There is always something fun to do in Southwest Florida from Clearwater, Tampa Bay, and St. Petersburg to Sarasota, Bradenton and North Port to Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda. Here are 5 feel-good things to do in SW Florida this week:

Do Good: Help the Manatees at Bishop Museum

manatee eating green food-rehabilitation

Manatees are rehabilitated and if possible, released back into their natural environment

Did you know that it costs $2000/month to feed one manatee? That’s a lot of lettuce! The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is currently opening an opportunity for you to become a Bishop Foster Friend (BFF) to these gentle mammals that give us so much joy in our Florida waters. 

According to the Board of Trustees President, Raj Mathur, in a recent newsletter, the Bishop has expanded their manatee rehabilitation capacity by 300% and added a critical-care unit as a result of the high number of manatee deaths in Florida. As you can imagine, it’s also added a substantial expense to the museum’s annual budget.

The Bishop has been rehabilitating manatees since 1998 and has been there since the beginning for the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP).

I recently took my granddaughter to the Bishop Museum where she got an up-close view of three manatees in their rehabilitation tank. She really enjoyed watching them eat the lettuce floating at the top of the tank.

The museum is a great way to spend a couple of hours in downtown Bradenton, the staff are very helpful, and the exhibits and interactive displays are fun and informative.

Your gifts, either monthly or as a one-time donation, will be matched by Florida Power and Light Company’s charitable arm, the NextEra Energy Foundation, up to $20,000.

To find out more and make a donation:

Become a BFF   

Learn more about the Bishop Museum

Shop Local: Set your Compass at St. Armands Circle

ringling bridge in sarasota florida with palm trees in the foreground and city scape along the horizon

The Ringling Bridge connects cars, pedestrians, and bike from Downtown Sarasota to St. Armand’s Circle

Downtown Sarasota is a vibrant “little big city” that draws many visitors escaping colder northern weather during the winter. There have been several construction projects downtown to improve travelers’ experience and traffic flow; however, some of those projects are not yet complete. That can make the area seem confusing for the untrained Sarasota traveler. And for those heading to the beach, and St. Armands, you may feel a little flustered as you head over the bridge.

St. Armands Circle, a shopping and dining center located on St. Armands Key is a beautiful destination on its own with over 100 independently owned businesses, and when you arrive you may be unsure of where to go first since, as the name suggests, you can easily drive in a circle and head the other way if you’re not careful! You can easily see the shops and galleries on the main circle, and completely miss the ones on the side streets. I’ve been to St. Armand’s many times, we used to ride our bikes there for dinner, and there were some businesses on the site that I was not aware of. Well, that has changed!

You can now download a map of the Circle’s merchants and find them in an online directory. The map is divided into four quadrants: North, South, East, and West. Much like the directories you may be familiar with at a mall, St. Armand’s stores, restaurants, spas, and galleries are listed by location and category. You’ll also see where to park!

Good to know: The Bay Runner open-air trolly provides complimentary service between Lido Key, St. Armand’s Circle, and downtown Sarasota. This makes getting around the best spots in Sarasota a breeze!

See the Directory and download the map

Mark Your Calendar: Taste Of Punta Gorda March 4, 2023

Plate of fish tacos and french fries

Laishley Park is the venue for the Taste of Punta Gorda on March 4, 2023

Laishley Park will be filled to the brim with live music, tastes from more than 20 restaurants, arts and crafts, and a kid’s zone on March 4, 2023 from 11 am – 5 pm. That sounds like the perfect reason to head to the waterfront and enjoy the day.

Laishley Park on the Peace River right next to the harbor and the Veteran’s Memorial Wall. The paved walkway along the water is part of the Harborwalk, 18 miles of pedestrian and bike-friendly trails that connect the City’s neighborhoods, parks, and businesses. If you don’t have a bike, a free bike loaner program has locations all around the city, and one is right at the marina next to the park.

Learn more and purchase tickets here

Plan your Golden Years: 8 West Coast Florida Cities Rank in Top Spots for Retirees

Park bench overlooking the marina with sailboats and motorboats

Southwest Florida Gulf Coast Cities were named among the top places to retire

Love for the water is not age-specific, and what you’ll discover is that those who are drawn to hues of blue, water sports, sandy beaches, salty air, fishing, and epic sunsets when they are young, naturally gravitate toward these places as they mature. It’s a no-brainer!

So if you have been to Florida on vacation, or already live here, it will come as little surprise that 8 of our coastal cities made the list in a recent article by Storage Cafe, where they analyzed 100 of the largest metropolitan areas by population by metrics such as life expectation, crime, retirement income, cost of living, air quality, home prices, weather, and more. 

The Southwest Florida Gulf Coast metro areas and main cities that topped their list are:

  • Cape Coral – Fort Myers
  • North Port – Sarasota – Bradenton
  • Tampa – St. Petersburg

If you have ever played in Southwest Florida, then you’ll understand why. Each area has its own character and things to love. What they all share are opportunities for adventure and fun in the sun at every age. We are always looking for Florida Hot Spots to share with you so be sure to follow us and stay up to date on what’s new in Florida!

Run for Fun: Choose a Fun Run Where the Weather’s Fine

image of runners legs during a race

February and March are perfect for running in Florida

Florida’s weather in February and March is perfect for a morning run and it’s prime time for 5K and 10K runs throughout Southwest Florida. Pick your race, lace up your running shoes and hit the trail with like-minded friends you haven’t met yet!

Here’s one source for finding a race near you