The New Way to Travel
During the quarantine, the only adventure many of us could look forward to was a trip from one room to the next. But studies have shown, with the right amount of social distancing, there’s no safer place than the great outdoors.And in the Bradenton Area, there’s plenty of room and lots of ways to get closer to nature and distance yourself from the crowds. Whether you prefer skimming the surface or high-flying adventure, we have just the type of vacation you’re looking for.
Paddle across calm waters
Few activities give you a greater variety of experiences than kayaking. Okay, we already know what you’re thinking… How can I fit a 10-foot personal watercraft into my luggage? We’ve got you covered. Kayak Jack’s Paddle Sports (“You choose the Location. We bring the Fun!”), a full-service kayak and paddleboard company brings everything you need to your front door.
Choose between a guided two-hour eco-tour, a self-guided four-hour eco-tour from Robinson Preserve in Northwest Bradenton, Leffis Key in Bradenton Beach or Emerson Point in Palmetto. Or go your own way. Weekly and 24-hour rentals to Bradenton, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, Anna Maria and Longboat Key are available.
Explore an uninhabited island
If spending a leisurely day exploring an uninhabited island of incomparable beauty sounds like your idea of heaven, then you can’t miss a trip to Egmont Key State Park, an island paradise hidden away from the hustle and bustle of civilization. So isolated, the only way there is by boat. And for that, just call on Master Captain Ben Webb of Salty Dolphin Tours.
Getting to the island takes about 30 minutes, but the education you get from Captain Ben will last a lifetime. An Anna Maria Island native with more than 45 years of boating experience, he knows every inch of these waters and the wildlife that call it home — making him a wonderful guide and teacher. All along the way, he’ll help you spot dolphins, brown pelicans and even ospreys.
Once there, you’ll be surrounded by the unique beauty and cultural history of the island, including a lighthouse that’s stood since 1858 and the ruins of a fort dating back to the Spanish-American War.
Zip through the trees
Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to soar above the treetops like a bird? Stop wondering and start doing at TreeUmph Adventure Park, where you can safely have fun defying gravity while zipping from tree to tree. And that’s just the start. Suit up with your harness to scramble across wobbly bridges, swing on logs and ropes, climb through barrels and more — all under the supervision of an experienced and supportive crew.
There are more than 10 football fields of challenging terrain and hundreds of aerial adventure games for the whole family to explore. By the time you’re done taking on these challenges, an incredible transformation of mind and body will have taken place.
Experience natural habitats
The Bradenton Area is well known for preserving the way Florida used to be before the high-rises crowded the shore and amusement parks paved over the land. And nowhere is this better observed than in our sprawling nature preserves.
At Robinson Preserve, you can climb a 40-foot observation tower for a 360-degree view of nearly 700 acres of coastal saltern, marsh, and mangrove habitat. The preserve is a favorite for kayakers, featuring 2.5 miles of crystal blue waterways through the natural mangrove tunnels.
To the east is Rye Preserve, featuring 145 acres of undisturbed natural beauty and an unusual history: the Rye river community was once a thriving township of pioneers in the late 1800’s who occupied the area, of which the only reminder is the Rye Family Cemetery.
On the way into Anna Maria Island is Neal Preserve. Set against a backdrop of stunning waterways, there’s more to this 120-acre preserve than meets the eye. In the 1930s Native American burial mounds were unearthed by the Smithsonian. The mounds have been reconstructed and give modern visitors a glimpse into our ancient past.
Finally, there’s Emerson Point Preserve in Palmetto, a sliver of land that juts out where the mouth of the Manatee River, the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay meet. For millennia, the fertile fishing and abundant salt drew people here. Today, wood paths and an observation tower with views of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge offer you a convenient way to explore all of Emerson Point’s 365 acres.
Adventure into the Gulf
Can there be a more enticing playground than the Gulf itself? The warm sparkling waters and fresh, salty air are perfect for parasailing or jet skiing.
YOLO Adventures are the parasailing experts let you soar high above Anna Maria Island and the Gulf Coast. But do look down for a bird’s-eye view of dolphins, stingrays, and other ocean life through crystal clear water. With the assistance of their experienced and licensed crew, you can count on smooth take-offs and a completely dry landing. Unless, of course, you’d like a quick dip in the refreshing emerald green waters.
When you’re ready to get your head out of the clouds, kick things into high gear with a jet ski rental at Cortez Watersports. Explore the waters of Sarasota Bay between Cortez and Anna Maria Island as fast as you like, riding solo, in pairs or as a group. You’ll love the thrill of speed as you get up close and personal with the wildlife in the bay.