1: Sea Star Café
11544 Palmbrush Trail, Lakewood Ranch
Regulars of this quaint, diner-style East County eatery call this spot a hidden gem. Enjoy Sea Star staff favorites such as coconut French toast, eggs Benedict or a buffalo chicken wrap, as well as other items, including build-your-own omelets or burgers, fish and chips or a variety of sandwiches and wraps.
This eatery also offers farm-fresh eggs upon request.
Restaurant is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 753-6016.
2: Ray’s Canoe Hideaway
1247 Hagle Park Road, Bradenton
You must drive through a residential street to get to this East County spot, which offers canoe/kayak and paddle-boat rentals, a boat launch, bait and tackle. From this scenic venue, you can enjoy an adventure along the Manatee River along the Upper Manatee River Florida State Canoe Trail, along which you can sunbathe, fossil-hunt, fish and maybe even swim with manatees. Hours of operation are dawn to dusk; the hideaway is closed Wednesdays, during inclement weather or by special arrangement. Reservations recommended. 747-3909.
3: Rosa Fiorelli Winery & Vineyard
4250 County Road 675 E., Bradenton
This family owned-and-operated winery has been in business since 1998. It includes 10 acres of vineyards and a 3,000-square-foot winery. Mature grapevines allow for you-pick of fresh bronze or black Muscadine grapes from early August to September. The vineyard has earned more than 100 awards in commercial international wine competitions.
Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays, and Wednesday through Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Closed Tuesdays. 322-0976.
Gas needed: 1/4 tank
Total mileage: 23 miles
Total trip time: 8 hours
Total cost: 1/4
+ Full Throttle Speedway
21000A State Road 64, Bradenton
Catch a glimpse of speed at this three-eighths mile oval racetrack, which features races such as open-wheel modifieds, trucks, min stocks, Magic 4’s, bus figure 8’s and others. Call 748-3171 for more information.
+ Lake Manatee State Park
20007 State Road 64, Bradenton
The lake for which this park is named serves as a water reservoir for both Manatee and Sarasota counties. Guests can enjoy boating, hiking, fishing, canoeing, swimming and other activities. Visit www.floridastateparks.org/lakemanatee/ for more information.
+ Pastries by Design
10667 Boardwalk Loop, Bradenton
Grab a cupcake or cookie from this custom pastry boutique, on Lakewood Ranch Main Street. Ready-made cupcakes vary by day, but flavors offered include Key lime, chocolate peanut butter, blueberry white chocolate, cookies and cream and death by chocolate, among others. Visit pastriesbydesign.com.
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Commissioner Lynn Larson’s three grandchildren, Zander, 9, Zora, 8, and Zoe Ramsey, 5, got a close-up look at what Longboat Key police and firefighters do to keep residents safe earlier this month, during a tour of the police and north fire stations.
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