Travel Destinations

Florida's Sarasota and Brandenton

Florida
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October 2012
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By
Chuck
Baier

If you're looking for fabulous year-round boating, miles of white-sand beaches, and plenty to explore, you just might find Florida's Sarasota and Bradenton area to be your ideal destination. Recreational opportunities abound, and include boating, flats fishing, surf fishing, trolling, scuba diving, snorkeling, spear fishing, canoeing, kayaking, wildlife viewing, bird watching and eco-tours -- not to mention all the fabulous things to do ashore.

SARASOTA

In 1929, John Ringling chose Sarasota as the headquarters for his circus. His legacy lives on at the Museum of the Circus and the Ringling Museum of Art. Next door is Ringling's 18th-century Italianate theater, originally constructed for Queen Catherine Cornaro of Cyprus. The theater has plays and operas for the pubic year round.Each year in June, the Sarasota Music Festival brings outstanding musicians from around the world to town for three weeks of performances. Local concerts are also held every weekend at Island Park, including a jazz festival every March.

If you can't pull yourself away from the water even while you're on land, head to the Mote Marine Science Aquarium, located at City Island Park. The facility displays more than 100 marine species and includes a 135,000-gallon shark exhibit. It is also home to rescued manatees, sea turtles and dolphins that cannot be returned to the wild.

Sarasota has a diverse restaurant scene. The award-winning Ceviche's Tapa Bar & Grill (1216 1st St., 941-952-1036) offers a unique tapas menu in an intimate atmosphere. Yoder's Restaurant (3434 Bahia Vista St., 941-955-7771) is a much-loved Amish spot renowned for its pies. The well-established Columbia Restaurant (411 St. Armands Circle, 941-388-3987) has some of the finest Cuban food on the Gulf Coast.

downtownsarasota

BRADENTON

Gunkholing up the lovely Manatee River brings you to the city of Bradenton, which offers a taste of the laid-back lifestyle of old Florida. Visit the Village of Arts, the Gulf Coast's largest arts district, where cottages have been converted into artist studios, galleries, and restaurants. Downtown, the ArtCenter Manatee features three galleries, five classrooms, a gift shop and an art library.Hours of history and excellent exhibitions await at the South Florida Museum, the Bishop Planetarium and the Parker Manatee Aquarium. If the season is right, enjoy a pre-season baseball game at the training camp of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Fire & Stone Pizza (10519 Cortez Road W., 941-792-5300) is a family-owned pizzeria that many consider the region's best for pizza -- and the salad bar is terrific. At the Gecko Grill & Pub (7228 55th Ave. E., 941-727-8988) the famous mouth-watering Gecko Burger is a must. For the steak and seafood connoisseur, Michael John's Brasserie (104 Carlton Arms Blvd., 941-747-8032) is a gourmet experience and has a quaint and cozy atmosphere.

WHERE TO DOCK

In the Sarasota area, dockage can be found in the heart of downtown at Marina Jack, a favorite for transient boaters (marinajack.com, 941- 955-9488). Another option is Sara Bay Marina (941-359-0390, sarabaymarina.com), which has both wet and dry slips plus a tiki bar, pool and many other amenities.

Brandenton also has excellent marina facilities. Twin Dolphin Marina (941-747-8300, twindolphinmarina.com) is within walking distance of the historic district and Old Main Street, and is home to the popular Pier 22 Restaurant & Ballroom, which has spectacular views. The property offers wet and dry slips, a fuel dock, heated pool, spa, and all the amenities you would expect from a first-class marina. Riviera Dunes Marina (941-981-5330, rivieradunesmarina.org) is a luxurious full-service facility. Two heated pools, a large social deck and the Bella Mia Grill & Bar are just some of its top-notch amenities.

DON'T MISS THE SISTER KEYS!

Siesta Key and Longboat Key sit between the placid waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the tranquil waters of Sarasota Bay. Combined, their 19 miles of white sand beaches, abundant resort amenities and easy-going, laid-back atmosphere make for the perfect place to kick back, de-stress and enjoy a truly tropical vibe.

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Camden, Maine
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True boaters say the real Maine coast doesn’t start until you reach Penobscot Bay. This is “Down East” from Kennebunkport and Portland. The dramatic stretch of coastline from Camden to Mount Desert Island sparkles with granite shores, dotted with archipelagos of pine-tree covered islands and mountains cascading into the sea. This region offers some of the best cruising ground in the world.

Camden is a magical little seaside town in the heart of Maine’s mid-coast. It’s historic but hip. “Where the Mountains Meet the Sea” is their moniker, as Camden Hills and 780-foot Mount Battie stretch down toward the bustling waterfront where this 1769 New England village sits, creating a postcard scene.

Camden is super foot-traffic friendly, starting at Harbor Park and the beautiful brick Public Library that graces the top of the bay by the Town Docks. Enjoy a picnic on the sprawling park lawn; there’s often a craft festival or free concert at the outdoor amphitheater. From the waterfront, stroll the quaint sidewalks leading to cafés, boutiques, craft stores and art galleries, pubs, and surprisingly trendy restaurants.

You can hike, bike or drive the toll road up Mount Battie in Camden Hill State Park, which encompasses 5,500 acres and 30 miles of trails. Your reward is spectacular panoramic views of the harbor and Penobscot Bay below.

Eaton Point, at the eastern entrance to the harbor, is home to a new Lyman-Morse yacht facility. Camden remains a working harbor with lobster fishermen, boat builders, ferries and tall-masted schooners taking folks out for scenic sails.

Camden hosts festivals throughout the summer season of jazz, film and its trademark Windjammers. In winter, the U.S. National Tobogganing Champion-ships are held at Camden’s namesake Snow Bowl – our country’s only ski area with views of the Atlantic.

Camden is an ideal boater’s gateway with all the services and shops you need in walking distance from the waterfront. Excursions from this protected harbor are countless and legendary. A quick cruise brings you to quiet Lasell Island for a sunset anchorage. Farther on you reach Maine’s Maritime Academy home in beautiful Castine, and the rustic islands of North Haven, Vinalhaven and Deer Isle. Ultimately you can cruise north and east through beautiful Merchants Row, or the more protected Eggemoggin Reach, to Mount Desert Island, home to famed Acadia National Park, Northeast, Southwest and Bar Harbors.

WHERE TO DOCK

Camden Public Landing
Town Docks
207-691-4314

Contact the harbormaster for overnight slips, limited but in town, and moorings throughout the harbor.

Lyman-Morse at
Wayfarer Marine
207-236-7108

Across the harbor on Camden’s east shores, this revamped marina is a half-mile walk to town, with new docks and a marina facility, home of Lyman-Morse Boatyard and 30 slips plus moorings.

WHERE TO DINE

40 Paper
207-230-0111

Relish artful cuisine locally sourced from farmers, fishermen and “foragers.” In an historic wool mill in downtown Camden, it’s comfy but chic. Savor octopus, lamb, mussels, salmon and more with fresh produce and creative sides. Save room for dessert made from scratch.

Peter Otts on the Water
207-236-4032

Get your chowder and Maine lobster fix from Chef Peter. This classic setting overlooking the harbor is a Camden staple you “ott” not miss. Open for lunch or dinner.

Franny’s Bistro
207-230-8199

With a neighborhood feel, Franny’s serves up lobster fritters, crab cakes, shrimp dumplings and land-lubber faves, too. A fun menu in a cozy setting.

Bagel Café
207-236–2661

For fresh-brewed morning coffee and daily “boiled then baked” bagels or breakfast sammies served all day.

Read More
Jamestown, Rhode Island
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Located on Conanicut Island, Gould Island and Dutch Island, Jamestown welcomes boaters to Narragansett Bay.  Its southernmost point is on Gould Island and marked by Beavertail Lighthouse and State Park. The northernmost point is marked by Conanicut Island Lighthouse.  While Conanicut Island is the second largest island on Narragansett Bay, it is near the western mainland in Kingston, and Newport lies to the east on Aquidneck Island.  Hop on the Jamestown Newport Ferry to get the lay of the land and sea.

Jamestown was settled early in colonial history and was named for James, Duke of York, who became King James II in 1685.  By 1710, many of Jamestown’s current roads were already in place and a lot of its early architecture is well preserved. Soak up some local history at the Jamestown Fire Memorial Museum, Beavertail Lighthouse Museum and Park, Jamestown Windmill, Watson Farm, Conanicut Island Sanctuary, Fort Wetherill State Park, and the Jamestown Settlement museum.

The main town, shops and restaurants are located on the eastern shore of Conanicut Island.  But even from the western side, Dutch Harbor and other attractions are easily accessed with a one-mile walk.

WHERE TO DOCK

Conanicut Marina
401-423-5820

This full-service marina has a ships store/chandlery, gift shop, extensive dockage and a large mooring field.  It’s located in the heart of town overlooking Newport and the Pell Bridge, but bring your fishing poles for the kids.

Dutch Harbor Boat Yard
401-423-0630

Located on the west passage of Narragansett Bay, this small, local marina has good moorings, launch service and facilities.  At times, the harbor can be rolly from a SW wind up the West Passage.  The holding ground is excellent for anchoring, but the dinghy dock is by seasonal permit only.

Safe Harbor Jamestown Boatyard
401-423-0600

Jamestown Boatyard is renowned for excellent workmanship on all types of boats.  It also has a large mooring field and is in a beautiful location on the East Passage.

WHERE TO DINE

Slice of Heaven
401-423-9866

This family-owned café and bakery with an outdoor patio is an ideal spot for breakfast and lunch, especially if you’re looking for tasty gluten-free and vegetarian options.

J22 Tap & Table
401-423-3709

This lively, year-round restaurant specializes in classic American cuisine and local seafood dishes such as New England clam chowder, lobster tail and seared yellowfin tuna while accommodating meat eaters with wings, burgers and steak tacos.

Village Hearth Bakery & Café
401-423-9282

Take a seat inside this rustic eatery or outside on the patio to enjoy wood-fired bread, pizzas and pastries with a cool beer or wine.  To start your day with a smile, order a cup of the eco-friendly coffee.

Bay Voyage Restaurant
401-560-7979

Inside the Wyndham Bay Voyage Inn, this casual dining establishment presents a seasonal menu of American cuisine standards and seafood with fresh ingredients and a stellar view of Narragansett Bay.

Read More
Explore the Spirited Lakefront of Burlington, VT
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A vibrant, compact city hugging the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain, Burlington abounds in scenic beauty, four-season recreation, a college town vibe, arts and culture, and a quirky character all its own.

Burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Church Street | Michelle Raponi on Pixabay

Eclectic shops named Anjou & the Little Pear or Common Deer, and restaurants called Zabby & Elf 's Stone Soup or The Skinny Pancake dot the urban landscape. A local artist's satirical comment on the bureaucracy of urban planning called File Under So. Co., Waiting for..., consists of 38 filing cabinets welded together to a 40-foot height. Birds frequently nest in the upper chambers.

History buffs stroll through the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum or the Fleming Museum of Art's multi-era artifact collection while hikers trek the 12.5-mile path at Burlington Waterfront Park, which offers bicycle, rollerblade and kayak rentals. In season, the path connects to the Lake Champlain Islands via bike ferry.

burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Bike Path | Michelle Raponi on Pixabay

Since the 1800s, the Old North End has been the city's melting pot, and global cuisine from Nepalese dumplings to the African Market can be found here today. Between munches, stroll over to historic Elmwood Cemetery, whose residents include Revolutionary War soldiers. Hear their stories and perhaps have a chance encounter with a local spirit on a Queen City Ghostwalk Tour. Liquid spirits rule when the internationally famous, regionally beloved and hidden gem breweries line up for the annual Vermont Brewers Festival. Year round, enjoy homemade bratwurst and drafts at Zero Gravity Craft Beer. At acclaimed Foam Brewers, the patio faces Lake Champlain waterfront and the Adirondack Mountains. Hop on the Sip of Burlington Brew Tour for a dozen tastings and the sights of this dynamic, energetic city.

Where to Dock

Burlington Community Boathouse Marina

802-865-3377

This full-service marina is the centerpiece of a growing waterfront. Amenities include 105 slips up to 65 feet, Splash Café and a fantastic sunset over the Adirondacks.

Burlington Harbor Marina

802-540-6869

With 160 slips (60 transient slips up to 80 feet), this new marina's tranquil harbor setting is convenient to downtown amenities and recreational activities.

Where to Dine

Honey Road

802-497-2145

Savor sophisticated Mediterranean small plates, cocktails and creative desserts in a comfy tavern setting.

burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Church Street | Needpix

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill

802-859-0888

This farm-to-table gastropub dishes up local burgers, charcuterie and innovative specials. Sip on local brews in the beer garden.

RíRá

802-860-9401

According to Irish playwright Brendan Behan, The most important things to do in the world are to get something to eat, something to drink and somebody to love you. RíRá fuses classic Irish with pub grub to satisfy the first two.

Leunig's Bistro & Café

802-863-3759

Step inside the lush garden courtyard to watch fresh local fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood transform into classic French dishes. Come enjoy a romantic evening meal.

Hen of the Wood

802-540-0534

Enjoy a true Vermont dining experience in a romantic, rustic atmosphere adjacent to the Hotel Vermont.

Read More

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