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POSTCARDS FROM FLORIDA

Spring into these Gulf Coast fests at Anna Maria Island, Bradenton

Jim Abbott on Travel

Postcards from Florida

April 4, 2010

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Anna Maria Island, the famously quiet and beautiful beach on Florida's Gulf Coast, is made for the stress-free getaway.

Depending on your outlook, the quiet might be too much. My colleague Linda reports that judging from her family vacations there, the teenagers in the crowd might go stir-crazy from the sheer serenity.

Not too worry, there's a full slate of monthly activities in the Bradenton-Anna Maria area that could offer respite from all that looking at the water. It might alleviate the kids' boredom, too.

Monthly events

ArtWalk (May 7-8; June 4-5): Fine art, jewelry, ceramics, small furniture, bookshops, clothing, collectibles and gourmet cafes are the attractions on the Village of the Arts' streets in Bradenton (villageofthearts.com).

Bridge Street Market (April17; May 1 & 15; June 5 & 19) A fixture on the first and third Saturdays of each month, it's an opportunity to peruse local art work, flowers, gifts and more at the outdoor Bridge Street Market in Bradenton. Call 941-518-4431.

Yoga on the Beach (April 10, 17, 24; May 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29) Bring a beach towel and join fellow yogis for vinyasa in the sand every Saturday (weather permitting). Appropriate for beginners, this free class meets at 8:30 a.m. Saturdays at the Pine Avenue Gulf-side public beach access in Anna Maria. Call 941-794-6723.

Annual events

De Soto Heritage Festival (Through April 24) Sponsored by the Hernando de Soto Historical Society, events include Bottle Boat Regatta on Saturday, April 10, and the Grand Parade on April 24. (desotohq.com)

Gulf Coast Rhythm & Ribfest (April 9-11): The best ribs from Florida, Alabama, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia are the stars – along with music and other entertainment -- of this event at the Manatee County Fairgrounds. (gulfcoastribfest.com)

Real Florida Festival (April 16-18): Live music, a kayak festival, Island Idol Karaoke, skateboarding competitions, beach yoga, a treasure hunt, arts and crafts and other diversions, all to benefit the free Anna Maria Island Trolley. (realfloridafestival.com)