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By Kendra Gemma

Springtime in Manatee County brings relatively mild temperatures and new life, making it an ideal season to get outdoors and explore. Whether you’re looking for a low-key activity or an exciting adventure, we have your guide to enjoying nature!


Spending time outside doesn’t have to involve a high level of activity. In fact, it could look like feasting under the sun or seeking new species to add to your bird life list. You’ll find both opportunities practically in your backyard here in Manatee County.

Feel like eating out? You’re in luck! Most of the county’s parks have picnic tables and some even have pavilions with grills so you can cook your meal right before eating it. (The pavilions require a fee and
advance reservation, so plan ahead if you want to have a barbecue in a county park.)

For an extra special al fresco dining experience with a special view, head to Anna Maria Bayfront Beach, where you can see the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Egmont Key from the picnic areas.

If you’re an animal lover in general or have a particular affinity for avian creatures, the bird watching in Manatee County can’t be beat! The local chapter of the Audubon Society hosts open houses at Felts Audubon Preserve in Palmetto the first Saturday of every month, November through April, for beginner birders and anyone who’s interested in discovering our native and migrating bird populations. Visitors to Felts Preserve could also spot nearly 50 different types of butterflies.

Go to for more information about the association’s monthly events, an area birding field guide, and checklists for hotspots, such as Duette Preserve and Rye Preserve, where you’re most likely to add a few birds to your life list.

Robinson Preserve – Photo by: A. Catherine Photography

Heron’s Nest. Photo by: Kendra Gemma


There’s something about stretching your legs or your entire body that just feels better when you do it outdoors. Maybe it’s that you’re breathing in fresh air, surrounded by the music of nature’s sounds and away from any distractions. No matter what the reason, spring in Manatee County presents perfect ways to exercise in paradise.

“DeSoto National Monument is a local gem,” says Manatee County resident Karen Riley-Love. “It’s just the perfect size for an outing with children, a walk with your dog, or a contemplative solo stroll in nature. It’s one of my very favorite places in Bradenton.”


Manatee County has plenty of exhilarating activities for the
adventurous and athletic.

Even the most adrenaline-junkie kids will enjoy Greenbrook
Adventure Park, according to Lakewood Ranch resident Erin
Duggan. “My kids love Adventure Park in Greenbrook in Lakewood
Ranch as there is a playground, hockey rink and there are so many
trails that lead to a creek where there is even a rope swing!”
Adults who get energized by hitting the court will want to join a
tennis league at G.T. Bray Recreation Center. The spring league
starts in April, with registration in March. Players can sign up alone
or with a partner for doubles leagues. League play is on both hard
and clay courts.

If you’re more into pickleball, two outdoor pickleball courts will
reopen at the C.V. Walton Racket Center this spring after recent

Truly challenge yourself (and perhaps face your fear of heights) at
TreeUmph! Adventure Course in Bradenton. At this elevated park,
don’t expect your feet to touch the ground very often. You’ll probably
spend your time soaring along on a zip line, traversing suspension
bridges, climbing walls of wood and rope, and swinging on a vine.
However you choose to take advantage of Manatee County’s
glorious weather this spring, just get out and do it!

Photos provided by: TreeUmph

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