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FREE Food and FUN for Adults January 22, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Music & Dance, Travel & Leisure.

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?

Related post:  Have You Seen This Movie? (Positive Parental Participation)


1. BrainRants - January 22, 2012

I noticed that you by default had to have met a lot of other local and like-minded people, which in the commercial parlance would be: “priceless.”

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

You’re right. Now, we bump into someone we know almost every where we go ~ but we try not to spill our wine on them. 😉

2. SammyDee - January 22, 2012

I’m always on the lookout for free or cheap entertainment in my home city. Fortunately in the UK museums and galleries are free. Yesterday I went to the Natural History Museum then wandered to an art gallery. I followed that by exploring Manchester Town Hall, which is an extraordinary building – Inside it is just like Hogwarts! (I went to Universal in Orlando in November. I couldn’t help making comparisons as I walked around). I rounded off the day with free WiFi and a coffee in a local art cafe. I had a full day of entertainment for only £1.60. 🙂

I love living in a major city!

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

Sounds like you take advantage of all your city has to offer, SammyDee. When we had more money and less time, we tended to spend more on entertainment . . . without getting much bang for our buck.

Now, we get a TREMENDOUS return on our “investment.” 😀

3. creatingreciprocity - January 22, 2012

Sounds like a wonderful life-style to me.

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

It’s been a long and winding road to this door . . . a seemingly endless maze fo “To Do’s.” Now that we’re HERE, we are determined to enjoyed the NOW.

But NOT in a fatalistic or hedonistic way ~ we’re in a present moment “experiential” mode. 😉

4. Gobetween - January 22, 2012

Great photos – I love the cub 🙂

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

Isn’t Gandhi sweet. That was taken in early September . . . he’s probably grown five sizes since then. 😯

5. sweetdaysundertheoaks - January 22, 2012

Yep Nancy, we look but all that’s happening are tractor pulls and bean dinners 😉 Kidding! Kind of.

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

Sounds like the Eastern Shore of Maryland ~ Pumpkin Chunkin and Turtle Races. 😉

Kidding! Kind of.

We chose this area because of all the FUN and FREE cultural events that would be on our doorstep . . . year-round. We have not been disappointed.

6. kateshrewsday - January 22, 2012

Nancy, what a busy social life and how richly rewarding it sounds! We’re the same as you: lots of museums, guided walks and of course our beloved forests. History stalks us at every corner here. Impossible to be bored!

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

Your posts detailing walks through the woods and tours of local landmarks and historic havens hold endless appeal for us, Kate ~ we never know where your time traveling tales will take us!

Last night’s concert was FAB. Instead of charging admission, the church collected a freewill donation (and people gave generously). In contrast, tickets for Dick Hyman’s last concert at the Van Wezel sold for $60 each! Out of reach for us at the moment.

7. Tammy - January 22, 2012

Check out your Humanities Council. In our state, they create and fund a huge amount of free programming throughout the state. The topics often fascinate me ranging from historical to current civil discourse.

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

Thanks, Tammy. I never heard the term “Humanities Council” before . . . I’ll do a google.

Tammy - January 23, 2012
nrhatch - January 23, 2012

Thanks! I took a quick peek. It looks like a fascinating resource. 😀

8. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - January 22, 2012

Sounds like a lot of fun and there’s a rooster to boot!

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

Roosters rock! Cock-A-Doodle-Doo! 😀

9. sufilight - January 22, 2012

Nancy, you are showing us we don’t need big bucks to enjoy life! I will be sending my sister who lives in Hallandale this post. Don’t know how far these places are from her but she will get ideas. I don’t see Oregon where I live now as not having too many activities, unless one travels to Portland and spend money.

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

Excellent ~ hope your sister gets an idea or two from the list.

Tourist spots offer lots of expensive “tourist traps” . . . but they also tend to host outdoor festivals with FREE music and art. This area has FREE FUN almost every weekend. If not, we wander on the beach or in the adjacent preserve.

10. Andra Watkins - January 22, 2012

This is an excellent round-up for the next time we’re there, Nancy. Thank you.

Around here, we’ll sometimes eat lunch in the park or play lawn games in the park across the street to amuse ourselves. Some of the more touristy places have free or reduced admission, and we take advantage of that if the mood strikes. We can also get into interesting things by volunteering.

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

Thanks for your tips, Andra. Volunteering is a great way to experiment with intriguing options ~ volunteering as an Usher gets you into BIG TICKET events for free . . . plus you get a behinds the scene look at things.

Lawn games are great too . . . bocce ball, anyone? 😉

11. viviankirkfield - January 22, 2012

Thank you so much, Nancy…for linking up my post on our free movie night idea!
This was an awesome post…so great in fact, that if I didn’t love Colorado Springs, I would throw in the towel, pack up the boxes, and head out to your neck of the woods. 🙂 Your photos and descriptions of what you are doing made me want to be there. Actually, the Tourist Board in your area should pay you big bucks for this post…what an amazing run-down on the free cultural and fun opportunities!

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

I loved your post ~ what a great reminder to get a Library Card and use it! We love living here, and not just for the FREE FUN. It’s just a good match for who we are . . . at least right NOW.

As I wrote this post last night, I kept thinking of things we’ve done to enjoy FREE FUN. Eventually, I decided the list (and post) was LONG ENOUGH. But I just scratched the surface.

12. JannatWrites - January 22, 2012

I love that you can do so much with so little $. We’ve got so much going on with the kids that we don’t get to go out much. We do take notice when we hear about free entertainment opportunities (usually on the Saturday AM news) and sometimes we’ll make it out.

A couple weeks ago, we went to a national monument and it happened to be a “fee free” day…we were so happy to save the $10 🙂

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

I expect that some of what we do for “FUN” would bore young children to tears. Just getting outside with them ~ to the park or the playground ~ might be enough.

If you need any ideas:

Team Oyeniyi - January 25, 2012

That is so true! The joy on the kids faces when Dad took them to the beach the other night in the heat – cost a bit of petrol (gas to you) but other than that? Not a cent!

nrhatch - January 25, 2012

Excellent. When it’s hot, kids are happiest WET! 😉

13. Piglet in Portugal - January 22, 2012

You have so many fun things to do 🙂 I think I moved to the wrong place.

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

You might try an experiment, PiP ~ form the intention to find FUN and inexpensive things to do in your area and keep your eyes open.

We filter out lots of “irrelevant” information every day. Once the Universe knows what you’re looking for . . . it helps make sure that you are looking in the right direction at the right time.

If that doesn’t work . . . start packing. 😉

14. libraryscenes - January 22, 2012

Dang lady, I don’t imagine you are ever without something to do! I rather wish you’d really crash a wedding on the beach and blog about it..tra la la (smiles) ~

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

We have joked about crashing weddings since we were impoverished students . . . but that would generally mean getting dressed up.

Here, we could crash beach weddings in bare feet. 😎

15. Pocket Perspectives - January 22, 2012

What a terrific variety of activities you’ve found…and a bonus that they’re free….wow!

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

There are more expensive entertainment options too ~ boating, parasailing (10 minutes for $100), theme parks ($70/day), plays, indoor concerts, trail rides, etc.

We engage in them less often ~ we’ve boated on the Manatee River, I visited Universal with my nieces (to see Natasha Beddingfield), I attended Menopause the Musical with my sister and one niece, and we’ve been to 2-3 plays at the Island Players. We also try to support local artists.

Most of the time, we keep our eyes open for FREE FUN ~ leaving us more $’s for CHOCOLATE. 😉

16. The Good Luck Duck - January 22, 2012

Nice ideas. As we land different places, this is something I would like to do more of. Our everything budget is limited, so free fun is aces by us.


nrhatch - January 22, 2012

Hi Roxanne. Thanks for stopping by. Life is more FUN and CREATIVE when we don’t have unlimited funds to spend on everything our heart desires.

Instead of shopping . . . we look around for opportunities to be outside without spending a mint.

17. jeanne - January 22, 2012

Today…we enjoyed an afternoon sitting on the seawall people watching and stacking rocks in the makeshift rock garden. It was a wonderful afternoon.

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

Any day that I can be outside tends to be a happier day for me. We’ve been walking every morning for 2 miles and my mood is lighter as a result.

If we stick with it, maybe my weight will be lighter too. 😉

18. judithhb - January 22, 2012

How very clever to have found all these things to do, see and sometimes eat at no cost. I say save all you can for the chocolate!

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

It’s a great area to enjoy these types of events . . . and it does leave us more money for chocolate. 😀

19. thirdhandart - January 22, 2012

That’s an amazing list of Free Food and FUN Nancy. Kansas City doesn’t have nearly that much free food and fun, but I’ve been going to http://www.visitkc.com/events/index.aspx and using their Free Events Guide. You’re right… attending free events is more fun and creative.

nrhatch - January 22, 2012

I just checked out the Free Events guide for Kansas City and would definitely want to check out the Brewery Tour and the Roasterie Factory Tour. 😉

The New Immigrants presentation about Greece sounds like fun for the whole family. Kidscape sounds GREAT for young kids.

What a great resource! Thanks for sharing the link with us.

20. Team Oyeniyi - January 23, 2012

Great photos, Nancy.

I should look through the local papers, but no, I don’t. Mr O took the kids to the local pool today – $11 for all 5 of them. They had a great time!

nrhatch - January 23, 2012

At some of these events, we spend $2 pp (or more) on food or beverages. So $11 for 5 people to have FUN and exercise and keep cool at the pool seems like a good deal . . . but it would add up if they do it several times a month.

Maybe the older kids could look through the local papers (or on the computer) for FREE events . . . while you kick back and relax. 😉

21. pix & kardz - January 23, 2012

these are brilliant! i really like the Ringling Art Museum building. our grand openings usually don’t offer free foods or beverages, but in terms of the outdoors – there are two suspension bridges on the north shore. one is the Capilano Bridge which is advertised, and you can probably google – but costs admission. a lesser known, more locally used bridge is the Lynn Canyon Bridge – free admission. Mind you it doesn’t have any of the gift shops and other attractions attached to it, but is equally as beautiful. and listening to music on the beach beyond the official gates such as the folk festival is also lots of fun. and of course there is the annual summer fireworks contest which is always free. there are lots of things to enjoy that won’t burn a hole in your wallet 🙂

nrhatch - January 23, 2012

That all sounds awesome, Kris. Nothing like listening to music on the beach . . . and enjoying summer fireworks! {{BOOM}}

22. spilledinkguy - January 23, 2012

Very cool, Nancy!
Fortunately many of the museums, zoo, etc. are free here… which is very nice! And we happen to live quite close to them, too… also nice!

nrhatch - January 23, 2012

Thanks, Bob. Free museums are great . . . especially if they have exhibits that rotate over time. When they aren’t free, I check the website to see if there are special days and hours when admission is reduced.

23. Crowing Crone Joss - January 23, 2012

what a wonderful list of adventures! good for you for venturing forth, trying new things, instead of staying home, thinking “we can’t afford that”. As you point out, there is lots to see and do without spending.

nrhatch - January 23, 2012

My niece gets a kick out of my proclivity for sniffing out bargains in the entertainment realm. When they visit, I suggest a number of different ideas. She replies, “All free?” 😀

I’m really excited that you have a medical endorsement for your book on Fibromyalgia, Joss. That is WAY COOL!

24. Nancy Curteman - January 23, 2012

Really cool photos. The tiger cub is adorable.

nrhatch - January 24, 2012

Thanks, NC! We enjoyed watching Gandhi gambol about on his HUGE paws.

25. Jackie L. Robinson - January 24, 2012

Wow…I love the range of culture, pleasure, beauty and just pure joy that permeates all of these. You’re very resourceful, my friend….can feel the excitement and leisure of just celebrating life as she is. xo

nrhatch - January 24, 2012

Thanks, Jackie. JOY doesn’t come from spending money . . . it comes from within. Some of my most joyful moments have been while walking, or just sitting in the sun, allowing well-being to permeate my BEing.

Aah . . . Bliss!

26. eof737 - January 25, 2012

Wish I were there for some surf and turf! 🙂

nrhatch - January 25, 2012

It’s a great place to refresh your outlook on life! 😎

27. bluebee - January 25, 2012

So much going on in your area, you’re spoilt for choice! Fantastic – there is a lot to do outdoors for free in Sydney – kayaking, hiking, biking etc, but not so much gratis on the food and entertainment front – or perhaps I just need to take a leaf from your book and be more resourceful 🙂

nrhatch - January 26, 2012

I enjoy the FREE wonders of nature the best . . . but free food and drinks are lots of FUN too. 😉

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