Main Header Shadow_headerImg

Contest Winners

JULY WINNERS

First Place-Adult
Alvarez Family
Bradenton


Country Inn and Suites
3 day-2 night stay king or 2 queen deluxe room
(includes complimentary hot breakfast)

Mote Marine Aquarium
2 passes

Environeers
Gift Certificate for $25


Pack light tonight because you’re going for a ride! Choose a rental bike at Legacy Trail Bike Shop, (talk to Skip), and ride down to Casperson Beach for a picnic with sunset, surf and white sand. (Casperson Beach, located at the southern tip of Venice Island, is a quiet beach with free parking, lifeguards, concessions, picnic tables, showers and restrooms.) This is the best location for finding prehistoric sharks' teeth and my nine year old son and his friends love to come here.

Reserve a room at The Veranda Inn on Venice Island. It is very casual and friendly. Sleep well. Wake up! Shower, stretch and smile because its time to tackle the Venetian Waterway Trail. It sounds like a lot but my son and his friends can cover this distance. It is all paved. (You can stop in for a pulled pork sandwich and sweet tea just off the trail at Gold Rush BBQ on Venice Island when you feel like lunch. Wood floors, wood booths, wood smoke and Southern style everything). Next stop is Nifty Knick Knacks on Venice’s Historic Main Street. Can’t describe it but this place is hilarious. Everybody loves it so just go. Grab a homemade ice cream cone down the street at Kilwin’s and buy some fudge for the kids you left at home and whoever is watching them! Ride back to the hotel and then head for surf and sand. Sharkey’s on the Pier is waiting for you with island music, food, fun and friends.

On Sunday you can ride The Dona Bay Trail or The Legacy Trail. Both are really close to Venice Island. You can take this adventure with or without children but if they come along you might want to shorten your rides. Have fun!
Family Friendly:
Alone or with others:
Difficulty: high
Cost: moderate
Seasonal (Y/N): no Seasonal Explanation:
Seasons: Summer,Autumn,Winter,Spring




SecondPlace-Adult
Christine Dahlhauser
North Port


A Silent Sports Outfitter
3.5 hour kayak rental for two with Del

My best eco-adventure is for the water/beach enthusiast. Pitch your tent or park your RV for the weekend at the Turtle Beach Campground for the weekend and enjoy spectacular Gulf front camping at the award winning Siesta Key Beach. Wake up, unzip the tent, and you're outside -- ready to start the day in the sunshine or fresh air. After enjoying your coffee with bacon and eggs cooked outdoors (Bacon and coffee both taste better outside. It's true. Not sure why, but they do.) pack up your lunch and binoculars and kayak to Palmer Point Park for some of the best shelling around. After lunching on the beach, kayak back via the bay on the western side of the park. Leisurely paddle back while keeping a lookout (and be sure to keep a list) for the many different birds /mammals you might see along the way such as Cormorant, Osprey, Brown Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Great White Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, Anhinga, Heron, or for the playful dolphins and manatee. Back at the campsite enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets around before strolling over to the Turtle Beach Pub for good food and fun! Day 2-Rise and shine early for a deep sea adventure with a charter from CB's outfitters. Hopefully you catch some Grouper, Snapper or Amberjack so you can cook them up at the campsite for dinner or bring along your chips/salsa and lemon's to make some fresh ceviche on the boat! On your last day, spend the day relaxing on the beach, join in on a game of beach volleyball or go parasailing and take in the breathtaking view of the coast for miles. So much to do so little time!!!

Family Friendly:
Alone or with others:
Difficulty: medium
Cost: moderate
Seasons: Summer,Autumn,Winter,Spring


Third Place-Adult
Monique DeCesare
Sarasota


John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
4 Member for a Day Passes including
10% discount at museum stores
10% discount at museum restaurants
25% discount on purchase of an Annual Membership

My favorite weekend spent in Sarasota starts with a relaxing casual bite to eat with family somewhere outside. We especially like O’Leary’s Tiki Bar on the Sarasota Bay front. A sunset walk along the water helps us wind down after a busy week and the area is very pet-friendly so everyone in the family can go.

Saturday morning begins with a trip to the Farmer’s Market. I leash up my dog and head to Lemon Avenue. The road is cordoned off and local vendors line both sides of the street for several blocks. The farmers set up their stands on either end, displaying locally grown fruit and vegetables; tomatoes, corn, strawberries, cucumbers, squash, lettuces and much more. There are also specialists in mushrooms, nuts and berries, and cheese. As you stroll from one end of the street to the other, you could be serenaded by a pair of teenage fiddlers, scattered guitarists and sometimes a horn or two. Their instrument cases are always open for expressions of gratitude and they proudly play their hearts out. Music, fruits and vegetables are not the only items being offered. You can find baked goods, flowers, candles, fresh honey, art and crafts. It is some of the best people watching around and my dog also gets the chance to see her four legged pals. I always run into friends and a quick trip to Farmers Market can stretch into a few hours pretty easily.

After dropping off my purchases from the market, I like to ride my bike from home to Siesta Beach for a 5K power walk. Starting from the pavilion, I head south along Crescent Beach toward the Point of Rocks wall. The pristine white sand, light green water and warm sun make a picturesque backdrop to push myself to slap the wall and then head back to the pavilion. Saturday night I meet friends at Philippi Creek for steamed clams, mussels and peel and eat shrimp. With picnic tables and benches and paper towel rolls within buttery fingertip reach, this local favorite is one of the best restaurants in town for seafood. It’s Florida casual and comfortable for locals and tourists.

Sunday morning, we head to Economy Tackle. After the great guys at Economy Tackle strap rented kayaks on our cars we can go anywhere. T. Mabry Carlton Reserve or the mangrove tunnels off South Lido Key are my favorites. The first is wild and scenic and the second is peaceful and still. (Dogs are allowed at Carlton). There is just a bit of a current to keep the water flowing which pushes your kayak out into a shallow bay where herons stand in wait for lunch to swim by. There are several different tunnels to explore and a beach at Big Sarasota Pass that is perfect for a picnic lunch. Often, when we head back to the South Lido Nature Park launch, there are dolphins playing in the bay. I have enjoyed this weekend many times with friends, family and visitors.
Family Friendly:
Alone or with others:
Difficulty: medium
Cost: moderate
Seasonal (Y/N): Yes Seasonal Explanation: could be chilly outside on the water in December, January or February.
Seasons: Summer,Autumn,Spring
 

AUGUST WINNERS


First Place-Adult
Tina Sebastian
Venice

3-day / 2 night stay King or 2 Queen Suite Best Western Ambassador Suites
2 Guest Passes for regular daytime admission to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Nature & Culture
Day 1
8:30 a.m. Kayak trip from Black Burn Point to Oscar Scherer Park. At Black Burn Point we saw the famous 83 year old historic swinging bridge that made an appearance in the Denzel Washington movie Out of Time before we took to the water. On the waterway we came across several mangrove mini islands where seabirds such herons, egrets and cormorants were catching their meal. Then we entered South Creek and had relaxing shaded ride into Oscar Sharer Park. Entering this creek is to step inside old wild Florida: jumping mullets, flying ospreys and even a swimming otter welcomed us. The Beautiful old oaks intertwine with cabbage palms and lean in the water reflecting like a mirror in the calm black waters. For lunch stopped at Casey Key Fish House back at Blackburn Point. This open air eatery is located right on the water. You can watch boats go by while you savor the daily catch with a nice cold beer. Afternoon Scenic hike trough Sleeping Turtles Preserve Venice The preserve has more than five miles of hiking trails, but my favorite is the river trail, which allows for open viewing of the wild and scenic Myakka River. We walked by the river floodplains (there is a marker with flooding dates), pine Flatwoods, mixed forests and wetlands. Saw, alligators, butterflies and an assortment of song birds For dinner went to Morel. A quaint restaurant located in Sarasota that has freshly made delicious food and charming ambiance.
Day 2
7:00 am Exploring the Venice bike tails First stop: The Venice Train Depot built in 1927, then south on the Legacy trail toward Shamrock Park. This ride coasts the Venice waterway and the views get prettier as we go. We spotted couple of scrub Jays and two large horned owls. Later when we reached Caspersen Beach, parked the bikes and took a short trail between the waterway and the beach. Most people go to Caspersen, but miss this beautiful natural area. Here we saw a Gopher tortoise and many interesting plants. Back on the beach collected fossilized shark teeth and pretty shells. For lunch stopped at the Cockpit Café. This small café was voted best Cuban sandwich and won the Hundred Dollar Hamburger pilots choice award. Afternoon Historic Spanish Point Osprey This is a fascinating 30-acre historical, archaeological and environmental museum. We enjoyed a one mile shady nature trail with fantastic views of Little Sarasota Bay and learned about Florida s pioneer life. But we were most captivated by The Window to the Past, an archaeological exhibit about Florida s earliest people. Here you are surrounded by a 15 foot high prehistoric shell mound called a midden. Really neat. For dinner went to Cassariano in downtown Venice. This restaurant is truly Italian. Their insalata di mare (sea food salad) is tasty and beautifully presented.
Day 3
7:30 am Lemon Bay Preserve Venice First we took a free half hour yoga class on Venice beach with Elin, then headed for the Preserve. This area is a refuge for several protected animals and plants. It contains a variety of habitats such as tidal swamps and marshes which attracts many birds. You don t have to be a birdwatcher to appreciate the variety found here. As soon we entered the sandy trail saw scrub jays, tiny finches, hawks, and even a bald eagle; on the bridge over the tidal marsh, wood storks, egrets, ibis and a black crowned heron. The trail ends at a nice little sandy beach on the waterway where the mangroves frame the beautiful views. We also came across a little box turtle and a fast moving snake that could not identify. A variety of plants such as cord grasses, oak species, lupine and the prehistoric coontie can be appreciated here. Afternoon late lunch Finally, for a real old Florida experience we went to Snook Haven, a restaurant bar tucked away, of a dirt road, on the Myakka River in Venice. Here you can rent a canoe or kayak, take a guided river cruise boat or simply sit outdoors, which we did. At the back, on the deck where we had a nice view of the Myakka River, we enjoyed our food and drinks.
Family Friendly:
Singles Only:
Alone or with others:
Difficulty: medium
Cost: moderate
Seasonal (Y/N): no Seasonal Explanation:
Seasons: Summer,Autumn,Winter,Spring

 

Second Place-Adult
Chris Sullivan
Clearwater Beach

Gift certificate for 2 people for a free 2-hour sailing cruise - good for any 2-hour afternoon or romantic sunset sail aboard the 41-foot Morgan Ketch "Enterprise"

I would begin with a bike ride from Siesta Key Bridge to Marina Jack's up over the RIngling Causeway Bridge through St. Armand's Circle and out to the park at the south end of Lido Key, walk the bikes down to the beach and enjoy the morning mist from the Gulf and the wildlife. Then I'd ride back, stop at Morton's for coffee and a cranberry muffin on the patio. Next would be a sail from Siesta Key Bridge through Big Pass and up the Gulf through New Pass with a stop for a juicy burger and a Heineken at New Pass Grill & Bait Shop. Then back down the Intracoastal to Siesta Key. Dinner at SKOB with some old time rock n' roll, then call it a night. Day 2 would begin with wakeboarding or waterskiing at Skier's Island then a trip to Phillipi Creek Oyster Bar for lunch, an afternoon kayak to Midnight Pass, then dinner at Big Sugar. Day 3 would begin with rollerblading down the old railroad bed in Palmer Ranch, brunch on Longboat Key, an afternoon motorcycle ride up to Anna Maria Island, sunset dinner at Moore's Stone Crab then a champagne toast to the sunset on the beach at Longboat Pass. This itinerary presumes, nay, requires a significant other in attendance.
Family Friendly:
Singles Only:
Alone or with others:
Difficulty: medium
Cost: moderate
Seasonal (Y/N): no Seasonal Explanation:
Seasons: Summer,Autumn,Winter

Third Place-Adult
Catherine Rustin
Sarasota

4 Member for a Day Passes which includes 10% discount to museum stores; 10% discount for museum restaurants and 25% percent discount off an annual membership at John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art
$25 Gift Certificate for Environeers


One of my favorite outdoor adventures in Sarasota took place last weekend: We began with a brisk bike ride from the North Siesta Key Bridge with neighbors on Saturday morning to peruse the downtown Farmer s Market. We proceeded over the Ringling Bridge, around St. Armand s Circle and south to the park at the end of Lido Key. (When the wind picks up in the afternoon you can usually find kite boarders riding the waves and flying overhead at incredible speeds just off the point.) Our return trip included a quick stop at Morton s Market for coffee and pastries. A boating trifecta then ensued. My good friend s 46 foot express yacht required a captain for an afternoon cruise and I quickly volunteered (don t worry&I m qualified!). We cruised up the ICW to Mar Vista at the north end of Longboat Key for al fresco dining with spectacular views&their grouper Reuben is one of the best you ll find. When the boat was safely docked at the Moorings we completed the evening by grilling out and climbing the stairs to the widow s walk. The Sarasota sky-line was particularly appealing as it basked in the twilight. Sunday morning began with wakeboarding and waterskiing on the jet boat at the water sports area at "skiers island". All of that exercise made us hungry, so we raced over to the New Pass Grill and Bait Shop (right by the New Pass Bridge on City Island). It might seem strange to frequent a restaurant whose name ends with Bait Shop , but once you try the cheeseburgers, you’ll understand. Yum! Filled with energy, we returned to the water sports area for more fun, then home for a swim and to sadly bid our friends adieu for the weekend. Not to be outdone by the other watercraft, the sailboat beckoned and off we floated toward the Gulf through Big Pass toward the perfect sunset. Still in search of the elusive green flash, we were mesmerized as the sun melted into the water. (We usually share this view with other sailing and motor vessels including the Marina Jack II and the Le Barge boat available out of Marina Jack s.) Our sailboat granted safe passage home and the day was done. Bikes and boats can easily be rented in Sarasota. Please get good instructions, be safe, and have a wonderful adventure of your own in our paradise!
Family Friendly:
Singles Only:
Alone or with others:
Difficulty: high
Cost: moderate
Seasonal (Y/N): no Seasonal Explanation:
Seasons: Summer,Autumn,Spring

First Place-Under 18
Avery and Violet Marx
Sarasota

Gift certificate for 2 Guided kayak eco-tours or kayak rentals Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures

I am 6 and my sister is 3. We like to spend our weekends outdoors... We like boating to any number of parks, South Lido, North Long Boat (Beer Can Island) or any of the little islands that show up with low tides. We always wear our life jackets on the boat, we want to be safe. We also wear our big hats and lots of sunscreen...the sun seems to always find us... We like building sand castles and swimming in the water. We talk to the friendly people at the beaches, make new friends, and bring our toys to play in the sand. Often we find lots of shells, star fish, conch shells, snails and hermit crabs. We always let them go because we know they are alive, and we don't want to hurt them. We bring food and have a picnic--Mom always packs a treat! On the way home, we look for dolphins and other fish and sea life, and let the wind blow our hair and bathing suits dry. Sometimes we bring our dogs, and fall asleep with them on the floor--we get so tired. We go home and watch a movie and go to sleep early...hopeing the weather is nice to do the same thing again. tomorrow..if we are lucky. Avery and Violet
Family Friendly:
Singles Only:
Alone or with others:
Difficulty: low
Cost: none
Seasonal (Y/N): no Seasonal Explanation:
Seasons: Summer,Autumn,Spring


Second Place-Under 18
Dennis Caldwell
Tallahassee

2 tickets to Regal Cinemas

I would start out by going to the beach and enjoying one of the nicest beaches in the nation. I would also most likely talk a night walk on or around the key area because the village offers great night life. I would most likely then, the next morning wake up and go out to Myakka and bike or canoe around there and maybe take the canopy walk because its so cool to do that and you can literally see for miles when you're above the trees! After that I would just like to go get an Anna's sandwich and maybe go boating or something, because boating around the bay is always a fun activity or kayaking around the many islands. Thats fun! I would do another night time beach walk. Maybe I would save the boating for the next day if I was too tired from my Myakka experience the day before. But all of those are my favorite outdoor things to do in Sarasota!
Family Friendly:
Singles Only:
Alone or with others:
Difficulty: low
Cost: moderate
Seasonal (Y/N): no Seasonal Explanation:
Seasons: Summer,Autumn,Winter,Spring

 

Third Place-Under 18
Benjamin Roberts
Shrewsbury, MO

A Jeeepers Peepers Alligator Plush Toy


My name is Ben and I am 5 years old. My RoRo is helping me type this. I like to visit my RoRo and go to the beach. I like to pick up shells. I saw a dolphin at the beach. I would like to see turtles and manatees. I can ride a two wheeler and RoRo says I can ride my bike on a trail. I like to play at the park. We took our dog to the dog beach - it was fun. My daddy says he will take me for a canoe ride and on a camping trip. I like to sleep in a tent and eat s'mores. I am ready for an adventure.
Family Friendly:
Singles Only:
Alone or with others:
Difficulty: low
Cost: moderate
Seasonal (Y/N): no Seasonal Explanation:
Seasons: Summer,Autumn,Winter,Spring

                                                

SEPTEMBER WINNERS

Enter as many times as you like as long as each entry is a different idea.

  • Sponsor_SCF
  • Sponsor_SC
  • Sponsor_GCCF
  • Sponsor_SCaVB
  • Sponsor_GCCF
BG_ContentFooter