One hour south of Tampa on Florida’s sparkling Gulf Coast, Sarasota, known for its sugary white beaches and rich, cultural amenities offers plenty to do for the summer traveler.
If you are looking for some “authentic” Florida outdoor activities, Sarasota has a wide range of things to do for the entire family that are simple, uncomplicated – and easy on the budget.
Hike through a state park, kayak a Florida mangrove tunnel, experience the past at a local historic site, visit a “kitschy” old Florida attraction, collect ancient shark teeth, fish under evening stars, build a sandcastle or take a sea turtle walk.
These are all things you can do in Sarasota that will create endless “keepsake” memories:
Get Above the Trees
Sarasota is home to Myakka River State Park, one of Florida’s oldest and most scenic parks. This expansive piece of natural Florida east of Sarasota encompasses 37,000 acres of shady moss-covered oak trees, riverine forests, wetlands, and prairies with walking trails, birding vistas and even a treetop canopy walk. Overlooking a tremendous vista, this treetop view provides a panoramic window to a world of bromeliads and lichens, birds and wildlife. And don’t miss an airboat ride on the Myakka River to spot alligators, the real “stars” of Myakka.
Keep Cool in the Mangroves
A unique experience awaits kayak paddlers in Sarasota Bay. From a launch site in South Lido Park is a paddling trail through a series of small waterways. A canopy of mangroves forms a shady tunnel over what were once mosquito control ditches. The mangrove is a coastal plant species that is vital to the ecosystem. Exposed roots anchor the trees in shallow water and along shorelines. The root system provides cover serving as a nursery for fish, crustaceans and mollusks. It is said that 75% of game fish and 90% of commercial fish in South Florida depend on the mangrove habitat. And the tree canopy serves as a rookery for many species of birds. The shady tunnels provide a paddling experience that is cool even on a hot day, and the quiet and subdued light makes it almost surreal. In the mangroves, you feel you have entered a sacred Florida space.