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The Summer 50

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    The Summer 50

    Need something to do this summer? We have you covered with this list of 50 fun things to do during the sultry summer months, from outdoor activities to beer and a movie. It's not comprehensive by any means, but it should be enough to chase away any summer doldrums.

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    1. Find a shark’s tooth in Venice, while you still can

    It's getting harder and harder to find these fossilized gems in the waters of the Shark's Teeth Capital of the World. Your best bets? Caspersen or Venice Beach. Check out correspondent Madison Chapman's slideshow of hunting for sharks teeth at Venice Beach.

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    2. Stargaze at South Florida Museum’s planetarium, see Snooty

    Head to the Parker Aquarium at the South Florida Museum and visit this beloved local icon – the oldest known manatee in the world, Snooty – while he gobbles up some lettuce, then check out the exciting prehistory exhibits and catch a show in the planetarium. Check out a photo gallery of Snooty through years and the Snooty Cam. And see correspondent Madison Chapman's slideshow of Snooty and his companions at Parker Aquarium.

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    3. Drink and run at Mr. Beery’s Hump Day 5K

    Beer and running? Sure, every Wednesday night at Gulf Gate craft beer bar Mr. Beery's.

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    4. Learn to paddleboard – “the fastest growing sport in the world”

    There are plenty of places where you can rent a board and paddle, but you might also want to take a class to reduce the learning curve.

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    5. Camp out at Turtle Beach

    Turtle Beach is one of the few places where sleeping on the beach at night is not only legal but expected, in one area of the park at least. The unique Turtle Beach Campground is a few feet from south Siesta’s finest beach, with plots good enough for both tents and RVs.

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    6. Hike to Myakka’s Deep Hole and eye the alligators

    It's a short hike -- just 2 miles or so -- to get to one of Myakka's prime 'gator spotting locations. Read about the place, or take a look at our photo gallery.

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    7. Kayak the mangrove islands, pick up trash when you see it

    Tom Becnel knows all of the area's prime paddling spots -- find them on Ticket's Hidden Sarasota page.

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    8. Listen to a local band at a local bar

    Where and when? Check out Ticket's Soundboard comprehensive music calendar for this week's lineup of local shows.

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    9. Booze cruise under the palm trees on LeBarge

    Often relegated to tourists and office parties (that you can’t escape from until the boat docks) LeBarge is an ideal way for lazy sightseers to experience Sarasota Bay. Drink in hand, boat-bound palm trees swaying, not a care in the world for a solid two hours.

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    10. Feel the major-league thrills of minor-league baseball at a Bradenton Marauders or Charlotte Stone Crabs game

    Enjoy the relatively intimate thrill of minor leagues baseball by attending a Charlotte Stone Crabs game or visit the new and improved McKechnie Field to walk the boardwalk, visit the tiki bar and, oh yeah, watch the Bradenton Marauders See more photos of the made-over McKechnie Field.

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    11. Get SCUBA certified

    The ultimate in underwater freedom, except for the need to refill your tanks every so often. There are plenty of places that offer certification courses.

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    12. Race your ride at Bradenton Motorsports Park

    Every week, Bradenton Motorsports Park sets aside one or two nights when you can put your tricked-out (or mundane) car, truck or motorcycle to the test on the drag strip.

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    13. Climb high on Tree-Umph!’s ropes courses

    A 14-acre park with one course for kids and four for adults, Tree-Umph! will test your climbing endurance. You know, in a fun way. Check out our slideshow to see how correspondent Madison Chapman fared when she took on the adventure course.

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    14. Join in the Freedom Swim

    No registration, no cost, just a massive horde of humanity striving to swim 1.5 miles across the Peace River on July 4.

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    15. Summer beach runs on Siesta Key

    It's fun for the whole family, mostly since these weekly runs are short and happen just before the beautiful sunset off of Siesta Key's white sand beach.

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    16. Bike, run or walk the entire Legacy Trail – you can do it!

    The largest public recreation project ever constructed in the area, the Legacy Trail is 10 miles that runs from the city of Sarasota all the way to Venice along the former CSX railroad corridor, with trailheads at seven different Sarasota parks.

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    17. Catch a Rays game, help root them into the playoffs, eat many dogs to drown your sorrows

    Read the Herald-Tribune's coverage of the Rays, then check out the schedule and buy some tickets.

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    18. Visit the Ringling Museum on a Monday, free of charge

    This is one of those secret benefits of being a local: On Mondays, the Ringling Museum of Art offers free admission to Florida residents. Take in the Rubens and stroll the grounds.

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    19. Rent a free bike in Punta Gorda and explore downtown

    Abby Weingarten explored this quaint little city by the water. Read her story for ideas about where to go on your little bike journey.

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    20. Experience both native and wealthy settler life at Historic Spanish Point

    A 30-acre archaeological, historical and environmental museum overlooking Little Sarasota Bay. Featuring the most well-preserved Indian village in Florida, this is the only place in the country where visitors can enter an ancient Indian midden (burial mound). Explore Marya's Chapel, the restored Guptill House, and feel the spirit of the Webb family, who resided here at the turn of the 20th century. Walk the grounds where fishers and hunters roamed 4,000 years ago. A professional horticulturist, supported by trained volunteers, cares for the museum's nature trails and gardens. A native Florida wetland area was completed in 2006. historicspanishpoint.org

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    21. Bar hop in Siesta Key Village in your bathing suit

    Check out our Siesta Key Bar Guide for a plethora of places to down a beer in your swimwear.

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    22. Commune with the sunset

    It happens every evening, everywhere. Traditionally, the beach (take your pick) is the right place to view this amazing event. See correspondent Madison Chapman's slideshow from a summer sunset at North Lido Beach.

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    23. Look for Florida Scrub Jays at Tippecanoe Environmental Park in Port Charlotte

    Besides Tippecanoe, you can also find Scrub Jays at Oscar Scherer.

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    24. Hunt for coquina shells on Manasota Key

    These simple, sometimes colorful shells line the beautiful and often deserted (especial during the summer) beaches of Manasota Key.

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    25. Join the Anna Maria Island Moose Lodge and enjoy cheap drinks, bar food and a front-row seat for the sunset

    A truly hidden gem, Wade Tatangelo wrote about this secret spot in his Anna Maria Island Guide. Our only request? Keep it to yourself.

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    26. Mountain bike at former phosphate mine Balm-Boyette

    20-miles of trails, 60-foot drops and stunning scenery make Balm-Boyette Scrub Preserve a must-visit for anyone with one of those tricked out mountain bikes. See our photo gallery of the bikers in action.

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    27. Eat breakfast or lunch at downtown Sarasota’s farmers’ market

    From sausage-and-egg sandwiches to massive burgers, Pop Craft popsicles to empanadas, there's plenty at downtown Sarasota's farmers market that doesn't need to be taken home and prepared in your kitchen. See correspondent Madison Chapman's slideshow from a morning at the farmer's market.

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    28. Go fishing off a pier, bait your own hook with live shrimp

    Those guys are super squirmy, but it's a rite of passage. Check out correspondent Madison Chapman's slideshow from her trip to the pier at Venice Beach.

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    29. Build a massive sandcastle, invite strangers to stomp on it when done

    Whether you subscribe to the bucket-mold model or the drip-castle theory, this is the kind of activity that should be prescribed by doctors. Get some idea with our photo gallery of last year's Crystal Classic Sand Sculpture Contest.

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    30. Roll into Stardust or Astro Skate, find a partner for couples skate

    Remember rolling to MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice? Relive those glory days at Stardust Skate Center, although now you likely have a better chance of having a partner, and a better chance of breaking something when you inevitably fall. Or, go to Astro Skate in Bradenton to find romance while rolling, home of the Bradentucky Bombers do derby battle.

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    31. Watch the Bradentucky Bombers (and whatever the Sarasota team is called these days) crush their opponents

    Just kidding, we know that Sarasota's team is now called North River Rolling Renegades. They hold bouts at Stardust, while the Bradentucky Bombers roll at Astro Skate.

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    32. Pet stingrays and feed sharks at Mote Marine Aquarium

    The stingrays can no longer sting and the sharks are safely contained in a massive tank, so the only real danger is a wet shirt and stinky hands. Plus, lots of other fishy fun at Mote Marine Aquarium! (And some mammals.) See correspondent Madison Chapman's slideshow of the aquarium, mammal center and behind-the-scenes tour at Mote.

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    33. Learn Sarasota history with a Sarasota History Alive! walking tour

    Take a nice stroll and learn a little about downtown Sarasota history with this walking tour.

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    34. Parasail – it’s like skydiving with training wheels

    Every time you go to the beach, you see the tourists gliding lazily above the water tethered only to a billowing parachute and a slow boat. How many times can you see other people enjoying the view from a hundred feet up without giving it a go yourself?

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    35. Watch a comedy show at McCurdy’s, heckle only when appropriate

    Sarasota's comedy club is celebrating its 25th birthday this summer, so maybe it's time to go giggle and guffaw.

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    36. Try all the pubs in downtown Bradenton

    See Herald-Tribune staffer and Manatee County drinking establishment expert Wade Tatangelo's Downtown Bradenton Guide for a long list of places to imbibe at in this beautifully revitalized downtown.

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    37. See dehydration in action at Buccaneers training camp

    It's the part of the year when you really feel like those massive hunks of muscle actually earn their equally massive paychecks. Plus, the Buccaneers are always undefeated during training camp!

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    38. Bring your skateboard, child and/or running shoes and spend the day at Bradenton’s Riverwalk

    While strolling the 1.5 mile-long Bradenton Riverwalk cool off in the interactive splash fountain, play some beach volleyball and brave the world-class skate park overlooking the Manatee River – even if you have to borrow (or rent) some teenager’s board. Or, just find one of the many shaded and relax on the Riverwalk.

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    39. Start a volleyball game on Coquina Beach

    The competition will be fierce, but not as rough at Coquina as at some of the other area beach volleyball spots.

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    40. Groove with the crowds at the Van Wezel’s FridayFest

    Every summer, Van Wezel brings in bands to play out on the lawn - for free! Bring a blanket, food and beverage will be available from vendors.

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    41. Walk the length of North Lido, don’t look too closely into the dunes

    Although the public beach at North Lido is pleasant enough, follow the tide line north and you’ll soon be ensconced on one of the most unspoiled beaches in northern Sarasota, dunes and a pine forest to your right, crashing waves to the left. Check out correspondent Madison Chapman's slideshow of North Lido's sand dune trail and a sunset off the northern tip of the beach.

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    42. Watch the fading light glint off the Sunshine Skyway after hiking Bradenton’s Robinson Preserve

    Hike or bike your way through the wildlife-lined trails of the pristine, 487-acre Robinson Preserve in the Palma Sola area of northwestern Bradenton. There’s also a canoe/kayak launch, observation towers and platforms, visitors center and picnic areas for the post-activity feast. Read what Tom Becnel has to say about it.

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    43. See an off-season Banyan Theater Company play

    Banyan Theater Company not only puts on a full season of plays during the normally slow summer months, it easily competes with Sarasota’s more mainstream seasonal theaters. Check out artssarasota.com for the latest reviews and info.

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    44. Beer and a movie at Burns Court Cinemas

    Yep, art-house flicks and cold craft beer at Burns Court Cinema.

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    45. Gallery hop along downtown Sarasota’s Palm Avenue

    You might not be able to afford the art (or maybe you can), but you can certainly window shop the exquisite works on display at Palm Ave.'s many art galleries.

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    46. Spend the day soaking up history and the freshest seafood in Cortez

    Spend an afternoon at Cortez fishing village visiting the Florida Maritime Museum, housed in the restored historic 1912 schoolhouse, and then dine dockside at Star Fish Company, Cortez Kitchen or Swordfish Grill. Better yet; grab a light bite, and maybe a beer, at all three and make friends with the Cortezians.

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    47. Attend a free lecture at the local library – they’re more interesting than they look

    With everything from Pirate Fests to Zumba, Sarasota history to the Socrates Cafe, there's a lot going on in those conference rooms and lecture halls scattered throughout the Sarasota County Library system.

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    48. Play disc golf at North Water Tower Park

    There are no fewer than six disc golf courses in the area, from serious runs at North Water Tower Park and Lakeview Park to more recreational courses scattered around town. Check out local disc golf club Sarasota Sky Pilots for information and upcoming events. (sarasotaskypilots.org)

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    49. Hike to the Rye Family Cemetery at Manatee’s Rye Preserve

    One of our area's best nature areas, Rye Preserve combines excellent easy hiking, horse trails, beautiful scenery and a piece of early Florida colonist history with the Rye Family Cemetery.

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    50. Take your pup to the 17th Street or Brohard Beach Paw Parks

    Two choices for your best friend: sand and salt water at Brohard Beach or grass and wide-open spaces at 17th Street. Of course, you could also try the paw parks at Woodmere or Lakeview.

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