50 fun things to do in Southwest Florida

Here’s a list of 50 things to do during the summer in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties.

1. Find a shark’s tooth on Caspersen Beach in Venice.

2. Spend the day soaking up history in Cortez with a visit to the Florida

Maritime Museum, housed in a 1912 schoolhouse. Stop at nearby Star Fish Co. for fresh seafood.

3. Buy crazy keepsakes at Siesta Key’s Beach Bazaar.

4. Take a dive trip to the reef off of Venice Beach.

5. Bring your skateboard, bicycle, running shoes, bathing suit, volleyball, dog and/or child and spend the day at Bradenton Riverwalk.

6. Search for coquina shells on Manasota Key.

7. Check out a fun summer read from your local library by part-time Casey Key resident Stephen King (or, you know, the author of your choice.)

8. Pub crawl your way along Ocean Boulevard and take an ironic selfie with a cast member from the MTV reality series “Siesta Key.”

9. Get on the pontoon party boat — it’s BYOB and has a bathroom — and enjoy an afternoon or evening on the Manatee River with the good folks from Riverside Tours Inc., who launch from Regatta Pointe Marina of Palmetto.

10. Booze cruise on Sarasota Bay under the palm trees of LeBarge, which embarks from Marina Jack in downtown.

11. Visit the Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda’s Fishermen’s Village and then grab a bite to eat at one of the nearby restaurants.

12. Go mudding at Redneck Mud Park east of Punta Gorda.

13. Race your ride at Bradenton Motorsports Park on East State Road 64.

14. Start with the daily happy hour on the water at Pier 22 and then bar hop up Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton, ending your night with a giant slice of pizza from The Loaded Barrel Tavern.

15. Hike to the Rye Family Cemetery at Manatee’s Rye Preserve, which offers a glimpse of early Florida settler history.

16. Roll into Stardust Skate Center and find a partner for couple’s skate.

17. Join a pick-up basketball game at Venice’s Hecksher Park.

18. Attempt to find all the food trucks peddling delicious dishes in the area. Hint: The tasting rooms of our local breweries are popular hangouts.

19. Say hi to David (the big naked-dude statue, for the art-challenged) at The Ringling on a Monday, when the museum is always free of charge.

20. Pet stingrays at Mote Marine Aquarium, because they are actually kind of cute after their spiky stingers have been removed.

21. Go next door and see/support the adorable feathered friends at Save our Seabirds.

22. Camp at south Siesta Key’s Turtle Beach, one of the few places where sleeping on the beach at night is not only legal but expected (in one area of the park, at least).

23. Mountain bike your way through the oak-and-palmetto woods along Myakkahatchee Creek in North Port.

24. Bang on a drum, dance or go hooping at the Siesta Key Drum Circle that forms Sunday about an hour before sunset on Siesta Beach.

25. Feed the flamingos and do lots of other fun stuff at local landmark Sarasota Jungle Gardens.

26. Hike to Myakka’s Deep Hole and eye the army of alligators.

27. Kayak the mangroves of South Lido Key.

28. See the lions, tigers, bears and other animals at Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary.

29. Swing through the trees at TreeUmph! Adventure Course.

30. Hug a puppy at Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto.

31. Test your skateboard, bike or inline skate skills in the concrete bowls at the The North Port Skate Park.

32. Go fishing on Venice Fishing Pier at Brohard Park and bait your own hook with live shrimp.

33. Take a swim at the Lido Beach Pool & Pavilion.

34. Spend an afternoon at Island Park in downtown Sarasota relaxing in the shade and admiring the views of Sarasota Bay, or bring the children to the playground and splash park.

35. Enjoy a healing soak at Warm Mineral Springs in North Port.

36. Watch the Bradentucky Bombers, the original women’s flat track roller derby home team in Sarasota-Manatee, pummel the opposition. Next home bout is Aug. 19 at Astro Skate.

37. Cycle the length of the Legacy Trail, which starts just south of the city of Sarasota and runs about 10 miles to Venice.

38. Visit Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and don’t forget a stop at the Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden.

39. Watch the fading light glint off the Sunshine Skyway from the observation tower after hiking Robinson Preserve.

40. Go “horse surfing” on Palma Sola Bay causeway in Bradenton (beachhorses.com).

41. Climb the Myakka River State Park Observation Tower, which will put you 74 feet above the ground with a panoramic view of the forest and scrub below, perfect for catching a glimpse of soaring bald eagles, or the hiking companions straggling behind.

42. Go canoeing at Oscar Scherer and keep an eye out for gators, otters and mullet.

43. Observe the manatees at Portosueno Park, a yacht basin off Palma Sola Bay in northwest Bradenton that’s a popular hangout for sea cows during summer mating months.

44. Take your doggy to the Brohard Beach Paw Park in Venice.

45. Play disc golf. In Sarasota, free courses include Payne Park, Lakeview Park and North Water Tower Park. In Venice, Pinebrook Park has a nine-hole course and Bird Bay golf course has disc golf baskets at all 18 holes. For a small fee, you can either walk Bird Bay or drive a cart.

46. Ride the free Anna Maria Island Trolley from the Anna Maria City Pier to Coquina Beach.

47. Ride the South Venice Beach Ferry, because the relaxing ride itself is worth the trip and then the boat drops you off on a quiet piece of Manasota Key paradise.

48. Catch a Marauders minor league ballgame at McKechnie Field. Better yet, attend on a Thirsty Thursday (they’re this week and next) and drink Budweiser drafts for a buck.

49. Visit the The Sarasota Classic Car Museum, which is recognized as the second oldest continuously operating antique car museum in the country.

50. Enjoy the sunset. Any beach, pretty much any day.