Attend South Florida Museum’s family night!
Now, this is only an option the first Saturday of the month–but, it’s one of the best Saturdays nights our family has had in a while. And did I mention it’s half price after 5pm?
The South Florida Museum is in downtown Bradenton and is home to Snooty, the oldest manatee in captivity. Learn about local history, as well as Florida’s archaeological and paleontological past. They have tons of local memorabilia and artifacts that you just won’t find anywhere else. The museum incorporates sound and video into many exhibits and did a great job of varying the height of displays–which is perfect for children. The entire museum is spiffed up, compared to years past, and the displays and exhibits are quite modern.
I’ve been there many a time, but never had a visit as enjoyable as this with Snooty the Manatee. Snooty was a real ham, making noises and gestures and practically crawling out of the tank. Perhaps we were lucky or he’s just frisky on Saturday nights–but the manatee presentation was extra fun this time around. The presenter for the manatee show was informative and very good with questions. We went away having learned quite a bit about manatees.
The current rotating exhibit is about Silver Springs and the photos of Bruce Mozert. It looks like that exhibit is about to change–so maybe the next family night will have something new. But we really liked the old pictures of Silver Springs and especially enjoyed the up-close look at the equipment Mr. Mozert used.
In addition to the regular parts of the museum, they opened up the planetarium for star talks and a rock-n-roll laser show. These are real treats. Right before you go into the planetarium they have craft stations for the little ones, which really spices up this Saturday night adventure. Since it was mermaid night this time, you could get your picture taken with a mermaid. I saw dads and kids alike take part in this photo session. 🙂
Why not give it a try? Learn more about the specifics at: http://www.southfloridamuseum.org/ThingsToDo/FamilyNights.aspx.
I’ve been to a lot of local beaches, but Anna Maria Island‘s is one I hadn’t visited much until I met my husband. He says that his family went there a lot when he was young. It’s nice because it has a playground and bathrooms nearby. The water is really close to the parking, which is great when you are toting a lot of stuff. We went there this weekend and last, at two different spots along the beach.
The weekend before last we went to a spot that is to the right of the City Pier. Our timing was perfect, because the tide was really low and we could go out pretty far in the water—which is perfect for the kids. The water was really calm and warm and there was hardly anyone on the beach. We found lots of neat shells in the water too. This past weekend we went to the spot that is to the left of the Pier, between Rod & Reel and City Pier. This is the more populated side of the beach and it was pretty crowded. The water is a little deeper, but that’s great for the adults in the group. You can see the Sunshine State Skyway from both places, but this second spot gives a view of it and Egmont Key and Fort DeSoto. It’s pretty neat to see all these places in one spot. You can even see the glint of the light on the Egmont Key lighthouse as it slowly turns. I wanted to take some pictures of this lovely spot but was afraid of losing the camera in the water.
The Rod & Reel has some great food, according to author Bruce Hunt (@BruceHuntImages). He’s taken some photos of the area and has some nice history and related places to visit in the area in his book, Visiting Small-Town Florida Third Edition. Next time I visit I need to go into some of the neat shops that you find along the way to the beach. I think it would be a great place to vacation as I saw many people on rented bikes and scooters.
So this year I made it a point to go to the DeSoto Grand Parade in Bradenton, Florida. We found a spot near downtown, so we were near the end of the route. What a spectacle! This was an awesome parade. The weather was breezy and cool, which really made the event more fun.
Held every year for almost 70 years, this parade is in the running to rival the Gasparilla Parade in Tampa. I took lots of photos but thought I’d direct you over to the Desoto Historical Society‘s site and to the Bradenton Herald’s website which has stories and pictures for the event. It’s hard to capture the atmosphere of the event without being there or without video but it’s a loud, exuberant, fun parade and crowd. Loud music, beads, and dancing folks abound on the floats and in the streets. They have cool giveaways like beach balls, beads, hats, and candy. The kids had a blast trying to catch all this fun stuff. There are old cars used in the parades that are pretty fun too.
They also have a children’s version of the parade which I didn’t attend. But I’ve heard that parade is perfect for little ones. The night parade went pretty late, but I thought it was pretty family friendly over all.
The DeSoto Historical Society has lots of fun events, like the Seafood Festival, throughout the year. One of the coolest parts is that they dress up like Conquistadors. In the past I’ve seen them at the annual Easter egg hunt at GT Bray with the Easter bunny. It was pretty cool to have the Easter Bunny arrive on their big boat and then kick off the egg hunt. It’s pretty unique.
If you like parades and a fun time, head on down to the DeSoto Grand Parade next year!