A few more bucket list items is checked off, but many more added! Our Spring Break Road Trip was a fun and filling adventure! From Chicago to Tunica, Mississippi to Ellenton, Florida, so many wonderful places of interest and restaurants. We had no real plans, just travel as far as we could, stop, eat, refresh and move on!
Disclaimer – None of the restaurants, attractions, or places in this post paid me for my opinion. Read my Disclosure Policy for more information.
They say, Tunica, is a little Las Vegas, I am not sold on this description. The hotels are in a desert like area, but the hotels are far apart and there are no shopping areas, restaurants or a downtown area. I guess we could have missed all this in our whirlwind tour of the town. We set our GPS for Sam’s Town because the casino seemed fun, casual, and well known. It was all this!!! We took out a certain amount of money set our watches to leave by a certain time and went playing.
The slots were fun, but we found ourselves down to just a few dollars in a short amount of time. Mr. WW took his last few dollars and went to the craps table. I found that sitting at the bar with the electronic poker games was where I ruled (who wouldn’t love free drinks and winning?). Mr. WW came back to the bar and was back up to his original amount of money he was budgeted and I had gathered most of mine back at the poker machine.
We were done with our gambling obsession and went to buy the tee-shirts. We checked our loyalty card on the way out and guess what???? FREE TEE-SHIRT leveled up! Collected our two free tee-shirts and headed out for Ellenton, Florida.
Our destination of Ellenton, Florida was based on the fact that Mr. WW’s sister moved there last year and we were missing her. We were not there to sightsee as much as we were there to hang out and talk. She lives in a little area known as Colony Cove. Colony Cove is a 55 year and over community of mobile homes.
Not just ordinary mobile homes, but really nice, spacious, well maintained mobile homes. They have club houses, fishing pier, pools, picnic areas, marina, boat docks, planned activities, etc… just too many things to mention! I can see why Mr. WW’s sister wanted to move here. The bonus was the weather! In Chicago it was 30 degrees and raining, in Ellenton it was 82 and sunny!!! I needed that sun too!
Restaurants Ellenton, Florida and Surrounding Area
Anna Maria Oyster Bar – Bradenton, Florida
Located in the town of Ellenton.
Anna Maria Oyster Bar in Bradenton, Florida, is a family oriented dining experience not to be missed. Their outdoor seating is first come, first serve on the deck. I suggest, if you can score a seat, sit outside! The deck has a beautiful view of the sunset you won’t want to miss. The inside is a beautiful with a light and airy tropical theme. The palm tree beams are a unique and fun addition to the dining area. The staff is friendly and helpful with all your needs. We arrived and the only table available on the deck was still dirty. They quickly cleaned it, took our drink orders and allowed us to settle in to the menu and conversation.
Cocktails are encouraged with a full list of specialty drinks. Their house wine satisfied my picky palate and they have quite a few beer choices.
Their menu has everything from oysters to pasta. The Lobster Bisque was creamy, smooth, with large chunks of fresh lobster meat was the most amazing I have ever had in my life. We also enjoyed the Portobello Mushroom appetizer and Mr. WW had the raw oysters. Coconut Shrimp, Salmon, and more all was amazing!
Most main dishes on the menu are anywhere from $12.99 to $19:99. A few items listed MP (market price), but that is to be expected with the fluctuating cost of seafood. The cost is well worth the money, they do not skimp on the portions. They do have a great children’s menu with prices at $3.99 (at the time of this post anyway). You can actually have a nice meal for four with drinks at a reasonable cost.
Sum It Up:
You need to experience this wonderful place! The food, the atmosphere and the staff were simply astounding. They have four other locations and each is unique to the area it located. I want to visit them all and can’t wait, these all are on my bucket list now!
Woody’s River Roo – Ellenton, Florida
Located on the Manatee river in Ellenton, Florida.
Located on the beautiful Manatee River, Woody’s is an open air diner on land and on pier. This unique place offers simple menu items and is always packed. Seating is on a first come, first serve, basis…be prepared to wait for a table, Woody’s is a local and tourist favorite!
The bar is a full service bar with many choices of beer and mixed drinks. You can sit at the bar and chat with the local bartenders, who are amazingly nice or find a spot on the pier. They have a few different bar areas, your choices are unlimited! In addition, they have my favorite!!! House wine and a premium wine, available by the glass or the bottle. However, I suggest you sit back, relax and enjoy their Malibu Punch Bucket!
We were there with friends for an early lunch. I just had to try the Roo’s Blue Crab cakes and they were amazing to say the least. The sweet flavor of crab was not overpowered by the seasonings and breading. It was the perfect match to my Punch! The Woody’s Philly was piled high with juicy, tender beef that was seasoned perfectly, enough for two. Another local favorite are the Grouper Bites. These tender, flaky, buttery bites of fresh grouper will be sure to please. Everything came hot, fresh, and with a smile!
Sum It Up:
The atmosphere is relaxed and fun. The cost is about average for the local restaurants anywhere from $8.99 to $14.99 for a sandwich or basket. The staff are fun and willing to please even the finicky eaters. We would definitely recommend and if we lived in the area would probably live here!
Swordfish Grill – Cortez, Florida
Located on a pier in Corez, Florida…before the bridge to Anna Maria Island.
This was truly the best experience of our visit in the Ellenton area. The casual atmosphere of the dining room lends itself to a relaxing dining experiences. I suggest sitting on the pier area to enjoy the view of the Sarasota Bay. The pelicans, boats, and staff offer an abundance of amusement while waiting for your meal
They have two bars, one is a sports bar on the inside and the other is a tiki bar on the deck/pier. They have a multitude of cocktails and tropical drinks to choose from. In addition, they have 14 beers on tap and a house wine (which was great). Happy Hour is from 4pm to 6pm Monday – Saturday for which they have many drink specials. The inside bar boasts 14 HD televisions for your sporting pleasure. They also have many weekly activities including Crab and Specially Themed Happy Hours.
You couldn’t ask for fresher seafood. They are next door to a fish market and are continually getting fresh fish from the boaters in the area. The Coconut Shrimp with Cheese Grits were fresh and cooked to perfection with a crispy outer layer of coconut goodness that complimented the tender juicy shrimp. Dipped in the Mango Salsa made the Coconut Shrimp absolutely perfect! Although I generally do not like grits, these had an amazing flavor with cheese and fresh chopped tomatoes. Everything complimented each other to perfection. Fresh blackened fish wrapped in a fresh tortilla, topped with coleslaw and shredded cheese…who could ask for more? Then you add the homemade fresh pico! The Fish tacos were ideal! I am such a crab cake junkie, and I just had to try a play on them the Bahamian Conch Fritters. I can honestly say they were different. They seemed to be slightly over cooked and the conch was very chewy, but fresh mango salsa remoulade made it worth the try.
Sum It Up:
The atmosphere was worth every penny we spent at the Swordfish Grill. We were there from 11:00 am until about 4 pm and enjoyed the staff, the food, the drinks, and the bay. The prices are about average for the area. You can get a nice dinner anywhere from $14.00 to $25.00 (you have to pay extra for sides). Sandwiches are a bit less and include your choice of two sides. They have fresh oysters, salads, desserts, specialty coffees, and a children’s menu (your choice for $8.00). All in all this in an out-of-the-way place, that offers great service, decent prices, and fresh seafood.
Riverhouse Reef Bar and Grill, Bradenton, Florida
Located in downtown Bradenton on the pier.
Riverhouse Reef Grill is on a pier overlooking the Manatee River in Bradenton, Florida. You will want to eat outside to experience all the ambiance and charm of the restaurant. Get there early and stroll to the restaurant on the long dock filled with yachts and sailboats. If you are not into walking or handicapped, they do have a shuttle to take you to the restaurant. In addition to the stroll, you will also want to stay until the sunsets over the river, such a beautiful sight. The view of the river is beautiful!
We arrived during Happy Hour at the bar. The place was packed! We were able to get a seat after a few minutes, but be ready to stand. We had a few drinks and then put our name in for dinner, the wait for a table on the deck was about 15 minutes. They offer a full bar with several beers, specialty cocktails, and wine. Happy Hour is from 3pm to 6pm and features drink and snack specials. The bartenders were very busy, there was no getting to know them this trip, but they were pleasant and accommodating.
We had a coupon for a free Large Kickin Chicken appetizer and the waiter quickly took the coupon and drink orders. The runner brought us the Kickin Chicken and it looked small, but we were like, whatever it is free. The waiter comes over and says, “You were supposed to get the Large Kickin Chicken.” We told him that was fine, but he came back with a large order. Kickin Chicken was coming out our ears! Thank goodness they were scrumptious bits of juicy chicken with a crunchy breading and soaked in an amazing Kickin sauce. We ate them all! We then ordered our meals, Lobster Risotto, New England Lobster Roll, House Blue Crab Cakes, and Redfish. Wow! Each meal was absolutely wonderful. The seafood was fresh, tender, and sweet. Everything was cooked to perfection!
Sum It Up:
The atmosphere was relaxing and you couldn’t ask for a better sunset. The staff was very busy, but they were fun and friendly. We were there from around 4pm to 7:30pm and had a wonderful time talking, eating and drinking. Prices are a bit high, but you get what you pay for…an outstanding meal! Dinners are anywhere from $15 to $35. Sandwiches are $10 to $15. In addition to seafood, they have steaks, chicken, chops, and pasta. I would recommend this place! Get there early, but stay for the sunset!
Lake Manatee State Park
Located on the South Shore of Lake Manatee.
Our only day hike was at Lake Manatee State Park. It was a nice hike with some great terrain of the inner Florida area. It was 85 degrees and we were not used to the heat, we took a quick hike and then went back to family for more talking and wine!
Our trip to Ellenton and the area went way to quickly, but we had an amazing time and ate some very delicious food!
Going on a road trip this summer? Visit these posts to read how to prepare your car and how to pack!
Where did you go on your Spring Break?
Tell me about your favorite restaurant and why!