Beyond baseball: fun things to do near Bradenton, Fla.
The good news is that a sun-soaked road trip can be fun for the whole family, even if RBI isn't in your everyday lingo.
Sandwiched between the aqua waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, Bradenton is a hotspot for sunshine, surf and shopping.
Here is a list of must-see attractions while in between innings at LECOM Park .
Anna Maria Island
Seven miles of sandy beaches dotted with Mediterranean-style architecture is a quick fix for what ails you. Whether you spend your day with a beach chair and tropical beverage, or browse the boutiques, antiques and galleries, the island won't disappoint. Fresh seafood is abundant as is “Floribbean Cuisine,” a fusion of American and Latin dishes that are best enjoyed from the bevy of restaurants with a view of the bay. For the athletic and adventurous, there are bike and kayak tours of the island as well as world-class golfing with greens that weave through marshes, lakes and bridges.
South Florida Museum
Main attractions at the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida's Gulf Coast include the Bishop Planetarium and the Parker Manatee Aquarium.
With stadium-style seating and a digital 25,000-watt Dolby surround sound system, visitors to the planetarium can explore the universe through 200 continually updated satellites.
Nearby at the aquarium, visitors can get an up-close look at manatee habitat through the 60,000-gallon exhibit. A rehab facility that works with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the aquarium has housed 33 manatees before their release back into the wild.
It was home to Snooty, the world's oldest-known West Indian manatee, who died at 69 last year.
Fishing Charters and Tours
Anyone looking for adventure or maybe just a mellow tour of the historic coastline can choose from dozens of boating excursions . Tours offer a glimpse of ocean wildlife, breathtaking scenery and marine sites along the Manatee River and West Tampa Bay with rides that last two hours to all day.
Mixon Fruit Farms
Dubbed “Florida's Sweetest Attraction,” the orange grove is open for tours aboard the Orange Blossom Express. This can't-miss farm sits next to Pirate City so it's a natural way to start the day – or end the day with their signature orange swirl ice cream. Learn the secrets of citrus and enjoy an interactive show with rescued animals at Mixon's wildlife refuge.
For the best baseball in the Grapefruit League, Pirates fans can catch 16 spring training games beginning with the home opener on Feb. 24 against the New York Yankees.
One of the oldest stadiums in spring training, LECOM was built in 1923 and underwent a major $10 million makeover in 2013. The showcase of the 8,500-seat park is a fan-friendly boardwalk that spans the outfield and is surrounded by massive palm trees. It has been home to Pirates spring training since 1969.
Sponsored by Export Tire , 6155 Old William Penn Highway. Export Tire is giving away tickets to the Pirates home opener at 1:05 p.m. April 2 versus the Minnesota Twins. Like Export Tire on Facebook and look for an upcoming post on how to win!