Some like it hot. Who we kidding? Most of us do. That’s why we call this city of equatorial proximity our stomping grounds. And as the UV index increases, and articles of clothing decrease, we find invigorating ways to not only beat the heat, but seize it. Embrace a sizzling foray of midsummer events, activities and trends—from satisfying salads, waterbound fitness, eco-saving initiatives, geocaching treasures, theater and gallery roundups, Florida beach reads, epic sandcastles, baby sea turtles and balmy meteor showers—sear the streets of the Suncoast with these 26 scorchers.

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The Floppy Hat Phenomenon

Big hats are back. Picture Pretty Woman walking down the street or Audrey Hepburn as Our Fair Lady. Functional and fashionable, these floppy tops not only shade all the right places but add the chic intrigue that every woman wants. Imagine it: head down, hat on, a bewitching gaze emerges from a sleek brim. Ladies, this is Rom-Com 101. Visit local, fashion watering holes to buy the essentials for these summer days. Stripes and solids, flamboyant and subtle, toyo straw or braided straw or striped straw or plain, old straw—find the flop for you.  O.Liang    Previous page, clockwise from left to right:  Odiva Floppy Beach Hat, $24, Molly and Zoey,  466 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, 941- 388-0330. Jaessa Leone Eloise striped hat, $125, Influence, 474 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, 941-343-2315. The Matter Company Joia Hat, $18, Molly and Zoey. Eugenia Kim Eubun Sunhat in Your Dreams, $478, L. Boutique, 556 South Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, 941-906-1350. Michael Stars Hat Black with tassles (one size), $74, and Michael Stars Hat Natural One with bow, $74,Foxy Lady, 481 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, 941- 388-5239. 

Aqua Strong

Swim aerobics have come leaps and dives, from being seen strictly as an afternoon exercise for seniors with styrofoam noodles in assisted living facilities. Shara Cohen of AquaStrongSRQ breaks the stigma of the Aquatic Fitness market and is “creating more awareness about the incredible benefits of aquatic exercise and encouraging people to make the pool their gym,” she says. After extreme shoulder surgery, Cohen discovered that the water was a supportive, gentle rehabilitation environment that enabled her to push her body further with less pain, and less stress on her joints. Through drag resistance training, she gained back strength, full range of motion and took her fitness to another level. Since partnering with Hydrorevolution, she is now a certified trainer of leading equipment brands Aqualogix and Aquastrength. Having developed a wide range of low-impact, rejuvenating workout programs that cater to all demographics, her pool-based conditioning and muscle-toning routines help people of all ages, endurance levels and ailments optimize performance and reach their fitness goals. “In such a supportive environment, the water allows you to exercise in a way that land-based exercise does not,” she notes. “It is challenging yet therapeutic, invigorating and so much fun!” Whether you are recovering from an injury or looking for a new method of cross-training to improve your sports performance, you’ll want Cohen’s drag resistance training to be part of your regular cardio regimen.B.Mattie,, 941-479-9490.

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They Shoot Stars, Don’t They?

In 1998, legendary American actor Bruce Willis sacrificed his life to save the planet and its people from asteroid Armageddon. Celebrate his selfless act this summer by taking the entire family out under the night sky for a pair of stunning meteor showers. Peaking in late July (July 27–28), the Delta Aquariids light up the Earth’s atmosphere with the rocky remains of a passing comet from July 12 through August 23, but astronomers remain uncertain exactly which of the icy nomads should take credit. Favorable moon conditions coincide with the peak this year, but best viewing will be in the early pre-dawn hours, so bring some snacks, a sleeping bag and at least two Aerosmith albums. The Perseid meteor shower also returns this year, as the Earth passes through the dusty trail of the Comet Swift-Tuttle from July 17 to August 24, and the Northern Hemisphere should get a good show through the entire run. Unfortunately, the meteor shower’s anticipated August 12–13 peak will likely be partially outshined by the oncoming August 15 full moon. P.Lederer  


Fish Painting

Explore the traditional Japanese art of gyotaku this summer and create the ultimate maritime memento by using local fish to create one-of-a-kind prints. Using the fish as something of a mold or printing plate, the scales are coated in colored dyes and inks, which can then be transferred to the desired surface, whether it be a bit of canvas for a wall-mounted display, an apron for the family grillmaster or a pair of lucky undershorts for the not-so-lucky fisherman. In the mid-1800s, Japanese anglers would use gyotaku to record the size and nature of their haul, but today it’s more about the art, and appreciating the simple beauty of the aquatic world. Local classes highlight local specimens, with attendees making Florida-specific art while learning about their own backyard. “It’s my way of giving back to the community by letting them learn about our waters,” says Kelly Hunt, gyotaku instructor and owner of Painting With A Fish, which leads sold-out gyotaku classes at the Florida Maritime Museum and at Waterline Resort and Marina. Supplying the fish, the fabric and a whole host of paints and brushes to play with, classes run about an hour and a half, and everyone goes home with a print—though the fish stays behind, where it will be cleaned, frozen and used for the next class as long as possible. Born and raised in a family of Anna Maria Island fishing guides, Hunt also brings a wealth of knowledge and conservationist mindset to the class. So while budding gyotaku artists learn all the proper ways to prep, pin and paint a fish for printing, they also learn about the local underwater ecosystem and threats to local wildlife. She’ll never use snook, she says, but attendees will find plenty of sheepshead, hogfish and the invasive lionfish. “They’re a little more tricky,” she says, “so you have to be a little more skilled.” In the future, Hunt hopes to expand her classes farther into Sarasota, perhaps even at Art Ovation Hotel. P.Lederer  Painting With a Fish, 813-500-2256.

Tiptoe Around the Turtles

We are officially in the middle of turtling nesting season—the perfect time to remind everyone how to help ensure the turtle hatchlings this fall have a 100% success rate. To follow Mote Marine Laboratory’s research and weekly summary reports of nest numbers—from Longboat Key to Venice— check out And if you stumble upon a nest this summer, here is a list of dos and don’ts from Mote Marine’s local turtle patrols—ensuring our beaches are a safe environment for Loggerhead and Green turtle nesting. B.Mattie   


If you encounter a nesting or hatchlings, remain quiet  and observe from a distance. Turn off, or shield, all the lights from the house that face the ocean and are visible from the beach at night, including carports. Remove trash and any furniture you bring to the beach. Fill in any large sand holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water. Respect protected areas that have been roped off or labeled as “off-limits.” If you see a sick, injured or stranded turtle, unattended hatchlings, disturbed nests or harassment of a sea turtle, contact Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program at 941-988-0212

Approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles. Don’t use flash cameras, flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach. If needed, use a red filtered flashlight when walking at night. You can put a piece of red cloth over your flashlight to do this. Don’t follow or encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water. Don’t release water balloons or use fireworks on the beach. Make loud noises around a mother turtle. They can be easily frightened and if stressed may go back into the ocean without laying eggs.

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Summer Catch

Whether it’s on Sarasota Bay’s flats or Myakka’s swampy estuaries, Southwest Florida is an angler’s dream. If you want to pick up a new fishing hobby, but don’t want to deal with the gnarly live (or dead) bait when hooking a line, then try fly-fishing. It uses a lightweight lure, called an artificial fly to catch fish instead. The flies may resemble natural invertebrates, baitfish, or other food organisms. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialized weighted line. The light weight requires casting techniques significantly different from other forms of casting. Luckily, watersport retailer Compound Boardshop steps up its fishing game every summer with free demos and family-friendly clinics to teach prospective anglers the casting techniques of this unique form of fishing on-the-fly. Compound also provides daily and weekly rentals of the 8 weight Ion XL by Echo, a durable, medium-fast action fly rod. “We paired the Ion XL with Redington’s Behemoth 7/8 reel, for a great all-around saltwater combo,” says Owner Jacob Shields. “We believe it’s important to have firsthand experience with a product in order to support it. The equipment we offer for rent comes from reputable brands that our staff has personally tested and hand-selected for your optimal rental experience.” While you’re in, gear up on a wide supply of artificial lures, FreeFly apparel or even Compound’s own sun protective hat and apparel line. At least, then you’ll be representing Sarasota when snapping a photo for proof of your sweat-breaking catch reeling in the legendary tarpon. B.Mattie Compound Boardshop, 3604 South Osprey Ave., Sarasota, 941-552-9805, @compoundboardshop

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Moto Night

Every third Thursday of the month, slide your helmet on and ride over to The Angry Rooster for their summer series of Bike Night, sponsored by Florida Full Throttle magazine and West Coast Florida Riders. “West Coast Florida Riders started as a modest Facebook group of five like-minded individuals that like to ride their Harley’s,” says Event Manager of Angry Rooster Nyck Rodriguez. “Today, the group is at 1,162 members in just under a year.” Drawing quite a cult following, it’s no surprise that the last few Bike Nights drew an impressive crowd. The next event is marked for July 18, with live music from Doctor Drive at the Tiki, beer bucket specials, food, premium vendors, bar games, karaoke and the Bike of the Night trophy in tow. Bikers up and down the coast will be revving their engines to pull into the Bradenton bar for another Thursday night of good tunes, good company and some debauchery. B.Mattie  Angry Rooster, 7230 52nd Pl East, Bradenton, 941-799-3000

Marine Saving Art 

Local designer and artist, Dominika Zabczyk of DominiqArt says what we all know—“we have to do something and save the earth.” Her acrylic and resin wave-crashing paintings splash onto mediums of wood, canvas, recycled natural stone and cheese boards. Her collection evokes overhead and underwater visions of sand and ocean colliding. They are tangible and alluring reminders for our indoor spaces that the world outside needs a little extra love and attention if generations-to-come want to see it as beautifully as Dominika captures it in her art. “I grew up surrounded by nature—I developed my senses being on crystal clear water, fresh air, chasing the wind—now I see that everything I love is being replaced with an artificial world,” she says. “My mission is to show you the beauty of nature; contemplate its colors, motion, texture and how it affects you.” Dominika is also an ambassador for Clear Blue Sea (@clearblueseaorg), so every art sale donates 10% to support its, and other organizations’ missions to protect the environment, save wildlife and clean our oceans. “I believe every action, even small, can make a difference to help recreate what is destroyed,” she says.  B.Mattie, @dominiqart.

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Operation Recreation GeoTour

All the world’s a scavenger hunt for the modern geocacher, as the previously niche hobby has exploded in the last decade thanks to handheld GPS devices in every pocket (cell phones), and even Sarasota and Manatee counties have become pockmarked with these seek-and-find hidey-holes. For the uninitiated, a geocache is a small container, often containing trinkets, notes, a log-sheet or something of that sort, which another geocacher has hidden at a specific location, selected typically for its beauty, isolation or historic importance. Once hidden, the geocacher either posts the GPS coordinates for the hiding place itself, or for a starting point to a series of clues that will lead the next geocacher to the find. In this way, local explorers can lead travelers of all sorts to follow in their footsteps and appreciate what others have found. At most geocaches, explorers are encouraged to contribute something of themselves to the cache, either by adding a trinket, swapping one out for a something new or simply leaving their signature. Avid Florida explorers may want to try their hand at executing Operation Recreation GeoTour, a series of official geocaches stretching from Pensacola to Key West and incorporating 71 state parks and trails along the way, including Little Manatee River State Park, Lake Manatee State Park and Gamble Plantation Historic State Park. Each contains a special clue that visitors can record as proof of their visit, and finding 20 nets them an official Operation Recreation Geocoin. Kids can collect their own nature cards along the way, and receive a special kids’ coin at the end as well. For beginners, 270 geocaches hidden within a 10-mile radius of Sarasota and 383 within a similar radius of Bradenton—not to mention 543 in and surrounding Myakka River State Park—mean there’s plenty to explore right here. To get started, download the GeoCaching app and strap on some sturdy shoes. Maybe hide a geocache of your own.  P.Lederer

A Bite with a View

Sit back, relax and fall into a well-deserved food coma at these scenic picks. Overlook the Little Sarasota Bay at Ophelia’s on The Bay while sitting under the sunshine or glow of lighted palm trees. Sample hand-crafted cocktails like “Siesta Gin and Flowers” and fresh fish like Mahi Mahi or Gulf Grouper. Or on the other side of town, Pier 22 sits on the Manatee River with Pork Osso Bucco, Sweet Corn Risotto and Wasabi Tuna. Or check out The Crows Nest and try the Seafood Tower, a gastronomical fortress of clams, oysters, shrimp and crab claws on the Venice Waterfront. Don’t miss Perspective Rooftop Pool Bar at Art Ovation with its towering view of Marina Jack and downtown Sarasota. Quench that summer thirst with artistically crafted cocktails like “Sunset through the Skyspace” and “Missionary’s Downfall,” or taste the signature shareable experiences containing ceviche, house-fried tortilla chips, churros and more. Located in Payne Park in Downtown Sarasota, sample the locally-sourced menu of Cafe in the Park. Savor nutella sandwiches and sip espresso with brownies or cookie bars in the lush greenery. Live bands from across the country play every Friday until 9pm. At The Terrace at Surf Shack, indulge in a half-priced happy hour from 2pm to 6pm. Take in the buzzing atmosphere with fresh-off-the-hook salmon, scallops and mahi, gourmet tacos and cast-iron cornbread while enjoying the clamorous commotion of St. Armands shopping bags, lost tourists and automobiles—circling, circling, circling. H. Bizick & O.Liang  Ophelias on the Bay, 9105 Midnight Pass Rd., Sarasota, 941-349-2212. Pier 22, 1200 1st Ave. W, Bradenton, 941-748-8087. Crows Nest, 1968 Tarpon Center Dr., Venice, 941-484-9551. Perspective, 1255 North Palm Ave., Sarasota, 941-316-0808. Cafe in the Park, 2010 Adams Ln., Sarasota, 941-361-3032. The Terrace at the Surf Shack, 328 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, 941-960-1151.

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Gazebo Cinema Series

Centennial Park in Downtown Venice provides a dependable hot spot for esplanade leisure. And now, once a month, its sunbathed white gazebo with faded orange shingles will be transformed into an intimate outdoor theatre. With a screen stretched around the pillars and family flicks back-projected from within, what better place than the facing grassy knoll to relax in a beach chair or curl up on a blanket? The Venice Institute for Performing Arts has partnered with Venice MainStreet to premiere the Gazebo Starlight Cinema series, an effort to provide casual social events “at least once a month, year-round, for everyone,” according to Becca Eldredge, the VIPA Managing Director. Families, couples, first-daters and even residents from the neighborhood retirement home joined the April 25 premiere with Life of Pi, unpacking picnic dinners, snacks and even crock pots to settle in for the evening. Pick up food from local Venice Avenue restaurants, bring your own or order pizza from Solorzano Bros. delivered directly to the park. O.Liang  The Gazebo Starlight Cinema series will show Mrs. Doubtfire on August 2, X-Men on September 6, The Book of Life on October 4, The Peanuts Movie on November 1 and Home Alone on December 6. Visit the Gazebo Starlight Cinema Facebook event pages for details.

Apex Predator Yoga

Graduating from the beloved goat yoga classes, a fierce collaboration has formed between Pineapple Yoga teacher Erika Cain and the Big Cat Habitat Gulf Coast Sanctuary. What was originally created as a special one-time happening on May 25, ended up garnering an overwhelming amount of positive feedback—demanding that Yoga with Tigers be a frequented event at the wildlife sanctuary. With the strikingly beautiful felines safely within their enclosures, yogis relish in practicing in a shaded pathway between the big cats’ habitats as Cain leads the class, surrounded by the roaring sounds of nature. Find your flow with the tigers on the fourth Saturday of the month (July 27, Aug 24, Sept. 28, etc.) Passes to the class are $40 per person and includes snacks, refreshments and all-day access to tour the sanctuary. “In this one-of-a-kind yoga class, you are able to enjoy the company of majestic big cats while practicing your yoga flow and connecting with yourself and nature,” says Renee Ferreira of BCH. “Where else can you do that?” Well, not with big cats, but with big fish—Mote Marine is holding a special yoga series in honor of its Shark Days at Mote: Real Sharks, Real Science. On Saturday, August 10, join yoga instructor Rebekka Mars for a one-hour morning flow as yogis om for the ocean. Yoga with the Sharks will be held in Mote’s Aquarium Courtyard overlooking the SharkTracker exhibit of men in grey suits. All skill levels welcome. B.Mattie   


Sushi On Call

Siam Gulf  hits the mark on fast-casual, modern dining. With more and more taquerias and pizzerias creating an atmosphere of “ordering at the counter to sit, or go,” Siam Gulf adds rolled-to-order sushi to that mix. If you’re on-the-move, take it to-go, but don’t be surprised if you internally convince yourself to stay a little while longer to chill and take in the international vibes of Siam’s Asian-industrial setting with an intricate red and gold painted mural, so detailed that it is the type of art usually only found in Thai temples. Diners will be elated to see the crazy affordable Pick 2, or Pick 3, sushi lunch special available to choose from on the featured chalkboard. Simply order and pay at the wood-stained window, and your Salmon Avocado and Spicy Tuna will be brought to your table within minutes. “Some come in and appear confused—they see the board and realize they’re meant to come up to order their meal themselves as opposed to siting down at a table and waiting for a server,” says owner and manager Kathy Tangisaraphab, “but then they are pleased when they see how easy it is.” And although it has a fast-casual business model, Kathy and her husband Gwang Hansapiromchok, also the sushi chef, make it a point to come out from behind the counter often—circling around to check in on each patron to make sure they are enjoying their meal. Especially noteworthy is the complimentary miso soup or salad starter, a pleasing fish-to-rice sushi ratio, noticeably fresh ingredients and housemade sauces in porcelain Japanese condiment bowls to carry over to your table—putting  a happy end to your “grabbing grocery store sushi from a plastic box
 days.”  B.Mattie   
Siam Gulf, 1100 North Tuttle Ave., Sarasota, 941-312-4605.

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Hike Them Higher

High-waisted swimsuits are raising the [sand]bar this season. Low-rise and string bikini bottoms are being tucked away and replaced with an elevated rise to show off the lengthy extent of your lady legs. Seen on fashion runways as well as boat decks worldwide, the high-cut suit not only gives us nostalgic flashbacks of retro 60’s surfer girl vibes, but also tucks away our below belly button pooches in a flattering demeanor. These bottoms can be found locally at swimsuit retailers Boutique Lavina, Lotus, Swim City and Everything But Water. Shore Brand’s Venice Banded Bottoms are made in the USA and come in prints that range from Solid Black, Paradise, Garden Party, Botanical Blue, Multi Stripe and Navy Ribbed. And new prints of this unerringly trendy style suit will continue coming in throughout the summer, mentions Lindsey Osburn of Shore. B.Mattie    Venice Banded Bottoms- $98/each, Shore, @shorebrand.

Coastal Living

You practically feel the sea breeze walking through the doors of Summer + Company boutique. Founded by Mandi Rapisardi and Tracey Rapisardi, the mother-daughter duo is associated and preferred by Coastal Living Magazine and Southern Living magazine for their interior design/ styling services. Their newest venture to open up a home furnishings boutique, became Summer + Company. The Rosemary District shop soaks up all things Gulf Coast lifestyle and design—inspiring any homeowner to invest in their own beachy hygge. The cohesive collection of design elements include nautical furnishings of bright whites, sandy neutrals, sea glass aquas, jade greens and crystal cyan blues—thematically complementing the engagement of summery decor and oceanic treasures for your coastal-crafted nook. “Some home decor items that we are loving this summer season are bedding in mint greens, soft patinas and crisp whites,” says Mandi. “There is nothing like sinking into soft cool linens after a day at the beach—beautiful Belgium linen stays cool against your sun-kissed skin, and buttery smooth cottons are smooth like the sea.” B.Mattie    Summer + Company, 431 North Orange Ave., Sarasota, 941-877-1326,

Nutty Sorbet

Sarasota’s Nicole Cardone and her Los Angeles-based gourmet chef Deborah Gorman usher in a new age of frozen dessert with the nutty evolution of the classic sorbet with their company SorBabes. Tired of the same three flavors and textural monotony found in traditional sorbets, Gorman and Cardone mix up the recipe for the modern palate, first by adding big chunks of chocolate and caramel, raspberry and lemon, and then by radically redefining what a sorbet is at a fundamental level. Forgoing the conventional “ice + fruit = sorbet” equation, SorBabes swaps out the flavorless water for a variety of nut butters, utilizing complementary flavors and creating dairy- and gluten-free sorbets with rich and creamy textures. Pistachio & Caramel, Café Almond, Cocoa Haze and Peanut Butta Luva all feature a nut butter base, while Raz’n Berry, Jam’n Lemon and Passionilla stay true to those sorbet roots while kicking it up a notch with a twist in the flavor department. Find all seven flavors at Publix. The SorBabes website features recipes for everything from sorbet sandwiches to sorbet coffees and even bon bons, tarts and cocktails. “It’s just heaven,” says Cardone. P.Lederer  

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Bishop’s New Clothes

Newly rebranded and ready to receive visitors, the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature has enough planned this summer to have families coming back for more. Running through July 14, take one final chance to view National Geographic Photo Ark, a special exhibition of animal portraits taken by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore over his decades-long career. And from July 20 to July 27, the museum will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with special screenings of the documentary film, The Day We Walked On The Moon, in the Bishop’s Planetarium. August sees the closing of another special photographic exhibition, with Florida Feathers: Birds in Peril coming down on August 25, but it also marks the opening of the Mosaic Backyard Universe at The Bishop. Modeled after a giant adventurous backyard, children are welcome to explore engineering in the Tree House, conduct experiments in the Science Shed, hunt for fossils in the Dig Pit and study the universe from a Cardboard Rocket. P.Lederer   Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St. W, Bradenton, 941-746-4131

Underwater Adventure

Channel your inner David Blaine and challenge your physical/mental ability to maximize time-spent submerged underwater. Sarasota-based dive school Tidal Free Diving teaches immersive PADI courses on how to be safe and confident while swimming at various depths below the surface—without a snorkel or scuba gear. Monthly courses fill up fast in the summer, so if you’re tempted to see what you’re made of, and really explore Florida’s springs, oceans, coral reefs and aquatic life, Dale Bartush is the guy to suit up with. A Florida native, avid waterman and owner of Tidal Free Diving, he will expand your natural capacity to hold your breath by overcoming the mental game we play on ourselves when oxygen is no longer a factor. He’ll teach you to not only swim longer/deeper, but will also give you the tools to potentially spearfish, photograph or line dive, upon certification. “I’ve spent a lot my time spearfishing and line diving,” Bartush says. “I get so much enjoyment out of this lifestyle—I want to share it and my knowledge with students so they too, can enjoy this amazing sport.” B.Mattie   Tidal Free Diving, 4428 Flatbush Ave., Sarasota, 941-536-6995, 

Beyond Beaches

If you’re tired of packing up the cooler, setting up the umbrella in the sand and circling to find parking, spend an afternoon exploring some of the beautiful Manatee County parks that exist inland. Blackstone Park provides lighted soccer fields, public grills and picnic tables, batting cages, two racquetball courts and water fountains. At Bennett Park you’ll find a kayak/canoe launch, fishing pier, nature trails, a rope challenge course and sand volleyball courts. G.T. Bray Park is a recreational outdoor hub with lighted basketball courts, an amphitheater, Happy Tails Canine Park, horseshoe, multiple playgrounds, a skate park, pavilion rentals and a Splash Pad to wash off your sweaty children. John Marble Park serves up tennis courts, a pool, bocce ball courts and a remote control racetrack. Fido will love Buffalo Creek Park where he can let his paws loose in a fenced-in, 3-acre off-leash Canine Park. Show a little park love this summer. B.Mattie    For a full list of all Manatee County’s 33 parks from Palmetto, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch and Myakka City, check out 

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So Fresh Salads

New downtown eatery SoFresh has endless summer feels. Its vibrant, coastal cropland interior is blithesome, bright and satisfying, with a menu to match. Build a healthy, hearty salad with non-GMO ingredients and housemade sauces/dressings. SoFresh dispatches “the highest quality, nutrient-rich food our guests desire,” says Tyler Berlingeri, brand expression director. Refresh your vitals with the Signature—tossed with spinach, romaine, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, raisins, avocado, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette—the Kale Caesar—featuring raw kale, romaine, quinoa, bacon, almonds, parmesan and caesar dressing. The Fiji will have you feeling balmy island vibes with a quenching dose of spinach, orange slices, almonds, apple slices, bacon and feta in citrus-agave mustard. You can create your own salad with a choice of organic leafy bases, four healthy mix-ins and one of the eight scratch-made dressings, You can also add upgrades such as chef-cut zucchini noodles, tofu, wild-caught ahi, grass-fed steak, peeled gulf shrimp, antibiotic-free chicken breast and ocean-raised salmon. That beach body hasn’t felt or looked so fresh, so clean.  B.Mattie   SoFresh, 1455 2nd Street, Sarasota, @welovesofresh.

Bike + Brew

The Venice-based craft beer bicycle pub Off-Trail Bike Co. has thirst-quenching pedaling adventures dialed in. Cheersing locals and visitors alike, the Bike + Brew team is as talented at kicking a bike stand as tapping a beer keg. Guided tours and single, or tandem, bike rentals are available to explore historic downtown Venice or the Legacy Trail. All cyclists end their rides with a free pint of beer from the Off-Trail pub’s rotating selection of 10 Florida craft beers or a cold brew coffee on draft. “Bike & Brew is really taking off,” says Erin Arena excitedly, who co-owns Off-Trail with husband Casey Arena. “Mystery Beers are becoming very popular,” she acknowledges of the brown paper bags—marked with a ‘?’ in the cooler of packaged beers—available to purchase blindly after hopping off an exuberant ride. Off-Trail also regularly hosts Karaoke Night, Trivia Night, Island Loop Rides, Reggae Sundays and 5K Open Runs coordinated with Zooming Running Club. B.Mattie   Off-Trail Bike & Brew, 430 Venice Ave. East, Venice, 941-220-3018, @offtrailbike.

Cake Boss 

Unleash your inner confectionaire extraordinaire with a group cake decoration class at Make It Swirl in the Rosemary District. From bachelorette parties to birthday parties, office team-building or family bonding, these fun and intimate courses are as hands-on as they come—ensuring everyone gets involved and has a good time. All attendees receive a two-tiered pre-baked cake as their naked canvas, as well as all the icings and buttercreams, piping bags and spatulas and smothers any budding chef needs to take their creations from everyday eats to culinary art, under the guidance of in-house cake designers. Classes run roughly two hours long, and everyone goes home with something sweet. P.Lederer    Make It Swirl, 1462 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, 941-777-2987 @makeitswirl_srq

Dress the Grill

Backyard chefs are elevating their summer cooking with the finest, heart-healthy and pungent olive oils. Dress a Mediterranean salad with a homemade herbaceous dressing, or grill some chicken wings with a bacon-fused oil marinade. Florida Olive Oil Co. recommends a summery roast of whole artichokes with a balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and extra virgin olive oil. “Grill the artichokes to caramelize the outer sides and lightly char. Remove and place on a serving platter, then drizzle with fresh dressing and serve the extra dressing with the artichoke halves on the side. To eat, peel away the ‘petals’ and scrape off the meat with your teeth. As you get to the center, you will be able to eat more and more of the tender part of the petal. Once you get all the way to the center of the artichoke, you can slice up the ‘heart’ and eat, or save for a side dish.” B.Mattie   

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Sandcastle Skills

Become a waterfront developer for the day and raise your own sandy metropolis from the shoreline—no bribes (read: permits) required! And who better to learn the fine art of sand-sculpting from than master sand-sculptor and founder of the Siesta Key Crystal Classic, Brian Wigelsworth. Below, find a few helpful tips and tricks so the next sandcastle can stand the test of tide.  P.Lederer. SRQ sandcastle designed and fabricated by Brian Wigelsworth at the Siesta Beach.   Tip #1: Three must-have tools—a stainless steel, pointed paint palette knife for sculpting, a soft bristle paint brush or large make-up brush for brushing sand and a hard straw for blowing loose sand out of holes and crevices. You will often see these hanging from a strap around a sculptor’s neck. Tip #2: Always sculpt to finish from the top down so that expelled sand does not drop onto to something you have already carved, or you will be sculpting it again and again.  SRQ