Enjoy The Beach At Lido Key
400 Benjamin Franklin Dr.Sarasota
Lido Key Beach is nestled between Longboat Key to the north and Siesta Key Beach to the south. It boasts three beaches: North Lido, Lido Beach, and South Lido.
Although a public beach, North Lido is more secluded, with 3,000 feet of sugary white sand. There is also a nature trail to wander in relative privacy. You might even see a dolphin or manatee out in the ocean!
South Lido Beach Park mingles four significant bodies of water: The Gulf of Mexico, Big Pass, Sarasota Bay, and Brushy Bayou.
If you get tired of the fantastic beaches, there are two nature trails, a self-guided canoe trail, a multi-purpose field, and a volleyball court.
TravelingMom Tip: Sarasota County is located about 60 miles from Tampa, 35 miles from St. Petersburg, 25 miles from Bradenton and 20 miles from Venice. The area is home to tons of gorgeous beaches and plenty of things to do near Sarasota. These are our favorite things to do in Bradenton FL.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Located on South Palm Avenue bordering Sarasota Bay, is a large botanical garden in the Hudson Bayou neighborhood and one of the best things to do in Sarasota, Florida. Covering seven acres, the gardens are located on the grounds of the former home of Marie and William Selby. The gardens focus on collecting and presenting epiphytes such as bromeliads and orchids and their ecosystems.
The gardens have the most diverse collection of bromeliads in the world. There are more than 20,000 plants that represent 6,000 species. The gardens feature more than 20 different habitats such as bamboo, live oaks, mangroves, succulents, and many more. Facilities include an herbarium, greenhouses, a research library, and others.
811 South Palm Avenue, Sarasota, Florida, Phone: 941-366-5731
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Fun Things To Do In Sarasota Florida
Sarasota sits just south of Tampa on Floridas sparkling Gulf Coast. The city boasts an enticing cocktail of white sandy beaches, year-round great weather, fresh seafood, and a wealth of cultural venues.
As well as being home to some of the countrys most beautiful beaches, the city and surrounding area is a paradise for lovers of nature and the great outdoors. With many parks, nature reserves, and gardens nearby, you wont struggle to find fun things to do in Sarasota.
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Sarasota Classic Car Museum
Unlike my hubby, Im not much of a car buff. However, because the Sarasota Classic Car Museum is such a popular attraction, I thought it was about time I checked it out.
As the second oldest antique car museum in the nation, its filled with over 75 automobiles, from one-of-a-kind classics to antique, exotic and European cars.
The museum explores the history of cars, starting way back at the beginning with the horseless carriage. As you wander through the exhibits, its fascinating to see how our cars slowly evolved over the years.
There were a lot of one of a kind cars and this Shark car really stood out!
How would you like to own one of these tiny cars? It would be fun but Im pretty sure I wouldnt be driving down any interstates!
My husband was all about the Ferrari exhibit! Even I can appreciate a cool sportscar!
If its in your budget, you can head next door and pick out a classic car of your own. Theyve got a huge variety of cars for sale and if youre looking for something to show off to the neighbors, this is the place to find it!
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed our visit. You clearly dont have to be into cars to have a great time here and even my girls had a great time. Its definitely worth a visit if youre in Sarasota and makes a great rainy day activity if your beach plans get rained out!
Ted Sperling Park At South Lido Beach
2201 Ben Franklin Drive and 190 Taft Drive
Embark on a self-guided canoe or kayak tour, get an up-close view of the mangroves, and then settle in for a sunset picnic at a wooden table while the children hit the playground. Tip: Before venturing to Lido Key’s southern tip, stop by the main pavilion’s Lido Beach Restaurant and snag peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for supper.
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Things To Do In Sarasota: Crowley Museum And Nature Center
The Crowley Museum and Nature Center is a well-known historic site and cultural center in Sarasota. It offers you a chance to visit back in time to the 1800s.
It contains a historic cabin, a museum with exhibits representing Pioneer life in the 18th century, and many other live historical exhibits.
So, just join for a historical tour of the area or take a guided nature walk with your family in the Crowley Museum and Nature Center.
Address: 16405 Myakka Rd, Sarasota, FL 34240, United States Phone: +1 941-322-1000
Marietta Museum Of Art & Whimsy
If youre on a budget, youre likely on the lookout for free things to do in Sarasota, Florida that dont skimp on fun and you need look no further than the .
Its the kind of establishment that knows how to make you smile!
The museum is curated by Marietta Lee, who put together a collection of unique and eclectic art pieces in 2006 and has been growing the collection ever since.
The whimsy and wonder of the creative works, which are from many different forms of mixed media, are vibrant and exciting, sure to be hits even with people who arent big art fans.
You get a good idea of what kind of establishment the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy is from the outside.
Gigantic flamingos, glowing in neon, call to you from the outside, and indoors, a sculpture garden welcomes you in.
From there, explore the halls, galleries, and more!
Address: 2121 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34234, United States
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See Whats In Bloom At Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
900 South Palm Avenue
337 North Tamiami TrailOsprey
is another outdoor attraction that works for the whole family. We saw a super cool Dali exhibit. There are two main campuses for these gardens located in Downtown Sarasota and Historic Spanish Point.
The Ann Goldstein Childrens Rainforest Garden at the Downtown Sarasota bayfront campus is especially fun for families. This magical play space features an elevated garden that makes kids feel like they are traveling through the treetops.
Take A Kayak Tour With Kayaking Srq
Lido Key and Siesta Key
Kayaking is great exercise and a wonderful way to get off the beach but still stay in the water. Exploring the Mangrove Tunnels in Sarasota can be relaxing and fun. This activity is great for nature, animal, and photography lovers.
Kayaking SRQ assures visitors that anyone from age 2 to 102 can participate. And the company promises there are NO alligators in the Mangrove Tunnels, but you may get lucky and see manatees and dolphins
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Take A Little Day Trip
Museum of Science & Industry , 4801 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, 987-6000 mosi.org
Kids In Charge! The Children’s Science Center at MOSI is a 40,000-square-foot creative space for children ages 12 and younger, where space missions are simulated, music making is encouraged and tiny feet can bounce in a moonwalk.
Manatee Viewing Center, 6990 Dickman Road, Apollo Beach, 228-4289 tampaelectric.com
Stand watch at the Manatee Viewing Center from November to April as sea cows swim toward the warm waters generated by the Big Bend Power Station. There are even butterfly gardens, a tidal walk and a collection of manatee bones in the environmental education center.
Busch Gardens Tampa, 10165 N. Malcolm McKinley Drive, Tampa, 800-5447 buschgardens.com
Treetop Trailsa three-story play area in Jungalaoffers climbing nets, crawl tubes, mazes and water zones for mini explorers. Even smaller adventurers can stroll through the Sesame Street Safari of Fun or board a train at the Serengeti Railway to tour the wildlife habitats.
Glazer Children’s Museum, 110 W. Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, 443-3861 glazermuseum.org
More than 170 “interactivities” in multi-themed areas allow children to pilot their own cruise ships, build noodle sculptures, design cities, paint with light, fly airplanes and slide down firefighter poles.
Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa, 935-8552 lowryparkzoo.com
One Day Itinerary For Visiting Sarasota With Kids
A perfect family day means spending less time in the car and more time together. While planning this itinerary, we scouted out the best attractions all within minutes of each other. Many of which families can walk to visit.
The first stop on the list is Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. Park in the parking lot as there are many local attractions and restaurants all within walking distance.
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Burn Off Some Energy At Bayfront Park
The well-positioned Bayfront Park is a great place to spend the afternoon. The Park has a couple of restaurants, including a tiki bar and grill, and also offers an outstanding view of the bay.
It has waterfront benches to sit and watch the sunset on warm summer nights. With playground facilities for children and an array of fountains, sculptures, and native plants theres enough to keep everyone entertained.
Spot Rare Birds At Celery Fields
The Celery Fields is another of Sarasotas lesser-known gems. A great place for bird-spotting, the Celery Fields is home to breeding bird populations with species of owls, sandpipers, meadowlarks, bitterns and sparrows.
As well as being a habitat for local wildlife it is also an important stormwater collection area for the city. These 400-acre wetlands are an ideal place to hike, bike, fish and picnic.
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Romantic Things To Do In Sarasota With Your Sweetie
Paddle Through the Mangroves. Ok, so I did this with a bunch of other travel writers, but it would be a fun couples outing. We kayaked through the bay first in search of manatee and as luck would have it, one swam right under my watercraft!
The best part however, was floating under the tangled branches of the mangrove tunnels. The labyrinth of paths was originally cut to help mitigate mosquitos, but now, paddling through them is a popular thing to do for locals and visitors.
Insider Tip: Take a guided tour from Kayaking SRQ. Owner Greg Gregory grew up with this water as his backyard, and its fun to hear his stories.
Garden of the Five Senses. Sharpen your senses at this unique park in North Port, just south of Venice. The serene 16-acre park is designed for visitors to slow down, relax and get in tune with their inner self.
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Do something very Sarasota on your date, take your sweetie to see a show at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. If nothing on the schedule is to your liking, you can always just stroll the Sarasota trail system that goes around the venue.
Snook Haven. This is more of a fun daytime date than a romantic evening. Head down the dirt road to this restaurant where youll find live music and boat tours of the Myyaka River. Riding down the river makes you feel like you are heading on a real-life jungle cruise ride.
The Ringling Circus Museum
Before planning our trip to Sarasota, I had no idea how much Sarasota has deep roots in the circus. In fact, John Ringling, one of five Ringling Brothers, brought much of the wealth and cultural significance to the Sarasota area. Knowing this, we couldnt leave Sarasota without a visit to the Ringling Circus Museum. Its easily one of the most unique things to do in Sarasota. With limited time during our visit to The Ringling, we focused on the Tibbals Learning Center and the Original Circus Museum.
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Fright Night On Sarasotas Historic St Armands
Established in 1926 by circus magnate John Ringling and featuring The Circus Ring of Fame, famed shopping and dining destination St. Armands Circle also has a fun Halloween tradition with its annual Fright Night taking place Sunday evening. Children are invited to trick or treat along decorated storefronts and statues and perhaps find some scary surprises along the way thanks to numerous restaurants and retailers contributing to the Halloween spirit. As for dining on the Circle, there’s plenty to recommend, including a couple of classics such as the Cuban restaurant Columbia and the Continental cuisine destination Cafe LEurope , as well as newer faves like Blu Kouzina, Shore and Speaks Clam Bar. 6-8:30 p.m. Sunday St. Armands Circle 941-388-1554 starmandscircleassoc.com
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Spend A Relaxing Day Paddleboarding
Great fun for first-timers as well as the more experienced. Paddleboarding offers an unrestrained way to explore the waters around Sarasota. The gentle tides of Ted Sperling Park are a great place for beginners to learn the ropes.
Explore at your own pace or take a two-hour guided tour through the mangroves and backwaters. Experience a truly laid-back taste of Florida life.
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Enjoy The Thrills And Spills Of Tampa Bay Theme Parks
Tampa Bay has long been renowned for its world-class theme parks and attractions. The African safari-themed Busch Gardens has thrilling white knuckle roller coasters as well as rides for younger children and a zoo.
In the Tampa Bay area, you can also find the Florida aquarium which covers a huge 200,000 sq ft. You can see many species of fish and aquatic mammals and learn about the aquariums coral, shark and sea turtle conservation efforts.
If you are still seeking attractions why not visit the animals at Zoo Tampa or cool off at Adventure Island, Tampas largest water park.
Childrens Areas At Selby Gardens
Botanical gardens may not be the first thing you think of when looking for fun things to do with kids in Sarasota. Its clear, however, that children are also such an important consideration of the Selby Gardens. There are two major areas at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens that are dedicated to children. Plus, the rest of the grounds are completely kid-friendly. The Childrens Rainforest Garden is the main outdoor section for kids, and it includes:
- Several huts set up for pretend play, including a wooden cafe set and musical theater.
- Swinging hammocks and tire swing under the shade
- A play area with beautiful, painted fogs amongst dozens of colorful hula hoops
- A learning garden with a variety of plants on display
- A few areas to play music amongst the plant life
Want a break from the Florida sun? The Kids Corner offers a great indoor play area in Sarasota. The space is packed with nature themed toys and games for kids. With everything from a nursing rocker to dress-up clothes, it caters to everyone from the newborn babies up. Selby Gardens also offers a monthly Little Sprouts Club that includes activities geared toward kids ages 2-5. We didnt get to check it out on this visit, but the program includes rainforest themed activities, a snack and story time.
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Clearwater Beach And Pier 60
VIAVAL TOURS / Shutterstock
You cant come to this part of Florida without visiting Clearwater Beach and Pier 60.
These are the most central places to visit in the area!
Its a prime spot for watching the sunset, too.
Clearwater Beach itself spans 2.5 miles of gorgeous natural beauty.
The relaxing cove has shallow, safe waters and stunning white sand, making it perfect for families with children.
You can do all sorts of activities in this award-winning space, like sandcastle-building, water sports, and beach volleyball.
Pier 60 is a part of this beach.
It spans a whopping 1,080 feet in length and is a recreational park and fishing pier.
It boasts six shaded pavilions, a telescope, and a bait house thats stocked with tackle, souvenirs, snacks, drinks, bait, and t-shirts.
If youre an avid fisher, youll be thrilled to learn of the species you can catch here.
That list includes snook, jacks, tarpon, spotted trout, silver trout, Spanish mackerel, flounders, snappers, redfish, and sheepshead.
As the sun sets on Pier 60, artisans, performers, and musicians set up here, transforming it into a festive location!
There are also many events held here throughout the year, like the Sugar Sand Festival and Sunset Cinema.
A special playground and sandbox, both surprisingly large, are great for kids here!
Address: Clearwater, FL 33767, United States
Feel Nature At Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
If the thought of visiting a botanic garden does not excite you, you definitely have not yet been to . It is an adventure center, meditative retreat, art gallery, and cool cafe all in one. Besides, it has rainforest and butterfly gardens that will fascinate the little ones. Marie Selby has abundant natural beauty and serenity in a bustling city setting, and without a doubt, you will enjoy your experience here.
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Go Crazy At Jumpin Fun Inflata Park
This one is fun for all the family. Think giant inflatable playground with climbing walls, zip lines, wrecking balls and enough silly fun to leave you totally exhausted.
Ever fancy yourself as a ninja warrior contestant? Test your skills at Jumpin Fun Inflata Park against friends or family members, through a series of obstacles thatll bring out the competitive side in all of you.