There’s so much to do in Manatee! Here’s 12 fun things
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time around Bradenton.
If you’re looking for a way to spend a weekend, down time or vacation time on the cheap, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s a guide to local fun you can have for $10 or less.
Bradentucky Bombers home games
Sure, dinner and a movie can be fun. But why settle when you could be spending date night slamming beer and cheering on a team of fierce women as they engage in a high-energy contact sport played on roller skates?
This way to the world of roller derby.
The Bradentucky Bombers Roller Derby League recently made it big time.
The Bombers are now part of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, which places them in competition for rankings with roller derby teams worldwide.
A roller-derby match, called a “bout,” consists of two 30-minute periods and usually lasts about an hour and a half with intermission and timeouts.
Sit in the bleachers or bring your own folding chair and set up trackside to get close to the action.
Beer is available for purchase at the sports bar and in the rink.
Details: Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex is at 5309 29th St. E. in Ellenton. Tickets: $10 for adults, $6 for kids 6-12 when purchased in advance. Cost increases when purchased at the gate.
Visit The Ringling
“When John Ringling died, he left his estate and museum to the people of Florida, stipulating that his museum be free to the public one day of the week,” according to The Ringling.
That day is Monday, and it’s a great time to take in the sights and impressions of fine art on display at the Museum of Art.
It’s also always free to roam the 68 acres of grounds and gardens at The Ringling, as well as visit the Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion, a space displaying the museum’s studio glass collection.
Ringling Underground, an experimental after-hours art party held at the museum on the first Thursday of every month September-April, is always free for college students with a student I.D.
Details: The Ringling is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; grounds open daily from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. 5401 Bay Shore Road in Sarasota. Admission to the Museum of Art is always free on Mondays.
Tour a Florida orange grove
Nothing says welcome to Florida like a glass of that refreshing, tangy elixir known as orange juice.
Manatee County has a long history of citrus production, and a trip to Mixon Fruit Farms is a chance for a firsthand look at how the magic happens.
A ride through the citrus groves on the Orange Blossom Tram is $5 for kids and $10 for adults. The educational tour includes a stop at a wildlife rescue that makes its home on the farm.
Mixon also holds festivals throughout the year and a free public fair on the fourth Saturday of every month featuring vendors of all kinds.
Details: Mixon Fruit Farms is at 2525 27th St. E. in Bradenton. Tram rides are offered at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, May through October; 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Monday-Saturday from November-April.
Myakka River State Park
The Manatee-Sarasota area is rich with natural beauty, and most local parks are free or cheap to visit.
Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s oldest state parks, and the sights and activities are endless.
Highlights include a walk in the treetops on the canopy walkway, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Chances for seeing an alligator are also high.
The Pink Gator Cafe located within the park is a great spot for lunch, dessert or a craft beer.
Details: Open 8 a.m. to sundown. Myakka River State Park is at 13208 State Road 72 in Sarasota. $6 per vehicle.
Red Barn Flea Market
Even if you don’t buy anything, a trip to Red Barn Flea Market in Bradenton is an adventure.
Browse the wares of more than 600 vendors; offerings include clothing, home decor, sporting goods, garage sale finds, local art and fresh produce.
The market hosts special seasonal events, and you’ll find live music in the main food court every Friday and Saturday.
Speaking of the food court, don’t miss it — cheap but delicious eats such as tacos, ice cream and comfort food await.
Details: Market days vary by season. Red Barn Flea Market is at 1707 First St. in Bradenton.
Village of the Arts
There’s always something new to see in Bradenton’s most creative neighborhood.
Colorful cottages and public art displays are a permanent feature of the village, and Art Walk events on the first Friday and Saturday of every month include live music and interactive fun at many galleries.
Pick up a piece of local craftsmanship, head to Jerk Dog Records for a curated selection of music and media, or stop by Bird Rock Taco Shack, Copa Mocha or Art Caffe for a light bite.
Details: Village of the Arts is located in the area of 1113 12th St. W. in Bradenton. Free.
Cortez is one of the only commercial fishing villages that remains unspoiled in Florida, and for that alone it’s worth a visit.
Colorful cottages and unhindered views of the water abound.
Also free: admission to the Florida Maritime Museum. The museum documents Floridians’ ancient relationship with the water through immersive exhibits and free history talks.
Details: Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The Florida Maritime Museum is located at 415 119th St. W. in Cortez.
ArtCenter Manatee hosts displays of local and regional artwork ranging from amateur to professional.
Exhibits and opening night receptions are always free and open to the pubic.
Details: Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday. ArtCenter Manatee is located at 209 Ninth St. W. in Bradenton
A night at the ballpark is always fun, and the Florida State League’s Bradenton Marauders keep things interesting with special offers and events at every home game.
Holiday celebrations and themed nights keep things festive, and visitors can bring along a pup for an extra $5 on Bark at the Park nights.
Select tickets are available for $10 or less all season long. The FSL season runs from April-early September.
Details: LECOM Park is located at 1611 Ninth St. W. in Bradenton.
Info: 941-747-3031. milb.com/bradenton.
Get a taste of the farm life at Hunsader Farms in Bradenton.
The farm offers a petting zoo and playground experience for $5 a person from September-June. Children 12 months old and younger are free.
If you plan to return often, you can buy season passes for $25 each.
Hunsader also lets visitors pick their own seasonal produce from September through May.
Details: Hunsader Farms is at 5500 County Road 675 in Bradenton.