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Top 15 FREE {YES FREE} Sarasota Area Activities by RVAFL
Posted by Jana Troyer | Friday, February 10, 2017

Southwest Florida has a long list of fun attractions, but many can be expensive. We know that when you go on vacation, every little bit counts so our team has compiled a list of our Top 15 Free {YES, FREE} Sarasota Area Activities allowing you to explore our beautiful sites and sounds without the added cost.


1.     Spend the morning, afternoon or evening at one of our world-renowned beaches! Our beaches have some of the most spectacular turquoise-blue waters and sugar-fine sand; and they rival and beach you would have to float or fly thousands of miles for. The calm waters are perfect for an afternoon of paddleboarding or cruising around in a kayak. For those looking for relaxation, bring your favorite floatation device and laze in the crystal waters while catching a glimpse of dolphins frolicking in the distance. The sunsets on Florida’s Gulf Coast are not to be missed. We like to pack our dinner (and favorite beverage) and experience all that Mother Nature has in store for us - the orange, pink and purple hues of our sunsets are photo-worthy #sunset #paradise #rvafl

2.      Drum Circles regularly form on Siesta Key beach on Sundays, and Nokomis Beach on Wednesday and Saturday and are a sight to behold. Here you can move to the rhythms of the drums while soaking up our magnificent sunsets - bring your dancing shoes!

3.      Every Monday, the John & Mable Ringling Museum is free to the public. Here you’ll glance at the circus magnet's expansive personal art collections, as well as peruse the special visiting galleries that are on display. Not in town on a Monday; the outdoor grounds area are free to the public any day of the week and include bay views, children's playgrounds, Mable Ringling's prize-worthy rose garden, exotic fountains and more!

4.      See the quaint Island of Anna Maria via the free trolley.  The trolley travels from the Anna Maria City Pier to Coquina Beach daily (exluding major holidays). The trolley makes plenty of stops along the 7-mile stretch - from local eateries (may we suggest a grouper sandwich) to delightful ice cream shops, there is something for every palate.

5.      Bayfront Park in downtown Sarasota offers something for everyone. Children love to splash around at the splash fountain or burn off energy at the playground, and adults can take refuge in the beautiful scenery before them. Watch the majestic sailboats come into harbor, or catch a glimpse of a manatee floating by. Just a short walk away is the world-famous ‘Kissing Statue’.  The 26’ tall statue, officially titled “Unconditional Surrender” is the perfect place to take a #selfie.

6.      Spend an afternoon at Paw Park with your furry friend. Venice’s South Brohard beach is the only beach in the county where canines are allowed and is beloved for it. Tire your pooch out in the surf, while basking in the sun.

7.      Did you know that Venice, Florida is often referred to as the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World?” Walk along the coast at Caspersen Beach and collect prehistoric sharks’ teeth. These little gems make for great souvenirs - especially for kids. Rumor has it the largest shark's tooth found along these waters was over 5 inches wide...challenge accepted.

8.      A short drive inland, the bustling local community of Lakewood Ranch has a free concert the first Friday of each month along Main Street. Listen to live music, participate in activities that dot the street or eat at one of the delicious restaurants. Either way they'll have you swaying in the streets.

9.      Bradenton Riverwalk is the perfect spot to burn off some energy and soak in some beautiful sights. Located on the Manatee River, the area boasts a skate park, splash pad and playground area as well as running paths with stopping areas to soak in the views.

10.    Take a walk out onto Anna Maria City Pier. Often you’ll find dolphins playing in the water and many different bird species at this quiet Northern section of the island. And if the day is clear, and you look hard, you can even see Tampa's Sunshine Skyway off in the distance.

11. Bike along the Legacy Bike Trail of Sarasota. The 10-mile trail offers picturesque views of waterways, as well as lush flora and fauna. Shaded benches and drinking fountains are at nearly every mile and multiple trailheads and free parking make the trail easily accessible.

12.  Have a picnic at the Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach. Located on the north side of South Lido Beach, and a local favorite, this area offers a nature trail, a canoe/kayak launch site, public restrooms and picnic areas.

13.  Just outside the mall at University Town Center is a 600-acre community park known locally as Benderson Park. The park offers a 3.5 mile loop for running, picnic areas and a well-appointed playground for the children. On the weekends you can catch a glimpse of rowing events (recently boasting the Olympic Trials) and once a month the park has a free family movie night. Bring your blanket and watch a movie under the stars.

14.  Window shopping along St. Armand’s Circle - here you’ll find the latest fashion trends, local artists showcasing artwork and souvenirs for your loved ones back home. In order to make this truly free we recommend leaving the wallet at the hotel - tempations and unique treasures abound that even a seasoned shopper won't be able to resist.

15.  For a small fee, experience the natural beauty of the Myakka State Park. One of the oldest and largest state parks, hikers can explore trails that cross large expanses or take scenic lake tours on airboats.  As with all state parks, active or non-active military receive free access on certain holidays so check the website for specific dates.


Anna Maria Island Vacations | Longboat Key Vacations | Lido Key Vacations | Sarasota Vacations | Siesta Key Vacations

Top 10 Kid-Friendly Activities
Posted by Jana Troyer | Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Is your summer getting off to a slow start? Are the kids already crying of boredom? Check out our top 10 kid-friendly activities we think they’ll love.

TreeUmph Adventure Course
Swing like a monkey through the treetops at TreeUmph. Located in east Bradenton, this 14-acre nature adventure course provides a challenge to the most athletic adventurers and is suitable to children 7 and older. The course takes between 2 – 4 hours to complete and the guides at TreeUmph encourage you to book your adventure early in the day to beat the heat and afternoon thunderstorms.

Myakka State Park
One of the oldest and largest state parks, Myakka protects one of the state’s most diverse natural areas. Visitors can enjoy wildlife viewing from a boardwalk that stretches out over the Upper Myakka Lake, and then take to the treetops with a stroll along the canopy walkway.  Two lakes provide ample opportunities for boating, freshwater fishing, canoeing and kayaking.

Grill out on the Beach
The Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach is a terrific barbeque and picnic spot. Not only does the park come complete with grills, but it also includes picnic tables and playground equipment.

Go Fishing
Grab your fishing rod and spend the afternoon casting your line. We recommend the Ken Thompson fishing pier, the Ringling Causeway Park fishing pier or the Venice fishing pier. If you have your eye on bigger fish, hit the bay or the Gulf on a charter fishing tour.

YMCA Water Park
In Florida’s heat, we are all looking for a cool spot. There is no better way to cool off than with a trip to the water park. The aquatic center at the YMCA in Sarasota, located next to the Westfield Mall in south Sarasota includes a 50-meter Olympic size pool, or the water park that includes twisting water slides or water jets.

Children’s Garden
Located in the downtown Gillespie Park neighborhood, the whimsical 2-acre garden playground includes a fairy garden, a pirate ship, a climbable dragon, maze, butterfly garden, a theatre stage with dress-up station and much more!

Mote Marine Aquarium
Spend an afternoon exploring the research institute and rehabilitation center. The marine wildlife center includes: sharks, sea turtles, manatees and dolphins. Touch pools give children a chance to get up close and personal with marine life and learn the value of marine eco-system.

Children’s Rainforest Garden at Selby Gardens
Explore and play through the nooks and crannies of the 100 year-old banyan tree around which the Rainforest Garden was based. The Garden boasts a 12’ waterfall, a forest pool filled with aquatic rainforest plants, a 27 foot-high canopy with a rope bridge and a variety of research and education stations. 

Children’s Fountain
With a beautiful view of Sarasota Bay, the Children’s Fountain allows you to cool off without getting sand in between your toes on saltwater in your mouth.

Located in downtown Bradenton, on the Manatee River, Riverwalk provides play for the entire family. Little ones will enjoy the ‘splash’ zone and playground, while teenagers can cruise through the skate park.

July 4th in Paradise
Posted by Jana Troyer | Tuesday, June 14, 2016

July 4th in Paradise
There is no better way to celebrate America’s birthday than on Florida’s west coast. Here are some of our recommendations that take place all weekend long:
July 2, 2016 | Sarasota
Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival kicks off the festivities in the area.
July 2nd & 3rd, 2016 | Bradenton
Marauder’s Baseball Game and Fireworks:  It doesn’t get more ‘American’ than baseball and fireworks. The Marauder’s take the field at 6:30 with the post-game fireworks show immediately following. Tickets rage from $6 – $10.
July 3, 2016 | Anna Maria Island, dusk
Fireworks will be on display at The Beach House: 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach
July 4, 2016 | Longboat Key
Annual Freedom Fest Parade at 9 AM: Commissioners, police and fire rescue personnel are in the parade along with children who wish to dress up and walk their pets. Parade line up begins at 8:30 a.m. on Bay Isles Road. Activities, food and drinks and children’s game will take place in Bicentennial Park, next to the Town Hall.
July 4, 2016 | Anna Maria Island
Privateers Annual 4th of July Parade, 10 AM to Noon: The parade route will take place from Coquinia Beach (south entrance) to City Pier at Anna Maria.
July 4, 2016 | Venice
3rd Annual Myakka Kayaka 4th of July Jam Blast, 11 AM to 4 PM: Featuring live music and craft beers. Free admission. Kayak launch starts at 8 AM.
July 4, 2016 | Siesta Key
26th annual 4th of July Fireworks Display, 9 PM: Fireworks over Siesta Key are blasted off just north of the volleyball courts, making viewing good from anywhere south and along Crescent Beach (south of Siesta Public Beach), out on the Gulf or from the Intracoastal waterway.
July 4, 2016 | Sarasota
All American Barbeque and Independence Day Celebration on the ground of Selby Gardens, 6 – 10 PM: Four premier barbecue pit master vendors, live music from the Lauren Mitchell Band and family activities are all part of the celebration, plus enjoy the fireworks over Sarasota Bay. $30 for members, $35 non-members, 11 and under are free.
July 4, 2016 | Fireworks Spectacular over Sarasota Bay, 9 PM
Part of the Suncoast Offshore Festival, viewing is free from anywhere downtown, including Bayfront Park and Island Park. The display is an awesome sight from a boat anchored on Sarasota Bay.

Rainy Day Activities in Southwest Florida
Posted by RVA, Resort Vacations | Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rainrain go away. We want to go to the beach today! If you're looking for drier activities on a wet Florida day, we've complied some options below on local activities guaranteed to keep you entertained and out of the rain. Contact your check-in office for directions or information; or call (888) 532-9014 to speak with one of our Vacation Planners.



RVA Releases a New and Improved Free Mobile App for Guests Visiting the Gulf Coast of Florida
Posted by RVA, Resort Vacations | Monday, November 4, 2013
Longboat Key, FL(November 1, 2013) RVA, one of the nations leading vacation rental companies on the Gulf Coast of Florida, is pleased to announce the release of a new and improved mobile app. The vacation app is designed for vacation rental guests looking to make the most out of their vacation. The app, available for iPhone and Android, makes vacation planning at your fingertips.

We are excited to launch the new and improved mobile app to our guests and homeowners. The RVA app was so successful in its original launch that we wanted to improve the technology and added service to our users. We look forward to the opportunity to converse with our vacationing guests, said Larry Starr, CEO and owner of RVA.

The app will allow RVA to communicate on a real-time basis with our guests; advising them of promotional offers, special events and even weather updates, all while vacationing in Southwest Florida.

Vacation rental guests are invited to download the app prior to arrival. This tool allows our guests to access and interact with pre-arrival information, points of interest, restaurants and special events; becoming a useful tool when exploring the area.

One does not have to be a guest of RVA to enjoy the app. We welcome all visitors to our area to download the free app and research the area and what Southwest Florida has to offer.

The new and improved RVA app is available for download in the Apple Store or Google Play  and can be used by scanning the convenient QR code.

For more information about the RVAmobile app, visit or call 800-237-9505.

About RVA
RVA, ResortVacations, is one of the nations leading vacation rental companies in Southwest Florida.  RVA is the largest management company of vacation condominiums, homes and resort-style properties on Floridas west coast, based on a portfolio of over 300 units.  The Southwest Florida inventory includes premier beach destinations like: Anna Maria Island, Bradenton, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Sarasota and Siesta Key.

Siesta Key's Not-So-Traditional Hotel
Posted by RVA, Resort Vacations | Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Beach Club at Siesta Key sits just steps from the white-sand quartz beaches that were named the #1 Beach by Dr. Beach in 2011. Adorned in eye-pleasing neutral tones, each unit has a splash of green and turquoise, perfectly coordinating with the striking hues of the Gulf of Mexico. The Beach Club at Siesta Key offers studio, one- or two-bedroom units, just steps from the Siesta Key beach.

This not-so-traditional hotel property takes the guesswork out of vacationing with your entire family. Traditional hotel rooms provide three things a bed, bathroom and a TV. The Beach Club at Siesta Key provides the three items listed above, but also includes full-size kitchen with stainless steel appliances, dining area, spacious and comfortable living areas, private washer and dryer, large flat-screen LCD TVs, Wi-Fi Internet access and iPod docking stations.
The Beach Club at Siesta Key offers the amenities of a hotel property, but with the added benefits of comfortable living areas, spacious kitchens and numerous floor plans that accommodate up to six people. Gone are the days of budgeting half of your vacation funds to eat out every meal. At the Beach Club at Siesta Key our kitchens are fully stocked, we only ask that you provide the groceries.  Do you ever come home from your beach vacation with sandy luggage from hauling half of the beach in your bathing suit?  Our hotel features washers and dryers in most units, eliminating the need to vacuum your suitcase when you return home. Relax by our heated swimming pool or hot tub and then retire to your not-so-traditional room that provides a home away from home while on vacation.

For luxurious hotel accommodations in a not-so-traditional way on Siesta Key, the only choice is The Beach Club. Visit us online today for rates and online booking capabilities at

Cedars Tennis Resort Employees Participate in CPR & AED Training
Posted by RVA, Resort Vacations | Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Longboat Key, FL (September 25, 2012) - On Monday, September 24, 2012, eight employees at Cedars Tennis Resort were educated and certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED).  Volunteer President with the Longboat Key Fire Rescue, Jeorge Alvarez, taught the class of eight. To help educate our members and guests, signs are positioned around Cedars Tennis Resort to alert them where the AED is located for future reference and ease of use.

We think this training is invaluable to our employees, members and guests, said Trevor Hind, Chief Operating Officer of RVA.  Should any member or guest ever need medical assistance in the future, I am confident our staff at Cedars Tennis Resort will be able to assist until emergency medical help arrives.

We are committed to providing service levels that not only meets expectations in terms of quality, but assure our members and guests that their safety and well-being is equally important, said Larry Starr, Chief Executive Officer of RVA.  This is one more step in our ongoing efforts to provide a high quality Club experience.

Cedars Tennis Resort features 10 Har-Tru tennis courts, a Pro shop and tri-level rental townhouses with one-, two- or three-bedroom options.  Each townhouse in this village-like resort is complete with a fully equipped kitchen that includes a full breakfast bar and spacious living and dining areas.  Other Cedars Tennis Resort amenities include Cedars Caf & Tiki-Bar managed by Hal Christensen of Harrys Continental Kitchens, a junior Olympic swimming pool, fitness center, fishing pier that overlooks Sarasota Bay, along with bicycle and kayak availability. 

To inquire about Cedars Resort & Tennis Club, 645 Cedars Court, Longboat Key, FL, call 800-237-9505 or visit  

RVA Longboat Key offers numerous homes, condominiums and resort-style properties on or near Longboat Key beaches.  Other RVA vacation rental locations include: Sarasota, Lido Key, Siesta Key, AnnaMaria Islandand Bradenton.  Each Vacation rental is fully furnished and vacation ready.  For more information log onto or call 800-237-9505.

About RVA
RVA, Resort Vacations, is one of the nations leading vacation rental companies in Southwest Florida.  RVA is the largest management company of vacation condominiums, homes and resort-style properties on Floridas west coast, based on a portfolio of over 300 units.  The Southwest Florida inventory includes premier beach destinations like: Anna Maria Island, Bradenton, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Sarasota and Siesta Key.


RVA Releases a Free Mobile App for Guests
Posted by RVA, Resort Vacations | Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The free mobile app puts vacation planning at your fingertips. The app is available for Android, iPhone and iPad.

Longboat Key, Florida (PRWEB) September 20, 2012 - 
RVAResort Vacations, one of the nations leading vacation rentals companies in Southwest Florida, is pleased to announce the release of a free mobile app. The vacation app is designed for vacation rental guests looking to make the most out of their vacation. This new app, available for the iPhone, iPad and Android, makes vacation planning an uncomplicated and straightforward process.
RVA is excited about the this latest feature of our guest portfolio; and what it will bring in terms of technology and added service to our existing marketing pursuits, said Larry Starr, CEO and owner of RVA. We look forward to the increased opportunity to converse with our vacationing guests.
The new mobile app contains information on all RVA properties. This includes photos, property details, location of the property, availability, and the option to reserve your vacation rental with a touch of a button. In addition to these great features the app will allow us to communicate on a real time basis with our guests advising them of promotional offers, special events; even weather updates while they are here.
I am very excited to share the latest technology with our guests and homeowners, we truly believe this will enhance service and add value to the vacation experience, said Trevor Hind, COO of RVA.
Vacation rental guests will be invited to download the app prior to arrival. This allows our guests to access and interact with pre-arrival information, directions to the property, points of interest, restaurants, and event and activity recommendations. The app also becomes a useful tool when exploring the area. It uses the phones GPS to help navigate the area and shows proximity from your vacation rental to area attractions.
One does not have to be a guest of RVA to enjoy this app. We welcome all visitors to our area to download the free app and research the area and what Southwest Florida has to offer.
The RVA app is available for download in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and can be downloaded by searching for RVA. Information about RVA vacation rentals can be found on the RVA website or by calling 800-237-9505.
About RVA
RVA, Resort Vacations, is one of the nations leading vacation rental companies in Southwest Florida. RVA is the largest management company of vacation condominiums, homes and resort-style properties on Floridas west coast, based on a portfolio of over 300 units. The Southwest Floridainventory includes premier beach destinations like: Anna Maria Island, Bradenton, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Sarasota and Siesta Key.

Homes, Condos & Resorts...Oh My!
Posted by RVA, Resort Vacations | Thursday, March 29, 2012
Not only does RVA, Resort Vacations offer the largest selection of vacation rental homes and condominiums along the Gulf Coast of Florida, but we also offer the best selection in resort products. Our resort product is classified as nightly rentals resembling hotel-style facilities - in some cases offering daily or weekly maid service, on-site offices, free parking and more - combined with the luxurious vacation experience you've come to expect from an RVA rental. View our current list of resorts and their locations at

Silver Sands Guest Reviews
Posted by RVA, Resort Vacations | Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Our Silver Sands Gulf Beach Resort website recently received a new feature. Located on the homepage, right under our Quick Search Box, is a rotation of reviews submitted by our guests for your viewing and dreaming pleasures. Visit today for your own personal piece of paradise!

Green Travel Tips
Posted by RVA, Resort Vacations | Wednesday, February 22, 2012

RVA and our affiliates are doing our part to become more environmentally friendly. In order to conserve water in our resort-style properties, we implemented The Water Conservation Hotel and Motel Program (C.H.A.M.P.). This program helps lodging facilities save water and money while practicing more efficient housekeeping and landscaping.
Also, our in-room toiletries have gone green. This means all packaging is made from recyclable materials, fragrances are created with natural aromas and liquids are completely biodegradable.

RVA's Green Travel Tips
  • Turn water heater to lowest settingGreen Florida vacations with RVA
  • Turn off AC/heat or adjust the thermostat to protect plants, etc.
  • Appliances, such as TVs and computers should be unplugged because they can draw or leak as much as 40 watts per hour when they are off
  • Stop your local newspaper
  • Keep your showers short, and turn off the water while brushing your teeth
  • Do not run the linens and towels through the unit washer & dryer prior to check-out
  • Reuse your sheets and towels instead of having them changed every day.
  • When you leave your unit, turn off the lights, TV and radio. Close the drapes to keep your accommodation cool
  • Leave little bottles of amenities in the unit if unopened
  • Keep bar soap wrappers and take used bars of soap home
  • Instead of leaving bathroom lights (and fans) on all night, pack night lights
  • If you purchase a newspaper, pass it on to someone else at the pool or beach, or leave it at the front desk for another reader
  • Buy local souvenirs. Supporting local artists or small shops helps the local economy of the place you are visiting, but it also cuts the cost of transporting the mass-produced souvenirs found at chain shops
  • Pack reusable water bottles and fill up as necessary while on vacation
  • When dining out, only request water if you are going to drink it
  • Help reduce paper by allowing us to email your confirmation and receipts
  • Take only the necessary brochures or maps. Return maps or brochures to the front desk upon leaving
  • Take only photographs. Do not take souvenirs from natural or historic areas
  • Leave only footprints. Take everything out that you brought in with you
  • Pick up at least one piece of litter every day, especially when walking along our beaches

2012 RVA Catalog of Properties
Posted by RVA, Resort Vacations | Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Searching for the perfect vacation rental can be overwhelming when you don't know which island will meet your vacation needs. Take the guess work out of planning your next vacation in the popular destinations of Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Sarasota, Siesta Key and Venice by visiting our 2012 Catalog of Properties. This catalog simplifies the decision process by separating units first by location, since no two islands are the same, and second with important features of amenities, pictures, bedding configuration, etc. Top all those ingredients off with a direct link for 24/7 online booking and you've got the ingredients for an easy, relaxing vacation planning experience.

Visit the 2012 RVA Catalog of Properties

Browse the Archive

Discover vacation rentals at any of our Southwest Florida destinations:

Real Estate Partners


Tourism Partners

Visit Florida | Partner

Longboat Key | Chamber of Commerce

Anna Maria Island | Chamber of Commerce

Siesta Key | Chamber of Commerce

Bradenton, Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key

Sarasota | Proud Tourism Partner

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