Lake Manatee State Park @ Bradenton, FL (Feb. 16-23, 2016)

The Park

Lake Manatee State Park is on three miles of the south shore of Lake Manatee which is located just outside of Bradenton, Florida. The lake was made in the 1960’s when a dam was built across the Manatee River. You don’t actually get to see manatees at this park because the dam blocks their entrance into the lake. The stocked lake has excellent fishing and a swimmer’s beach complete with a beware of alligators sign. (Guess you have to swim fast :)).

The park rents canoes, kayaks and fishing boats.

The park’s natural habitats are primarily pine flat woods and sand pine scrub with some marsh areas and hardwood forest areas. There are hiking and equestrian trails throughout the park.

The Campground
Campers are provided electric/water hook-ups, clothes lines, grill with fire pit, and a picnic table at each camping site and are just a short walk from the lake. The sites at Lake Manatee State Park are unique because each site has a natural growth buffer area in-between sites that provides privacy. Small live oak trees with moss hanging down, pine trees and palmettos provide a great view while hanging out.

This was one of our favorite camping sites due to the layout of the campsites and the beautiful weather we had throughout our stay. We could play our music, sit outside, drink wine, and not worry about bothering our neighbors. (Norma got to try out her new zero gravity chair that I got her for Christmas and she loves it!)

We had a great little visit daily from friendly squirrels, red birds, bluebirds, a woodpecker that looked like he had a Mohawk, and a baby armadillo that would come out in the early evening when I would be outside. One night we went outside and even had a visit from a raccoon. (If you get a chance, ask Norma why she’s afraid of raccoons.)

Campfire Stories
We enjoyed a campfire several nights while we were here. We would sit outside and drink wine/beer and talk about how much we have enjoyed our past adventures. We also began planning our trip up the east coast. Just remember, our plans are all subject to change because we often change our mind about where we are going based on the weather, suggestions from other campers, or on a whim.

Concert in the Park
One night during our stay there was a free concert in the park playing music from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. The band was really two guys from Wisconsin who volunteer every year for two months in the park and they were pretty good. (By the way, they encouraged us not to tell many people about this wonderful park because they said it was popular enough – so, be sure you don’t tell too many people about it.)

Sarasota Farmer’s Market
Saturday we went to the Farmer’s Market and it is the second best one we’ve been to during our travels. (The best farmer’s market was in Moscow, Idaho.) However, it was a great way to start our day looking at all the vendors and having a late breakfast while being serenaded by a Spanish guitar player.

The Sarasota Market took over about three downtown blocks and had a huge selection of fruit/veggies stands, numerous prepared food stands, many organic offerings, bakery items, and craft booths. It was a great place and we had a good time people watching and looking at a wide array of exotic dog breeds that were paraded through the market by their owners. The market is also next door to the local Whole Foods so we were able to take care of our other shopping needs. All and all, we would say this market day was a success and just 30 minutes from our campsite.

On the way to the market there were Italian supercars everywhere. Based on what we saw, this must be a hobby of the retired guys down here, to rev their engines.

A Trip to IKEA
On Sunday we took another short day trip to the IKEA store in Tampa. We are always looking for ways to make the most of the limited space in the RV and we found a few items that will help get the closet a little more organized.

A Trip Down Memory Lane
When I was young my Aunt Babe’s family owned a drag strip in Laplace and I spent a lot of imagesmy weekends there with my Uncle Bud. I loved it – walking through the pits and looking at the cars up close, eating greasy hamburgers, and getting the inside scoop on the drivers and cars. Well, Lake Manatee State Park was close enough to a drag strip that we could sometimes hear the cars screaming down the track … Good memories!

Happy Trails!

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