Bradenton Riverwalk will impress when it reopens Oct. 18: commentary

July 29, 2012 

I wish we could go for a walk right now.

You won't believe it.

Just beautiful.

That's what I kept telling my fiancee over dinner Thursday at YachtSea Grille.

The restaurant, which I highly recommend for delectable food and drink deals, opened recently in the first floor of the Plaza Del Rio building in downtown Bradenton.

The semi-outdoor dining area will offer rich views of the Bradenton Riverwalk, especially the new sand volleyball courts, when the city landmark reopens Oct. 18.

Earlier Thursday, I took a tour of the 1.5-mile attraction along Manatee County's namesake waterway.

Impressive.

That's what I kept thinking.

Flowers blooming in the butterfly garden of the mind-mellowing botanical walk.

The 9.5-foot deep bowl of the gorgeous (and scary) skate park that utilizes space under the DeSoto Bridge.

A colorful splash fountain for children of all ages.

Chic playground equipment purchased at a bargain price from Epcot.

A brand new day dock and fishing pier.

An enhanced amphitheater.

The Rossi Park Event Plaza, with a covered concession stand and bathroom area, where the inaugural Bradenton Blues Festival will be held Dec. 1.

Each stop along the tour made me think Friendly City leaders made a smart decision with the $6.5 million Riverwalk.

The pathway should have no problem attracting people from across Manatee County as well as from Pinellas, Sarasota and beyond.

Not to mention more restaurants such as YachtSea, whose manager said their opening is a direct result of the new and improved Riverwalk.

Judging by the brisk business Tarpon Pointe Grille & Tiki Bar has been doing since opening a year ago and Pier 22's continued success, Riverwalk should have no trouble supporting numerous eateries and drinking destinations.

I would like to see push-cart vendors, too.

And some kayak rentals.

So many promising possibilities.

Bradenton begins a new chapter Oct. 18.

I foresee a story with a happy ending.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow Twitter.com/wtatangelo.

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