Just an hour south of Tampa on Florida’s sparkling Gulf Coast, Sarasota is famous for the sugary white beaches and abundant, cultural amenities that provide lots to do for summer travelers.
If you’re interested in finding some”authentic” Florida outside tasks, Sarasota has a vast assortment of items to do for your whole family that are easy, straightforward — and easy on your budget.
Hike through a state park, kayak a Florida mangrove tunnel, experience yesteryear in a regional historical site, take a look at a”kitschy” old Florida attraction, collect historical shark teeth, fish beneath the sparkling stars, build a sandcastle or even have a sea turtle walk. These are all things that you can do in Sarasota which will make many “keepsake” memories:
Overlooking a huge vista, this treetop perspective gives a scenic window into a universe of bromeliads, wildlife and birds. And do not overlook an air boat ride on the Myakka River to see our alligators, the actual “celebrities” of all Myakka and much of Florida.
From a launching dock in South Lido Park is a paddling trail. A combination of mangroves creates a shady overhand above what were once mosquito control ditches. The mangrove is a coastal plant species which is very important to the ecosystem. 75 percent of sport fish and 90 percent of fish in South Florida are dependent on this mangrove habitat. This shrub canopy also functions as a rookery for several species of birds. The shady tunnels offer a paddling experience that’s cool on a hot afternoon, along with the silent and subdued light that makes it nearly surreal.
Long, long ago, Florida was underwater beneath a sea full of sharks. Over the years, as the water receded along the Florida peninsula, the ancient sharks died off and their skeletons disintegrated, however their teeth remained. The town of Venicein south Sarasota County, is nestled along an ancient fossil bed, and is thought of as the”Shark Tooth Capital of the World.”
Though you might come across a fossilized shark tooth or two on any Sarasota beach, your very best option is to visit Venice’s Caspersen Beach. With your feet submerged in the sand at the water’s edge, get a couple of shells and handfuls of sand and sift it through your palms. Sharks teeth normally vary from 1/8 to 3 1/2″ long and are generally dark grey or black in color.
Watch a piece of “older” Florida in Osprey’s Historic Spanish Point. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the outdoor/indoor museum includes a walking tour overlooking Sarasota Bay and a variety of displays from ancient inhabitants into the homestead of ancient 1800-era leaders to turn of the 20th-century boom times.
Sarasota’s beaches are some of the most famous in the entire world, with miles of magnificent, fine sand. And there’s nothing as easy or entertaining as constructing a natural sand castle from the beautiful white sand — for adults or kids. Kick back, relax and grab a tool for digging. Use your creativity. Perhaps a tall tower, or even a castle with a moat? The beach offers lots of free building materials – sand naturally, and shells, coral reefs, sea beans, sea glass, plant seeds, driftwood and seaweed.
The tropical “Queen of the Night” cactus blossoms at night, which means you’ll need to wait until after dark to view it. By day, the epiphyte is a green, spindly, long and slim plant frequently bunched up and dangling off palms and oaks. In summertime, it blossoms into a large 8″ diameter, showing a creamy white and very fragrant flower. Selby Botanical Gardens is a fantastic spot to view them. Manager of Selby Gardens Horticulture, Mike McLaughlin shares that “an evening walk through the Selby Gardens parking lot is an easy approach to find that spectacular epiphyte in blossom.”
Try out these less-found beaches: Turtle Beach on Siesta Key’s south end, where bright blue water matches a gently sloping shore; Ted Sperling Park, on the southernmost end of Lido Key where pine trees whisper in the breeze over sandy, sunflower-laden paths. You will find 12 access points across the length of the island, the one in its north end (#100 Broadway Street) includes a wooden boardwalk winding through ocean waves, pines and sea turtles, great for a nighttime stroll to catch a beautiful sunset.
Visitors arriving on Longboat Key, can walk to the shore of Turtle Beach seeking mother sea turtles tracks in the sand. On the excursion, volunteers hunt for trails which indicate newly laid eggs and nests, These creatures are endangered and the nests are protected for security so be sure to observe and take pictures but touching is prohibited. These gentle giants of the sea are an incredible attraction to see especially for young children who are often amazed by the size of the turtles who are often larger than they are.
Throughout the heat of the afternoon, fish get somewhat lethargic, but if the sun goes down, fish tend to be more inclined to bite. Night fishing is enjoyable, and a few famous spots for night fishing, particularly on nearby bridges and docks, like the Venice Jetty, Casey Key’s Blackburn Point Swing Bridge, Siesta Key’s Point of Rocks, and New Pass Bridge which connects Lido and Longboat Keys.