- The Summer 50
Two options this summer, folks: Bask in the balmy temps, or be a curmudgeon and curse the humidity. If you veer toward the former, you’re in luck (but you’re probably used to that with your cheery attitude). We’ve cherry-picked 50 activities for you mirth seekers, from the tip of Anna Maria Island to downtown Punta Gorda. Lather on the sun block and thumbtack a map, because we’ve got the key to fighting ennui until fall.
- 2. Stargaze at South Florida Museum’s planetarium, pet Snooty
- 3. Visit all of the drum circles, bang drums
Siesta Key’s weekly percussion-fest gets a lot of press, but Nokomis Beach has one that’s just as rocking, two nights a week on Wednesday and Saturday.
- 5. Camp 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.
- 6. Dine al fresco on St. Armands Circle
- 7. Kayak the mangrove islands, pick up trash when you see it
Tom Becnel has written about kayaking the many mangrove islands in Sarasota Bay. Take his advice and enjoy the hidden wonder of these tiny waterways.
- 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.
- 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. LeBarge Tropical Cruises, 366-6116. lebargetropicalcruises.com
- 10. Learn to sail
The Sarasota Sailing Squadron can help. Check out their web page for details on classes for beginners.
- 11. Get SCUBA certified
Water, water everywhere, but not a way to breathe. Conquer the undersea world with the help of a regulator and oxygen tank with a simple diving class that culminates in an exploration under the waves off a local beach. Scuba Quest Florida, 366-1530, scubaquestusa.com; Ocean Pro Dive Shop, 924-3483,oceanprodive.com
- 12. Bodysurf or skimboard and embrace the embarassment
Bodysurfing is simple: Hurl your body onto the crest of wave. Ride. Repeat. Skimboarding is another matter entirely. It looks deceptively simple, just throw the piece of wood in very shallow water and jump on for a hydroplaned thrill-ride, but just give it a try. You’ll see. Then maybe ask some kids for lessons.
- 14. Climb the Myakka River State Park Observation Tower
74 feet above the ground, the wooden observation tower in Myakka River State Park offers a panoramic view of the forest and scrub below, perfect for catching a glimpse of soaring bald eagles or invading armies. (See Tom Becnel’s Myakka River State Park Top Ten, while you’re there.)
- 15. Go canoeing at Oscar Scherer and look for gators
Oscar Scherer’s South Creek is one of the most placid and relaxing canoe/kayak spots in town, and the on-site canoe rentals make it easy to dip a paddle with little hassle. Keep an eye out for gators, otters and mullet. (See Oscar Scherer location and information.)
- 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 six different Sarasota parks. (SeeLegacy Trail location and information.)
- 19. Rent a free bike in Punta Gorda and explore downtown
Abby Weingarten recently explored this quaint little city by the water. Read her story for ideas about where to go on your little bike journey.
- 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
- 21. Bar hop in Siesta Key Village in your bathing suit
Check out our Siesta Key Bar Guide for a list of places to down a beer in your flip-flops.
- 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.
- 24. Hunt for coquina shells on Manasota Key
- 25. Grab ice cream and stroll down Gulf Drive on Anna Maria Island
- 26. Go to downtown Lakewood Ranch for Music on Main
This music and community fest happens on the first Friday of every month in downtown Lakewood Ranch.
- 27. Explore downtown Sarasota’s farmers’ market, buy popsicles
You can also check out our guide to all the area farmers' markets, although some will close for the summer.
- 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.
- 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.
- 30. Roll into Stardust, find a partner for couples skate
Remember rolling to Charlie Daniels and Devo? 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.
- 31. Eat at three different ethnic restaurants in Gulf Gate
Check out our Gulf Gate Guide to find just the right combination of international cuisines. British, Polish and French? Italian, American, Middle Eastern? Only you can say.
- 32. Pet stingrays at Mote Marine Aquarium
These flapping monsters are actually kind of cute, especially since Mote Marine Aquarium has removed their spiky stingers.
- 33. Feed birds at Sarasota Jungle Gardens
While Mote is the place for underwater wildlife, Jungle Gardens has the land and air covered. Check out the birds of prey show and alligator encounter, along with the hundreds of reptiles, birds, monkeys and more. (sarasotajunglegardens.com)
- 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? Siesta Key Water Sports, 921-3030, siestakeywatersports.com; Fun and Sun Parasail, 795-1000, annamariaparasail.com.
- 35. Watch a comedy show at McCurdy’s, heckle only when appropriate
Just kidding. No, seriously, you won't need to heckle the world-class talent Les McCurdy manages to bring in to his McCurdy's Comedy Theatre.
- 36. Try all the pubs in downtown Bradenton
See our Bradenton Guide for a list of places to try out in this beautifully revitalized downtown.
- 37. Eat Mote sturgeon
Mote Marine Laboratory's sturgeon aquaculture program has broken new ground in sustainable fish farming. You have two options: caviar or sturgeon filet.
- 38. Sample farm-raised clams from Terra Ceia
- 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.
- 40. Groove with the crowds at the Van Wezel’s FridayFest
Every summer, Van Wezel brings in bands to play out on the lawn. Bring a blanket, food and beverage will be available from vendors.
- 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.
- 42. Jog in North Port’s Blue Ridge Park
Blue Ridge Park is a haven for morning runners, and kids clambering on playground equipment.
- 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.
- 44: Beer and a movie at Burns Court Cinemas
Independent films and craft beer? Burns Court Cinema has been providing that for years in its quaint downtown neighborhood.
- 45: Gallery hop along downtown Sarasota’s Palm Avenue
Palm Avenue's monthly gallery walk takes place the first Friday of every month, but you can window shop any time.
- 46: Tour the Ca' d'Zan
John and Mabel Ringling's impressive mansion is one of the area's most enduring symbols, as well as a cool place to look around. Just imagine quaffing brandy and playing poker with John and his cohorts back in the glory days, when mansions didn't come with a Mc in the beginning.
- 47. Attend a free lecture at the local library, they’re more interesting than they look
The Sarasota County Library is one of the best sources of free entertainment in town, from books to DVDs, kids programming to adult resources, not to mention the lectures and presentations. Check it out, heh.
- 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)
- 49. Hike to the Rye Family Cemetery at Manatee’s Rye Preserve
The Rye Preserve in Manatee County offers some of the most spectacular casual hiking in the area, as well as a cemetery that offers a glimpse of early Florida settler history.
- 50. Take your pup to the 17th Street Paw Park
Dog-lovers unite while their canines cavort at the 17th Street Paw Park, free of their leashy shackles.
The Summer 50
/ Thursday, May 31, 2012