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FREE Food and FUN for Adults January 22, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Music & Dance, Travel & Leisure.
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Our entertainment budget is . . . limited.  As a result, we’ve become adept at finding FREE Food and FUN for Adults.

Here are a few activities we’ve enjoyed in the area at low or no cost:

1.  Grand Openings of Bars and Restaurants ~ On St. Paddy’s Day, Martiniville  opened a new Liquor Store on AMI (Anna Maria Island).  We went.  They gave us FREE green beer, souvenirs, and snacks to munch on.   When Mattison’s Riverside at the Twin Dolphins Marina re-opened under a new name, Pier 22, we attended an Open House with complimentary wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres, music, and give-aways.

2.  Music Festivals on AMI ~ We’ve listened to Jazzy Jazz on Bridge Street, Bluegrass Bands on Holmes Beach, Rock Bands at Friday Fest by the AMI Pier.  We discovered a fantastic acoustic duo, Patchouli, at one show and have followed them as far south as Fisherman’s Village.

3.  The Ringling Art Museum ~ On Mondays, the Ringling Museum offers FREE admission and tours of the Art Museum.  After touring the museum, we wandered the gorgeous grounds and walked down to Ca d’Zan to admire the water views before hopping on the trolley to head back to the Gift Store.

Later in the year, we visited the Circus Museum for Smithsonian Museum Day and met Gandhi . . . a Tiger Cub.

4.  Think and Drink at the South Florida Museum ~ Once a month, the Museum and Planetarium offer a presentation.  We’ve attended discussions on the Star of BethlehemThe Naked Universe (Space, Time, Matter, and Energy), and Starfish.  Fascinating and Free.

5.  Sidewalk Astronomy ~ Instead of investing in high-powered telescopes that we would use only once in a very blue moon, we hung out with the Sidewalk Astronomy guides to see the rings on Saturn.

6.  Boat Rides and Steel Drums at Harbour Isles ~ to lure prospective buyers, the neighborhood being built across the street has offered tours of the model homes . . . tasty snacks . . . boat rides of AMI Sound . . . and even a Steel Drum Band.  In like vein, we attended a Happy Hour Open House thrown by a  custom home builder on AMI.  After touring the house, we grabbed a frosty cocktail from the Open Bar, some snacks from the hors d’oeuvre table, and sat poolside to listen to the Steel Drum Band.

Ya mon.  No woman, no cry.

7.  Gallery Openings ~ the thriving art scene at four galleries on the island (Island Gallery West, Artist’s Guild, Art League, and Gallery at Gulf and Pine) gives us a chance to sip wine, enjoy art, and . . . meet the artists.  A few weeks ago, we attended an opening at the Gallery at Gulf and Pine with food, wine, and Bluegrass by State Road 64.

8.  Art Festivals on AMI, Siesta Key, and St. Armand’s Circle ~ Art Shows and Festivals are a regular occurrence in this area.  We love to wander around the booths, admiring talent splashed across wood, canvas, and metal.  We’ve also attended Art Walks at Village of the Arts.

9.  Freedom Village ~ When/if I convince my parents to move to Florida, I’d love them to live at Freedom Village.  After expressing an interest in the retirement community, we got put on the mailing list.  We’ve enjoyed lunches,  dinners, and cocktail hours while touring the grounds, meeting the residents, and enjoying stellar entertainment.  One of the restaurants, The Tuscany, serves up first class cuisine to residents and members of the public.

10.  The Bradenton Farmer’s Market ~ on Saturday mornings, we wander the stalls, picking up produce, admiring art, sampling fresh baked bread, and  listening to a different band each week.

11.  Wedding Crashers ~ AMI is a mecca for brides due to the number of waterfront venues for ceremonies and receptions.  We have “crashed” a wedding or two by hanging around the adjacent beach listening to bands playing golden oldies. No wedding?  No problem.  The beachfront restaurants have musicians play outdoors most days of the week.

12.  Drum Circles ~ At Manatee Public Beach on Friday nights and at Siesta Key Beach on Sunday nights, the setting sun is toasted by dancing, laughing, and the primal sound of rhythmic drums.

13.  Sunsets on the Beach ~ On Wednesdays, Mike Sales plays guitar as the sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico.   Other nights, the Island Beach Cafe offers music from late afternoon to early evenings.  We often swing by after a walk on the beach to listen to tunes and enjoy a beachfront snack.

14.  Fireworks ~ folks around here love fireworks.  We’ve enjoyed fire works displays on the beach for the 4th of July, on New Year’s Eve at midnight, and over the bay for the 100th Anniversary of the AMI Pier.

15.  Parks and Preserves ~ We’ve enjoyed kayak tours on the Manatee River at De Soto National Memorial, wild food presentations and tours at Robinson Preserve, and T’ai Chi demonstrations in the park.

Not to mention biking and walking the trails to watch the birds and wildlife.

16.  Lectures at the Library ~ The Friends of the Island Library offer a series of lectures covering everything from Local Architecture, to Art, to Marine Life, to Travel Abroad.  Always well attended, the lectures give experts a chance to share their expertise with interested and open minds.  Most recently, we met Chuck Sidlow, a clown with Circus Sarasota and Laughter Unlimited.

17.  Book Discussion Groups ~ each month, groups meet at the Library and in our neighborhood to discuss books like The Help and Eat Pray Love.  Spirited conversations may ensue.

18.  Concert Series at local churches ~ Last night we attended a concert by Dick Hyman, Pianist, at Roser Community Church.  An incredible musician, he played lively standards including Take Five, the Maple Leaf Rag, Satin Doll, and Yesterday, plus tunes from Showboat, Porgy & Bess, and more.

Aah . . . that’s better!  

What about you?

Do you ever look through your local papers for interesting, fun, and FREE things to do in your area?   Any luck?

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