Lighten your load this summer by setting aside playtime for your inner child.
Raise your hand if summer stresses you out. Raise your hand if your calendar is filled with triple-booked weekends pulling you in 76 different directions, only one of which you care to go: bed.
Raise your hand if you can’t wait for your kids to be perpetually filthy, barefoot and starving because the jumbo pack of ice pops you bought from Sam’s Club doesn’t keep them full. Raise your hand if you’d like a mai tai with an umbrella in it and a backrub while sitting poolside at the Ritz?
Pick me! Pick me!
Oh, summer break. I know the tiny humans have been dreaming of this day for the past nine months, but me? I’m hoping Manatee County decides to add three weeks to the school year in anticipation of hurricane season.
But wait. What if summer break wasn’t just for kids? What if, on a random Tuesday, you took the day off from work, hired a sitter and played with your friends like it was 1992 again? I’m here to tell you that you can. Why? Because you’re an adult and you don’t need to ask for permission, that’s why. So grab those mom jeans and crop top — which, for the record, I’ve been told are back in style — and get down with your original bad self.
In case you don’t know where to start, here are five suggestions ranging from simple and age-appropriate to juvenile and ridiculously fun.
ENJOY A FEW BREW HA HAs
Craft breweries are to today’s beleaguered parents what bowling leagues were to our parents 30 years ago: a low-key excuse to meet up with friends, drink beer and play a few rounds of something non-aerobic. Lakewood Ranch’s Craft Growlers To Go & Tasting Room and Naughty Monk Brewery are the de-facto watering holes for local beer aficionados, but what else is on tap? Oak & Stone on University Parkway is beloved for its live music, artesian pizza and 56 varieties of craft beer. But it’s Motorworks Brewery in downtown Bradenton that has it all: giant Jenga, corn hole, Monday night trivia and the 2018 gold medal winner of the Best Florida Beer: the creamy V Twin Vienna Lager. One sip will leave you wondering why you ever wasted your youth on Miller Lite.
MAKE IT A BLOCKBUSTER NIGHT
Remember how you and your friends used to swarm the cineplex to see the latest summer blockbuster? Well, guess what? Hollywood still pumps out popcorn flicks — and “Avengers: Infinity War” is the new “Terminator 2.” Go to Lakewood Ranch Cinemas and pick your showtime before everyone and their 12-year-old son spoils the ending for you.
PUT ON YOUR FANCY PANTS
In the mood for horchata and charcuterie on a hotel roof top? Embrace your maturity and slip into something sophisticated for an evening of grown-up cocktails and hors d’oeuvres you can’t pronounce. Downtown Sarasota has many frou-frou options for tapas and drinks, including Westin Sarasota’s The Roof Bar and Eats, Overture at Art Ovation Hotel and Jack Dusty at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Even the Mall at University Town Center has a secret spot to slip away for martinis and duck confit quesadillas — Sophie’s on the second floor of Saks Fifth Avenue.
PLAY IN THE DIRT
Kick up your heels at Linger Lodge on the Braden River. This 23-acre “old Florida” institution is home to a no-frills campground and a gator-serving, taxidermy-chic restaurant famously dubbed “one of the top five weirdest restaurants in the country” by Al Roker. Located off Linger Lodge Road in East Manatee County, it is the perfect place to have a hootenanny. And by hootenanny, I mean a small party that involves camping, kayaking and dancing under the stars to the restaurant’s rollicking live music.
ROCK AND ROLL
When was the last time you laced up a pair of roller skates? Was Backstreet Boys playing? The family-owned and operated Astro Skate Bradenton is the most fun you’ll have on four wheels. Roller rinks haven’t changed much since you were in overalls and braces; you’ll be flooded with nostalgia by the smell of nachos, hot pretzels and gym socks at the rental counter. The rink’s open skate hours are Saturdays from 12:30-10:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1-8 p.m. Private parties are welcome; so schedule one for Aug. 12 to celebrate the start of the school year.