OUTDOORS: Fun things to do
Manatee County Historic Boat Tours: The Manatee County Department of Historical Resources in partnership with Island Pearl Excursions will host two heritage water tours as part of March Manatee Heritage Days, a month long focus on the county's history. Tours, with historic narrative by Cathy Slusser, are 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. March 29 and leave from Pier 22, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton. Tickets: $30 per tour. Seating is limited. Reservations: 941- 780-8010 or visit www.amishuttleservice.com.
Robinson Preserve 5K Race: Robinson Preserve 1704 99th St. N.W., Bradenton
Robinson Preserve will close at noon March 29 for the Fifth Annual Robinson Preserve 5K Race. The preserve will be closed all day to cars and open to foot and bike traffic until noon. Those interested in participating in the 5K race can register as of 3 p.m., the race for adults begins at 6:45 p.m., the race for kids begins at 5:45 p.m. Pre-registration and entrance fee are required. After the race, participants are invited to remain at the preserve for a special "after party." The event will feature complimentary food and drinks, including beer, for race participants. Proceeds from the race will benefit Robinson Preserve. The Preserve will resume regular hours March 30. For registration, call Fit2Run at 941-358-5100, for information about the Preserve, call 941-748-4501, ext. 4605.
Five Centuries of Florida History Day: De Soto National Memorial, 8300 DE Soto Memorial Hwy., Bradenton
Come experience five centuries of Florida history 10 a.m.-3 p.m. March 30 featuring period re-enactors from the Spanish Colonial times, Florida Seminole wars, the Civil War, World Wars and many others. The Florida Public Archaeology Network will be displaying hands-on public archaeology demonstrations suitable for all ages. There will be unique weapons demonstrations and kids activities throughout the day. Admission and all activities are free. Information: 941-792-0458 or visit www.nps.gov/deso.
American Littoral Society Bay Bio Cruise: Bayfront Park, Sarasota Bay
Enjoy a hands-on learning experience and learn about the marine creatures of Sarasota Bay on the Carefree Learner boat, accompanied by a marine biologist 1-3 p.m. April 6. The boat leaves from Bayfront Park. Cost: $15 members, $20 nonmembers, $10 children 10 and younger. Information and reservations: 941-927-3409.
Manatee Audubon Society: Group offers the following nature tours, field trips and meetings:
n Open House, 8 a.m.-noon April 6 and every first Saturday of the month featuring a guided bird walk at 9:30 a.m. Information: Steve Black at 941-376-0110.
n Junior Audubon group meeting, 9-11 a.m. April 20; $15 yearly membership. Information: Steve Black at 941-376-0110.
Field trips are free to members, $3 for nonmembers. All meeting are at Felts Audubon Preserve, unless otherwise noted. Felts is at 4600 24th Ave. E., Palmetto. Information: 941-729-2222 or visit www.manateeaudubon.org.
American Littoral Society: Group offers the following guided kayak and nature tours:
n Bay life safari, Lemon Bay, Englewood, nature walk, 9:30-11:30 a.m. April 13; no charge.
n Bird Key, South Lido, Sarasota, kayak trip, 9 a.m.-noon Arpil 14.
n Myakka River Estuary, Sarasota, kayak trip, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 16; $30 members, $35 nonmembers.
Unless otherwise noted, cost per person per event is $20 for members, $25 nonmembers. Reservations for all kayak trips are required. All kayak equipment will be provided and is included in the cost of the trip. A short training session will be provided before the trip. Participants are requested to bring insect repellent, sunscreen and water. Reservations: 941-966-7308.
Camping at Crowley: 16405 Myakka Road, Sarasota
Tent and hammock camping is now available at Crowley's new Indian Field Primitive Camping Area and Camping. Campsites are available per night and amenities include a solar shower, bathrooms, fire pit, and a large screen room with electricity and a kitchen area. Reservations are required. Cost per night: $8 adults, $4 children ages 5 and older. Camping classes are available through Not a Clue Adventures. Information: 941-322-1000 or visit www.crowleyfl.org.
Frog Creek RV Resort: 8515 Bayshore Road, Palmetto
Frog Creek RV Resort, on historic Frog Creek just north of Palmetto, offers a special summer rate of $25 a day, plus electricity, for a family of four at their resort. The resort features a swimming pool and kayaking and canoeing. Call for package pricing: 800-771-3764 or visit www.frogcreek.us.com.
Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary: 20010 State Road 64 E., Bradenton
Horseback riding is being offered by Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary. No experience is necessary. Hours are by appointment. Donation: $25 a person, per hour. The rides are fun and educational and are geared toward first time riders. All proceeds go to house and feed the animals at the sanctuary. Information: 941-750-8185 or www.NapierFamilyFarm.com.
Emerson Point Preserve Nature Tours: Emerson Point Preserve, Snead Island
Master Gardeners conduct free tours at 9 a.m. on at least one Saturday and one Sunday each month. Tours are limited to 12 people, and reservations must be made through the Master Gardener office. A portion of the tour is handicap accessible. The office is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Information: 941-722-4524.
Sarasota Bay Explorers: Mote Aquarium on City Island, Sarasota
Now offering a new eco-tour, Nature Safari, with in-depth looks into the ecosystems of southwest Florida. View bird nests and watch for creatures of the bay. Observe bottlenose dolphins, manatees and sea turtles up close. Cruises run daily at 11 a.m., and 1:30 and 4 p.m. Regular tour rate is $26 adults, $22 children ages 4-12. Aquarium admission not included. Information: 941-388-4200.
Walk on the Wild Side Eco-Tours: 629 41st St., Sarasota
Guided canoeing, kayaking, hiking and wildlife viewing tours throughout west central Florida. Half-day, full-day, moonlight and overnight trips. All equipment and transportation is provided and instruction is available. Tours start at $30 a person and are available 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Sunday. Information: 941-351-6500.
Boat rides and charters: Captain Kim's, Anna Maria Island Historic Bridge Street Pier, Anna Maria Island.
Captain Kim's Boat Rides and Charters offers dolphin tours, historical tours, bird watching tours, sea shelling tours, hands-on eco tours, sightseeing rides, sand bar hopping, boat rides and charters. Hourly rates: $15 per person. Reservations and information: 941-920-3307 or www.kimscharters.com.
Anna Maria Island Segway Tours: Anna Maria Island
AMI Segway Tours takes visitors along the Gulf of Mexico and Intracoastal Waterway, exploring Leffis Key Boardwalk, Coquina Beach, Historic Bridge Street, Anna Maria City Pier and more. Tours, which are offered seven days a week, are limited to six guests and start at $30 a person. Ticket includes training, helmet, water and photo opportunities. Reservations required. Call 941-565-2082, visit zegwaybythebay.com or stop in at the Paradise Bagel Cafe, 3220 East Bay Drive, Holmes Beach.
Manatee Segway Tours: Downtown Bradenton
Manatee Segway Tours takes visitors on tours on the riverfront and beyond in Bradenton. Snack and drink provided along with plenty of photo opportunities. Tour tickets start at $45 and includes training and helmets. For more information or to get on the waiting list, 941-224-8079 or www.manateesegwaytours.com.
Segs by the Sea: 119 C Bridge St., Bradenton Beach
Segs by the Sea offers scenic Segway tours of Anna Maria Island and the surrounding beaches including Longboat Key and their newest addition, the Heritage History Tour. Tour options include one hour, 90 minutes, and two hours and cost between $40-$60. Segway rentals are also available, including rentals of bikes, electric bikes, and stand-up paddle boards. Training and helmets are included in all tours and rentals. Reservations are 8 a.m.-sunset. Information: 941-209-5970 or www.segsbythesea.com.
Florida Ever-Glides: The Ritz Carlton, Sarasota
Segway Tours of downtown Sarasota and through St. Armands Circle are offered by Florida Ever-Glides Inc. The three-hour guided tours are $85 a person and are limited to six riders. Tours are offered daily 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Ages 12-70-plus are welcome. Reservations are required. Information: 941-363-9556 or www.floridaever-glides.com.
Bradenton Runners Club: Various locations
The Bradenton Runners Club invites walkers, joggers and runners of all paces to attend events Tuesday-Sunday at various locations throughout the area. Information and schedule: 941-792-7930 or www.bradentonrunnersclub.com.
Young Eagle flights: Dolphin Aviation, 8191 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
Chapter EAA-180, Phillips Aviation Fuel and Dolphin Aviation sponsor Young Eagle flights for kids ages 8-17, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. the third Saturday of the month. A parent or guardian must accompany the child to sign a release. A pancake breakfast will be served 8-10 a.m. Flights are free. Information: 941-356-0591.
Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures: Bradenton/Sarasota area
Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures offers trips to Anna Maria, Braden River, Cabbage Key, Cayo Costa, Don Pedro Island, Egmont Key, Fisheating Creek, Hillsborough River, Little Manatee River, Longboat Key, Myakka River, Peace River, Rainbow Springs, Siesta Key/Turtle Beach and South Lido Beach. Rentals and lessons also available. Information: 941-504-6296 or kayakfl.com.
AMI Parasail: Anna Maria Island
Parasail over the Gulf of Mexico with the area's oldest parasail operator. Dry takes-offs and landings for 2-3 people at a time. Information and reservations: 941-778-5000.
Beach Bum Billy's: 427 Pine Ave., Anna Maria
Charter or rent a boat at Beach Bum Billy's, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Sunday. Information: 941-778-3316.
Capt. Mark's Watertaxi at the Cortez Kitchen: 4528 119th St. W., Cortez
Boat rides and dolphin cruises daily. Take the whole family, up to 16 passengers, on a cruise visiting sandbars or see the dolphins at sunset. Take the water taxi and stop at Bridge Street or the Mar Vista Restaurant or stay aboard and watch the sunset, or join us on the beach for some great shelling. Half-day charters for picnics are available on select days for office parties or family outings; the boat is equipped with a bathroom and gas grill. Cost: $20 a person; no charge for kids younger than 3. Call for times and reservations: 941-228-3504 or www.scatteratsea.com.
Freedom Boat Club: 1000 First St. W., Suite B
Club offers use of 30 boats of various sizes, and members have unlimited use of boats. Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., daily. Information: 941-714-0673 or 941-922-1292.
Hughy's Kayak Rentals and Tours: 12507 Cortez Road
Explore the bay area of historic Cortez and Anna Maria Island on a kayak. Rent a kayak and explore on your own or take our guided eco-tour that allows you to get up close to dolphins, manatees and many types of sea birds and sea life. Tours daily during the summer and weekends during fall and winter. Information and reservations: 941-321-0233.
Kathleen D Sailing Catamaran: 1000 First Ave. W., Bradenton
Kathleen D Sailing Catamaran offers cruises to Egmont Key 10 a.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays departing from the Seafood Shack in Cortez. The 6-hour sail costs $79 per adult, $59 per child ages 11 and younger. Snorkel equipment, lunch, water and soft drinks will be provided. Information and reservations: 941-870-4349.
Manatee River Boat Tours: Manatee River, Manatee County
Manatee River Boat Tours is offering boat trips daily. Boat tour times vary and each tour lasts approximately one hour and capacity is a maximum of six people. Tours are $20 a person, and reservations are required 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Information: 941-721-4230 or www.manateeriverboattours.com.
Manatee Sailing Association: Various locations in Bradenton
The Manatee Sailing Association is a club with programs to give members information, experience and events for fun and safe boating. The MSA meets the second Tuesday of each month. Membership information: Sandee at 941-729-3573.
Native Rentals: 5416 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach
Free kayak eco-tours and dealer tryouts, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., every Saturday through Perico Estuary at the northeast base of the Manatee Bridge. No experience necessary; kids welcome. Kayaks and all gear provided. Free for the first half hour and only $10/hour extensions and is deductible from kayak purchase. Information: 941-778-7757.
Oak Haven River Retreat: 12143 Riverhills Drive, Tampa
Oak Haven River Retreat offers guided sunrise canoe/kayak tours 7:30-9:30 a.m. Saturdays. Experience the excitement of an early-morning paddle along the river, surrounded by majestic cypress trees and shaded oak hammocks as you enter into 16,000 acres of parks and wilderness areas. Canoe and kayak rentals are available 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Rentals are available by the hour, half-day or full day. Rates per canoe/kayak: $12 an hour; $28 for a half-day and $38 for a full day. Information: 813-988-4580 or www.oakhavenriverretreat.com.
Ray's Canoe Hideaway: 1247 Hagle Park Road, Bradenton
Canoe or kayak the Upper Manatee River. Enjoy paddling, picnicking, swimming and the scenery. Rentals are $23-$35 per boat. Half- or full-day rentals are available. Hours: Open dawn to dusk six days a week. Closed Wednesdays. Information: 941-747-3909.
Regatta Pointe Marina Freedom Boat Club: 1005 Riverside Drive, Palmetto
The world's largest members-only boating club is a simple alternative to boat ownership. Boats of all shapes and sizes are fueled up and ready to go. Information: Charlene Graeber at 888-781-7363.
Regatta Pointe Marina Tours, Cruises and Charters: 1005 Riverside Drive, Palmetto
Regatta Pointe Marina offers tours, fishing trips for all ages, river excursions and sightseeing tours, sunset cruises, lunch and dinner cruises and charters, and sailing adventures on the Windancer seven days a week. Information and schedules: 941-729-6021 or www.RegattaPointeMarina.com.
Riverside Tours: Regatta Pointe Marina, 1005 Riverside Drive, Palmetto
Riverside Tours offers daily cruises on the Manatee River, Terra Ceia Bay and Gamble Creek, and narrated morning trips or romantic sunset cruises on Tampa Bay. Catered lunch is provided for day cruises, optional dinner inside the restaurant before the cruise. For schedule, pricing and reservations: 941-779-3606.
Schooner/kayak: Seafood Shack Marina, Cortez
Sail the Gulf aboard a sleek and stable catamaran or Tallship Schooner. Dolphin sails, sunset sails, Egmont Key, overnight adventures and more. Information and prices: 761-4779. Nature tours are given by sailboat or kayak to remote mangrove islands or take a day on Egmont Key. Reservations and prices: 941-713-8000.
Waves Boat and Social Club: 4110 127th St. W., Cortez
Waves is a customer-focused boat club offering the unlimited use of a brand new fleet of boats as well as a full social calendar packed with fun things to do. With two convenient locations in Bradenton and Sarasota. Information and tour reservations: 941-795-1600 or www.wavesboatclub.com.