Lakeside Villa Bradenton

Sarasota Florida

Golf Courses

There are dozens of public and private golf courses in the Bradenton, Sarasota and Venice areas.

Click Here to see a list of the ones closest to our home.

Click Here for Bradenton and Sarasota Golf Courses sorted alphabetically by name.

Click Here to find courses, grouped by area, within Florida.


Anna Maria Island is our favourite.
A great option is the FREE Manatee Trolley service if you walk the length of the beach aand want to get back to your car or another area. At the very north east tip (Pine Avenue), get an ice cream from Two Scoops and walk along the City Pier to watch the fishermen casting their nets from the pier and pulling in a dozen large fish at a time. The end of the pier is very popular for rod fishing and there is a restaurant and bar.

Then head over to the other coast and walk along the beach and have a drink or meal at The Sandbar restaurant with tables actually on the beach. Evening dining is unforgettable due to the west facing view of the glorious sunsets.

Further south along Gulf Drive (Holmes Beach at Manatee Ave) there is a public parking area with beach volleyball nets, bar & restaurant, a shop and toilets, and more importantly showers after enjoying the sand and surf. All these places are on the free Manatee Trolley service so you can continue south to the intersection with Cortez Rd W and visit the beach, bars, restaurants and shops before walking onto the Bridge Street Pier.

At the bottom of the island is Coquina Beach with a large car park and public toilets. Change trolley buses here for the Longboat Key Service to Sarasota.

Longboat Key is more residential with gated communities and condos. This is a beautiful drive but the only point of interest before St Armands Circle is the Mote Aquarium on Ken Thomson Parkway, which also has a small park and viewing area of Sarasota across the bay.
At St Armands Circle you can window shop, lunch or dine in this up-market centre and just off it is access to Lido Key beach with parking and foot showers.

Siesta Key (awarded best USA beach in 2011) is our next favourite beach. It is very wide and long and has a large public parking area, toilets and the usual showers. This gets very busy on weekends.

If you venture further south from Sarasota to Venice, there is Venice Beach. The best access is by the Venice airport, where there is also a pier and the bar/restaurant, Sharky’s On The Pier.

Bradenton Attractions

The South Florida Museum combines ancient Florida history, an aquarium and a planetarium.

Florida Rail Road Museum is an open air collection of old rolling stock. Take a 1hr 30min ride as part of the admission, open Saturday and Sundays only.

Mixon Fruit Farms where you can watch a farm in production by tram tour and visit the shop for samples and ice cream.

Bradenton Village of the Arts is a neighbourhood of 35 local artists shops for art, jewellery, ceramics, clothing, books and more.

Bradenton Farmers Market is on each Saturday on the Old Main Street, 9am to 1pm.

McKechnie Field is the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training camp.

Sarasota Attractions

Ringling Museum is in 3 parts:
On the shoreline is the Ringling’s Cà d’Zan mansion, beautiful Italian architecture with a wonderful bayside view. This has been used as a movie set on occasions.
A museum of the history of the Ringling circus, including an enormous model of a circus depicting how it came to town on a train, set up camp, paraded through the streets, performed and then struck camp for the next town.
Finally the Museum of Art with the family’s collection of art & sculpture masterpieces.

Marie Selby Gardens The 9.5-acre gardens overlook the Sarasota bay and has more than 20,000 colourful plants. The gardens specialize in tropical plants, especially epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants). A special attraction is the hot house with about 6,000 orchids and the shop where you can buy the most colourful and exquisite examples.

Mote Marine Laboratory is a renowned marine life research lab. This work is showcased at Mote Aquarium, where you can interact via touch pools and view the work done in the labs. With many large and small tanks you can see sharks, dolphins, manatees and sea turtles, as well as more than 100 other species of marine life.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens has 10 acres of lush tropical vegetation, winding jungle trails and entertaining, educational bird and reptile shows throughout the day. The most fun is letting the free roaming flamingos eat out of your hand.

Sarasota Classic Car Museum has over 100 antique, exotic, European and one-of-a-kind classics featured in rotating exhibits throughout the museum, seven days a week.

Parks, On The Water & Fishing

Myakka River State Park has 58 miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands. Features are the treetops canopy walkway, the large airboat ride over the lake, plus walking, boating, fishing and camping.

Emerson Point Preserve: This is a 365 acre preserve at the tip of Palmetto where the Manatee River emerges into Lower Tampa Bay. There is a small visitors’ centre, and several walkways that emerge onto the shoreline where there are a series of small beaches. A boardwalk takes you to a high point above the trees for a great view over the Tampa Bay.

Robinson Preserve: Robinson Preserve is located in northwestern Bradenton, in the Palma Sola area, across the street from the Palma Sola Botanical Gardens. With 487 acres of walking, biking, canoing, fishing and picknicking. There is a tall observation tower in the centre and views across the Tampa Bay on the north perimeter after crossing the boardwalk over the river entry to the internal waterways.

Fort Hamer Park: This is the most local and smallest but does provide a boat ramp into the source of the Manatee River. A place to picnic and play.

De Soto National Park:   A visitors’ centre and a boardwalk through mangroves on the Bradenton peninsula with information points on the opening up of the area by Spanish explorers.

Island Park is the very small peninsula within Sarasota Harbour.  It may only take 10 minutes to walk round but it is special for its views of the harbour and marina so it will take a lot longer to take in the sights and sit a while. At the tip there is a lovely dolphin fountain and there is also a childrens water play park and an open air bar and grill. Boats and cruises can be rented from the marina. Marina Jack is the dominant restaurant on the harbour and you can cruise out on their interesting boat (with trees on board!).

On The Water:
The Gulf Coast offers just about every type of activity that you can imagine on water.
You can find these online or from the Harbour in Sarasota or places such as Siesta Key.
Catch a cruise out of Sarasota Harbour to view the sights from the sea during daylight or at night with a meal.
Or try a canoe or kayak tour, which can be customised for all ages, and allow you to get really close to nature through the mangroves with bird, dolphin and manatee encounters.

For the more adventurous there is windsurfing, kiteboarding, stand up paddling, jet skis and powerboats.

Then There Is Fishing:
There are fish, and people fishing for them everywhere from the shore, the piers and from boats. Both salt and freshwater fishing is available in abundance. Note that there is a Fishing License required which can be bought from bait shops or tax collector offices.


Sarasota is the culture capital of Florida with professional and amateur theatres and a range of cinemas.

Asolo Repertory Theatre stages up to fifteen professional productions every season, spanning a diverse repertoire of newly commissioned plays, bold reinterpretations of contemporary and classical works, and provocative new musical theatre experiences.

Florida Studio Theatre is three separate theatres offering Broadway and Off-Broadway contemporary plays; Cabaret, musical and improvisation; and also more stimulating and challenging works.

The Players is a non-professional local theatre group which puts on classic Broadway shows such as Kiss Me Kate, Noises Off, The Full Monty as well as new plays by regional playwrights.

Van Wezel is a noticeable landmark on the Sarasota sea front with its 1736 seat auditorium and hosts a full range of entertainment from Classical/Jazz/Country/Pop/Rock music to Comedy, Ballet and Drama.

Sarasota Opera is in its own 1100 seat dedicated Opera Theatre performing all the classics.

AMC Sarasota 12 is part of the Westfields Mall at 8201 S Tamiami Trail Sarasota.

Burns Court Cinema hosts the Sarasota Film Society, a non-profit place to see first-run, hand-picked foreign language, independent, and art films.

Lakewood Ranch Cinemas also run by the Sarasota Film Society is a new building with 6 screens in a shopping and dining area of Lakewood Main Street showing the latest releases.

Parkway 8 Cinema is a no frills way of seeing current movies at a quarter of what others do.

Regal Oakmont 8  part of a chain at 4801 Cortez Rd W, Bradenton

Regal Hollywood Stadium 20 part of a chain at 1993 Main Street, Sarasota

DeSoto Dollar Movies 6 is like Parkway 8 and is incredibly low cost.

Finally this Sarasota web site lists lots of Events that you may like to attend.

Eating Out

Within a mile of our house, next to Publix and beyond, there is the start of a range of sit-in or take-away restaurants. There are far too many great places to mention in this region and everyone has their own preferences. The following are some of our favourites:

Woody’s River Roo at Ellenton, this indoor and outdoor bar and grill spills out onto the Manatee River, with regular live acoustic and blues/rock music. Mooring places are available for boaters.

Anna Maria Oyster Bar located at Ellenton, West Cortez and north of Sarasota Airport. Award winning basic seafood in a relaxed family atmosphere.

Applebees also at Ellenton, is well known and there are several locations.

Pier22 good food with special offer prices, with formal indoor dining or more relaxed outside, overlooking the Manatee River. Docking facilities available.
Located at 1200 First Ave West, Bradenton, FL 34205.
Stroll along the harbour front afterwards or visit the library, museum or downtown Bradenton.

Sandbar on the north west tip of Anna Maria Island, watch the sun go down with some tables literally on the sand. A wedding ceremony may be underway 100 yards away while you eat fresh seafood listening to some live music.

The Waterfront on the north east tip of Anna Maria Island, after sampling the ice cream at Two Scoops, and walking the pier, try this restaurant next door with its balcony overlooking the shore, the pier and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, across the bay.

Bonefish Grill their Bang Bang Shrimp on Wednesdays for $5 tastes great. 3 Locations.


Publix is our preferred supermarket for food and the nearest is 1 mile away but stores are all over the area. This picture captures the glorious sunset over one of its car parks.

Walmart has several locations, great for a huge range of goods and open 24 hours in most places.

For Fresh Food you could also try the local farm shop Brown’s Grove, the Smoke House BBQ and for fresh bread and sandwiches PJs Sandwich Shop in Parrish. Further afield, The Fresh Market (a full range supermarket on University Parkway), Whole Foods Market (a full range supermarket with takeout/café behind Main St, Sarasota), The Chop Shop (butchers and deli) on SR 64 and 59th St W.

There are many indoor and outdoor strip malls in the Bradenton and Sarasota area.

Ellenton Premium Outlets Mall is closest and a strong attraction for shoppers, with dozens of the top brand names such as Calvin Klein, Levis, Reebok, Tommy Hilfiger and Bose and so many more…

The following are the more distinctive indoor ones where you can wander round comfortably.
Westfield Malls:
Southgate: Over 40 stores including Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Dillards and a small foodcourt.
3501 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL 34239, (corner with Bee Ridge Rd). Tel 941-955-0900
Sarasota Square: Over 140 stores including Macy’s, Sears, JCPenney, a foodcourt, the AMC cinema and a little train that drives through the mall for children to ride on.
8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL 34238,  (intersection with Beneva Rd). Tel 941-922-9609.
Brandon: Over 200 stores including Macy’s, Sears, Dillards, JCPenney, a foodcourt including a Cheesecake Factory.
459 Brandon Town Center, Brandon FL 33511, (north on I75 to intersection of SR60, turn right). Tel 813-661-5100

International Plaza and Bay Street Mall – besides Tampa Airport. This is a high-end mall with over 200 stores including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Dillard’s and 16 restaurants in a street themed area outside.
West Shore & Boy Scout Blvd. 2223 N. West Shore Blvd., Tampa, FL 33607. Tel 813-342-3790

Strip Malls are everywhere but the ones we use frequently are found at:
Creekwood: Just west of junction 217 on the I75. Bealls, Lowes and Starbucks are our favourites. Applebees is next door and Publix and our favourite small Chinese restaurant is across the SR 70.

University Parkway: Just west of junction 213 on the I75, the shops north and south of University Parkway. Shops on the north include Bonefish Grill, Marshalls, Home Depot, Starbucks, The Fresh Market and Kohl’s.
On the south are Super Target, Stein Mart, Best Buy, Michaels Arts and Old Navy.

Cortez: Going south on US301 over the Manatee River it eventually curves to the right past the DeSoto Square Mall (not a favourite of ours). From here along Cortez going west for several miles are many stores on both sides. Of particular interest to us are Michaels Arts and Crafts, Books-A-Million and Aldi.

Main Street, Sarasota: This is the old heart of Sarasota and worth walking along. The stores are small independents with some book shops and there are some art gallery shops in surrounding streets. Whole Foods Market is worth a visit as is the Saturday morning Farmers Market held on North Lemon Avenue and Main St.

St Armands Circle: This is an upmarket shopping and dining area centred on a large roundabout with 4 side streets, each containing a good range of shops and restaurants. A great place for people-watching. Lido Beach is at the end of one of the side streets.

Barnes And Noble: There aren’t many large bookshops left. This is the largest in this area and located 2 blocks south of Bee Ridge Road on South Tamiami Trail. There is a Edwin Watts golf shop next door and a Best Buy. Across the street is a Bonefish Grill and Trader Joe's.

Stickney Point Road: At the intersection with S Tamiami Trail, this outdoor mall is useful for the Books-A-Million, Publix, Old Navy, Ross, Marshalls and Michaels plus others.

Other Amenities & Churches

Post Office: The local ones are 1.5 miles north up US301 or 3.5miles south on US301.

Library: Relocated to larger premises in November 2011 and is 3.5miles south on US301. Non-residents can join for a year for $20 and can borrow up to 50 items including books, CDs, DVDs and magazines (not this months edition). Plus there are reciprocal arrangements with other county libraries.

Medical Clinic: A full range of primary care services, 8am-8pm, every day. They have two others in Bradenton and Sarasota.

Hospital: Manatee Memorial Hospital is straight down the US301 and left onto S. Tamiami Trail to cross the 1st St E Bridge into Bradenton. It is immediately on the left after crossing the bridge. It provides a broad range of specialties and Emergency Services.

Manatee County: The county manages many public parks, recreational facilities and services. This website may provide something of interest as there are many more parks and boating ramps that are not mentioned here.

Churches: The following are not necessarily representative of the area but show there are welcoming communities for new visitors in the immediate neighbourhood.

WestCoast Church: Fun, friendly, family and non-denominational church in Parrish. Located 5 miles north east of Ellenton on US 301. Tel 941-776-2422.

St. Frances X. Cabrini: A Roman Catholic church. 12001 69th Street East, Parrish, FL 34219. Tel 941-776-9097

New Hope Baptist Church: 9422 Old Tampa Road, Parrish, FL, 34219. Tel 941-776-8687

Parrish United Methodist Church: 12140 69th St. E, Parrish, FL 34219. Tel 941-776-1539

Emmanuel Baptist Church: 8305 US 301N, Parrish, FL 34219. Tel 941-722-0218


Located on the outskirts of Bradenton, near to the Ellenton Premium Outlets Mall and chosen for quick access to the I75, all areas are within easy reach. A car is likely to be the best way to get around.

Tampa Airport is 50 minutes north of the property, up the I75N. At exit 228 take I275 over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge  ($1 cash toll or SunPass toll collection) to junction 39B and merge into SR 60 W toward SR 589N/Airport and follow signs for the airport.

Also within the Tampa region, SR 618 Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway and SR 589 Veterans Expressway are toll roads where the SunPass All-Electronic Tolling system is in use. If you don’t have a SunPass account, number plate image recognition is used to identify you and you will be billed monthly by post. This is not convenient if you are using a car rental, who will charge you with a larger admin fee on top. Follow the links to read more. Several other Florida Toll Roads exist outside this area.

Access to Bradenton and Sarasota is best done by driving down the I75 and using one of the exits to go west, or east. The further south down the I75, the shorter the distance and driving time through the city to the sea and local attractions.

Car Hire:  is available at several offices throughout the location and at the airports. From the UK, we book through who offer the best rates.

Buses: Manatee County (MCAT) and Sarasota County (SCAT) have a limited number of bus services.
Of most interest is likely to be the FREE air-conditioned Manatee Trolley service that runs from the tip of Anna Maria Island to the bottom of Bradenton Beach at Coquina Beach. Also connecting at Coquina Beach is a 75c Longboat Key Trolley service which runs to and from the bus station in Sarasota at 1st St and Lemon Ave, via St Armands Circle. These are much more relaxed ways of getting up and down these islands, are beautiful journeys and much less expensive than driving.

Orlando, Disney, Universal & Seaworld

One hour 50 minutes drive away (I75N and then I4N) is the family entertainment centre of the world. This is south west from the centre of Orlando, mainly on the western length of the I4. Approaching Orlando, going north on I4, are hundreds of square miles of land is used for Disney World.
Further north are the Universal parks.
For those not in the park resorts or villas, International Drive is the tourist hotel and shopping centre of the area. There are also a few quite large indoor and outdoor Premium Outlets and Shopping Malls.

Within Orlando is the Orlando Science Center and Planetarium, the Orlando Museum of Art, plus Orlando Magics and other shows at the Amway Centre.

Disney: Disney has several Theme Parks, Resort Complexes and even a cruise line.

Magic Kingdom is the iconic park with the castle in the centre. The rides are for the very young, and all ages upwards. You can breakfast with the cartoon characters, watch the daily parade and see the fireworks at night.

Epcot is based on science and the world’s countries. There are exhibition centres and simple rides with a science and technology theme. Further in, around a large lake are countries of the world with their own architecture, foods and rides or shows. The fireworks at night over the lake are the best.

Hollywood Studios is a combination of rides, shows, dining and memorabilia from the movies; the Disney equivalent of Universal Studios.

Animal Kingdom uses the animal theme to link to Disney film characters, with thrills, education and simple fun.

Water Parks – Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon – are two themed water parks with great landscaping accommodating pools, rivers, slides, chutes, wildlife and lots of water. Sunscreen and swimsuits are essential.

On the quieter days visit Downtown Disney for some retail and restaurant therapy.

Celebration is a new and regulated community for people who want to live in modern comfort but with an outside appearance of a throwback to the 50s with well maintained homes with white picket fences. The town centre is compact with a cinema, lake, shops and restaurants.

Universal: Two theme parks, two water parks and Seaworld.

Universal Studios is the original and a must see for film lovers. Shows, rides and more, plus street entertainment.

Island World of Adventure contains some shows and rides for younger people but also some much more demanding rides for the more adventurous. Themed on mythical creatures, cartoon characters and comic heros, it is better suited to the thrill seekers.

Wet’n Wild is a compact park of concrete and slides for those who like to get splashed, dizzy and wet.

Seaworld is part zoo and part theme part. The animal based shows such as Shamu’s Show are spectacular but there are also nature exhibits inside and out, petting pools for the dolphins and some thrill rides. Set in a beautifully landscaped arrangement it is a park for all.

Discovery Cove is the other Water Park. Be a VIP for the day, don the wetsuit provided and swim with dolphins, rays and other tropical fish. Feed the birds in the aviary or sleep in a hammock after the included lunch. Everything is provided including the sunscreen, just bring your swim suit. An exceptional day but quite pricey.

The London Function Band