OUTDOORS: Fun things to do
De Soto Camp Uzita: De Soto National Memorial, 8300 De Soto Memorial Hwy., Bradenton
Visitors get a unique look into Spanish and American Indian life in the 16th Century at De Soto National Memorial's "Camp Uzita," 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily through April 17, featuring re-enactments, demonstrations and more on the lasting impact De Soto would have on the history of America and its native people. Programs run at the top of every hour. The event is free and open to the public. Information: 941-792-0458 or nps.gov/deso/
Sidewalk Astronomy: Crowley Nature Center, 16405 Myakka Road, Sarasota
The local group of Deep Sky Observers, a Manatee/Sarasota group of astronomy enthusiasts, will offer the public a chance to view spectacular celestial sights through their high-powered telescopes 6-10 p.m. Feb. 14, weather permitting. Participants will be treated to up close views of the moon and other celestial objects as they become visible throughout the evening. Admission to the Crowley Center: $5 adults, $2.50 children ages 11 and younger. Proceeds will benefit Crowley Nature Center. Information: 342-9632.
Manatee Audubon Society: various locations
The Manatee Audubon Society offers the following nature tours and field trips:
Bird walk, Felts Preserve, 9:30 a.m. March 7.
All field trips are $3, free to members. Information: 941-729-2222.
Manatee-Sarasota Sierra Club: various locations
Society offers the following nature tours and kayak trips:
Little Manatee River State Park hike, 8:30 a.m. Feb. 14. Wear proper shoes, sunscreen and bring a snack. Reservations: Cathy Page at 941-795-8973 or Mary Sheppard at 941-752-3200.
Little Sarasota Bay paddle and lunch, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 21. Reservations: Bob Fellman at 973-689-5556 or email RTF082446@hotmail.com.
There is a $5 donation for all trips. Reservations are required for all trips. If no contact number is mentioned, call for information: 941-474-4712 or www.florida.sierraclub.org/sarasota.
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 frogcreek.us.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, South Coquina Boat Ramp, Bradenton Beach
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 kimscharters.com.
Anna Maria Island Segway Tours: Anna Maria Island
AMI Segway Tours takes visitors along the Gulf of Mexico and Intracoastal Waterway, exploring, Historic Bridge Street, Anna Maria City Pier, Bean Point, and more. Tours, which are offered seven days a week, are limited to six guests and start at $40 a person. Ticket includes training, helmet, water and photo opportunities. Reservations suggested. 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 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 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 floridaever-glides.com.
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.
Captain Al's Speedboat and Eco Tours: various locations
Take a tour on Captain Al's speedboat and watch dolphins and birds, hunt for seashells, sightsee and sandbar hop. Cost: $25 per hour. Soft drinks, water and snacks will be provided. Call for locations and reservations: 941-962-6117.
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 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 oakhavenriverretreat.com.
Paradise Boat Tours: Bradenton Beach, Anna Maria Island
Paradise Boat Tours offers daily tours of the Sarasota Bay area at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily, including Sundays. The 30-passenger wind protected Coast Guard inspected power Catamaran with covered seating and a forward observation area ins the sun offers guests amazing nature and wildlife sights on water. Sunset tours are available. Information: Capt. Sherman Baldwin at 941-465-8624 or seedolphins.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 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 wavesboatclub.com.