It’s funny that I’ve been to Florida a few times, but only for Disney! It was nice to explore some other areas on our most recent trip. My husband and I spent a week with family in Bradenton, Florida, located about an hour south of Tampa and 20 minutes north of Sarasota.
This vaca was mostly laid back spending time with family, but we did get to explore a bit as well!
My husband’s aunt and uncle live in the town of Bradenton. We hit a few cool places while we were there. His uncle has a boat so we got to take that out for a ride in the Sarasota Bay.
We also hit up two breweries in Bradenton, which were some nice air conditioned spots to recover from the heat; Good Liquid Brewing Company and Motorworks Brewing. Motorworks Brewing had one of the coolest beer gardens ever! They have a huge oak tree covered in lights, a stage outback for entertainment, corn hole, big beer pong, big Jenga, and big connect 4! Perfect spot for a party or get together with friends.
My husband’s family has tickets to the local single A baseball team at LECOM stadium. We went out there one night for a baseball game, hotdogs, and beer. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but the stadium was small, fun, and much cheaper than what we are used to in NJ/PA!
Did I mention Florida’s mini golf has alligators you can feed?! I wanted to take one home.
Anna Maria Island
We spent a day/night on Anna Maria Island. The beach is beautiful, the water warm, not crowded, and free! (NJ beaches are not). Compared to the east coast, the west coast has a much more laid back feel and is much less congested. Perfect for a relaxing getaway!
We found a great little lunch spot on our way back from the beach called Tide Tables. It’s super small located right on the bay in Cortez. The seafood is freshly caught and there is a nice outdoor deck and bar with an outstanding view. I get fish tacos everywhere I go because I’m obsessed, and I have to say these take the W for me. They were amazing. Hubby had a mahi sandwich, which was also super fresh. The portions were big too, we both took home leftovers!
Due to a big lunch, we ended up just getting small snacks at night at the bars downtown. The bars have a small town feel and there is no need to dress up! That’s the best part! We went to Bridgetender Tiki Bar and Island Time Bar and Grill. The tiki bar is outside right on the bay and has live music. Coconut shrimp were pretty bomb 👌🏻 The Island Time Bar and Grill was another cool spot with live music and string light decor. Fresh squeezed orange crushes are to die for 🙌🏻
I wanted to hit the beach at Siesta Key because it’s supposed to be world renowned! However the week we were there, there were some cases of “flesh eating virus” due to how warm the water was and we didn’t want to take the chance. We did get to explore Siesta Key at night though! Ocean Boulevard has tons of bars and shops to explore.
Where to go: Gilligan’s, SKOB (Siesta Key Oyster Bar), Beach Club
All on Ocean Blvd! Gilligan’s has an awesome outside bar and unique laid back decor. SKOB is small, but fun and covered in dollar bills (see picture below). Beach Club has that younger club vibe feel but is a lot of fun. They have Beer Olympics late night and hubby signed us up without my knowledge 🙄 We ended up winning though and got a $50 gift card to pay our tab for the night!
Needless to say, Florida has more than Disney World and I can’t wait to come back to explore some more!