Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

12 things to do this summer in Manatee County

From live music to bingo and beyond, East County is packed with activities to stay busy this season.

Toni Muirhead has loved creating beaded art to hang on trees along the Peaceful Path.
Toni Muirhead has loved creating beaded art to hang on trees along the Peaceful Path.
Photo by Liz Ramos
  • East County
  • Neighbors
  • Share

Crossing a bridge that sits near the dog park at Greenbrook Adventure Park leads to the start of a peaceful paved trail that will take you to Heron's Nest Nature Park. 

There, you will find a lake and the serenity of a park that provides the opportunity for people to connect with nature for a relaxing outing. 

Heron's Nest Nature Park offers opportunities for a tranquil walk or for a fisherman to throw a line in the water.

But have you been there?

It's just one of the many cool and interesting spots in East County you might want to discover this summer.  

Here are some activities and places that you might want to investigate if you haven't been there before.

Chuck Wilson and Donnie Bostic of the Donnie Bostic Duo perform at Jiggs Landing, which offers live music Thursday through Sunday.
Photo by Liz Ramos
Jiggs Landing Outpost

The Braden River provides a beautiful backdrop to Jiggs Landing Outpost. Grab a bite to eat, listen to live music available on certain nights, go on a boat tour or fish off the dock. 

Location: 6106 63rd St. E., Bradenton

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays; Concessions open Thursday through Sunday during the summer

Cost: Kayak and canoe rentals $15-$85; boat rentals $35-$75 per hour; boat and kayak tours $20-$55

More information:

Fishing and rowing at Fort Hamer Park

The freshwater area of the Manatee River begins at Fort Hamer Park. You can fish from the dock or a boat. Many different varieties of fish are caught off the dock, as well as blue crab. There is nearly 15 miles of protected waters for rowing. 

Location: 1605 Fort Hamer Road, Parrish

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

More information:

Lake Manatee State Park

Ride your bike on a 2.5-mile paved interior road or the 2.34 miles available for off-road cycling. If biking isn’t your speed, hit the trails on foot with 4.5 miles of trails for hiking. Check out the water by taking your boat on the lake or explore the shores of the lake in a canoe or kayak. If one day isn’t enough, make it an overnight trip by camping in the 60-site camping area that’s within walking distance of the beach and fishing areas. 

Location: 20007 State Road 64 E., Bradenton

Hours: 8 a.m. to sun down

Cost: $5 per vehicle; canoe or kayak rental $15-$20 per half day and $5 for each additional hour; bike rental $3 per hour, $9 per half day, $15 per day; boat ramp $4

More information:

Elkin Mosely plays disc golf at Bob Gardner Park. Courtesy photo.
Disc golf at Bob Gardner Community Park

Go to Bob Gardner Community Park for a friendly game of disc golf on the nine-hole course at the park. The short recreational 9-hole course has well-defined fairways with six holes that are less than 300 feet and three holes between 300 feet and 400 feet. When you’re done, take a stroll around the park to see other sports courts, soft trails, a gravity rail for kids and more. 

Location: 2710 White Eagle Blvd., Lakewood Ranch

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free

More information:

Heritage Bee Farm

During the hour-and-a-half honey bee farm experience, participants will have a short lesson and familiarization on bees, beekeeping equipment, pollination and beehive products. The experience also includes honey tasting as well as learning how to wear protective gear and light a bee smoker. You’ll be able to watch the bees as they work in their hive and hold a frame of live bees. The commercial beekeeping experience is a three-and-a-half hour experience that includes everything in the honey bee farm experience as well as additional time working alongside Heritage Bee Farm beekeepers. You’ll be able to help with many of the daily tasks of a beekeeper.

Location: 133339 MJ Road, Myakka City

Hours: Call for information

Cost: $45 for adults, $25 for children for the honey bee farm experience; $125 per person, $75 for children 12-16, not suitable for small children

More information:

Chris McComas with Lakewood Ranch Community Activities welcomes people to Community Bingo.
Bingo at James Patton Park

Head over to James Patton Park every Wednesday as Lakewood Ranch Community Activities hosts Bingo. Play at least three games with the chance to win prizes. It is open to all ages. 

Location: James Patton Park, 5725 White Eagle Blvd., Lakewood Ranch

Hours: 10-11 a.m.

Cost: $5 for Lakewood Ranch residents, $15 for non-residents 

More information:

Farmers Market at Lakewood Ranch

Take in the lake view at Waterside Place while shopping  from dozens of vendors that offer fresh produce, prepared foods and specialty gifts and items. There’s also children’s activities and live music. 

Location: Lakefront Drive in Waterside Place, Lakewood Ranch

Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays

Cost: Free

More information:

Myakka Elephant Ranch

Get up close to African savanna elephants at Myakka Elephant Ranch, which offers an educational encounter that is available through July. The encounter is focused on conservation and learning about elephants. People can ask questions, touch an elephant and take a picture with an elephant. 

Location: Myakka City (an address will be provided upon confirmation of booking)

Hours: By appointment only

Cost: $39 for adults, $29 for children ages 3 to 9, free for children ages 2 and under

More information:

Heron’s Nest Nature Park

Bird watchers will love this 110-acre habitat. Walk the trails or fish and boat on the 12-acre Heron Lake or 27-acre Summerfield Lake. You can also see the microforest the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch created on .3 of an acre along the lake. 

Location: 6399 Tupelo Trail, Lakewood Ranch

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

More information:

A wide, shelled trail offers a shady walk through the Johnson Preserve at Braden River.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer
Johnson Preserve at Braden River

Take in the beauty of the nearly 44-acre preserve nestled between the River Club and Braden Woods. The trail circles around wildlife habitats rather than weaving in and out of them. Although the kayak launch is a couple hundred yards from the parking lot to the river, you can access the Braden River from the preserve. You might be able to spot gopher tortoises and swallow-tailed kites.

Location: Johnson Preserve at Braden River, parking lot is at 6804 99th St. E., Lakewood Ranch; pedestrian-only trailhead is at 6820 93rd St. E., Lakewood Ranch

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

More information:

Peaceful Path

Take a walk down the Peaceful Path and keep your eye out for various pieces of art along the path in the shade. The artwork and decorations along the path change depending on the season. 

Location: Peace Presbyterian Church, 12705 State Road 64, Bradenton (the entrance to the path is along the driveway leading to the church)

Hours: Dawn until dusk daily

More information:

Dakin Dairy Farms

Whether it’s to check out the monthly Myakka Market, tour the family-owned dairy farm or visit the Dakin Dairy Farm Market, Dakin Dairy Farms will get you interested in agriculture. 

Location: 30771 Betts Road, Myakka City

Hours: 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; Myakka Market is every first Saturday of the month; check the website for tour dates and times

More information:


Latest News