Are you ready for the weekend? Us too.
If you don’t have plans yet, we’re here to help.
Here’s a hand-picked guide to fun times around Bradenton, Sarasota, Tampa Bay and beyond.
Are we missing a big event? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
Fun for everyone
Braden River Bluegrass Festival: The annual Braden River Bluegrass Festival at Linger Lodge is back.
Enjoy live music from local bluegrass bands, shop more than 30 vendors and throw down on some smoked pulled pork sandwiches.
Details: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday. Linger Lodge Restaurant and RV Campground, 7205 85th St. Ct. E., Bradenton. $15; kids 10 and under are free.
Bradentucky Bombers: The women of the Bradentucky Bombers Roller Derby League will take on Melbourne’s Molly Roger Rollergirls on Saturday at Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex.
A roller-derby match, a.k.a. 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.
Raffle prizes at Saturday’s game and a portion of online tickets purchased through tinyurl.com/agtixbombers will benefit Manatee County Agricultural Museum in Palmetto.
Details: Doors: 4:30 p.m. Game: 5-7 p.m. Saturday. Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, 5309 29th St. E., Ellenton. Tickets: $10 for adults, $6 for kids 6-12 when purchased in advance. The cost increases when purchased at the gate.
Something tasty: ArtCenter Manatee is kicking off its 82nd season with the debut of two new exhibits.
The first is a showcase of artwork created by masters of their respective crafts — the ArtCenter Manatee instructors.
The second is an open, all-media exhibit on a subject that we can all relate to: food. See how local artists interpreted the theme in the new exhibit titled “Something Tasty.”
An opening reception for both exhibits will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday and feature live demos.
Details: On display through Oct. 4. ArtCenter Manatee, 209 Ninth St. W., Bradenton. Free.
Explore outer space: Young learners can experience the wonders of the universe during KidSpace, a special program offered on the second and fourth Saturday of every month at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in downtown Bradenton.
The show utilizes the Bishop Planetarium to explore the sun, planets, moons, galaxies and more.
KidSpace is designed for elementary-age explorers and their parents. Those interested in more advanced space exploration can check out the museum’s Stelliferous Live star talks, held on the fourth Wednesday of every month.
Details: 10:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Saturday. Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton. Museum members: $5. Non-members: $8 (or $3 with museum admission).
Silent Party at Naught Monk Brewing: Headphones on: Dial in to one of three live DJs slinging a diverse range of party music. Headphones off: Sweet silence and a chance to chat with your friends.
That’s what Naughty Monk Brewing will offer this Saturday during a truly unique live music experience.
Don’t forget to grab a beer.
Details: 7-11 p.m. Saturday. Naught Monk Brewery, 2507 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Bradenton. $10.
At the museum
Semper Paratus: The U.S. Coast Guard has a long legacy of protecting Florida’s waters, and a temporary exhibit on display at the Florida Maritime Museum explores the past and present role of the seafaring military branch.
“The United States Coast Guard remains always ready — Semper Paratus — to serve in Florida’s tropical and turbulent waters,” museum staff says. “’Always Ready: United States Coast Guard in Florida’ — curated by the Florida Maritime Museum — explores the exciting stories and brave people behind the Coast Guard in the sunshine state.”
Details: On display through Dec. 31. Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., Cortez. Free.
At the theater
Grey Gardens: Described as tragic, funny and unforgettable, this musical tells the story of a mother and daughter who fall from a posh, high-society lifestyle to a lonely and eccentric existence in a crumbling estate.
The stage work is based off of the the 1975 documentary of the same name.
Details: Through Sept. 22. Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton $27-$40.
Info: 941-748-5875. manateeperformingartscenter.com.
Learn about Florida’s first inhabitants at Madira Bickel Mound: In 1948, this historical ground was donated to the public by Karl and Madira Bickel and became Florida’s first state archaeological site.
“The flat-topped ceremonial mound-composed of sand, shell and village debris measures 100 by 170 feet at the base and is 20 feet in height,” the Florida’s parks department says. “Archaeological excavations have disclosed at least three periods of Native American cultures, the earliest dating back 2,000 years.”
A visit to the mound and the surrounding land makes a quick and informative outdoor excursion, and there are picnic benches on site if you care to stay awhile.
Details: 8 a.m. until sundown every day. 955 Bayshore Dr., Terra Ceia. Free.
Take a dip at Ichetucknee Springs: This state park is a bit of a trek from Bradenton, but sinking your weary bones into the refreshing, crystal-clear springs at the end of the trip will make it well worth it.
Go tubing or swim freestyle. Afterward, Great Outdoors Restaurant in the quaint town of High Springs is a great spot for a bite.
Travel Time: About 3 hours.
Details: Open 8 a.m. to sundown. 12087 U.S. 27, Fort White. $6 per vehicle.
Theme park fun
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure: Us poor muggles don’t have a chance of getting into Hogwarts, but luckily Floridians have the next best thing at “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” in Orlando.
A new ride at Universal’s Islands of Adventure invites guests to take a wild ride with beloved half-giant Hagrid through a forest full of mythical creatures.
Not a Potter fan? You’ll still have fun. At nearly a mile in length, “Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure” is the new longest roller coaster ride in Florida, and it lasts about three and a half minutes.
Details: Universal’s Islands of Adventure, 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando. $110 and up.
NEW IN TOWN — Fresh eats at The Connection Cafe: Downtown Bradenton eatery The Connection Cafe changed hands earlier this year, and the new owners are bringing a fresh take (and lots of fresh ingredients) to sandwiches, wraps and crepes.
The Connection Cafe is at 1207 Third Ave. W., Bradenton.
EAT THIS — Nutritious and delicious: The Daily Dose is a juice, smoothie and salad bar in downtown Bradenton.
Menu offerings like the “Guac and Greens” salad (featuring quinoa, spinach, black beans and guacamole) and the “Island Aura” smoothie (spinach, mango, pineapple, banana, ginger and coconut milk) are so flavorful and delicious that you won’t realize you’re eating something healthy.
The Daily Dose Juice Garden is at 536 13th St. W., Bradenton.
DRINK THIS — Watermelon wonder at The Good Liquid: Bradenton’s youngest craft brewery is also one of its most daring.
Innovative brews like a “Brownie Batter Double Milk Stout,” a “Strawberry Shortcake Milkshake IPA” and refreshing fruit ale combinations like strawberry and lime or peaches and cream are just a few of the surprises in store for visitors to this taproom.
Currently on draft, Good Liquid’s watermelon gose is a German-style sour wheat ale infused with freshly pureed Florida watermelons and pink Himalayan salt. It’s “a little bit salty and tart ... the perfect thirst quencher beer!” the brewery says.
The Good Liquid Brewing Company is at 4824 14th St. W., Bradenton.
DON’T FORGET DESSERT — Fantastic frozen custard: It takes something special to keep patrons coming back for 20 years.
At SweetBerries, a big part of the recipe for success lies in the frosty, sweet treat known as custard.
The egg yolk enhanced ice cream is dense and delicious, and it can also be blended with fruits, nuts, candies or flavorings to make a dessert known as a concrete.
SweetBerries is at 4500 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
Want us to feature your favorite plate at a local restaurant? Submit a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered. Include your name, hometown, the name of the dish and the name of the restaurant.
Live music highlights
Lauren Mitchell at Blue Rooster
Lauren Mitchell is a soul singer who performs backed by a band of skillful musicians.
Details: 8-11 p.m. Friday. Blue Rooster, 1525 Fourth St., Sarasota. $10.
The Verge at Woody’s River Roo:The Verge plays blues rock, Southern rock and classic rock from the ‘70s to now.
Details: 7-11 p.m. Friday. Woody’s River Roo, 5717 18th St. E., Ellenton. No cover.
Southbound at Joyland: Sarasota country band Southbound is led by the duo of Andrew Ditchfield and Kari Rae; Rae is also a lead vocalist with local country act The Daisy Dukes Band.
Details: 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday. Joyland Country Music Night Club, 5520 14th St. W., Bradenton. $7 cover.