If you’re looking for a fun day trip with a good excuse to sip a little wine, here are two Florida wineries to test your palate.

Rosa Fiorelli Winery

Natives of Sicily, this family-owned and operated winery just east of Bradenton, offers an array of award-winning Muscadine wines, tours, events and more.  http://www.fiorelliwinery.com

Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery

This certified green winery and vineyard uses all locally grown grapes, fruits, and vegetables in all of its unfiltered wines…and… the bottles are 100 percent recycled.  The property is also designated a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, and it has been rumored to host some ghosts.  (It’s TRUE!)  Spirit orb walkabouts are offered for five or more on Saturday nights or by reservation while wine tastings and tours are available daily.  http://www.bunkerhillvineyard.com

October 15 – 18

Ringling International Arts Festival

The Arts Season commences with more than one hundred performers from the U.S., Central and South America, the Middle East, and Europe.

Enjoy four days of Dance, Jazz, Comic Puppetry, World Music, a touch of Circus, and even an Intergalactic Space Adventure on the grounds of the Ringling Museum of Art and the F.S.U. Center for the Performing Arts.

Event Schedule: http://www.ringling.og/events/series/ringling-international-arts-festival

October 31

Fright Night on St. Armands Circle

Make reservations or take you chances finding a seat at a sidewalk cafe or eatery with a balcony to enjoy the sights of costumed families strut their stuff with four legged friends as they wander in stores handing out treats.  At around 8:00 pm Sarasota High’s Zombies and Ghouls perform to the beat of “Thriller”!

November 1

Ferrari’s on St. Armands Circle

Over 75 Ferrari owners will be showing their rides from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm in the Circle Park.  Admission free

November 7

“Live from Downtown – It’s Friday Night

The 2014 – 2015 Season kicks-off on the first Friday of every month where street performers take center stage on Main Street, at Five Points Park and Palm Avenues from 6 to 9 pm.

November 10 – 17

Sarasota Chalk Festival

This year, chalk will be flying in VENICE where 500 national and international artists hit the pavement on Miami Avenue and two other downtown locations.  Parking and shuttle will be available at Venice Municipal Airport Festival Grounds and the east end of Airport Avenue.  http://www.exploringvenicefl.com/chalk-fest.html

November 14 – 18

Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition

Twenty master sculptors will compete in paired teams for over $25,000.00.  To be held daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Siesta Public Beach.  http://www.exploringsiestakey.com/sand-sculpting.html

November 15

Venice Blues Festival

Legendary Chicago Bluesman, Mac Arnold will be performing at Maxine Barritt Park, 1800 Harbor Drive, South, Venice.  He and others will be mixing it up from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.



Posted September 4, 2014 by aj4srq in Uncategorized

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Best Deals for Summer Fun   Leave a comment

There’s a day of reckoning…when every man woman and child must respond to that age old question…

                        So what did you do on your summer vacation?”

Well we’ve put together a package of ideas to save the day! Take a look…                                                     



Bay & Gulf Adventures: You will be provided with an opportunity to experience mangrove tunnels and the open waters of Sarasota Bay like never before. Observe and interact with manatees and dolphins, local shore birds and underwater marine life like sea stars and urchins. You are guaranteed to experience a side of nature you’ve never seen before.                                                              http://sarasotakayaking.com


Mote Marine Aquarium: This working aquarium gives you an up-close experience with a variety of marine animals and fish including two touch tanks and 135,000 gallon shark habitat. Check out the working lab where seahorses are propagated and more than 100 species of marine life call Mote their home.                                                                                                                                                  http://mote.org


Sarasota Bay Explorers: “Have an exciting, hands-on, educational and fun on-the-water experience, guided by experts who can tell you what you’re looking at. Sarasota Bay Explorers, working with The Aquarium at Mote, offer interactive, hands-on-eco-adventures on the Sea Life Encounter Cruise, Guided Kayak Tours, Nature Safari and private charters aboard the Miss Explorer.”                                                                                                                                                          http://www.sarasotabayexplorers.com


Save Our Seabirds Wild Bird Learning Center: This is a non-profit wildlife conservation and education organization located directly across from Mote Aquarium. Home to approximately 200 wild birds, this three-acre learning center is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.                                         http://www.saveourseabirds.org


John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art: Located on the Ringling Estate, this museum is the state of Florida’s officlal art museum with 21 galleries displaying everything from classic American and European paintings to modern art and antiquities. Take time to go to the Circus Museum also on the Ringling grounds. It contains a replica of the 1919 to 1938 era Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.                                                                                                                                             http://www.ringling.org


Circus Sarasota @ the Museum: “Bring the kids, the grandparents – ah, bring everybody you know – it’s the Circus Sarasota and it’s sensational! They perform every morning and again at an afternoon matinee at the Historic Asolo Theater in partnership with The Ringling. It’s just about the most fun anyone’s had at the circus since the Ringling Bros. hooked up with Barnum & Bailey. So be sure to get your tickets in advance – Circus Sarasota’s Summer Circus Spectacular is just about the most popular entertainment in town.”                                                                                              http:www.circussarasota.org

Ca d’Zan Mansion: “Completed in 1925 at a cost of $1.5M, it was the home of John and Mabel Ringling. At 36,000 square feet, the mansion was built along Sarasota Ban and features 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms. Historians call Ca d’Zan “the last of the Gilded Age mansions” built in the United States.”                                                                                                                                         http:www.ringling.org/ca-dzan-tours


Now, make use of those sunny mornings and spotty afternoon showers and confront that age old question of…”What did you do?”…with a little history, culture, wonder and excitement.




Posted July 9, 2014 by aj4srq in Uncategorized

Fourth of July Parades and Firework Finales   Leave a comment


Festival of Fun – Selby Gardens Tropical 4th Celebration starts at 6:00 p.m. with live music, kid friendly activities, an all-American cookout and amazing fireworks on Sarasota Bay. Tickets are $17.00 for members, $20.00 for non-members and children ages 11 and under are free.

Bay Front Spectacular – Viewing is free from anywhere downtown including Bayfront Park and Island Park…OR… you might want to reserve a spot on KEY SAILING for an awesome sunset sail and spectacular firework display from Sarasota Bay.                             Call Jan @ 941-346-7245



Fireworks blast off just north of the volleyball courts, so the viewing is great from anywhere south and along Crescent Beach (south of Siesta Public Beach). Even out on the Gulf or from the Intra-coastal Waterway, you’ll have great views overhead.



the Venice area fireworks are fired from the South Venice Jetty in the Venice Beach area and there are a number of good vantage points along Venice Beach, Nokomis Beach, or from a boat on the Gulf of Mexico; even from the Intracoastal Waterway, (northeast of the Jetty). Fireworks start at sunset.



Tuesday, July 3rd – Shortly after dusk the 19th annual Fireworks Extravaganza will be held at the BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive,  N., Bradenton Beach

On Wednesday the 4th…

The Privateers 4th of July patriotic – themed parade starts at 10:00 a.m. till 12:00 noon. The seven mile parade begins at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria and ends at Bayfront Park in Sarasota.

Also, the 26th annual Sandbar Firework Spectacular will be held at the Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Avenue at the north end of Anna Maria.



Pier 22 Restaurant will be hosting a Fourth of July Pig Roast and fireworks celebration beginning at 6:00 p.m. For $69.95 enjoy prime rib, fish & chips, BBQ chicken, sushi, mussels, shrimp, oysters, chili, franks, burgers and so much more. Perfectly situated for firework viewing on the Manatee River at 1200 First Avenue, W.



Sutton Park will have a warm welcome for American Idol’s Scottie McCreery around 7:00 p.m. followed by fireworks from  700 Tenth Avenue W.  Viewing will be perfect from Riverhouse Reef and Grill in Palmetto as well as Riverfront Park, Bradenton and Tarpon Pointe Grill, 801 Riverside Drive E., Bradenton.

Posted June 13, 2014 by aj4srq in Uncategorized

Our Gentle Giants   Leave a comment

The warm waters of Florida attract all sorts of wildlife but, nothing bigger or stranger than the West Indian Manatee.

Often reaching ten feet in length and weighing in at 800 to 1200 lbs., these large aquatic mammals are believed to live well over sixty years.

Because they are mammals, they surface to breathe air every three to five minutes and rest submerged for up to twenty minutes. The flat paddle tail propels them through water while two forelimbs with nails assist in crawling the shallows for their favorite food…sea grass.

The reproductive rate of manatees is very slow as they do not mature until five years of age. It is believed that one calf is born every two to five years with a gestation period of one year.

Although, cold winters take a toll on the manatee population, it is watercraft related fatalities that is the greatest cause of death.

So, if planning a boating/jet ski vacation, please keep an eye on the surface for coconut shaped heads in the water. A collision with one of these slow moving giants will definitely put a dent in your vacation.

Posted May 10, 2014 by aj4srq in Uncategorized

Perfect Winter Happenings in FLA   Leave a comment

Though our beautiful beaches are a wee bit chilly, our attractions are in full swing as this video captures a pair of proud Sand Hill Crane parents.

Our bird population has exploded with a variety of winged visitors. A great place for viewing is the Celery Fields http://www.sarasotaaudubon.org/capital-campaign/the-celery-fields/ where early morning and late afternoons are prime. Go to: http://www.be-our-guest.net/suncoast/birding.htm for more locations.

January is the kick-off month for the great blue herons as they gingerly balance on bushy branches to attend to their nests. Head south on US 41 (just north of Jacaranda Boulevard), then right on Annex Road between the Venice Administration Building (at 4000 S. Tamiami Trail) and the State Highway Patrol. Head to the welcome center followed by parking, pavilion, picnic tables, and viewing area. Off South Tamiami Trail, Venice. Information @: 941-496-8984
Check this blog for best photo opps and recommendations: http://swfloridabirder.blogspot.com/2010/01/feature-venice-rookery.html

Bike Hike & Kayak our State Parks, Rivers and Natural Springs…
Legacy Trail’s paved 18 mile path travels through Oscar Scherer State Park, home to gopher tortoises, foxes, bobcats and scrub jays and continues over the trestle bridges of Donna and Roberts Bays and concludes at Caspersen Beach. http://www.bestbeaches.org/best-beaches/venice-beaches/caspersen-beach/ Walk the beach and collect a few fossilized sharks teeth then head to Venice’s downtown for a bit of shopping and a bite to eat. http://www.exploringvenicefl.com/
More info @: http://www.be-our-guest.net/suncoast/ecology.htm

Visit with the Manatees
With the onset of dropping temps, Manatees like to head to rivers and inlets for winter warmth. The best place for viewing is: Tampa Electric Company plant. The company set up a Manatee Viewing Area to accommodate our animal tourists. The manatee season here is Nov. 1-April 15. Up to 300 manatees come here when the bay is cold.
6990 Dickman Rd., Apollo Beach, FL
(813) 228-4289

Florida Wineries are one of the state’s best kept little secrets. Of the 31 wineries and vineyards in Florida there are four in our area, with some featuring a sampling of Florida’s rural side.

1. The Fiorelli Winery offers tours, samplings and lunch. http://www.fiorelliwinery.com/

2. Keel & Kurley Winery is a change of pace offering “Blueberry wine” tours and Friday night sipping munching & music http://www.keelandcurleywinery.com/

3. Eden Vineyards has been around for more than thirty years offering daily tours and tastings. http://www.edenwinery.com/index.htm

4. If you like the unusual, don’t miss this place by sampling some of their tropical fruit wines… And don’t forget the carrot variety! http://www.floridawine.com/
Wine tastings are available daily while tours are given upon request.

Award Winning
• Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards . Each Saturday afternoon during the month of January, Lakeridge Winery holds its famous Music Series, featuring live bands on the outdoor stage. Lakeridge wine, beer, soft drinks and a variety of food is available for purchase, along with complimentary Winery tours and tasting. (West of Orlando)
Wine Festivals http://www.floridatrend.com/article/15169/a-tour-of-floridas-winter-wine-festivals

Museums/Performing Arts
Sarasota –
If art is your passion… the Ringling Museum houses fine baroque period paintings including the oversized works of Rubens as well as numerous sculptures from John and Mable Ringling’s collection. Stroll the bay-front grounds and tour the rose gardens on your way to Ringling’s waterfront home, the Ca d’Zan. Constructed in 1924-1925, at a cost of $1.5 million dollars, this home is 36,000 square feet with 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms. Then see memorabilia and artifacts at the nearby circus museum to experience the magic of the center ring. Tickets are discounted on Thursdays after 5:00pm.

Head to Sarasota’s Season of Sculpture… an International Invitational Exhibit. The shaded walkway offers a series of large pieces along Sarasota’s Bayfront where huge installations are on display for only six months. This non-profit organization reviews and selects new artists every fall.
Sarasota and Bradenton also house two large artist communities called Towles Court and the Village of the Arts. Both locations feature a colorful collection of “Old Florida” bungalows housing galleries, studios and cafes. In neighborly fashion, these artists live, work and feed off the enthusiasm of their counterparts, in pursuit of their own unique style.
The Asolo multi-theatre complex is home to a leading regional theatrical company. Multiple stages provide a season of classic and modern drama including year round performances by the Florida State University’s graduate theatre program.

The Sarasota Ballet offers seven performances from September through April while the Sarasota Orchestra and Sarasota Opera present a Winter Festival with four fully staged operas from February through March.
St. Petersburg
Housed in an exceptional structure along the bayfront of St. Petersburg is the Surreal Artistry of Salvador Dali. High-profile architect Yann Weymouth (who worked with I.M. Pei on the Louvre’s glass pyramid) created the design to pay homage to Dalí’s free-flowing imagination. Of the 18 so-called Masterworks produced by Dali, eight are located in St. Pete’s Dali Museum.

Also in St. Petersburg is the Morean Arts Center with a fine collection of Dale Chihuly. Make sure to plan a visit to the nearby hot shop where the art of glass blowing is demonstrated.
Fort Myers –
Located on the Caloosahatchee River, visit the Edison & Ford Winter Estates and the friendships, inventions and fascinating history behind two of the worlds’ most remarkable men. Thomas Edison’s laboratory is on display where generated electricity and the first incandescent light bulb were created.

Stroll 20 acres of botanical gardens, nine historic buildings including Edison’s Botanic Research Laboratory as well as the Estates Museum which contains an impressive collection of inventions, artifacts and special exhibit galleries.

Posted January 6, 2014 by aj4srq in Uncategorized

Ah, December …   Leave a comment

One season in Florida and you’ll be more than enchanted by the Warmth and Glow of our festive ways! 

 AND…   the only thing FROSTY in our neck of the woods… is a potent mixture… in a very tall GLASS!


Grab your little ones and let’s get started with those heartwarming holiday Kodak® moments.


Ride the rails with Santa…
at the Florida Gulf Coast Railroad Museum’s Christmas Celebration.  Trains depart Parrish Station on select afternoons and evenings through December.  http://www.frrm.org/Months/december.html

 Stroll the rolling hills of a botanical retreat and listen to the holiday sounds of Bok Tower.   http://boktowergardens.org/christmas/

 For the BIGGEST… the BRIGHTEST… most SPECTACULAR lights…From Tampa to Orlando to Sanabel Isle…these venues will absolutely dazzle and please!



Victorian Christmas Stroll



Winter Wonderland



Christmas Boat Parade  




Christmas Boat Parade


Christmas Walk


Christmas Light Canal Tours


Punta Gorda   

Holiday Boat Parade


Cape Coral    

Holiday House – Edison-Ford Estates


Sanibel & Captiva Is.

Christmas Luminary Trail Open House


Celebrations @ major Attractions

            Busch Gardens Christmas Town   http://seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-tampa/sitecore/content/Events/ChristmasTownBGT/Home?from=Front_Page_Bottom_Promo


            Disney     http://www.wdwinfo.com/holidays/christmas_world.htm

            Sea World   http://seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-orlando/Events/SeaWorlds-Christmas-Celebration

             Universal     http://www.universalorlando.com/Events/Holidays/Overview.aspx


You are guaranteed to…fall in love… with our WARM Holiday Spirit! 

Posted December 2, 2013 by aj4srq in Uncategorized

2013- FALL Season of Arts   Leave a comment


    9 – 12 Ringling International Arts Festival – Ringling & FSU Center for Performing Arts                                                                               World-renowned dance, theater and musical performances. Call: 941-360-7399                                                                                     http://www.ringling.org/events/series/ringling-international-arts-festival?id=14726


     9 – 10 Sarasota Orchestra – “Dawning of a New Season”                                                                                                                                Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall   Call: 941-953-3434                                                                                                                             http://www.sarasotaorchestra.org/index.php/concerts/dawning-of-a-new-season

   13 – 18  Sarasota Chalk Festival @ Burns Court (FREE)                                                                                                                                        https://www.facebook.com/SarasotaChalkFestival?filter=1

   17 – May 2014 Season of Sculpture on Sarasota Bayfront                                                                                                                                  http://sarasotaseasonofsculpture.org/


        20 – 21 “John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker” by the Sarasota Ballet                                                                                                                    Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall   Call: 941-359-0099                                                                                                                            http://www.sarasotaballet.org/performances-lineup


Posted October 8, 2013 by aj4srq in Uncategorized