottlenose dolphins, roseate spoonbills, marsh rabbits, and bald eagles. The two mile long beach is accessible by boardwalk or tram and is popular for shelling, swimming, picnicking, and sunbathing. Black Island has over five miles of multiuse trails for hiking and bicycling. Anglers and boaters can launch their vessels from the park's boat ramp. The park's concession offers kayak tours, as well as bicycle, canoe and kayak rentals.

Learn more here.

Boca Grande, FL

The Historic Village of Boca Grande, on the island of Gasparilla, is an hour and 20 minutes south of Bradenton. This lush barrier island has seven miles of powdery white beaches. Just north of the island is Placida where “Old Florida” flourishes. An artists’ enclave of brightly colored cracker cottages. At the center of the island is “Main Street” with no stop lights, no billboards, no high-rises and no fast-food chains.  You will find, however, unique shops and art galleries, casual and fine dining. A favorite of photographers and movie producers, this is the secret island that presidents, dignitaries and celebrities sneak away to, because the island denizens have a low-key attitude regarding celebrity and fame. Lose yourself in days gone by, for an hour, day, week or a lifetime.

Learn more here.

Tandem Hang Gliding, Ft. Myers, FL Tandem Hang Gliding is a great way to take an Introductory Flying Lesson, and experience the kind of joy you feel when FLYING in your DREAMS! Being towed aloft by by a custom boat is just the beginning. When your altitude is reached, the towline is released, and you soar like a bird above the magnificent scenery, gliding effortlessly and slicing through the sky like on your own silent aircraft! At Paradise Hang Gliding on Ft. Myers Beach the fun is much more than flying. You also get a great day of boating and wildlife spotting in the waters of Florida Bay and the sparkling Straits of Florida. No experience necessary, you fly with a USHPA Certified Hang Gliding Instructor! 
Learn more here.
Jet Boat, Ft. Myers, FL

Jet Boat Fun invites you aboard an 11 passenger, 375hp, commercial jet boat on Ft. Myers Beach, about two hours south of Bradenton. Bring the whole family aboard this souped up Jet Ski on the calm protected waters of Estero Bay, San Carlos Bay, and the Intracoastal water way. 360 degree spins and speed runs, along with dolphins and other wildlife will leave you wanting more! USCG licensed master Captains provide a safe and professional high speed thrill ride. Get a thrill racing at top speed! 

Learn more here.

Charlotte Harbor State Park, Fl

Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, a hour south of Bradenton is 42,000 acres of shoreline where visitors can hike, fish, paddle and observe wildlife in the park's many natural communities, including mangrove forests, marshes, scrub habitats and pine flat woods. Most of the park is shallow water fringed by mangroves, providing opportunities to view wading birds, manatees, dolphins and other wildlife. The park is best accessed by kayak or canoe, but hikers can use pedestrian walkthroughs available in each section of the park and explore the wildlife found along three marked trails. No restrooms or drinking water are available.

Learn more here.

Matlacha, FL

Matlacha is an "Old Florida" fishing village, home to many brightly colored art galleries, island boutiques, seafood restaurants, and traditional Floridian cottages. The most workaday aspect of town is the mile-straight road through it, its two lanes useful for bridge anglers to brag about the size of their snook, for shopkeepers to flaunt sometimes outrageous mannequins, for mailboxes decked out like polka-dot dogs, dolphins and manatees. Pronounced right, the name of the place rhymes with "sashay," so, Matt-LaShay. Hard not to like the Doll Lady even if you never meet her yourself. She lines the roadside out front of her toy-sized house with hobby horses and stuffed dolls in salvaged metal chairs. Sign on her door says, "Sorry. This is not a shop. It's just for fun."  There's also fishing, shrimping, crabbing and clamming in this charming, eclectic village. Spend a day smiling!

Learn more here

Pine Ilsnd Beach, FL

Pine Island's secluded, quaint and "country waterfront" atmosphere is a huge part of its charm. Fringed with mangroves rather than white sand beaches, Pine Island has escaped the concrete, blacktop and skyscrapers found in the more touristy, beachy communities. Surrounded by mangroves, three aquatic preserves, acres of palm, tropical plant and fruit groves; the island has escaped the cement and skyscraper development found on some Florida islands. The waters of Pine Island Sound provide some of the best fishing in Florida, and are a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers.There are hiking trails, kayak and canoe waterways and ancient Indian shell mounds. It's also home to artists, authors, song writers and poets.

Learn more here.

Babcock Ranch, FL

Babcock Ranch offers visitors the perfect setting to immerse themselves in nature. Find wildlife in an Old Florida setting. Take a 90-minute Buggy Tour through the Ranch and Telegraph Cypress Swamp. Experienced guides offer in-depth descriptions of birds, animals, plants, and the cattle and horses that are raised on the ranch. In the tour area you'll find a museum featuring Florida history and natural history artifacts. The museum itself is actually a movie set used by Warner Brothers in the 1995 film "Just Cause" (starring Sean Connery) that was filmed in part on Babcock Ranch. Picnic facilities are available year-round. You can bring your own picnic lunch or enjoy a lunch in the Gator Shack Restaurant, open seasonally.

Learn more here.

Everglades Tours, FL

Everglades Tours starts in Ft. Myers about two hours south of Bradenton!. Knowledgeable and fun guides introduce you to one of the most unique wetland ecosystems in the world. Tours offer insight and hands-on adventures into the cultural history and the diverse wildlife of this fragile environment. All tours include a thrilling air boat ride in the Everglades. Or tour the scenic mangrove estuary of Estero Bay, Florida’s first Aquatic Preserve. You will have the opportunity to see dolphins, manatees, and many different species of native birds. Cruise this beautiful coastal area and enjoy the nature that abounds in this preserve area and understand why estuaries are an important component of the Everglades ecosystem. This cruise is on a very stable pontoon style boat with shade and restroom.  Learn more here.

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Sanibel Island Cruise Line offers private cruises from Sanibel to the barrier islands of Cayo Costa, with 7 miles of beautiful Gulf front beach, shelling, and water sports over the shallow water ledge that is approximately 20 yards off shore, in water ranging from 3-8 feet.  Masks, snorkels, and flippers, are included on the cruise for use. After the ship anchors and you jump into the clear blue water you’ll see a wide variety of colorful fish at the ledges area, as well as being able to search for shells that haven't yet reached the beach. Both adult and child kayaks are available while at the island as well as stand up paddleboards.

Learn more here. 

Cayo Costa State Park, FL

Cayo Costa State Park has nine miles of beautiful beaches, pine forests, oak-palm hammocks and mangrove swamps, this barrier island park is a Gulf Coast paradise. Cayo Costa is accessible only by private boat or ferry. Visitors may see manatees and pods of dolphins in the waters around the park, as well as a spectacular assortment of birds. On the island, visitors can swim or snorkel in the surf, enjoy the sun and picnic in the shade. The nature trails that crisscross the island provide opportunities for hiking and off-road bicycling. Saltwater anglers can fish from their boats or throw a line out into the surf. For overnight stays, the park offers primitive cabins and tent camping.  Learn more here.

JetLev, Tradewinds Hotel, St. Pete, FL

JetLev is a new water-propelled jetpack that soars up to heights of 30 feet at 30 miles per hour.  Now can snag a flight on the new JetLev at TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Petersburg Beach which is just 45 minutes north of Bradenton.  It’s really cool and may be the most exhilarating exhilarating watersports ride of your life! You can literally fly over the Gulf, soar up to 30 feet in the air...or hover and walk along the water. JetLev is really unique.  Each JetLev session is 45 minutes, with a ride time of 30 minutes. The future is here...are you ready to fly?

Learn more here.
Felts Audubon Preserve, Palmetto, FL

Felts Audubon Preserve is located in Palmetto. This 27-acre nature preserve is an environmental educational center for people of all ages. The land is being used by an abundance of different animals including many migratory birds. 158 avian species and 33 butterfly species have been documented!  Improvements continue including new footpaths, an enhanced bird blind for comfortable wildlife observation and excellent photography. Small ponds with open fields exist to attract a wider variety of wildlife, especially migratory and nesting birds and colorful butterflies.  Stroll through the forested area, relax on the benches, take photos and simply commune with nature.

Learn more here.  

Lettuce Lake, Hillsborough County, FL

Lettuce Lake opened is a 240-acre site in Hillsborough County. It has wooded picnic areas a bicycle path/jogging trail, complete with a fitness course. Lettuce Lake is also a haven for nature study. An interpretive center, featuring exhibits, leads to a 3,500 ft. boardwalk and an observation tower where visitors can view an extensive variety of wildlife. There are canoes/kayaks available for rent.  More than half of the park’s property lies in the natural floodplain of the Hillsborough River, and consists of a hardwood swamp forest. The remainder of the park consists of hardwood hammocks and pine flatwoods plant communities.

Learn more here.  

Philippe Park, Safety Harbor, FL

At Philippe Park in Safety Harbor, an Indian mound listed in the National Register of Historic Landmarks and majestic shade trees welcome visitors at the oldest park in Pinellas County. Take in the view of Old Tampa Bay while strolling along a one-mile shoreline. Enjoy picnicking, fishing and historical points of interest. Kids love the playground, a rock climbing park, ball field and open spaces to roam. A public boat ramp with access to Tampa Bay is open during park hours.  Water fountains and restrooms are available.  

Learn more here.

New York Yankees Spring Training At Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, FL

New York Yankees Spring Training At Steinbrenner Field. The crack of the bat. The roar of the crowd. What on earth can compare to the game of baseball played by the New York Yankees? Witness the stars of today and tomorrow during Spring Training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Regarded as one of the finest Spring Training facilities in the country, George M. Steinbrenner Field serves as the Yankees Major League Spring Training complex, and is also home to the Florida State League Tampa Yankees. 

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Tampa Bay Downs, Tampa, FL

Tampa Bay Downs is a multi-entertainment destination on Florida's west coast. Start with an afternoon of world-class Thoroughbred racing, then see the high-stakes action in The Silks Poker Room. Or bring your clubs to the state-of-the-art Downs Golf Practice Facility, where a staff of PGA Class A professionals are eager to assist in lowering your handicap. Families can hang out in the picnic area during the races. Breakfast, lunch and dinner options are available throughout the facility. 

Learn more here.

In The Breeze Ranch, Tampa, Fl

In The Breeze Ranch is a large horse ranch located just 5 miles North of the Tampa International Airport and offers horseback riding activities. Saddle up and let a professional trail guide show you what it's like to experience a true adventure on horseback.  You will be riding one of the quality and experienced horses that were born and raised on the Ranch. They are exceptionally well-mannered and experienced in navigating the trails. The trails you will navigate through are beautiful and breathtaking. You’ll cross a creek that runs through the ranch, ride by lakeside, stroll through the tranquil woods and enjoy Florida's natural habitat.  

Learn more here.

Upper Tampa Bay Trail, Tampa, FL

The Upper Tampa Bay Trail is located in residential northwest Hillsborough County. Currently, the trail runs along the west shore of Channel A from a trailhead off Memorial Highway/Montague Street, past Waters Avenue, Linebaugh, and then due north to Gunn Highway, Ehrlich Road and ending at Peterson Road Park.  Features include bird watching, fishing, hiking,  picnic area (ADA accessible), restrooms and trails for horses, paved biking and walking.

Learn more here.  

Courtney Campbell Trail, Tampa, FL

The Courtney Campbell Trail is a 8' to 12'-wide paved path that will allow pedestrian and bicycle access along the entire southern side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway, from the Veterans Expressway in Tampa to Bayshore Boulevard in Clearwater, as well as connecting to recreational trails on both sides of the Bay. The 5.5-mile portion in Tampa / Hillsborough County, includes a 45'-high bridge. The Causeway was designated a Florida Scenic Highway in 2005 due to its scenic vistas, uncluttered views of the Bay area’s beautiful sunsets.

Learn more here.   

Brooker Creek Preserve, Pinellas County, FL

Brooker Creek Preserve is approximately 8700 acres, and the largest natural area in Pinellas County. It consists primarily of forested wetlands and pine flatwoods. Bordered by dense urban development, the Preserve provides both a unique refuge for native flora and fauna as well as an opportunity for citizens to explore the natural beauty of wild Florida. The Preserve also serves to protect a significant portion of the Brooker Creek Watershed. A complex of hiking and equestrian trails provides visitors an opportunity to explore the Preserve’s many ecosystems. 
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Anclote Key Preserve State Park

At Anclote Key Preserve State Park is accessible only by private boat or ferry service. The 403-acre park is home to at least 43 species of birds, including the American oystercatcher, bald eagle and piping plover. A picturesque 1887 lighthouse stands as a sentinel on the southern end of the island. Visitors can swim and sunbathe at the beach, fire up a grill and enjoy a picnic, or pitch a tent and enjoy a night of primitive camping under the stars. There are no provisions offered on the island, so be prepared to bring your own water and supplies.  

Learn more here.

Warm Mineral Springs, FL

Warm Mineral Springs is a very peaceful, lovely experience.  The water is very refreshing and buoyant and stays the same temperature of 87 degrees year round. Residents and visitors relax in the soothing water. The mineral waters are constantly coming out of the earth, flushing into a river, so it is clean. It is super safe, because it its set up with railings, so the area that is shallow is marked and separated from the 250 foot deeper area.  

Learn more here.

Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park, FL

Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is located on rolling sand hills in an area known as the central ridge of Florida, a deep ravine with springs issuing from its sides. Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking and wildlife viewing along the park´s nature trails and a 5.44-mile stretch of the Florida National Scenic Trail. Visitors can swim or fish in the lake, or spend a lazy afternoon canoeing. A large picnic area, with tables and grills, pavilions, and a playground are available to enjoy. Nestled under the trees are 3 full-facility campgrounds. Primitive campsites are available as are fully equipped lakefront vacation cabins, some of which were built by the CCC. 

Learn more here

People in canoe rowingA visit to the Ocala National Forest is a unique and fascinating forest that offers an accommodating climate for year round recreating. The mild winters are fine for family camping while a summer canoe trip down a palm-lined stream is a cool way to spend an August day.  Water plays an important part in a variety of recreational opportunities on the forest. There are huge springs, twisting streams and lakes for fishing and water skiing.  Activities range from canoeing, boating, skiing, to use of personal watercraft.  Camping can be enjoyed during all seasons on the Ocala. Visitors are welcome to stay as long as fourteen days in most campgrounds and even longer in other campgrounds, depending on the season. The majority of camping is on a first-come, first-serve basis

Learn more here.  

John Chesnut Sr. Park, Palm Harbor, FL

John Chesnut Sr. Park in Palm Harbor, is home to various wildlife including raccoons, alligators, waterfowl, hawks, vultures, tortoises/turtles and more. Lake Tarpon, immediately adjacent, is five miles long and one mile wide, and can accommodate boats with combustion engines. There are three nature trails, each approximately 3,000 feet in length. The elevated boardwalk runs along the boat ramp, leading to an elevated lookout tower for a scenic overview of Lake Tarpon. Swimming is prohibited inside the park.  There are picnic shelters with grills, a boat ramp, restrooms, two playgrounds, horseshoe pits and a dog park.

Learn more here.

Wall Springs Park, Palm Harbor, FL.

Wall Springs Park in Palm Harbor is a natural spring, once used as a spa and bathing area, complete with a viewing area, boardwalk and information display and serves as the centerpiece of this 210 acre park that is connected to the Pinellas Trail.  The fun continues in the park with a covered, barrier-free playground, boardwalks, nature trails and a 35-foot observation tower for a scenic view of the Gulf of Mexico. Look for wildlife like squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, reptiles and birds that live around Boggy Bayou.  Features include, fishing restroom and picnic shelter & grills.

Learn more here.  

Suncoast Primate Sanctuary, Palm Harbor, FL

The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary Foundation, is home to over 100 animals including Chimpanzees, Orangutans, Monkeys, Reptiles, Tropical Birds, and more. Whether coming to the Sanctuary after no longer being able to be cared for as a personal pet
or retiring from the laboratory and film industries, the Sanctuary is here to provide these magnificent animals with a safe haven to spend out the rest of their lives in peace and with dignity. The Sanctuary
is run entirely by volunteers and relies on the generosity of the community and local businesses. 
It is an outdoor facility so consider bringing bug spray, sunscreen, ​make sure to check the weather. Primate food for $1.00 a scoop, is available.  Picnic tables are available on site, so feel free to bring food and non-alcoholic beverages and be sure to bring a camera or camera phone!  

Learn more here.

Flatwoods Park, Thonotosassa, FL

Flatwoods Park in Thonotosassa is best known for its seven-mile paved loop road, which serves as a multiuse trail, which provides a welcome getaway from Tampa’s developed landscape. A two-mile paved extension connects Bruce B. Downs Boulevard with the loop road. The loop road gives bicyclists a woods experience, off-road cyclists enjoy the Wilderness Park Off Road Trails System.  Dogs and their owners are welcome on the short, easy walk nature trails are short. Long-distance runners and triathletes train on loop road, cross-country runners and hikers enjoy the Wilderness Park Off Road Trails System. There are picnic shelters, grills and tables available at several locations. 

Learn more here

Trout Creek Park, Hillsborough County, FL

Trout Creek Park is on the Hillsborough River and is popular for fishing, canoeing and group picnics. It is
a pleasant place to get away for a midday break or
to take small children for a mini-adventure.  Off-road cyclists enjoy the Wilderness Park Off Road Trails System.  The park is site 100 on western section of Great Florida Birding Trail.  A canoe launch provides access to Hillsborough River State Canoe Trail.  Fishing is allowed from the river boardwalk, along
the riverbank, by boat on Hillsborough River or Trout Creek, and on the banks of lakes.  The nature trail is a short, easy walk on a firm surface suitable for families and strollers. At the end of the trail, a primitive trail loops back through floodplain forest to parking area.  Picnic tables and three pavilions with grills and electricity provided.

Learn more here.  

Wilderness Park Off Road Trails System, Hillsborough Co., FL

Wilderness Park Off Road Trails System is popular single-track woods trail that has a natural surface and shady canopy. The 20-mile main trail and 15 miles of side trails traverse the Trout Creek, Morris Bridge and Flatwoods areas.  Habitats along the trail vary from cypress swamp, hardwood floodplain forest, upland hardwood hammocks, pine flatwoods, oak scrub, dry prairie, wet prairie and lakes.  Trail maps are available at kiosks in parking areas and the main trail is marked with wooden posts.  On weekends, rangers and stewards monitor FRS radio channel 1, code 0, for visitors carrying hand-held radios who need emergency help. 

Learn more here.

Dead River Park, Hillsborough Co. FL

Dead River Park is  located at the confluence of Dead River and the Hillsborough River and is a pleasant place to unwind. Nature lovers appreciate a scenic two-mile trail alongside the Hillsborough River or enjoy bicycling on a 2-mile unpaved, elevated single-lane road. The park is site 104 on western section of Great Florida Birding Trail.  Camping is available for a fee and there is a 0.25-mile hiking trail located adjacent to campground.  A bathhouse and picnic facilities are provided.  Fishing is allowed on Hillsborough River and a canoe launch is a short portage from parking area and Picnic tables are available. 

Learn more here

Oak Ridge Equestrian Area, Hillsborough Co. FL

Oak Ridge Equestrian Area is in the northeast corner of this property and while still rural, this part of Hillsborough County is changing to suburban subdivisions. The trail is shaded within a forested wetland and open through pine flatwoods.  There are 18 miles of trails and riders are required to stay on marked trails.  Horse-drawn buggy riding on marked trails requires a free reservation.  Equestrian, group and primitive camping is available and sites have picnic tables, fire rings and/or grills.  Portable toilets and nonpotable water available at the parking area.  A free reservation is required.  

Learn more here.

 

Canaveral National Seashore, Titusville, FL

Canaveral National Seashore is a 58,000 acre park located on a barrier island and is home to more than 1,000 plant and 310 bird species. The park has 24-miles of beaches which is the longest stretch of undeveloped beach on the east coast of Florida. The northern beach is Apollo Beach, the middle section
is Klondike Beach and the southern part is known as Playalinda Beach. Playalinda Beach is probably the best known as an informal nudist beach and the space shuttle launch facility is clearly visible from the approach to Parking Lot #1. The John F. Kennedy Space Center is at the southern end of the barrier island occupied by the Canaveral National Seashore. Mosquito Lagoon borders the other side of the Cape from the Canaveral National Seashore; the Kennedy Space Center is located on the lagoon as well.

Learn more here.  

Loch Haven Park, Orlando, FL

Loch Haven Park is nestled between three lakes, and is home to several museums of both the arts and sciences. It covers an expansive 45 acres and serves as Central Florida's premier cultural park.  The park was recently renovated to attract more people to its multiple museums and theatre groups and is a fantastic place to picnic under a large oak tree on a lazy afternoon and enjoy one of the sparkling lakes on the property. One of Central Florida's largest oak trees, "The Mayor," resides in this park near The Mennello Museum of American Art. 

Learn more here

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Orlando, FL

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground evokes the timeless beauty of the American frontier, with deer, rabbits, ducks and armadillos roaming the Resort’s 750 acres of pine and cypress forest. Discover charming woodland trails, spectacular pool areas and rip-roarin’ entertainment at this picturesque backcountry retreat.  Campsites accommodate everything from tents to 45-foot and longer RVs. Each campsite is equipped with privacy-enhancing landscaping, water, cable television and electrical hook-ups, a picnic table and a charcoal grill. Most campsites also include a sewer hook-up, and some even permit pets.  Make a splash at Meadow Swimmin’ Pool on the corkscrew waterslide, and relax in the whirlpool spa. Young buckaroos can cool off and explore the fort-themed water play area, complete with their own toddler-friendly slides.

Learn more here.  

Lake Kissimmee State Park, FL

At Lake Kissimmee State Park Florida's cowboy heritage comes alive with living history demonstrations of the early Florida "cow hunters" in an 1876-era cow camp. White-tailed deer, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, turkeys, and bobcats have been seen in the park, located on the shores of lakes Kissimmee, Tiger, and Rosalie. Visitors enjoy boating, canoeing, and fishing in the picturesque lakes. Hike over 13 miles of trails to observe the abundant plant and animal life. Six miles of trails are open to equestrians. A large, shaded picnic area with pavilions is available. The park has full-facility campsites, as well as a primitive camping facility. 

Learn more here.

Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary

The Seaside Seabird Sanctuary is located Indian Shores, just north of Bradenton, and is truly a unique place. For over 40 years, it has been dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and eventual release of sick, injured, and orphaned birds. The Sanctuary is world renowned for its rehabilitation techniques, and was the first facility to breed Eastern Brown Pelicans in captivity. Visitors can visit the sanctuary 365 days a year to view display areas that house over 400 permanently injured birds that have been given a home at the sanctuary. 

Learn more here.

Orange Blossom Cannonball, Mt. Dora, FL

All aboard the Orange Blossom Cannonball! The only wood burning steam locomotive in Florida!  Train tours take visitors on a round trip between Mount Dora and Tavares. The working locomotive and train cars are well kept with a comfortable ride in older wooden seats. Grab a seat on the raised benches of the caboose or sit in a car near the engine where you'll take in the fragrance of the wood burning that runs the train. The turn of the century is alive and living in Central Florida ready to slip you back in time for a gentle afternoon of something simple and special. Welcome Aboard and create some new memories... aboard the Orange Blossom Cannonball. 

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G.T. Bray Park, Bradenton, FL

G.T. Bray Park is Manatee County's recreational hub and the centerpiece of an impressive Parks and Natural Resources Department with lighted football, baseball fields, basketball and racquetball courts, Olympic pool, fitness center, skate park, pavilions and so much more in this huge public park. Membership includes access to an Olympic size pool, kiddie pool and splash pad, fitness center, exercise classes, teen center, tennis hard courts, racquetball, and the use of the gym to play basketball, volleyball, badminton, pickleball, and cornhole. 

Learn more here. 

Keel and Curley Winery, Hillsborough County, Fl

Keel and Curley Winery was started in spring of 2003 in the kitchen of founder and owner, Joe Keel,  a central Florida blueberry farmer, who wanted to find something to do with his of crop blueberries.  He decided blueberry wine would be interesting and dabbled with his creation in the family farm house kitchen.  He started that spring of 2003 with 10 gallons of blueberry wine.  So was the beginning of a company that produces over 20,000 cases of quality wines a year. Keel and Curley Winery, produces three types of Blueberry wines, each with a very distinct taste.  All wines are made from 100% blueberries. There’s live music and special events at the tasting room at the winery where you can spend time on the beautiful, spacious deck and enjoy the county air of Eastern Hillsborough County, Florida.  Learn more here.

John B. Sargeant Park, Tampa, FL

John B. Sargeant Park is best known for boating access to the Hillsborough river. Downriver, the State Canoe Trail is a winding, verdant jungle of hardwood trees, lilies and birds. Upstream, the river widens to flow through the broad hardwood swamp known as the Seventeen Runs.  A boat ramp, boat dock, canoe launch and trailer parking is provided.  For hikers a quarter-mile boardwalk takes visitors through a wetland forest to a rest area on river. From this overlook one can see Flint Creek flowing in from the east, the Hillsborough River straight across on its way out of Seventeen Runs and the merging of the two flowing off to the west.  Picnic tables and a covered pavilion provided.  

Learn more here.

Trout Creek Park, Tampa, FL

Trout Creek Park is located near the mouth of Trout Creek, on the Hillsborough River and is popular for fishing, canoeing and group picnics. It is a pleasant place to get away for a midday break or to take small children for a mini-adventure.  The nature trail is a short, easy walk on a firm surface suitable for families and strollers. At the end of the trail, a primitive trail loops back through floodplain forest to parking area. There are fishing trails around lakes. Cross-country runners and hikers enjoy the Wilderness Park Off Road Trails System. Picnic tables and three pavilions with grills and electricity provided.  

Learn more here.

Wilderness Park Off Road Trails System, Tampa, FL

Wilderness Park Off Road Trails System is a popular single-track woods trail that has a natural surface and shady canopy. The 20-mile main trail and 15 miles of side trails traverse the Trout Creek, Morris Bridge and Flatwoods areas.  Habitats along the trail vary from cypress swamp, hardwood floodplain forest, upland hardwood hammocks, pine flatwoods, oak scrub, dry prairie, wet prairie and lakes.  Trail maps are available at kiosks and the main trail is marked with wooden posts numbered 1 to 47.  If you need assistance on-site, locate a park ranger or a volunteer trail steward.  

Learn more here.

Jefferson Equestrian Area, Tampa, FL

Jefferson Equestrian Area is located in the southwest corner of the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve and is surrounded by urban development. The trail roughly parallels Cow House Creek, a tributary of the Hillsborough River, and offers canopied riding for local horse enthusiasts. Interestingly, water in this creek can flow east or west, depending on water levels in the Hillsborough River and the Tampa Bypass Canal.  There are 10 miles of marked trails.

Learn more here.  

Oak Ridge Equestrian Area

Oak Ridge Equestrian Area While still rural, this region of Hillsborough County is transitioning to suburban subdivisions. The trail is shaded within a forested wetland and open through pine flatwoods and features 18 miles of multiuse trails.  Equestrian, group and primitive camping is available and sites have picnic tables, fire rings and/or grills. A portable toilet and non-potable water source available.  

Learn more here.

Canoe Escape, Tampa, FL

Canoe Escape to nature on a 2-hour to full day, downstream, quiet-water, paddling adventure through a 16,000-acre wildlife preserve. In all seasons the Hillsborough River delights with its beauty and abundant wildlife. From the thousands of white ibis in the fall, the sightings of deer, wild hog, and turkey in the winter, the proliferation of songbirds in spring or its cooling shade on a summer's day, the Hillsborough River brings a new surprise around each bend.  Rent a canoe or kayak for an hour, a downstream trip, or schedule a guided trip, and paddle through this cypress swamp full of Florida's unique flora and fauna. 
Learn more here.

Solomon's Castle, Ona, FL

Solomon's Castle hidden in the lush Florida woodlands  is one man's dream of paradise. A visit to Solomon's Castle is a most unique experience.  The home, galleries and workshop of internationally renowned artist Howard Solomon are open to the public. Decorated with more than 80 interpretive stained glass windows and countless metal sculptures the castle is a day-long delight. Take the tour! Relax under the oaks along picturesque Horse Creek. Enjoy a homemade meal at the Boat-in-the-Moat Restaurant. 

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Sebastian Inlet State Park, FL

Sebastian Inlet State Park is the premier saltwater fishing spot on Florida's east coast. Surfing is also a popular recreation and several major competitions are held here every year. Two museums provide a history of the area. The McLarty Treasure Museum features the history of the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet; the Sebastian Fishing Museum tells the history of the area's fishing industry. Three miles of beautiful beaches provide opportunities for swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, shelling, and sunbathing. Canoeing and kayaking in the Indian River Lagoon are also favorite pastimes. Visitors can relax with a stroll down the mile-long Hammock Trail. Waterfront pavilions and picnic areas are great for family outings. A campground for RVs and tent campers is available along with a boat ramp. 

Learn more here.

Sebastian Inlet State Park, FL

St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park preserves open grassy forests of longleaf pine that were once commonplace throughout Florida. The pine flatwoods form a backdrop for other biological communities, including cypress domes, scrubby Flatwoods, sand hills, and a beautiful strand swamp. These habitats are home to many native plants and animals, including over 50 protected species. Photographers, bird-watchers, and nature enthusiasts can explore miles of trails on foot, bicycle, or horseback. Canoeing, boating, and fishing on the St. Sebastian River are popular activities. Launching facilities are available outside the preserve at Dale Wimbrow Park.  

Learn more here.

Florida's State Forest Trail Walker Program, FL

Florida's State Forest Trail Walker Program. Do you enjoy the outdoors? Are you a frequent visitor to Florida's state forests? Maybe you've wanted to explore them but haven't had the opportunity. You are now holding your ticket to a grand tour of Florida's state forests. The best way to learn about a state forest is to experience it first hand, and this is what Florida's State Forest Trailwalker program is all about.  The opportunity to have personal experience with nature is rare these days, and this program will give you that opportunity. Find the nearest state forest on your Trail List and get started. We've got your trails cut out for you.

Learn more here.  

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, FL

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park protects the largest remaining stretch of Florida dry prairie, home to an array of endangered plants and animals. Visitors can enjoy sweeping vistas of grasslands reminiscent of the Great Plains of the Midwest. The preserve offers excellent seasonal birding opportunities. More than 100 miles of dirt roads allow hikers, bicyclists and equestrians to explore prairies, wetlands and shady hammocks. November through March, ranger-led prairie buggy tours allow visitors to see remote areas of the preserve. Kissimmee Prairie’s remoteness makes it one of Florida’s premier locations for stargazing. For overnight stays, the Preserve has two full-facility campground loops: family and an equestrian campground with paddocks.

Learn more here

Hardee Lakes Park, FL

Hardee Lakes Park is approximately 1200 acres and is an hour east of Bradenton. The park has horse trails, hiking trails, handicap-accessible hiking trails, and bike trails. There are restrooms located throughout the park, and the restrooms in the camping area have showering facilities available.  Hardee lakes also have picnic areas, a picnic pavilion, playground and a boardwalk that winds around the lakes and through the woods is available, with an observation tower where people can view wildlife.  

Learn more here.

Hardee County Wildlife Refuge, FL

Hardee County Wildlife Refuge has grown from a few rough cages located around the perimeter of Pioneer Park to a model Refuge. Today the Refuge is home to native Florida wildlife and a few exotic species, each housed in natural-type habitats.  Coming from various walks of life, each animal has been placed in our care with their own unique story. However, they do have one thing in common - they were in need of a forever home and could not survive in the wild. Now they are thriving in their refuge home, which provides nutritional food, shelter, and large physical areas for enrichment activity. Guests are encouraged to visit the Refuge and take a leisurely stroll among the tree tops on the elevated boardwalk and become educated about the animals that make the Hardee County Wildlife Refuge their home. 

Learn more here

Pinelands Preserve, FL

Pinelands Preserve features one of the largest stands of pristine Pine flatwoods in western St. Lucie County. Three trails totaling six miles traverse the 750-acre preserve. An elevated observation deck overlooks a saw grass marsh. This site is also part of the state’s “Great Florida Birding Trail,” where a variety of birds are often seen, including the Sandhill Crane, Wood Stork and Bald Eagle. There are six miles of trail, consisting of 2 loops in mostly Wet Pine Flatwoods.  Commonly seen wildlife: Deer, hog, meadowlark, sandhill crane, barred owl and cardinal.

Learn more here.  

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The Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team was started by former water skiers from Cypress Gardens Theme Park who want to pass on their show skiing legacy to the next generation. It all started when Legoland acquired Cypress Gardens, one of Florida’s first commercial theme parks, known for its lush botanic gardens and water ski shows. Though the gardens were preserved, the pro skiers wanted to keep their skills up and to continue to entertain the public. Shows are scheduled on the third Saturday of every month.  Free water ski shows are on the 3rd Saturday of each month on Lake Silver in Winter Haven an hour and a half northeast of Bradenton.     

Learn more here.

Lost Mines of Atlantis, Sebring, FL

At Lost Mines of Atlantis in Sebring about an hour and a half east of Bradenton, many precious and semi-precious gem stones and crystals can be prospected in one location.  A new mineral is discovered often, amethyst, citrine , emerald, ruby, sapphire, garnet, agate, opal, tigers eye, petrified wood, herkimer diamonds, moonstone, onyx, peridot, hematite, chrysocolla and more.....it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon with the family, enjoying the thrill of the hunt and the relaxation of the water.

Learn more here.

Lake Istokpoga, Sebring, FL

Lake Istokpoga near Sebring, at nearly 28,000 acres, is one of the best fishing lakes and the fifth largest lake in the state of Florida. Anglers travel from all over the state and nation to fish Istokpoga. Birds of many species fly its massive boundaries and alligators of all sizes roam its marshy flatlands. The average depth of Lake Istokpoga is four to six feet, and it is fed by two creeks. There are picnic facilities, bathrooms, nature trails, a large fishing pier and boardwalk and a double boat ramp.

Learn more here.

Lake Jackson, Sebring, FL

Lake Jackson, covering 9,212 acres, is located within the City of Sebring. It is a healthy freshwater lake, approximately 25 feet at its deepest. Most of the area is fairly shallow. The water is clear as compared to most lakes and the shores are sandy.  City Pier Beach is located just to the West of Downtown Sebring and offers covered tables, a play area, fishing, public restrooms and a public beach. 

Learn more here.  

Navy Seal Museum, Ft. Pierce, FL

At The National Navy SEAL Museum and Memorial in Ft. Pierce, dive into the secret world of Naval Special Warfare.  Here you can explore the history of these legendary maritime special operations warriors.  Get up close and hands-on with the specialized equipment used by Navy SEAL Teams—from the first operations of their legacy units during World War II to today’s high tech, high stakes missions.  You will also find rare and unusual artifacts from some of the Seals’ most renowned and dangerous missions. 

Learn more here.

Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, FL

At Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, the shores and coastal waters at this park provide an abundance of recreational opportunities. The breathtakingly beautiful half-mile beach welcomes visitors for swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and scuba diving beach combing and picnicking. Along the south end of the park, Fort Pierce Inlet is a popular place for anglers and Jack Island Preserve, located one mile north of the park, has trails for hiking, bicycling, and nature study. At the west end of the Marsh Rabbit Run Trail, visitors can climb an observation tower to get a bird's-eye-view of the Indian River and the island. 

Learn more here.

Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, FL

Because of the Polk Museum of Art’s location in Lakeland Florida, their collection of Modern and Contemporary Art began with a focus on art made within the state. The artists represented in the collection mirror the great diversity within the statewide population, including works by Cuban-American and other Latino artists, African-American artists and Asian-American artists. Now celebrating its 50th year, the Museum is one of the top 10 art museums in the state and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and is free every day. Learn more here.

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Morse Museum, Winter Park, FL

The Morse Museum in Winter Park houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933), including the artist and designer’s jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass, leaded-glass lamps and windows; his chapel interior from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago; and art and architectural objects from his Long Island country estate, Laurelton Hall. The Museum’s holdings also include American art pottery, late 19th- and early 20th-century American painting, graphics, decorative art. 

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St. Lucie County Aquarium

The Smithsonian’s unique exhibits are much more than fish tanks: they are model ecosystems! Come view the thriving underwater worlds of the Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean, visit the touch tank, and enjoy hands-on interactive activities! Visit Tuesday through Saturday at 10:30am as the underwater residents enjoy their morning meal! Learn about the Aquarium's daily menu and what makes our constantly changing ecosystems so unique. Snack Time is every Tuesday through Sunday at 2:30pm as the critters in a select number of our aquaria get a special afternoon snack. Learn about animals targeted for feeding and the dynamic Model Ecosystems they call home!

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Summer Crush Vineyard & Winery

At Summer Crush Vineyard & Winery swirl your glass on the handmade wine barrel tasting bar and you will see vintage surf boards as well as other related memorabilia mounted all around the tasting room. Relax in the rocking chairs on the front porch of the winery and take in the soothing sound of the water feature under the grape arbor. Or stroll outside through the vineyard and festival area with beautifully landscaped pond, a white sand beach, covered pavilion (with authentic surfboard picnic table seating), and shaded wooden swings. Every Sunday, year around, from 1-5pm enjoy live music and food events under the covered pavilion.

Learn more here.   

Savannas Preserve State Park, FL

At Savannas Preserve State Park freshwater marshes, or 'savannas,' once extended all along Florida's southeast coast. Stretching more than 10 miles from Ft. Pierce to Jensen Beach, this preserve is the largest and most intact remnant of Florida's east coast savannas. Picnic tables are available near the center. Canoeing, kayaking, and fishing in the wetlands are popular activities. Wildlife enthusiasts and photographers can enjoy the diversity of habitats this undisturbed area offers. Over eight miles of multi-use trails provide opportunities for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Guided walks and canoe trips are available by reservation. 

Learn more here.

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At Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse some of the best views in the country are avaiable atop this historic lighthouse, whose presence has played a vitally significant maritime and communications role since 1860, saving countless ships from wrecking along reefs and shoals between the Florida coast and the Gulf Stream. The waterfront lighthouse, museum and grounds feature 5,000 years of regional history. In addition to offering climbing tours of the landmark 1860 lighthouse, discover a new 1 mile trail at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. 

Learn more here.

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, FL

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is more than just a place to see animals; it's a real wildlife adventure! The Sanctuary offers visitors a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn about Florida’s wildlife and natural environments.  This unique refuge combines a nature center with a wildlife hospital. Nature trails lead visitors through pine flatwoods, oak hammocks, and cypress wetlands.  Along the trails are wildlife habitats exhibiting a variety of native animals from eagles to panthers, crocodiles, foxes, snakes, bears, and more.

Learn more here.  

Jonathan Dickinson State Park, FL

Jonathan Dickinson State Park is located just south of Stuart and teems with wildlife in 13 natural communities, including sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, mangroves, and river swamps. The Loxahatchee River, Florida's first federally designated Wild and Scenic River, runs through the park. Visitors can enjoy paved and off-road biking, equestrian, hiking trails, boating, canoeing, and kayaking along the river are also great ways to see the park. The park also offers two full-facility campgrounds and a youth/group primitive campground. Visitors can arrange boat tours of the river and rent canoes, kayaks, and motorboats. 

Learn more here.

Jones Hungryland, Fl

Jones Hungryland is popular for fishing and hunting, this area also offers hiking, wildlife viewing, bicycling, horseback riding and camping opportunities. Canal levees and trails provide good wildlife viewing. Bobcats, wild turkeys, deer, wild hogs, alligators, river otters, softshell turtles, cooters, various snakes and coyotes are found on the area. Due to its unique and high quality birding opportunities, this area is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Hunters can target deer at this popular hunting area during archery, muzzle loading and general gun seasons. 

Learn more here.

Seabranch Preserve State Park, FL

At Seabranch State Park ancient oceans shaped the physical landscape of this park, which allowed a variety of habitats to develop over time. Today, this preserve provides a unique opportunity to experience several different natural communities in a relatively short distance. In less than one mile, visitors can see rare sand pine scrub, scrubby flatwoods, a baygall community, and a mangrove swamp. Hikers can explore these natural communities over four miles of trails. A small picnic shelter is also available.

Learn more here.

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Cypress Creek Natural Area spans both sides of Indiantown Road, over 2,000 acres of mesic flatwoods, wet flatwoods, hydric hammock, wet prairie, depression marsh, dome swamp, and blackwater stream provide a home to over 500
species of plants and 217 species of animals. This site preserves an area of high quality wetlands and streams, including Cypress Creek a blackwater stream, Historical resources have been found including Native American middens, an area where the Loxahatchee River Battle took place, remnants of the Rood Settlement dating back to the early 1900s. Visitors can hike, paddle, cycle, or ride their horse on designated trails while enjoying nature all around.

Learn more here.

McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary, Fl

This year, McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary has treated hundreds of native animals that were sick or injured. Everything from foxes to bobcats, Sandhill Cranes to pelicans, hawks, owls, and many others have received veterinarian care by our staff and then were released back into the wild. Visitation to McCarthy’s Wildlife is by appointment only.  During the guided tour several of the small animals are taken out for people to interact with.  Possibilities would include: a tortoise, a parrot, a kinkajou, an alligator, a variety of snakes, and a tarantula. 

Learn more here.

Manatee Lagoon, West Palm Beach, Fl

Manatee Lagoon is a new, FREE Palm Beach County educational attraction with a dedicated area for viewing manatees up close. The 16,000-square-foot center features engaging, hands-on exhibits for visitors to learn all about these endangered and unique creatures as well as the natural wonders of the surrounding Lake Worth Lagoon. On cold winter days, the facility’s observation deck is the ideal spot to view manatee herds basking in the warm-water outflows from Florida Power & Light Company’s adjacent Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center. 

Learn more here.

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When the Flagler Museum was completed in 1902, the New York Herald proclaimed that Whitehall, Henry Flagler's Gilded Age estate in Palm Beach, was "more wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world." Today, Whitehall is a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public as the Flagler Museum, featuring guided tours, changing exhibits, and special programs. Today, nearly 100,000 people from around the world visit the Flagler Museum each year. 

Learn more here.

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The Four Arts Botanical Gardens are demonstration gardens designed in 1938 to help new arrivals to South Florida who were struggling with gardening in the state’s tropical climate. Seven demonstration gardens illustrate different styles of landscaping and information on drought and heat tolerant plants. Adjacent to the botanical gardens is the Sculpture Garden, which showcases sculptures in an outdoor museum-like setting. With welcoming pergolas and a large garden pavilion, the Garden has become a top destination for visitors to South Florida. The gardens are open seven days a week, and there is no charge for admission. 

Learn more here.

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Terra Ceia Preserve State Park is mostly uplands of maritime hammocks and mangrove fringe forests. Various wetland communities such as freshwater creeks, freshwater marshes, karst tidal ponds and estuarine marshes are interspersed within the preserve. There is a 3-mile Bishop Harbor Blueway trail which circles Bishop Harbor and provides access to Manatee County Terra Ceia paddling trail.  A Boat ramp and canoe and kayak launch are located at end of Moccasin Wallow Road, west of U.S. 41, on Bishop Harbor Road.  The park is open 24 hours, 7 days a week and provides 9 miles of unimproved marked trails.

Learn more here.  

Ancient oceans shaped the physical landscape of Seabranch Preserve State Park which allowed a variety of habitats to develop over time. Today, this preserve provides a unique opportunity to experience several different natural communities in a relatively short distance. In less than one mile, visitors can see rare sand pine scrub, scrubby flatwoods, a baygall community, and a mangrove swamp. Hikers can explore these natural communities over four miles of trails. A small picnic shelter is also available. Future recreational development is planned for this preserve, including the addition of interpretive displays and an elevated boardwalk.

Learn more here.   

Phipps Ocean Park, West Palm Beach, FL

Phipps Ocean Park, laid back, beautiful location, guarded beach, lots of shells... what's not to like? The park is lovely, with great old trees, barbecue pits, and plenty of shade. There is a patch of rocky shore so bring your beach shoes if you want to explore! Great amenities, picnic benches and spacious parking lot, all add up to a great day out at the beach. Don't forget to bring your snorkel gear! 

Learn more here.  

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The Central Florida Animal Reserve is a big cat and wildlife sanctuary housing lions, tigers, leopards, and cougars.  Walking tours are available including a close encounter with the cats.  This educational encounter shares the stories and care for these amazing animals, and discusses the plight of their species in the wild.  This experience allows you a tour guide all to yourself!  Or choose a private walking tour.  Spend more time with those cats of interest, ideal for photographers and those that like to choose the pace. The tour is optimized for up to 8 adults.  Children younger than 10 are permitted with responsible adult supervision. 

Learn more here.

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Palm Beach Municipal Beach. Take a short climb up “midtown beach” and you’re a stroll away from Worth Avenue. One of Palm Beach's two beautiful public beaches, kept pleasantly seaweed-free by the town. You can head inland to snag street-front parking downtown. The area exudes Palm Beach at its finest, historical, beautiful and well kept; a must see when you are visiting. You are only steps from exquisite shopping. 

Learn more here.

Turtle Mound, FL

Turtle Mound is the highest shell midden in the nation. This two-acre site contains over 35,000 cubic yards of oyster shell, extends more than six hundred feet along the Indian River shoreline, and stands about fifty feet tall. (In prehistoric times, it was at least seventy-five feet high.) Visible for miles offshore, the mound has been used as a navigational landmark since the early days of Spanish exploration. Today, the National Park Service offers a fun and educational boardwalk to the top of Turtle Mound, with interpretive signs along the way. The panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean, Merritt Island, the Indian River is spectacular. 

Learn more here. 

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The Cornell Fine Arts Museum can boast of more than 5,500 objects from antiquity to the contemporary. The broad and eclectic holdings of the museum—including the only Old Masters collection in the greater Orlando area—include over 500 paintings, from the 14th through the 20th centuries, and over 1600 works on paper (prints, drawings, and photographs), as well objects, artifacts, and archaeological fragments from world cultures. Admission is free.  
Learn more here.

Seaside Seabird Sanctuary is staffed by experienced professionals and dedicated volunteers who share the same committed goal of rescuing and rehabilitating sick, injured, and orphaned birds. The Sanctuary currently houses over 100 permanently disabled birds. ​​Visitors to the Sanctuary can walk around the grounds and view all the permanently disabled birds on display. The grounds are home to a countless number of wild birds who freely roam and nest in the trees. Bird watchers and wildlife photographers can stroll the grounds and enjoy the tremendous photo opportunities provided. Also watch the staff hand-feed the Pelicans and Cormorants every day.

Learn more here.

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At Dade Battlefield State Park every January, history lovers gather to commemorate the battle that started the Second Seminole War. The 80-acre park protects not only a historic battlefield, but also the natural communities as they existed during the war. As you stroll the half-mile trail through pine flatwoods, keep your eyes peeled for gopher tortoises, woodpeckers, songbirds, hawks or indigo snakes. There is also a playground, picnic area with covered shelters and recreation hall. The park's visitor center provides information and displays about the historic battle, as well as a 12 minute video.  Learn more here.

Juniper Springs Recreation Area, FL

Juniper Springs Recreation Area has sparkling springs in a subtropical setting and is one of the oldest and best known recreation areas on the East Coast.  A barrier-free self-guided interpretive trail paralleling the spring outflows of Juniper Run and Fern Hammock Run provides information on the semi-tropical vegetation plus beautiful views of the waterways. Canoeing is extremely popular year-round.  Canoes and kayaks are available to be rented or private canoes can be used.  Haul-back services are available. 

Learn more here.

Myakka River Canopy Walk, FL

The Myakka Canopy Walk is the most popular short trail in Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, one of Southwest Florida’s largest state parks. It could be because it’s very easy to find, is family-friendly, and has a well-defined footpath, nice and broad. It could be because of the Canopy Walk itself. Before everyone in Florida went nuts adding ziplines and canopy walks to their nature attractions, this was THE real deal, the first canopy walk in Florida. It was modeled after ones used by scientists in the rainforests of South America and provides both an intimate look at the live oak canopy and a sweeping panorama of the Myakka River basin from its 76 foot observation platform. Learn more here.

Hontoon Island State Park, FL

Hontoon Island State Park is located in the St. Johns River in Volusia County and is accessible only by private boat or park ferry. Evidence of Native American habitation over thousands of years can be witnessed as visitors hike through the park. Stop in and walk through the impressive visitor center to learn more about the many inhabitants and uses of Hontoon Island over the years. Boating, canoeing, and fishing are popular activities and canoe rentals are available. Picnic areas include tables, grills, and a playground. Overnight boat slip rentals are also available.

Learn more here.

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is a 54,000 acre preserve that protects the largest remaining stretch of Florida dry prairie. It is certified as a Dark Sky Place by the International Dark Sky Association in 2016. Parks are awarded the designation for their conservation efforts, appropriate outdoor lighting and dark sky programs for visitors. While driving the five-mile-long road into the preserve, visitors can enjoy sweeping vistas of grasslands reminiscent of the Great Plains of the Midwest. There are more than 100 miles of dirt roads allow hikers, bicyclists and equestrians to explore. November through March, ranger-led prairie buggy tours allow visitors to see remote areas of the preserve. Learn more here.                                                                      

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The newly reconstructed Lake Worth Casino Building on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, officially opened to the public on March 1, 2013.  The new casino building remains true to the original 1920's architecture; and while there is no gambling at the new building, the name "Casino" remains as a reminder of the history and importance of the building to the citizens of Lake Worth.  The complex features a new oceanfront park, restrooms and picnic facilities which complement the Pier. A unique distinction on the second floor of the Casino Building ballroom that offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean with wrap around terraces. Learn more here.                                                          

Green Cay Nature Center is the county's newest nature center that overlooks 100 acres of constructed wetland and provides educational opportunities about this unique habitat. The wetland features 1.5 miles of elevated boardwalk featuring interpretive signs about the habitat. The Nature Center includes a lecture hall, gift shop, and live animals in an extensive exhibit room that highlights wetland attributes.  Take your own self-guided boardwalk tour using our new ​QR code signs located along the boardwalk. Scan each QR code with a smartphone or other mobile device for information about each zone. 

Learn more here.

Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge's 143,954 acres provide habitat and protection for many species of wildlife Wildlife viewing varies throughout the year and is best during the early morning or evening. Points of interest, trails, viewing blinds, and observation platforms have been developed to encourage and enhance wildlife viewing. The refuge maintains ten impounded wetlands with walking trails accessible from the Marsh Trail parking lot. In these wetlands, water levels are manipulated to encourage different species of birds to feed and nest. All of these wetlands are surrounded by levees that provide paths for visitors to observe and photograph birds and other wildlife in a natural setting. Learn more here

Mangrove park, FL

Mangrove Park is located behind St. Marks Catholic Church just north of the Boynton Beach Marina.  It is accessible by car, bike and foot. The park consists of a long boardwalk that winds through a forest of Mangrove trees.  At about the half-way point, the boardwalk turns into a elevated platform that overlooks the Intracoastal waterway. From this vantage point, one can look down and see the recently constructed rock walls that provide habitat for Snook and other brackish water fish. The boardwalk continues around and ends near the starting point.  Learn more here.

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, FLVisitors to Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens discover a century-old connection between Japan and South Florida. It is here that a group of young Japanese farmers created a community intended to revolutionize agriculture in Florida. Since opening in 1977, Morikami has been a center for Japanese arts and culture in South Florida. With rotating exhibitions, tea ceremonies performed monthly in the Seishin-an tea house and Japanese traditional festivals celebrated for the public several times a year. Two museum buildings include expansive Japanese gardens with strolling paths, resting areas, world-class bonsai collection and lakes teeming with koi and other            wildlife. Learn more here.   
Wakodahatchee Wetlands, FL

The Wakodahatchee Wetlands are free and open to the public and features a three-quarter mile boardwalk that crosses between open water pond areas and islands with shrubs and snags to foster nesting and roosting. The boardwalk has interpretive signage as well as gazebos with benches along the way. This site is part of the South section of the Great Florida Birding Trail and offers many opportunities to observe birds in their natural habitats. Over 178 bird species have been identified there, along with turtles, alligators, rabbits, fish, frogs and raccoons.

Learn more here.

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Deerfield, FL

At Gumbo Limbo Nature Center enjoy the 1/4 mile boardwalk through a Hardwood Hammock, a rare opportunity to visit an ecosystem which once flourished throughout Florida.  Last year, more than 200,000 visitors took a break from the city bustle to enjoy a walk on the boardwalk, count the thousands of tropical fish in the aquariums, relax in the butterfly garden, or check on the patients in the sea turtle rehabilitation facility.  Gumbo Limbo’s 20 acres on a protected barrier island provide refuge to many varieties of plants and animals - some rare or endangered.  It also represents a commitment to protect our natural resources. Learn more here.

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Water is the focus of Quiet Waters Park, a 431 acre park, which includes the Splash Adventure water park, Ski Rixen USA cable water-skiing, a marina with boats for rent, and several lakes for fishing. For recreation on dry land, the park features Bike America bicycle rentals, mountain bike trails, basketball courts, and a campground with platform tents and tepees. The park is also home to the Renaissance Festival, one of South Florida's most popular annual festivals.

Learn more here.   

Deerfield Island, FL

Deerfield Island is a 53 acre nature park offering outdoor recreational opportunities and environmental education. Accessible only by boat, this roughly triangular park is accessible via a free boat shuttle. The half-mile Coquina Trail, which includes an observation platform overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, explores the eastern side of the island. Explore the waters surrounding the island by paddleboard or kayak on Saturdays and Sundays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The tours, for ages 12 and up, are approximately one and a half hours long and are offered. Picnic tables and grills are available.  Learn more here

Hiker in forestLake George State Forest Bluffton Recreation Area is located on the St. Johns River and offers fishing, picnicking and hiking on a 3/4-mile interpretive nature trail. While there is no boat ramp available, canoes, kayaks and small jon boats may be launched from the bank. Fishing is also available at Jenkins Pond.  The forest is open to visitors during daylight hours. Hikers, bicyclists and equestrians are welcome on roads, designated trails and permanent fire lines. Primitive campsites are available at the River Road Campground.    Learn more here.
The Deerfield Beach Arboretum, FL

The Deerfield Beach Arboretum is home to more than 200 different species of trees and palms from five continents around the world. Housed in Constitution Park, the Tree Zoo is perfect for a wonderful natural escape. Take a walk along its' lovely paths as they wend through the trees, play tennis or perhaps basketball. There is also a children's playground lined with recycled rubber for safety and comfort. The Arboretum is fully accessible by wheelchair. 

Learn more here.

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The Stetson Mansion is Florida's first luxury home! The most unusual feature compared to other historic venues is the fully up to date infrastructure and furnishings. The Mansion is not a Victorian museum nor a Stetson museum filled with old artifacts or just antiques. The Stetson's sold everything off in 1920 and nothing was left behind but the grand home itself and the school house/guest cottage. However, it is warm and welcoming with a wonderful positive energy and every fabulous original architectural detail still intact. A tour includes the rich history and an inspiring restoration story that guests happily take away with them. Not one part of the home is closed or roped off. All tours include "behind the scenes."  

Learn more here.

Athens Theatre

The Athens Theatre is one of the few existing examples of a classic American theatre in Central Florida. The theatre is a jewel of Italian Renaissance architecture. It was designed in 1921 by prominent Orlando architect Murray S. King and first opened its doors in January 1922. On, the eve of the theater’s opening, the DeLand Daily News declared the Athens to be “Florida’s Handsomest Theatre”. Today the Athens Theatre performing company produces 6 Broadway caliber shows per season, presented in a total of over 80 performance. Additionally, there are over 20 independently produced, concerts, dramas, musicals, and other live events. Learn more here.

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The Gillespie Museum located on the Stetson University campus, this science museum houses a historic mineral collection and unique Florida treasures. It houses an historic mineral collection, with nearly a thousand of its 15,000 specimens on display in changing exhibits. There are also small galleries devoted to natural history collecting, Florida ecosystems, fluorescent minerals, volcanism and the rock cycle. The hours are somewhat limited so be sure confirm that the museum will be open when you plan to visit.

Learn more here.  

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Sweetwater Organic Community Farm not only grows organic vegetables and herbs, but also hosts a community Farmer’s Market!  Open to the public on Sundays from noon to 4pm during the harvest season (October 15 to May 20).  Leashed dogs welcomed.  Come check out the farm, listen to great music, have a picnic lunch, shop for local produce and environmentally-friendly products, meet like-minded individuals, and enjoy the orchard and gardens.  It’s a great way to support local businesses, local/organic agriculture, and the educational and community programs. Learn more here.

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The Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium at Seminole State College of Florida offers live, interactive shows and full-dome video presentations that are unlike any planetarium show you'll ever experience. From traditional star displays and cultural shows that detail the importance of astronomy around the world, to feature presentations that whisk you through the depths of outer space, the planetarium has something for curious stargazers of all ages. 

Learn more here.

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Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is a small florida beach town. You don’t need a car to enjoy the charming seaside village. We take pride in being different from our big neighbors to our north and south (Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach), exuding old Florida charm with low-rise downtown building restrictions and predominantly mid-century modern architecture giving a distinctive identity.  Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is a “flip-flop kind of town,” so throw a shirt over your bathing suit and enjoy the beach life – it's that kind of place! Learn more here.

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The new James Museum of Western and Wild Life in St. Petersburg is a collection of works in oil, in ink, in stone; works that define genres yet defy labels; works that evoke the spirit of a wide open frontier and the beauty of life in the wild West. Since their first acquisition, a vast artistic legacy has grown, one populated by emerging artists and living legends and filled with tribal tradition and classical finesse.  The Museum offers a variety of fun and engaging activities for adults, children, families, and school groups.
 
Learn more here.

Picture of houseboat on lake

Holly Bluff Marina offers houseboat rentals on the beautiful St. Johns River in Central Florida. The St. Johns River offers miles of breathtaking views and pristine beauty. There is an abundance of wildlife: alligators, turtles, otter, deer, and raccoon. You may even see manatee grazing on the grasses along the river's shore. Relax and see the wonders of Florida's back country from the deck of a luxurious houseboat. See live alligators basking in the sun in their natural habitat. Explore warm water springs where the endangered manatee spend winters in the crystal clear 72 degree water.
Learn more here.

Imagine museum display room

Imagine Museum is a new museum in St. Petersburg, Florida dedicated to Contemporary American Studio Glass. Currently the museum is home to more than 500 pieces of American Studio Glass. The artists and artwork currently on view do not represent the full collection but have been curated to communicate the story and lineage of how studio glass in America developed into the worldwide exchange of ideas, techniques, and concepts that it is today. 

Learn more here.

Room with pictures

Opened in 2002, the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art is a modern and contemporary art museum with a collection of more than 6,000 works of 20th and 21st century art. The museum is located on the Tarpon Springs Campus of St. Petersburg College.  Visit often to view frequently changing exhibitions drawn from LRMA’s collections and loans from both private lenders and other art museums. Works on display in eight galleries include paintings, drawings, ceramics, sculpture, photography and more. Learn more here.

University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum

University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum opened its current facility in 1989, adjacent to the USF College of The Arts. The museum has presented numerous significant and investigative exhibitions of contemporary art from Florida, the United States and around the world, including Africa, Europe, and Latin America. The art collection is comprised of more than 5,000 art works. There are exceptional holdings in graphics and sculpture by internationally acclaimed artists. Contemporary photography and African art are also important areas of the collection. 
 
Learn more here.

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