Hot destination – Bradenton & Anna Maria Island, Florida

One of my suppliers is featuring these resorts on the Gulf Coast of Florida this month.  Great area – very laid back.  2 hours drive from Orlando and under an hour from Tampa International Airport and Busch Gardens.

Anna Maria Island earned a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award as one of the Top Ten Islands in the United States. Downtown Bradenton’s Riverwalk received a 1st place award as the top cultural, sports and recreation project by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Commission. Plus six of our beaches now have the prestigious “Blue Wave Certification” from the Clean Beach Coalition. With easy access to three international airports, we’re close to all the major attractions, yet far from the crowds.

Horse Surfing
The Bradenton Area continues to receive nationwide media attention for horse surfing experiences along Palma Sola Bay. Tagged by many as the World Capital of Horse Surfing, we are home to the only horseback riding stable in the State of Florida that offers horseback riding on the sand and swimming with horses.
“The Greenest Little Mainstreet in America”

Florida’s first LEED Platinum and Net Zero Energy Retail Park 

On the quaint island of Anna Maria, history is being made with the first platinum LEED and Zero Net Energy Commercial Park. A collection of Historic 1920’s bungalows have been retrofitted into boutique shops and cafes with a green twist. The historical relics are completely powered by solar energy and geothermics.
Village of the Arts

If you’re an art lover, Bradenton is the place to visit! A national arts magazine has listed Bradenton as one of the nation’s top 10 small cities for art. The June 2012 issue of “American Style,” a lifestyle magazine that focuses on art, artists and galleries, ranked Bradenton as tenth in its nationwide poll of the public arts and cultural amenities in small cities.
Bradenton Riverwalk

As Downtown Bradenton’s showpiece, the riverwalk serves as an outdoor gathering place and host for many diverse events and activities. The stretch is a mile and a half and is one of the longest public Riverwalks in Florida. Running alongside the Manatee River, the Riverwalk includes a Family Fun Zone with a splash fountain and playgrounds, a great lawn for picnics, kayak launch, a day dock for boaters, a botanical walk and the 400-seat Mosaic Amphitheater.
Eco Tourism and Agritourism

When our visitors need a break from the sun and sand, there are several agri-tourism treasures for them to explore, offering entertainment and education for curious minds of all ages. All they need to do is head inland. Here are just a few of the many great places to start:

  • The Bradenton Area boasts not one, but two world-class wineries:
  • Bunker Hill Winery- is a “GREEN” Environmentally Responsible Winery and offers complimentary tours and tastings of their handcrafted wines.
  • Rosa Fiorelli Winery- has a 10-acre Muscadine vineyard and their wines have won more than 100 awards. Tours include your choice of an authentic Italian lunch and wine in a complimentary souvenir glass to take home.
  • Dakin Dairy Farms – A visit to Dakin Dairy Farm is not only fun; it’s good for you! The farm is one of only three dairy farms left in the Bradenton Area.
  • Mixon Fruit Farms- has always been famous for its plump, juicy citrus, its gift shop and Groveside Café. But now, visitors can take a ride on the Orange Blossom Express through the groves past the Children’s Magical Maze and Wildlife Rescue, where the family will delight in an interactive show with rescued Florida animals, reptiles and birds. Our favorite thing about Mixons … their homemade orange swirl ice cream!
  • Robinson Nature Preserve – Robinson Nature Preserve in Bradenton is an exquisite nature preserve that is a popular destination for wildlife photography and bird watching, Tucked into the corner of northwest Bradenton, it includes 487 acres of coastal saltern, marsh, and mangrove habitat.
  • Turtle Watch Tours – In the Bradenton Area, the beaches are shared with Florida’s abundant wildlife and families visiting from May through November can experience “turtle nesting season”.

Bradenton, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key

Plus some of the best beaches and sunsets you’ll ever see!


Want to find out more?  Just call Olein on 01252 519669 or email for more information and prices.

Diamond Travel, agency ref S0466.  We act as The Global Travel Group Ltd in connection with the sale of travel products.  Unless specified as the operator, The Global Travel Group Ltd is the agent of ATOL Protected Tour Operators and other principals.


Route 66 Road Trip

We started day 2 with a cruise along the Chicago River learning about the city and its architecture. Very interesting and a great way to find out a lot in a short space of time. Then walked along the shore-line until we found the Buckingham Fountain, near which is the start of Route 66. Day 3 started with hilarity as we tried to all fit into a taxi to find a CTA station with an elevator. Well, 4 of us, plus 4 suitcases plus a wheelchair DO fit into a taxi, even if John and Les still have the indentations of the wheels on their legs as they had to have the wheelchair with us in the back seat! Got to the car hire depot at the airport with few problems. Thank you to all the people who helped us today – from the guy who told us how to find the elevator for the Blue Line, to the train driver who waited for us to board, the Alamo clerk who served us, the man who stopped to take a photo of the boys by the Muffler Man on Route 66, the mechanic who have us directions when we were horribly lost. A day full of laughs!

Day 4 – Great hotel, great staff at the State House Inn in Springfield. Went for a walk through the Farmers’ Market – so much corn and peaches for sale! Lovely smells! Then a totally unexpected and fantastic event. Took loads of photos outside the Capitol Building and then decided to go inside (thought the State Museum was there). We found ourselves on a tour to see the debating chambers for both the Representatives and Senators. Wow what a building, it was incredible. Very open, we could wander round at our leisure, once we’d been through security. Can’t imagine being allowed to walk round the County Council Chambers like that! Then drove off to our first R66 landmark of the day – Shea’s Gas Station. Disappointedly not open and looking a bit tatty. Out of the city then, back on the road. Went to Litchfield where we were welcomed in the R66 Visitor Centre. Went across the road to the Ariston Cafe for a drink. Ended up with lunch! Very tasty. Back on the road again to try and find Henry’s Rabbit Ranch. Another mild disappointment, but a good laugh. Driving across the Mississippi was not a disappointment though – fantastic and even wider than expected. Another detour meant we lost R66 and had to go the long way round to the hotel. Seems a decent stop for the night, but no breakfast included. On to St Louis tomorrow and then through Missouri


Pirate Holidays

Well not really – but on Talk Like a Pirate Day, I thought I’d check out the locations for the Pirates of the Caribbean films as potential holiday destinations.

According to Wikipedia, Port Royal (where the Governor lives and where Elizabeth meets the pirates at the start of the first film) was a real location in Kingston, Jamaica.  Tour operators don’t offer many holidays in Kingston – but there are fabulous hotels along the coasts in the north and west of the island.

Dominica was used as a location for several scenes in all the films. One of the quieter Caribbean islands, it has unmatched beauty.  With its dense rainforests, magnificent waterfalls and mountainous centre, Dominica will bring out the eco-adventurer in you. The island is still unspoilt, but you can expect the locals to go out of their way to spoil you with the genuine warmth of their welcome and their wonderful hospitality. People come here for the whale and bird watching alone, but it’s also great for diving, hiking and exploring the island’s beautiful interior. (Thanks Caribtours – one of the great tour operators we work with)

Singapore was another location used in 2 films.  It’s international airport was recently named as the BestAirport in the World by Business Traveller – for the 25th year running!  However good the airport is – it’s even better to leave it and explore the fantastic city beyond the runways.  Time has some great ideas for things to do in the city.

No need for eye patches, parrots or bad pirate accents!  Unfortunately I can’t send you on holiday with Johnny Depp either – but you’ll have an unforgettable time anyway if you book with Diamond Travel