Get out while you can! This is a gentle reminder that fall in Florida has sprung. With Halloween nearly over, it isn’t trendy to be pale as a ghost. Time for you to get out for some Vitamin D therapy. With the health concerns and undeniable stench that red tide delivered, coupled with the sweltering heat we have endured, the recent slight drop in temperature and humidity is considerably welcomed.
Have you ever witnessed tourists trapped inside of their hotels due to inclement weather? They quickly lose their cheerful vacation attitudes as they bump into each other in bars and game rooms trying to pass the time. As soon as the heavens turn to blue and that almighty sun peaks through, everyone becomes friendly again, holding the door for their room neighbors to get their toes in the sand. A similar thing happens to us Floridians when we feel we’ve been sequestered in air-conditioned homes for too long. When the weather breaks, we are ready to head outside to play.
Once the windows are opened and rooms freshened with cooler air, where should we go? Gratefully, the area has an abundance of natural wonders, some of which have recently been given due time and financial attention. We’ve listed a few of our favorite local fun-in-the-fall-sun locations for you to explore as we enter the loveliest of seasons in Florida.
Bradenton Riverwalk: If you haven’t been to downtown Bradenton lately, you are missing revitalization in action. Having lived in Bradenton for several years, I never imagined a day when people would drive to Bradenton for great food, music, or art. These days, all of these amenities plus an expansive outdoor space flanking the Manatee River awaits visitors. The Bradenton Riverwalk has become the community hub and with a skate park, splash, pad, amphitheater, and comfy outdoor living rooms, there isn’t much city planners and developers have left out. Interactive art displays, lawn yoga, and ongoing volleyball games are just a small part of the daily itinerary. For more information, please visit their Facebook page by clicking here.
Celery Fields: This is one of my favorite places to just wander around and take in the natural sights, smells, and sounds. Anytime I head east on Fruitville Road, I feel like I’m headed out into Old Florida territory. I’ve always loved looking at the farmlands along the way and miss the days when “Peanut Andy” would be sitting at the end selling his bags of nuts. The homes begin to show their age and you can piece together the history. But, I digress. Before you get to any of that goodness you pass the Celery Fields, which are worthy of a stop with the family. The Celery Fields are a 360-acre site owned by Sarasota County, used for both storm water collection and for recreational use by the public. It is the home of a variety of Florida birds and other wildlife and a great place to jog, walk, and immerse yourself in nature. Turn right at Coburn Road and follow the road past the Fruitville Library. Public restrooms and parking is available. For more information, please visit their FB page here.
Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary: The first time I visited BCH was for a holiday function in the evening when the park was closed. I guess somebody forgot to inform the wild inhabitants because their roars, pants, and stately prances indicated quite the opposite-the animals wanted to play! Nestled along the Fruitville corridor at 7101 Palmer Boulevard, this rescue sanctuary for big cats and other exotic animals gives the visitor an unusually intimate look into their habits and mannerisms. With loving care provided by founder Kay Rosaire and a devoted team of family, volunteers, and employees, vulnerable animals live out their lives in peace at this safe haven. Nearly all funds raised through admission fees goes directly to their care and feeding. Sadly, many of the exotics who call BCH home arrive there due to the negligence of owners who cannot or will not care for the exotics properly. Thankfully, the good people at BCH are there to take over in cases such as these. For more information and daily ticket prices, please visit their FB page here.
Soon, your northern neighbors and friends will be posting photos of subzero temperatures and frozen windshield blades, but not you. Now is the time to get yourself out there and enjoy the best time of the year for Floridians….Post-summer and Pre-snowbird.
Photos courtesy of Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary and Celery Fields Facebook pages.