1. Fall Into Some Fun This Month!

    Fall is officially here. Many of us fill our homes with delicious fall fragrances …pumpkin anyone? And if we are lucky, the weather will get cool enough for us to turn off our overworked AC’s and open our windows to breathe in the crisp fall air.

    Luckily, it’s also a great time to stay busy and find plenty of fun activities near you. Sarasota might not have colorful leaves this fall, or ANY fall for that matter, but it does have a lot to offer! And thanks to the gulf coasts’ year-round warm weather, you can enjoy spending extra time outside this month.

    If you are looking for a fun date night, kid friendly event, or just something new to do, consider one of these events.

    The lovely neighborhood of Lakewood Ranch is having Music on the Main the first Friday of each month (October 4). From 6-9 p.m. stop in for beer, wine, food, face painters, balloon twisters, caricature art, and music too of course. Bring your chairs and unwind after a long week while listening to live music.  Parking is available at the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.

    Elephants, lions, acrobatics, daring stunts, delicious foods….yep, the circus is coming to town! The Sahib Shrine Circus will be held at the Sailor Circus Arena from October 4-5 for three shows only. Click for more information on show times and tickets!

    Southside Village Oktoberfest is your chance to stuff yourself with delicious German foods, listen to German music, sample beers, and dance. Get down there on October 5th at the corner of Hillview and Osprey Avenue in Sarasota. Music starts at 5 sharp, so don’t be late.  Pretzels, sausages, and fun are waiting.

    For car enthusiasts, take a ride right on down to St. Armand’s Circle Park for the Auto-Rama 2013.  You’ll get a look at what is coming in the future from car manufacturers from 10am-4pm on which date???

    If you still haven’t gotten into the fall spirit, this is the event for you. Hayrides, bonfire, scavenger hunts, and so much more are taking place at the Pumpkin Patch Party at St. James United Method Church. Pick out a pumpkin and get inspired by these Jack-o-lantern ideas! If you’ve never carved a pumpkin before, check out this video.

    Here are a few more events near you to check out.

    The 3rd Annual International Beer Festival will take place October 26th on Main Street at Lakewood Ranch. Unlimited samples of more than 100 craft beers are yours for the taking.

    That very same day, the Florida Blues and Music Festival is taking place featuring some impressive headlining acts. Tickets have already gone on sale so don’t wait to buy yours (link to where tickets are sold) and don’t forget to bring a chair.

    With so many things to do, you can really fall in love with your community this autumn. Take advantage of the cooler weather and all of the fun things to do near you!


  2. April Events- Get Ready for Some Fun!

    They say April showers bring May flowers, but we think April will bring some fun in the sun!

    Neal Communities is fortunate to be located in the beautiful gulf community Sarasota, with white sandy beaches and pristine blue waters nearby.

    If your family is looking for something to do this month, check out some of these events happening near you!

    April 5-14:  15th Annual Sarasota Film Festival. If you are hoping for a celebrity spotting, you can look forward to this event. Actress Mariel Hemingway, director Peter Bogdanovich, actor Griffin Dunne and more will be in attendance. For more information, visit this website for details. 

    April 6: If you are an avid runner or just someone who enjoys helping the greater good, there will be a Run/Walk for the Turtles. This race takes place on Siesta Key Public Beach by the Mote Marina. Registration begins at 6:30 am. All fees benefit the Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program.  More details can be found here.

    April 12-14: If you are a fan of good food and music, the Rhythm and Ribfest is the place for you. Located at the Manatee County Fairgrounds, live music, fun, and food will be bountiful.  Visit the website for more information.

    April 13-21: The Sarasota Open USTA Championship Tournament brings the top tennis players from around the world to Sarasota . For ticket and more information visit the website.

    April 29: 10th Annual Ride the Beaches event will take place on Sharky’s by the Pier. Riders can select to bike 65 or 35 mile and will benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Contact Sharky’s for more information.

    All these events and more can be also be found on The Escape to Sarasota website. Which event will you and your family be attending this month?

  3. January is a GREAT month to…

    The holidays are behind us, and people are getting back into the reality of life; however, that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! There are so many exciting this to do in in January! One of the many benefits of living in the sunshine state is the SUNSHINE! The weather is perfect for taking part in some of these exciting outdoor events!

    So, mark your calendars, grab your family and friends and enjoy all that January has to offer! Here is a sampling of just a few of the many events you can partake in!

    January 12 – 13, 2013: Time to get crafty! The 6th Annual Downtown Venice Craft Festival is here! It is one of the most popular festivals in the area!

    January 17 – 27, 2013: Popcorn, cotton candy and carnival rides await you at the Annual Manatee County Fair which will be taking place at the Manatee County Fairgrounds.

    January 19, 2013: Become a star gazer! Sidewalk Astronomy is hosted by the local “Deep Sky Observers” in the south parking lot of Lakewood Ranch Main Street.

    January 23 – 25, 2013: The Wings of Freedom Tour flies into the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.  Come check out all the old planes on display.

    January 25 – February 15, 2013: Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The Annual Circus Sarasota comes to town!

    January 26, 2013: Ahoy ye mates! Just a short drive from Sarasota to Tampa, the Annual Gasparilla Fest is happening. Watch the pirates as they take over the city!

    January 26 – 27, 2013: The 10th annual St. Armand’s Circle’s Winter Art Festival.

    To see a FULL calendar of January events, click the link below! See you around the town!



  4. November Farmers Market

    Bright like fresh lemons, as beautiful as a bouquet, and as soothing as a strum….this is how their website describes the Sarasota Farmers Market! And they couldn’t be more on target! For over 30 years, the Sarasota Farmers Market has been serving our community with local produce, plants, prepared foods and artisans.

    If you haven’t been to the Sarasota Farmers Market, you simply MUST add it to your list of items to experience! With over 70 vendors and over 5,000 sq. ft. of produce and plants, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Sample fresh fruits and vegetable, listen to local artists, and capture the essence of a true Farmers Market in your own town!

    The market is held every Saturday (rain or shine) from 7 am – 1 pm on Main and Lemon Streets in downtown Sarasota. Homemade jelly, fresh fruits and vegetables, and colorful plants and flowers are just a few items you will find as you stroll through the market.

    Bring your family, friends and four legged companions and make an event of it. There are freshly pre-packaged meals you can purchase as your stroll the market meeting the local farmers who grown and produce these culinary delights.

    Having a local farmers market benefits both the producers and the consumers of these organic products. By purchasing from these local farmers, residents know exactly where their food comes from, and the ingredients are fresher and likely contain fewer chemicals than the same ingredients found at a local supermarket.

    Farmers Markets also help to stimulate the local economy. When people purchase from local farmers, they help to keep these farmers in business so they can continue to harvest a healthy crop every year. This helps to keep our community closer, as it creates direct ties between the local farmers and our local residents.

    Farmers Markets benefit not only the producers and consumers; they also are great for the environment and the community! So, won’t you join us this weekend at the Sarasota Farmers Market?

    To learn more, visit their website at http://www.sarasotafarmersmarket.org/

    Also, check out these other local farmers markets as well:



    Lwrfarmersmarket.com (Lakewood Ranch)

    North Port Farmers/Craft Market


    Farmhousemarket.org (Phillipi Farm House Market)




  5. Trick or Treat – Fun Ideas for Adults on Halloween!

    Trick or Treat – fun ideas for adults on Halloween! Goblins, ghosts and ghouls….oh my! Halloween is nearly upon us! Children everywhere are already dreaming about all the goodies they will be collecting around their neighborhood as they walk door to door dressed up in their fanciest (and spookiest!) Halloween costumes. Tootsie rolls, candy bars and other sugary snacks are bound to be on your shopping list in the upcoming weeks. But, why should children be the ONLY ones enjoying the spookiest time of the year? Adults can have fun too! Here are some ideas for adult Halloween fun!

    1. Host a Halloween block party! Invite your neighbors over for a pre- Halloween celebration before the trick or treaters make their arrival. Be sure to have tunes playing like ‘The Monster Mash’, ‘Thriller’, and ‘Werewolves of London’.

    2. Have a pumpkin carving contest for adults and children a few days before Halloween. This will get everyone in the spirit.

    3. Create a spooktacular dinner! Brains and eyeballs (spaghetti and meatballs) anyone? There are plenty of great Halloween recipes! From goblin cupcakes to baked monster eyes! Check out this website for more ideas. http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/halloween/

    4. While the kids are out trick or treating, watch a scary movie! Remember Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween? That was some scary stuff!

    5. Get in the spirit and don your most terrifying costume when you answer the doorbell. The neighborhood kids are sure to get a kick out of seeing you dressed up for the occasion.

    6. Host a ‘pet’ costume party! Everyone will love seeing your Cocker Spaniel dressed up like Cinderella.

    7. Visit a haunted house! Whatever you decide to do, have fun! Remember, you are never too old to enjoy the fun (and fear!) that comes around every October 31st!

    For more ideas on how to have fun this Halloween, visit


  6. Celebrating Summer! Tips on How to ‘Stay Cool’

    In the United States and the rest of the northern hemisphere, the first day of the summer season is the day of the year when the Sun is farthest north (on June 20th or 21st). This day is known as the Summer Solstice.
    For children, summertime means two relaxing months of freedom from going to school. It can also mean summer camp, sleeping in ‘til noon, lounging poolside, and enjoying the plethora of outdoor activities that are available.
    Those of us who live in Florida know that the summertime heat can be intense. So how do you ‘stay cool’ while still enjoying all the fun that summertime brings? Here are our top five tips for keeping your cool in the summertime heat.

    1. Avoid being in the sun during peak hours. This typically means 10 am – 2 pm. And, if you are out during the peak hours be sure to use a sunscreen with PLENTY of SPF, and apply it regularly.
    2. Take a break from the heat and go to a movie matinee! Ticket prices are generally less during the day.
    3. Drink plenty of liquids, including water or sports drinks that have electrolytes. This will help to keep you hydrated.
    4. Take a trip to the mall! There is something for everyone to enjoy at the mall!
    5. Make homemade ice cream with the kids! Here is an easy recipe for delicious key lime pie ice cream. Don’t forget to buy the cones!

    Ingredients (Recipe from allrecipes.com)
    • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
    • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
    • 2 cups milk
    • 2/3 cup heavy cream
    • 2 egg yolks, beaten
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1 cup lime juice
    • 2 teaspoons lemon extract (optional)
    • 1 (3 ounce) package lime flavored gelatin mix
    • 6 whole graham crackers

    1. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, milk, and heavy cream. Cook until warm, whisking frequently. Once the mixture is hot to the touch, whisk in the gelatin mix and sugar, stirring constantly until sugar and gelatin are completely dissolved. Whisk in the egg yolks, and remove from the heat. Stir in the lime juice and lemon extract.
    2. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This recipe takes a bit longer to set up than the usual ice cream.
    Once the ice cream is thick, open the canister, and place large pieces of graham cracker evenly on each side. They will break into smaller pieces as the machine churns. Mix for about 5 more minutes. Transfer to a freezer container, seal, and freeze until solid