Bushnell, FL - Events of Saturday, May 24, 2014
We really love going to Anna Maria Oyster Bar because their fried clam strips are second only to the Ipswich Clambake Company in Massechusetts that we discovered last summer on our tour of New England. However, we only got to eat there once this year.
Anna Maria's has three locations in and around Bradenton, and we usually eat there after sightseeing in Bradenton or Sarasota. We stopped when we went to De Soto National Memorial with our friends, Marilyn and Alan, early in the winter; but our efforts to get back down to that area for more sightseeing were thwarted either by weather or, more recently, by work the contractors might possibly be doing on our site at Blueberry Hill.
Now that the work on our site is done and we are down to the last few days in Florida, we were looking for any excuse to go to Bradenton so we could stop at Anna Maria's for clams. Because it was the Memorial Day weekend, we were looking for something low key that wasn't likely to be too crowded. Margery found a farmer's market in downtown Bradenton on Saturday, and she also discovered Bradenton has a riverwalk that is very close to the location of the farmer's market. Perfect.
Since it was late morning when we arrived, the market wasn't very crowded so we easily found free, on-street parking right next to the market.
There were several vendors with plants. We knew we would be leaving Florida soon so there wouldn't be enough time left for Paul to do any planting, but it was fun to look now that we have a place to put plants.
In addition to the plants, there were some crafts, jewelry, local honey and some prepared foods. As usual, we were hoping to be able to buy some tomatoes, and we did find some nice ones in spite of the fact there were only a couple of produce vendors.
The Bradenton market isn't very big - only about two blocks long. It is nowhere near as big as the one in downtown Sarasota, and it's even smaller than the one we recently went to in Brownstone Paddock Square in The Villages. However, the produce that was there was very nice, and the prices were very, very reasonable.
The other thing we wanted to see in Bradenton on our way to get our clams was the Bradenton Riverwalk. Bradenton is located on the Manatee River a short distance from where the river empties into Tampa Bay. The Riverwalk has numerous recreational opportunities that include a skate park, an amphitheater, a tidal discovery zone, a botanical walk, a fishing pier, a family fun zone, a kayak/canoe launch area and more.
Not only was it easy to find free parking near the market, we also found ample free parking at Rossi Park at the western end of the Riverwalk. There is a marina just to the west of the Riverwalk, so we decided to check that out first.
After checking out the marina, we headed east along the Riverwalk.
After a short distance, we came to a very interesting sculpture that consisted of a pair of stainless steel parabolic discs. When you walked between the discs, any sound you made was amplified. Even a soft whisper sounded loud. The other thing that was very interesting was how the sounds changed when another person entered the space and altered the way the sound waves were being focused.
We next came to the family fun zone. There were nice, shady benches for parents and a fountain where kids of all ages could splash around and cool off. There was also a playground with some very creative things for kids to climb on and to swing from.
Another nice feature is the outdoor living room where you can relax, enjoy the breezes and watch the boats go by.
Even though the chairs were concrete, they were surprisingly comfortable.
There were other chairs we didn't try. They looked to be a little too low for us.
Near the eastern end of the Riverwalk is the skate park. There are a variety of features like bowls, walls, ramps and railings for the kids to use to hone their skills.
From the skate park, we retraced our steps along the Riverwalk back to the car and headed a short distance across the river and down the road to Anna Maria Oyster Bar. As we said, they have three locations, and we had never been to this one before. It is conveniently located right off I-75.
Dinners at Anna Maria's are about $11 to $17, and sandwiches are $8 to $10. Of course, we both had fried clam strip baskets for $8.99 that included two sides. Margery had slaw and onion straws (nominal upcharge), and Paul had slaw and red potatoes.
Everything was yummy! The clams were sweet and tender on the inside and nice and crunchy on the outside. The other thing that makes the clam strips so good is the batter coating is not too thick.
With our bellies full, we made our way back to Blueberry Hill where we relaxed the rest of the day. Over the rest of the Memorial Day weekend, we did some chores and ran some errands in preparation for our departure. We'll tell you more in our next post.