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9 Awesome Low Budget Things to do in Sarasota – Bradenton Florida


The Place We call Home

Take a look inside our life between our crazy adventures and fall in love with

Sarasota – Bradenton, Florida


Anna Maria Island
There I am goofing off! Just poking around the island.


Welcome to our brand new series called Florida Life! Don’t worry, we still LOVE chasing fairy tales and getting into crazy, cool adventures, but we wanted to start sharing something with you that’s near and dear to our hearts…FLORIDA! Why, because we live here! And we love it.

So, we wanted to share a little slice of what our life is like when we’re not sleeping in haunted hotels, exploring castles or chasing awesome literary trails. It’s pretty easy going actually. It involves the great outdoors, plenty of sunshine, and fun quirky adventures. So without further rambling check out this handy list of the best places in Sarasota, Florida (and its greater area).


Bradenton Riverwalk
A beautiful sunset at the Bradenton Riverwalk.


Bradenton, Florida

#1 Skate, Jog, Relax, Play Bradenton Riverwalk Skatepark FREE

The Bradenton Riverwalk Skatepark is AWESOME! It’s literally 10 minutes from our home, and a favorite go to place for us to blow off some afternoon steam after a long day of writing. It’s absolutely gorgeous too, built right on the Manatee river. I love how so many kids get together there (and adults too), and just kick it with their boards. It’s such a fun and peaceful place to hang out and kids love going there.

The skatepark is part of the Bradenton Riverwalk development which is also killer. There’s 1.5 miles spanning into downtown which stretch along the Manatee River and offer:

  • Outdoor living room
  • Acoustic
  • Kayak and canoe launch
  • Beach volleyball
  • A workout lawn
  • Tidal discovery zone
  • Fishing pier
  • Event area
  • A family fun zone with a splash zone and playground
  • And more…

We spend a lot of time here without little dog and with the Little of course, just enjoying the family and not spending money! Plus, it makes an AWESOME place for a sunset!


#2 Have a Picnic at Jigg’s Landing, Bradenton FREE

If you blinked your eyes you’d probably miss this place. Known mostly by just locals, Jiggs Landing is a fishing camp complete with crazy-adorable, pottery barn-like fishing cottages, and a fishing pier. It’s quiet, peaceful and just a great place to have a picnic or your favorite take out food. There’s a sheltered pavilion and a playground all of which sits on the Braden River Ever’s Reservoir. We’ve never stayed the night there, but I’m sure it would be pretty cool.


#3 Enjoy Florida Style at Regatta Point Marina FREE

This is probably one of the places we spend the most time at. We make our rounds from the skatepark at the Riverwalk and then almost always end up here. It’s such a pretty place with all its yachts and luxurious sailboats. In the afternoons it’s just dreamy. The marina sits on the Manatee River and is home to one large and one small restaurant, a convenience store and a few retail shops. We’ve made it a weekly habit when we’re in town to bring the dog (Noreen) and walk around.


#4 Happy Hour and Appetizers at River House Reef and Grill $

Not in the freebie zone by any means but oh my goodness, is it yummy. Since we’ve become such regulars at this place, we’ve managed to get the spending down to a science. Happy hour and appetizers are usually our M.O. and we always get a free sunset. They are pet friendly too (which is perfect because we love sitting on their giant riverside patio). Such a great restaurant, such a great view, and the food rocks!


Anna Maria Island
This is the beautiful Anna Maria Island, home to the Rod and Reel and free sunsets. This is a regular stop for us in the afternoons.


#5 Fishing at the Anna Maria Island Rod and Reel $

Anyone looking to visit the Sarasota Bradenton area is most certainly aware of Anna Maria Island, but for locals it is a vacation at our doorstep. Now visiting the island is free, parking can be tricky but that’s pretty standard for beach zones. The beach, playground and Anna Maria Pier are also free and totally awesome and always on our checklist when we hit the island. But, one of our favorite things to do is rent a $2 fishing pole and buy some bait at the Rod and Reel restaurant and fishing pier. Here you can relax, go fishing, get some grub and have a few brews in the beautiful Florida sun with one of the best views in Florida.

Sarasota, Florida

#1 Splash Around at Marina Jack’s Water Park FREE

Right in the heart of downtown Sarasota lives Marina Jack’s, home to massive yachts, sails and fine dining. Any local will tell you it’s the place to go for an absolutely gorgeous view, picturesque spots and children’s splash park. Here you can enjoy the view of Sarasota Bay from the stadium seating around the splash zone, or from the shade of a Banyan Tree. It’s a great place to muck around and take in the afternoons.


Best of Bradenton Sarasota 2
Our water is crystal clear and always perfect and our shores covered in shells.


#2 Watch a Stunning Sunset at Bird Key Park FREE

This place is impossible to miss if you’re heading back from the beach in Sarasota. Undoubtedly, it will be the place everyone is pulling over to, to watch an incredible sunset. Here you can jog, walk, take the dog, and tinker around to the setting of an amazing show of a Florida sunset.

#3 Hike Along Mangroves and on Trails at Quick Point Nature Preserve FREE

This is one of our all time favorite things to do. After a killer bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from New Pass Grill, we head over the little Long Boat Bridge and pull over to a spot I almost GUARANTEE is only known to locals. It’s called Quick Point and it rocks. This little nature preserve runs along the southeast end of Long Boat Key with winding trails through mangroves and along the coast. Here you will find lagoons and loads of wildlife. A perfect place for any curious age.


Best of Bradenton Sarasota 2
Florida is wild! There’s so much to explore which makes little coastal adventures so cool for kids.


New Pass Grill and Bait
Best place for breakfast on this side of town is New Pass Grill & Bait just before the Long Boat Key Bridge. Perfect stop before hiking Quick Point!


#4 The Ringling House Garden FREE

Most people outside of Sarasota probably don’t know the Ringling family lived here. That’s right, the famous circus King, John Ringling and his wife had a mansion right on the Sarasota Bay. Named in his honor the Ca’ d’Zan, it’s now a working museum, but the grounds are (say it with me) FREE! The grounds are lovely with banyan trees, a rose garden and a nice view of the bay. You can walk up to and around the mansion and checkout the statues on the grounds as well.

Exploring the inside will cost you but it’s totally worth it.

Savings Tip

Thinking of heading to Sarasota for your next trip? There are various companies offering tailor-made packages so you really can make your Florida holiday your own, eShores offers some great Multi Centre USA itineraries on their site including Sarasota!


Bradenton Sunset
I’m a sunset addict! I’ll be the first to pull the car over and take pictures like these. Although, this one was taken in my backyard.

Keep following our Florida Life posts!

We’ll be sharing our favorite little pieces of our home state of Florida between our travels. There’s never a dull moment when you live between the swamp and the sea!


What’s your favorite place in Florida?

This article was made by us with the help of our great sponsors at eshores.

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

7 thoughts on “9 Awesome Low Budget Things to do in Sarasota – Bradenton Florida

  1. Thank u for taking me home today through your article….Naples is my home I hv been gone for 6 years and the yearning for the Shore is to intense I need the crystal clear waters for my serenity and well being. Will be returning home this year in fact in a few short months….the mountains of Beautiful Colorado are breathtaking but nothing compared ro the soul soothing sunsets and a dip in the warm aalt waters. Of Tiger Beach { Marco Island} in january….lol

  2. I realy say THANK YOU with all my native HEART,TO SHOW FOR MANY OF US.our sites and sounds of SARASOTA AND BRADENTON.THAT WE CAN MORE THAN AFFORD and ENJOY!!!!!!.BRAVO TO YOU.

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