We (2 adults and a 2 year old) had a GREAT time on AMI as usual. Weather was fantastic the whole time we were there. Highs in the 80s, lows in the upper 60s. I never put on a jacket once!
We flew into SRQ on Friday evening so we stayed in a hotel at the airport - the Sleep Inn. The room was small but the location was great and so was the price (we used points).
Saturday morning before we headed over to the island we went to Sarasota Jungle Gardens - a nice small place perfect for kids. Feeding the flamingos was a highlight! Also got to see some birds, reptiles, monkeys etc.
Saturday afternoon we drove over the Cortez Bridge to our condo in Bradenton Beach. We stay 2 blocks from Bridge Street near the Beachhouse Restaurant. We love this location as we can walk everywhere.
Things we did (in addition to hanging out on the beach):
Coquina Bay Walk - beautiful walk through some mangroves. Highly recommend.
Durante Park on Long Boat Key - Another beautiful area to walk. Highly recommend. They also have a nice playground for little ones.
Save Our Seabirds in Sarasota (next to the Mote Aquarium) - wonderful bird sanctuary for injured birds. Admission by donation.
Desoto Nat'l Historic Park - again, another great place for walking. Also the living history demonstrations were interesting.
Ellenton Outlets - if you like shopping, go. If not, don't bother.
Bean Point - BEAUTIFUL small beach.
Farmers Market/Craft Market on Sunday. Picked up some veggis and fruit for the week and scored a nice bracelet.
Where we ate:
Rotten Ralphs for lunch - fried grouper sandwiches. YUM.
Bridge Tender for lunch - I had a really good grouper salad and my partner said the cuban with black bean soup was excellent.
Sharkeys - one of my favorite meals - a seafood pasta. Really good.
Cortez Kitchen - we tried to get into Star Fish but it was busy so Cortez Kitchen it was. Service is slow and food was decent, but nothing to write home about.
Fire & Stone Pizza (off island on Cortez) - I was a little skeptical about this place since its a pizza buffet place - a little under $8 for all you can eat pizza & salad bar plus a dessert. I was wonderfully surprised. I really liked the pizza. Really good value. Get there early (before 5) or expect to wait a while.
Beachhouse - we eat here on our last night as a tradition. Again go early if you don't want to wait and go REALLY early if you want to eat outside (this was a Friday night). Really enjoyed my stuffed grouper and cheesecake for dessert. You can take a nice long walk on the beach afterwards to work off all the calories!
Other thoughts...we rented a crib from ABC Rentals ( I think that was the name ) located on Cortez just onto the mainland. Very nice folks and priced well.
Did our shopping at Publix...I found the prices there expensive compared to what we are used to. I wonder if its cheaper to shop on the mainland?
Looking forward to coming back next March!